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View Full Version : Request for help on service return (video)


dizzlmcwizzl
01-06-2012, 07:54 PM
Please watch the video below and comment on my service return (big dude in yellow). What I am specifically concerned about is my pre-contact preparation ... comments concerning the timing of my split step, my proximity to the baseline and the pre-strike core rotation would be especially helpful.

Service Return Video 1.6.2012 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n3W_XZZX2g&hd=1)


Extra information for anyone that wants to read it:

Earlier today after our normal hitting session my hitting partner wanted to work on his serve and volley. I got to work on my returns which is always a bonus. He is younger, fitter, plays well from the baseline but he has poor volleying skills. This is why he wants to practice serve and volley.

I have edited the video to only show his serves that he managed to put in the service box. In 20 minutes he was able to put 47 serves in the box and I was able to return 36 of 47. My goal was to hit returns cross court to him and his goals were to close the net and volley the ball cross court back to me and then we would play the ball out using one side of the doubles court.

rufusbgood
01-06-2012, 08:19 PM
Very difficult to comment on this (even if I knew what I was talking about) simply because the video is so choppy. But from my own playing I find that when I think too much about mechanics I tend to return worse rather than better. The key to my own returning is to be really aware of the spin on the ball. When I watch the ball out of my opponent's hand and observe what sort of spin he is applying and I work to counter that spin, my returning is usually pretty strong.

Bagumbawalla
01-06-2012, 08:30 PM
I think this is good practice for both of you. It is what I would advise most players to do rather than just running around aimlessly "hitting some balls".

Your backhand seems the more natural stroke, but on both sides you seem to be hiting off-balance, stretched out, cramped, and a bit wild.

Just to make the session more productive, I would suggest the partner serve- say- five times to the forehand, then five times to the backhand, so you can practice getting set up and he can practice placement-- then, eventually, work up to moving the serve around.

Also, it is not necessarily productive to hit out full blast at everything- try to go for form, control, and smoothness of stroke.

If you can- rather than go for winners, direct a more moderate return to the service box so the partner can get a better shot at the volley (or half-volley) and you can have some sort of exchange taking place.

Maui19
01-07-2012, 05:11 AM
First, thanks for taking the time to edit the video--there are tons of vids posted that I can't get through because they are 80% guys walking around the court.

I think you are on the right track looking at preparation and footwork. You let a fair number of serves to you BH get into your body, and it is tough to hit a good BH from there.

In general on your BH side, you open your shoulders big-time during your stroke. keeping your shoulders perpendicular to the net during your BH stroke will give you much more control of the return.

On the FH side your athleticism allows you to make decent returns on wide balls, which is a good asset to have.

I think in general if you could improve your split-step timing and shot preparation, it would help you a great deal. You definitely should move forward during your split stepping--sometimes you do this and sometimes you don't.

You might want to look at some vids of Tsonga returning serve--he's a bigger dude too.

dizzlmcwizzl
01-07-2012, 06:59 AM
I think in general if you could improve your split-step timing and shot preparation, it would help you a great deal. You definitely should move forward during your split stepping--sometimes you do this and sometimes you don't.

You might want to look at some vids of Tsonga returning serve--he's a bigger dude too.

When exactly should the split step timing be happening?

dizzlmcwizzl
01-07-2012, 07:02 AM
Also, it is not necessarily productive to hit out full blast at everything- try to go for form, control, and smoothness of stroke.

Uh, Oh ... I did dial back my return for this drill. Getting 3 out of 4 balls cross court from a decent serve was more controlled than my usual results during a doubles match.

dizzlmcwizzl
01-07-2012, 07:05 AM
In general on your BH side, you open your shoulders big-time during your stroke. keeping your shoulders perpendicular to the net during your BH stroke will give you much more control of the return.

I noticed that in a previous video and I have been working on keeping the shoulders closed longer. While looking through the raw footage I noticed about half of my backhands I did a better job of keeping the shoulders closed. On these balls I usually hit the ball better. This is something I am actively working on.

goran_ace
01-07-2012, 04:38 PM
Couple things to work on. First, that split step seems a little heavy footed and you are pausing and losing forward momentum. I'd like to see you come out of the split step much quicker. On that split step, try to be lighter on your feet by keeping your weight on the balls of your feet and off your heels. You move better once the ball is in play so I know you can do it.

Second, take a look at your backswing on the forehand. Even though the backswing itself is compact, the motion is a little complicated. I like that you don't bring the racket back too far, but the first thing that goes back is your elbow and not only does that seem to play with your timing, but its also keeping your shoulders square to the net for longer. Then when you try to whip the head around it looks like you are muscling the racket to catch up to the ball. Try to get that racket head back sooner. If you have to, instead of relying on your racket hand to pull that racket back, use your off hand to 'push' that racket back and that also initiates the shoulder turn. Looks like you have some good hands and a quick racket and can get away with being early/late sometimes, but if you simplify that backswing you'll find it'll be easier to develop a more consistent contact point

Finally, look at your pursuit angle when pulled out wide. You tend to move laterally, i.e. parallel to the baseline. I'd like to see you cut that off by moving on a 45 degree angle and meeting the ball instead of chasing it.

Other than that, thanks for posting. Like the drill. Like your energy. Keep working hard.

Cheetah
01-07-2012, 06:36 PM
i think you are split stepping a little too late. it seems you land when the ball has already passed over the net. that's too late. maybe it's ok with that slow serve but it you face someone with a faster serve and you are floating in the air while that ball is curving away from you it's point over. you need to land juuuuust after he hits or at least as he hits so that you can immediately move in the right direction or at least have some momentum. just think about how much more time that gives you. you are jumping up as he hits. you need to be coming down as he hits. even if you dont have great footwork that extra .05 of a sec will increase your return percentage.

edit: you have good energy. and you have a good athletic ready stance. keep it up

user92626
01-07-2012, 08:56 PM
IMO, there is nothing wrong with your return. I think people commented on things for you to fix because they have in mind professionals for comparison. But you're not a professional who is fit, fast and could stroke the ball back in great form. You do pretty good for your level as we all are. For instance, the things you do right are you move your body as the ball comes to you. You turn your body, you try hard and reach to retreive wide serves, etc.

I think bad return is when a person just stand still and either he could hit the ball or not. He doesn't try to get harder serves. And when he does hit the ball it's either a mishit or far from making in the court. That's all bad service return is about!!!

FearOfTheDark
01-07-2012, 11:39 PM
Some of those balls that bounce early sit up pretty well for you to smash it down the line.

dizzlmcwizzl
01-08-2012, 06:15 AM
Finally, look at your pursuit angle when pulled out wide. You tend to move laterally, i.e. parallel to the baseline. I'd like to see you cut that off by moving on a 45 degree angle and meeting the ball instead of chasing it.

This is one of those things that has been tough for me. In lessons my pro often tells me this same thing but I find it difficult to ingrain it on the service return. Are you aware of drills to help with this sort of thing?

dizzlmcwizzl
01-08-2012, 01:24 PM
i think you are split stepping a little too late. it seems you land when the ball has already passed over the net. that's too late. maybe it's ok with that slow serve but it you face someone with a faster serve.

It is funny what video shows. If you had asked me prior to watching myself on video I would have said that I split step earlier than I should. However, I see what you are saying and it is true that I often have difficulty with faster serves ... but don't we all?