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View Full Version : First serve return position


xFullCourtTenniSx
01-12-2010, 01:55 AM
I've pondered over this for a while... I've been thinking in general that I should get every return back into the court, and on second serves get in closer and hurt the opponent (or at least do more with the return). But at the same time I want to be aggressive and get as close to the baseline as possible to take the opponent's time away, which generally is a riskier play because the trade off is consistency. So to be consistent, I have to back up a bit to give myself a little more time to line up the ball onto the strings cleanly.

So I wanted to see how far everyone stands behind (or on/inside) the baseline to return a first serve that's clear over a 100 mph (100-115 range?) and placed well. If you could roughly list both position of the feet at contact as well as starting position, that'd be great, but I think contact is a bit more important, since usually most people start off a little behind that anyways.

I'm currently around 5 feet behind the baseline starting position and 1-3 feet behind during contact. Used to be 1-3 feet inside during contact and 1-3 feet behind starting out. :(

arche3
01-12-2010, 03:08 AM
It depends on where he has a tendency to serve the big serve. If he always serve wide I stand on the baseline and contact into the court a foot or two to cut off the angle as much as I can. (So I can actually get to the ball.)

if the serve is varied in placement I will stand 2 feet behind baseline for big serves and hit a foot or 2 into the court as well. I like to take the ball earlier than later.

bertrevert
01-12-2010, 03:21 AM
Have been as far back as 6 feet for someone who had basically a big flat up the T, but had NO angle serves to speak of. So I didn't have to worry about the angle, just hte big flat heater.

He still fired a lot of aces past me ears! But at least I got my racquet on a fair few more by standing back and walking in a la Andy Murray.

Look I think the return game is undervalued, under-taught, and under-examined.

If you can have a look at your own return game then you'll be on your way to cutting down giving away free points. Unless you can break someone's serve you just cannot climb into the set. And not breaking leaves pressure on your own serve. Which then builds as the set progresses.

Rather than worrying about your exact relation to the baseline I think you have to worry about setting up good contact in your hitting zone.

On the BH I like to take the ball with my body in behind to absorb the pace. On the FH I like to get my body out the way to release my compact shot. On the FH receiving I stand further back. On the ad-court BH I like to get in closer so my weight and body are behind the ball. I start up close to the baseline if possible. Also it's good to be in close to take kickers on the rise - before they become uncontrollable.

With both these beginning points for receiving the serve I will vary them further back a step or two if I'm getting creamed.

mikro112
01-12-2010, 03:38 AM
I've pondered over this for a while... I've been thinking in general that I should get every return back into the court, and on second serves get in closer and hurt the opponent (or at least do more with the return). But at the same time I want to be aggressive and get as close to the baseline as possible to take the opponent's time away, which generally is a riskier play because the trade off is consistency. So to be consistent, I have to back up a bit to give myself a little more time to line up the ball onto the strings cleanly.

So I wanted to see how far everyone stands behind (or on/inside) the baseline to return a first serve that's clear over a 100 mph (100-115 range?) and placed well. If you could roughly list both position of the feet at contact as well as starting position, that'd be great, but I think contact is a bit more important, since usually most people start off a little behind that anyways.

I'm currently around 5 feet behind the baseline starting position and 1-3 feet behind during contact. Used to be 1-3 feet inside during contact and 1-3 feet behind starting out. :(

I wrote this in another thread about returns:

Stay really close to the baseline and shorten your backswing as much as possible. Then, just block the ball back. And always remember to really step into the ball, even if it's very fast. Reducing the backswing should give you the necessary time to compensate hard serves/little time. ;)

In my opinion, pros stand very far behind the baseline because their overall game is based on standing far behind it. You won't see any pros who stand close to the baseline in rallies standing 10 feet behind the baseline for the return. E.g. Agassi and as opposite Nadal. ;)

Are you hitting a 1HBH or 2HBH? For 2H, I really like Murray's return technique. Well, rather his movement into the ball. He starts waiting FAR behind the baseline and then really moves into the ball so that he actually hits the ball close to the baseline.

One last thing: If you really commit to standing close to the line, you will definitely improve your consistency, because you'll get used to the shorter swing and to fast serves. ;)

LeeD
01-12-2010, 07:21 AM
I seldom face a serve as fast as my own, but on first flats up the middle, I like to stand 2' behind the line and barely move forward with a chip/slice return. I worry about the wide serves.
Once in a blue moon, someone will actually serve faster than 115 or so, and if my return is too weak from the above position, I'll stand back 5' and actually hit a groundie return with a short backswing, both sides. Those, I'll end up maybe 4' behind the baseline after hitting the ball. Very susceptible to the wide serves.
Second serves, depends on location and how far the ball actually bounces, and how high. I tend to chip/slice returns if the ball is over my chin, so I have to stand just inside the baseline to return high kicks and twists.

In D Zone
01-12-2010, 08:14 AM
If playing against a fast server - I would stand about 5 feet behind the baseline. I make sure I spread my feet apart so that I have a solid base/ foundation to meet the heavy fast serve.

As the ball is toss by the server. I would also move very slightly forward (subtle split step) allowing me to quickly move to the direction of the ball. I make sure to move/ turn the leg where the ball is headed with shoulder, hip, racquet prep all in one unit. I try not to jump forward with my split step - I tend to loose my timing when I do it, so for me I stand 5 feet behind, split step may be move less than a foot forward upon ball contact.

Goal is to move into the ball first then chip or block the ball not worry about going for winner but to get a good return back. This helps me to keep calm /relax to meet the heat head on.

Once I get more familar with how the server delivers his serve. I would then try to place my return to my advantage - especially important against S&V players who have big serves.

xFullCourtTenniSx
01-12-2010, 12:46 PM
If you can have a look at your own return game then you'll be on your way to cutting down giving away free points. Unless you can break someone's serve you just cannot climb into the set. And not breaking leaves pressure on your own serve. Which then builds as the set progresses.

Rather than worrying about your exact relation to the baseline I think you have to worry about setting up good contact in your hitting zone.

Actually, my return game is possibly the best part of my game. :wink: And I have a pretty mean serve, so that's really saying something. But I want it to get better, which means combining consistency and aggression as much as possible.

In my opinion, pros stand very far behind the baseline because their overall game is based on standing far behind it. You won't see any pros who stand close to the baseline in rallies standing 10 feet behind the baseline for the return. E.g. Agassi and as opposite Nadal. ;)

Are you hitting a 1HBH or 2HBH? For 2H, I really like Murray's return technique. Well, rather his movement into the ball. He starts waiting FAR behind the baseline and then really moves into the ball so that he actually hits the ball close to the baseline.

One last thing: If you really commit to standing close to the line, you will definitely improve your consistency, because you'll get used to the shorter swing and to fast serves. ;)

That's a good point about the pros and their rally position. I guess that might be why my ability to play my returns from inside the baseline has deteriorated - I've backed up my rally position a little. However, I used to be able to play from inside the baseline and block returns back with great success. I'd like to stay away from chipping returns as much as possible because I want an aggressive return that's consistent as well.

And I use a one hander. There was a point where I did nothing but commit to playing close to the baseline, but I was missing too many and decided to back up to give myself more time to get into a groove and just rolled balls back until my groundstrokes felt good. But I want to go back to playing closer to the baseline and was thinking on whether moving farther back in something that can't be helped or if I can really get back up there.

Goal is to move into the ball first then chip or block the ball not worry about going for winner but to get a good return back. This helps me to keep calm /relax to meet the heat head on.

Once I get more familar with how the server delivers his serve. I would then try to place my return to my advantage - especially important against S&V players who have big serves.

:/ Guess I'll have to go back to chip status... And I've worked so hard to get out of that habit... :(

LeeD
01-12-2010, 12:56 PM
Remember to keep track of the # of body shots compared to out wide serves.
BShots, you gotta consider moving back.
Out wide serves, you gotta consider cutting off the angle.
Really fast serves, like over 120, you gotta move back no matters.
So the server also has a big say in where you stand.

xFullCourtTenniSx
01-12-2010, 04:51 PM
Remember to keep track of the # of body shots compared to out wide serves.
BShots, you gotta consider moving back.
Out wide serves, you gotta consider cutting off the angle.
Really fast serves, like over 120, you gotta move back no matters.
So the server also has a big say in where you stand.

Well, if I'm chipping balls back, body shots aren't too bad.

The problem with chipping is that you only really neutralize the opponent. And if you don't hit a good one, you're on defense anyway. But at least you make them play. I don't want to just neutralize them, I want to put them on defense. But that's asking a lot when you're facing a first serve.

tribunal4555
01-12-2010, 05:11 PM
I usually stand 1 foot behind the baseline, and am about two-three feet inside the baseline at the time of contact. I use a one hander. Just shoulder turn and drive/block the ball back, or rolling over it for a little topspin.

tennis005
01-12-2010, 06:14 PM
Depends on alot of things. Speed of opponents serve, type of serve, etc.

Ken Honecker
01-13-2010, 03:25 AM
I've never stood behind the baseline. Either I never faced anyone worth spit or my deciding to limit the width of the area to defend worked for me with my once fast reaction time.

LeeD
01-13-2010, 10:49 AM
I know a guy, pretty good 3.5 maybe, who stands 6' inside the baseline to return ALL serves! He basically cannot return any of my serves because I hit too fast on first flats, and spin into his body mostly on seconds. But his placement works against almost every other player. Me lefty with big serve.
I also know a 5.0 doubles specialist who stands at the baseline, then moves in 3' to chip/slice returns. He's better, and can return my serves if I"m off my game. Unfortunately, his return is a backspin slow sitter, which I can rip at his partner, lob over them, or go short angle CC. He's too good for me to rip topspin returns right at, so I usually avoid his volley if I can.

hiltonhead
01-13-2010, 11:10 AM
How about on hartru, singles vs. doubles?