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Davis937
01-03-2010, 02:37 AM
... I'm sending a quick S.O.S. to all of you expert players and instructors out there in TW land ... I played two sets today with my regular hitting partner ... and ... lost 2-6 and 2-6 ... the fact that I lost the match doesn't bother me ... how I lost, does ... my FH return of serve was ATROCIOUS ... I could not get into the point if he served to my FH ... I was returning fine on the BH side ... wisely ... when he saw me struggling with my FH, he kept serving to that side (even when I "cheated" by opening up my BH) ... I was framing shots, hitting late, hitting long, netting the FH return ... you name it ... I did all of them today ... HELP ... the thing is ... I have a fairly solid FH for my groundies (semi western grip) ... during the match I kept running through my normal list of "to do's" on the service return - i.e. split step, early preparation, simplyfy the stroke, hit through the ball, watch the ball, watch toss release point and watch ball bounce, etc. but to no avail ... any tips / cues / keys for the FH return of serve are welcome ... any drills you can suggest will also be appreciated ... just sign me FRUSTRATED ... thanks in advance for your thoughts/comments!
_________________

"I don't drink beer often ... but when I do, my friends ... I always drink Dos Seques."
(from The Most Interesting Man in the World)

SupremeV
01-03-2010, 03:11 AM
Well it's probably impossible to determine the exact problem without seeing a video. Technically, the way to fix it according to your situation is to make notes on what your backhand is doing that your forehand isn't doing. However, from experience, the most common problem is confidence. Silly right?

What I mean by this is that many times players try to "take off" from their shots because they think it's not working. This usually backfires because what ends up happening is that in the process they downgrade their technique as well. Generally the fix to this is to hit BOLDly and CONFIDENTLY . This won't work for everyone but I'm fairly certain it will help many tennis players. The reason for this lies in how you practice. Manny times in practices, players are not burdened by pressure and thus hit unrestrained. As a result, how can you expect to hit as well if you are hitting strokes with less power and confidence in a game? So in short, hit like you do in practice- a common and simple advice.

So when you are preparing for a serve, don't sweat it. Don't think too much. Just hit the ball. As simple as that. As you stated in your first post, you went through a very complicated list of solutions. Obviously it was ineffective, so don't this too much in the future. Our mind often makes these common problems into more than it actually is. Next time when you encounter a problem similar to this do not go through your usuall list of what to do. Most players are unable to make a change mid-game. If we could make an instant change after saying "watch the ball" or "prepare early" to yourself, then you would see much more Federers in the game. Because this is clearly not true, this time is much better spent telling yourself to calm down and clear your mind. Let your subconscious and hours of practice do the work for you .Good luck!

Recon
01-03-2010, 03:52 AM
Funny thing about tennis...there's one stroke you have no control over, and that is..your opponents serve. If you did all those steps and still couldn't return his serve then his serve was just simply on (which..really you can't do nothing about) and/or you had a bad day. That's tennis. Enjoy.

For instruction...next time if your doing all that and still failing, go primitive and chip the ball in. Better than outright losing the point, make him earn it.

tennisdad65
01-03-2010, 08:08 AM
your using semi-western for your service return?
learn to step in and 'volley' the service return back :)
i.e. block/chip the return back into play with a continental or mild grip. you will rarely miss a service return this way.

mental midget
01-03-2010, 08:51 AM
sounds like a crisis of confidence. one thing you might want to try-

move in, and get aggressive. i find stepping in to the baseline, even against somebody serving bombs, and just plain going after the ball can take a lot of overthink out of the equation. while not necessarily the most prudent long-term approach, it will organically shorten your stroke for you, and might help you find a timing groove. play the ball, don't let it play you! old school advice, but it might help.

Kick_It
01-03-2010, 11:43 AM
I'd encourage you to check out your footwork and split step on serves to your FH side.

When you say you're shanking them - that's the cue. There's lots I don't know - can't see - but for me when I'm off on my serve returns it is most often that I'm not in the proper position to hit them.

Simple remedy is to get out there and practice them until you can groove them.

I can't tell if you're over hitting them or being overly aggressive - which is a different symptom with a different (albeit simpler) remedy - go for more margin of error.

Good Luck! K_I

Larrysümmers
01-03-2010, 12:02 PM
I use a cont. grip on strong first serves. And my normal extream eastern/weak semi western when I attack second serves. But players with a nice kicker, or use wide angles I use cont.

Roy125
01-03-2010, 12:12 PM
Maybe you're thinking too much on that forehand return? I heard someone say to plan where your return will be before you hit it while waiting for the serve to come to you.

Davis937
01-03-2010, 02:08 PM
...THANKS ... to all of you for your quick response and comments/suggestions ... I will incorporate them when I play Mr. X in ... hmmm ... 1 hour ... I like the tip about not over thinking ... step in and be aggressive ... best to lose the point "like a man" rather than being too defensive ... yes, it's definitely a confidence issue ... as soon as I see the serve coming to my FH ... I'm thinking ... Oh, _ _ _ _, another muffed return ... yes, I always use the semi western for my FH service return ... is that unusual or not recommended? I'll let all of you know later how my match went ... wish me luck, gulp!

Power Player
01-03-2010, 02:42 PM
Make sure your eyes are on the ball at all times also. Don't lift your head. I tend to do that sometimes and frame returns.

Davis937
01-03-2010, 08:49 PM
... had a really good match today ... no, I didn't win but the match scores (4-6 and 4-6) plus my improved play has definitely resulted in a renewed commitment to keep working hard ... hey, I actually tried some of the keys you guys/ladies suggested ... a big one was just relaxing ... focusing ... and swining away on the FH return ... not do too much thinking ... my only mental cue was relax and hit either down the middle or back towards the server ... I'm still struggling with the FH return but I did notice some improvement ... the biggest confidence boost for me today ... and the reason for my improved play ... was ... da duh ... my SERVE ... for some reason, and I don't know why ... my kick serve was working really well ... the BEST ever in my estimation ... it had more pace and more action ... the kicker was working so well I actually used in occasionally for my first serve ... the only cue I used today was to swing hard ... always 100% on my kicker ... don't ease up ... and I was putting a tremendous amount of spin on it ... hehe ... he was getting cute so I served my kicker into his body a couple of times .... SWEET ... also, I finally got my slice serve to work ... with pace ... swung hard (100% or more) ... sliced into his body on deuce court ... on the ad court I aced him down the T three times ... he refused to move toward the T side in the ad court (stubborn ... daring me to slice to the T after I aced him once) so guess what ... I ACED him twice more ... SWEET ... now if I can only get my FH return a little stronger ... oh, yeah ... someone suggested I chip and also block back his serve on FH side ... I did some of both ... SWEET ... anyway, a great day on the courts ... THANKS TW forum folks for all the help!!
___________

"... I don't drink beer often ... but when I do, my friends ... I always drink Dos Seques."
(from The Most Interesting Man in the World)

dParis
01-03-2010, 10:02 PM
I'm afraid I don't have the merits to help you with your return of serve, but regarding your sig - are you sure The Most Interesting Man in the World said that? That sounds more like something The Most Interesting Man in the World's less interesting half-brother would say.

I believe the actual quote is, "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis." ;-)

thehustler
01-03-2010, 10:40 PM
I always tell people that the key to returning well on either wing is to pick where you're going to return the serve before it comes to you. On a certain side of the court I will direct all forehands cross court and all backhands the same way. Depending on the type of serve I get and the pace I might go for it a bit more or drop the return short, especially if I have been hitting it deep all night long. This puts a lot of pressure on the opponent, especially on a short return as they're expecting the ball to come back deep. This forces them into an uncomfortable position and can put you on offense rather quickly. Planning your return ahead of time will help you get a higher percentage of returns in play. I don't keep official track, but I would say I am above 90% in returns in play. This creates a lot of pressure on the opponent as they know whatever they throw at you is coming back. This can also lead to more double faults as a lot of servers will become impatient when all of their serves are coming back. Good luck out there.

Davis937
01-03-2010, 11:05 PM
I'm afraid I don't have the merits to help you with your return of serve, but regarding your sig - are you sure The Most Interesting Man in the World said that? That sounds more like something The Most Interesting Man in the World's less interesting half-brother would say.

I believe the actual quote is, "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis." ;-)

... I stand corrected ... *smile* ... I knew someone would react (correctly) to the sign off ... Thanks!

Davis937
01-03-2010, 11:09 PM
I always tell people that the key to returning well on either wing is to pick where you're going to return the serve before it comes to you. On a certain side of the court I will direct all forehands cross court and all backhands the same way. Depending on the type of serve I get and the pace I might go for it a bit more or drop the return short, especially if I have been hitting it deep all night long. This puts a lot of pressure on the opponent, especially on a short return as they're expecting the ball to come back deep. This forces them into an uncomfortable position and can put you on offense rather quickly. Planning your return ahead of time will help you get a higher percentage of returns in play. I don't keep official track, but I would say I am above 90% in returns in play. This creates a lot of pressure on the opponent as they know whatever they throw at you is coming back. This can also lead to more double faults as a lot of servers will become impatient when all of their serves are coming back. Good luck out there.

... some good points that you make ... Thanks ... I'm impressed with your service return game ... Excellent! I'm curious ... do you make a special point to practice your return of service ... most of us don't (... and, obviously, it shows ...)

thehustler
01-05-2010, 08:33 AM
Actually I really don't make any special attempt at all. It has been years of study on opponents and just messing around with my return. I've learned how to block back and crush powerful serves and also learned to go after the weaker serves as well. To me the return of serve can really set a tone for a match. I never return behind the baseline, I'm either right on top of it or inside the court on the return. I find most people don't have these wonderful out wide, down the T or body serves that they all think they have. I know 'the most important shot is the serve', but I like to make the return the most important shot. How you return serve for a match will really dictate what your opponent does. Next time you play return the first 2 games worth of serves deep no matter what they are. Move them around. Make some down the line, others cross court. Even use a pattern so your opponent picks up on it. Then in the 3rd game start to mix in a few blocked short replies. This will throw them off as they're waiting for a deep reply and even though they're coming in they're on defense because they aren't prepared. It's fun. It frustrates them and can make for a very easy match for you.

athiker
01-05-2010, 01:02 PM
I was having a lot of trouble w/ my ROS early in spring doubles. In singles I could block a tough 1st serve, but in doubles that isn't really a great option as you need accurate directional control and some pace.

A few things that helped me. Getting my right foot turned out. Simple but seemed to get everything else turning into position. Left arm out for spacing if there was time (helped keep me from getting jammed...move to the side of a fast ball to your body, not back and falling away). Following through. I was shortening both my back swing (ok if no time for a full one) and my follow through (not okay unless simply blocking) so I wasn't committing to the shot and swinging through the ball.

Your comment on the rematch was spot on. I had to make myself stay loose, usually with some breathing and maybe a little bouncing like the pro ladies do! Tense muscles are slow muscles.

One last thing that may have helped a bit was positioning myself so that I took a step forward into my split step as my opponent served...I have a little mixed feeling about this and I don't always remember to do this. I know I don't want to be caught leaning back though, gotta use the body mass, weight shift and rotation, on ROS just like any other stroke. Good luck, let us know how next time out goes.

Davis937
01-06-2010, 01:11 AM
Actually I really don't make any special attempt at all. It has been years of study on opponents and just messing around with my return. I've learned how to block back and crush powerful serves and also learned to go after the weaker serves as well. To me the return of serve can really set a tone for a match. I never return behind the baseline, I'm either right on top of it or inside the court on the return. I find most people don't have these wonderful out wide, down the T or body serves that they all think they have. I know 'the most important shot is the serve', but I like to make the return the most important shot. How you return serve for a match will really dictate what your opponent does. Next time you play return the first 2 games worth of serves deep no matter what they are. Move them around. Make some down the line, others cross court. Even use a pattern so your opponent picks up on it. Then in the 3rd game start to mix in a few blocked short replies. This will throw them off as they're waiting for a deep reply and even though they're coming in they're on defense because they aren't prepared. It's fun. It frustrates them and can make for a very easy match for you.

... thanks for the suggestions, Hustler ... you know ... I think you are right ... for me, the service return is THE most important shot ... it determines whether I am in the point ... or not (which occurs too frequently) ... once I am in the point, my confidence soars (... if I don't spend too much time admiring my return) ... and I have a fairly good chance of winning the point) ... whoa ... you make it sound so simple ("...move them around ... down the line ... cross court...") ... again, I am just so relieved to get the return in play ... I'm not quite at your level yet ... but I will keep on working ... btw ... I've never had an "easy match" in my life!!

Davis937
01-06-2010, 01:20 AM
I was having a lot of trouble w/ my ROS early in spring doubles. In singles I could block a tough 1st serve, but in doubles that isn't really a great option as you need accurate directional control and some pace.

A few things that helped me. Getting my right foot turned out. Simple but seemed to get everything else turning into position. Left arm out for spacing if there was time (helped keep me from getting jammed...move to the side of a fast ball to your body, not back and falling away). Following through. I was shortening both my back swing (ok if no time for a full one) and my follow through (not okay unless simply blocking) so I wasn't committing to the shot and swinging through the ball.
Your comment on the rematch was spot on. I had to make myself stay loose, usually with some breathing and maybe a little bouncing like the pro ladies do! Tense muscles are slow muscles.

One last thing that may have helped a bit was positioning myself so that I took a step forward into my split step as my opponent served...I have a little mixed feeling about this and I don't always remember to do this. I know I don't want to be caught leaning back though, gotta use the body mass, weight shift and rotation, on ROS just like any other stroke. Good luck, let us know how next time out goes.

... thanks for your comments, Hiker ... I agree that returning in doubles is more difficult ... in fact, I know friends who specifically play doubles to sharpen their return game ... in fact, come to think of it, I actually return a little better in doubles (than singles ... even when I end up playing doubles against my regular singles partner) ... could be that I'm a bit more focused and aware of the tight return lanes ... I probably end up concentraing a bit more ... your comment about hitting through the ball is good ... my ex-coach was always adamant about this ... "... doesn't matter if you have an abbreviated take back ... just make _ _ _ _ sure you hit through the ball and have a full follow through!"

thehustler
01-06-2010, 04:56 PM
... thanks for the suggestions, Hustler ... you know ... I think you are right ... for me, the service return is THE most important shot ... it determines whether I am in the point ... or not (which occurs too frequently) ... once I am in the point, my confidence soars (... if I don't spend too much time admiring my return) ... and I have a fairly good chance of winning the point) ... whoa ... you make it sound so simple ("...move them around ... down the line ... cross court...") ... again, I am just so relieved to get the return in play ... I'm not quite at your level yet ... but I will keep on working ... btw ... I've never had an "easy match" in my life!!

It really is simple. I'm a righty. On the deuce side I like to hit my forehands cross court and backhands down the line since it is the most natural angles for me. On the ad side I like to hit both shots cross court since that feels more natural to me. I will hit down the line on both sides with my forehand if I want to mix things up, but I just choose to go with what's natural to me and my strokes. This way I'm not thinking out there on the return, I'm just returning the ball. It keeps your side of the court less complicated and makes it that much easier to play. I don't know what level you're at, but just keep working at it and I promise you if you just relax and create a return pattern you'll be getting 90% of your returns back in no time and your opponents will be just frustrated with you. Good luck out there.

ttbrowne
01-06-2010, 06:47 PM
When my returns go bad the first thing I try is to stand closer/farther. Then I will actually switch rackets after that and go with that. Sometimes it's just the feel of a different racket. (Face it, they're not ALL balanced equally.)

Grapto
01-06-2010, 09:00 PM
The last thing to try after trying your list of things hard is to erase everything in your head and mind and just let your body do the return. You must trust your inner potential that is already existing in you. In other words, play the inner game of tennis. Good luck!

Nellie
01-06-2010, 09:21 PM
When I am struggling to return serve, I really shorten my back swing, so that the return is only a unit turn and a forward swing.

I also find that it really helps me to focus on the ball during the opponents toss and continue to focus on the ball throughout the service motion so that I can catch the serve, maybe a few hundredths of a second earlier.

I also work to be on my toes and get the ball moving forward (at a diagonal). If the serve is fast, and I am going backwards, I back up.

Davis937
01-07-2010, 02:20 AM
It really is simple. I'm a righty. On the deuce side I like to hit my forehands cross court and backhands down the line since it is the most natural angles for me. On the ad side I like to hit both shots cross court since that feels more natural to me. I will hit down the line on both sides with my forehand if I want to mix things up, but I just choose to go with what's natural to me and my strokes. This way I'm not thinking out there on the return, I'm just returning the ball. It keeps your side of the court less complicated and makes it that much easier to play. I don't know what level you're at, but just keep working at it and I promise you if you just relax and create a return pattern you'll be getting 90% of your returns back in no time and your opponents will be just frustrated with you. Good luck out there.

... thanks, Hustler ... appreciate your words of encouragement ... I play between a 3.5 and 4.0 ... I hit my FH with a semi western and use a 2HBH ... currently, as explained in one of my earlier posts, I feel much more confident and comfortable with my BH ... although ... my FH isn't too shabby ... I think one of my problems is that I hit my FH groundies with a fairly large loop ... my BH is very compact ... the problem is that I cannot use that FH stroke on the return ... as you know ... the FH return stroke is a stroke completely different from one's FH groundstroke ... I've been trying to really abbreviate my FH return ... again, getting a little better but it still needs a lot of work ... I normally play only twice a week ... hit for three hours (work on various strokes) with my buddy on Saturday ... on Sunday I'll play ... usually some singles and doubles ... although my preference right now is singles since I can use my groundstrokes (... which I really enjoy) ... hey, EVERYBODY, really appreciate your comments and suggestions ... I'm taking all of them under advisement and will try to integrate them ... another problem, I'm thinking right now ... is that I get too DEFENSIVE with the return ... as suggested, I just need to trust and hit out ... I have problems when I ease up ... timing is off and of course there's no top spin because I'm not following through ... can't wait to play this weekend!

Davis937
01-07-2010, 02:25 AM
The last thing to try after trying your list of things hard is to erase everything in your head and mind and just let your body do the return. You must trust your inner potential that is already existing in you. In other words, play the inner game of tennis. Good luck!

Hey, Grapto ... thanks for the encouragement ... yes, I need to relax and trust ... I know I've put the work in ... thanks!

Davis937
01-07-2010, 02:28 AM
When I am struggling to return serve, I really shorten my back swing, so that the return is only a unit turn and a forward swing.

I also find that it really helps me to focus on the ball during the opponents toss and continue to focus on the ball throughout the service motion so that I can catch the serve, maybe a few hundredths of a second earlier.

I also work to be on my toes and get the ball moving forward (at a diagonal). If the serve is fast, and I am going backwards, I back up.

... THANKS, Nellie ... good suggestions ... you're right ... I'm really working on an abbreviated take back ... BUT ... not to cheat on my follow through ... yes, I'm working on focusing on the ball during the toss and actually watching the ball bounce ... they say doing that will "slow" the ball down ... yeah, right!! ... no, seriously it does help ... like you said ... a few milliseconds earlier ... Thanks!

charliefedererer
01-07-2010, 12:24 PM
... thanks for the suggestions, Hustler ... you know ... I think you are right ... for me, the service return is THE most important shot ... it determines whether I am in the point ... or not (which occurs too frequently) ... once I am in the point, my confidence soars (... if I don't spend too much time admiring my return) ... and I have a fairly good chance of winning the point) ... whoa ... you make it sound so simple ("...move them around ... down the line ... cross court...") ... again, I am just so relieved to get the return in play ... I'm not quite at your level yet ... but I will keep on working ... btw ... I've never had an "easy match" in my life!!

50% of your singles points start with a return of serve.

How often do you practice returns?

It actually is somewhat helpful to visualize practicing returns.
But it is even better to actually practice returns to develop the hand/eye coordination and footwork to smack back all second serves, and at least block back (and eventually smack back) virtually all first serves.

Why don't you and your hitting partner do this every week? Yes, you'll each make each other harder to beat, but won't that just make your matches even more enjoyable? And won't you both enjoy beating other players, or at least have better matches starting off each point with a good return of service? Have I convinced you?

Davis937
01-08-2010, 01:35 AM
50% of your singles points start with a return of serve.

How often do you practice returns?

It actually is somewhat helpful to visualize practicing returns.
But it is even better to actually practice returns to develop the hand/eye coordination and footwork to smack back all second serves, and at least block back (and eventually smack back) virtually all first serves.

Why don't you and your hitting partner do this every week? Yes, you'll each make each other harder to beat, but won't that just make your matches even more enjoyable? And won't you both enjoy beating other players, or at least have better matches starting off each point with a good return of service? Have I convinced you?

... hey, Charlie ... thanks for your comments ... it's interesting that you bring up the issue of practicing returns ... earlier discussion acknowleged that very few of us actually take the time or make the effort to practice this very important shot ... some of us mistakenly believe that if we practice our FH groundstroke, we are simultaneously practicing our FH service return ... NOT TRUE ... actually, last Saturday (for the first time in many months) I practiced the FH service return ... I attribute this to my improved return play ... I also believe many of the comments/suggestions on this thread were also instrumental in my better play (also, I ended up serving really well ... I know ... it has nothing to do with my FH return except that I think my overall improved play gave me added confidence on my FY return ...) ... was more relaxed ... more confident ... and "just decided to go for it (not overthink) ... hopefully, I'll show some more improvement this weekend ... it's those little (and far between) steps that keep me going ... I don't ask for much ... just a little forward movement ... occasionally!