Doubles returning with 1-hander

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by millardus, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. millardus

    millardus Rookie

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    hello again!

    I love doubles, really enjoy the patterns and forming a solid partnership with a player.

    However, I have always struggled with a solid 1-hand return from the deuce side.

    With a 2-hander, I feel I can deliver a firm and supported *punch* and the ball can be controlled.

    With the 1-hander, the moving parts make it feel far more unwieldy and *flowing*. Definitely more power, but with that comes the feeling of it being less controlled, and more often than not it is uncontrolled!

    I have been *Shadow returning* in the hope I can find a method to provide the same kind of return block that the 2-hander gave me, by doing the following:

    - racquet in front at return stance, with left hand on throat
    - I imagine a split step, and then do a kinda short take back, then forward punch with a fairly full follow through

    It feels like the right approach, but is it? If so, how could I practise this with a ball machine and is that the best way to train it? (Unless you get someone willing to serve at you for an hour!, but that is rare I find).

    Basically, I want to feel like I have an inside out return that is NOT a slice (I would get killed if I did that when I occasionally get called into the first team) and which is NOT a powered drive. The powered drive is unwieldy.

    How do I practise that block return using a 1-hander and maintaining the line of follow through back to the server (inside out)?

    Millardus
     
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  2. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I think you nailed it - although we can go out and practice our serves with a bucket of balls and no hitting partner, that vital second shot of every tennis point pretty much demands a hitting partner. I've been stressing more work on returns of serve this year with the high school troops I coach and I've encouraged them to feed serves to each other from up near the service line. That lets the returners hit lots of ball, time their move on the ball with a service motion, and also saves the server from overdoing it back at their own baseline.

    I also hit a one-hander, but I also use a two-hander for when I need to fight off a ball that shoots in on me or sometimes for an aggressive return of serve. My aggressive one-handed return is a work in progress and certainly demands a good deal of practice. The key for me with that shot has been adding more forward momentum to my split-step as the server hits the ball. That lets me use a much more compact swing as my momentum carries the racquet through the ball. When I do that well, I can really smoke the ball - muscling it just doesn't pay off.

    Network as much as you can and hopefully you'll find a kindred spirit that wants to get out on the grinder with you to develop them skills.
     
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  3. millardus

    millardus Rookie

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    Cheers FN.

    It is crucial, and just rarely get's practised.

    I was just at the gym, and did some more shadow returning with a 1-hander and a really light weight (1.5kg). I did the following, and it feels right, but then I don't have a big serve coming down at me jamming my body, so who knows:

    - Crouching down to return, begin split step

    - Turn left foot out and take small step towards the ball

    - At more or less same time use lefthand to take racquet back to 90 degrees, thereby turning shoulders

    - Imagine *separating* the racquet and lefthand as quickly as possible, throwing the lefthand back and extending with racquet arm.

    - Drag the right foot

    Now, if I am doing this right, then essentially I would do exactly the same thing with a body serve, apart from not having to move the left foot out. I'd still separate the arms as quickly/firmly as possible having turned my shoulders.

    Obviously, doing any of this while returning a good serve is far more difficult, AND, being able to separate the arms with any kind of *punch* is what I'm finding most difficult
     
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  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    First of all, you're off base saying a slice doesn't work in 5.5 level doubles. It works just fine, even at ATP levels. However, the person doing the slicing has to be up to the level of the other 3 players, meaning, no weak high floaty returns up the middle of the court. Topspin or slice, a return in doubles needs to be LOW over the net, be hit firmly, have lots of spin, but mainly LOW and directionally wider than the doubles/baseline intersect.
    You can blast your 2hbh all day up the center tape, 3' high, and get it poached for an easy winner at your partner's foot.
    Direction is everything, then LOW over the net, then some pace.
    Step into your 2hbh, hit it lower than normal, flatten it out some for more ball speed and less topspin.
     
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  5. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It is a fundamental problem of the 1 hander. Isner said in an interview that return of serve was one of the reasons he preferred the 2 hander. Federer also sometimes returns weakly from the deuce court for serves to his BH, which is why Nadal targets that in his matches.
     
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  6. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    When you say that there are two many moving parts, it sounds like you are taking too much of a swing and maybe trying to get too much topspin (your stroke is too vertical for a fast serve). Try bringing back the head of the racquet just to your side (imagine locking your elbows to your side and then turning at the hips), and to the height of the ball at contact, so that the actually swing before contact is really short and straight. You can use a good, complete follow-through to direct the ball (don't just poke at the ball).

    For practice, I like to work on half volleys/taking the ball on the rise so that I keep the swing short.
     
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  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    At any level above 3.2, lower than 3.5, the backhand is the default serve direction, especially second serves.
    Knowing this, you just need to add some variety to your returns. Slice low short angled, and short, so the server needs to move forwards. Once he figures that out, you lob DTL over the netman, or even up the middle at the server's feet.
    Just keep your slices low, less than 2' above the net, and wide of the center tape. If netperson can cover than, he leaves the alley open for you, for your winner DTL return.
    And rightie returning from duece, if you use a backhand, you're already near the center of your court, well away from the netperson' reach.
    No reason whatsoever to hit a topspin return of serve, unless you just want to show off hitting a clean winner.
     
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  8. millardus

    millardus Rookie

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    Leed, I'm interested in this. My 2 major strengths in doubles are the serve, and intercepting returns.

    Now, this is not quite so easy to do at the 1st team level where, i kid you not, every team has someone somewhere between 5.5-7.0, and they drive that return religiously.

    I play 2nd/3rd team, and the 2nd team as well as most oppo have 2 players of their 4 between 4.5 and 5.0

    I try to eat slice returns all day by intercepting, as soon as I see it being hit, and if my partner has a decent serve. I suspect the point you are making is that if it is low and wide off the Deuce court net guy, then it doesn't matter if he is an avid poacher. I cant say that is going to be easy to perfect, quite a small margin when you have a decent server and an alert net guy. But I supose the alternative is to try and drive everything inside out (or occasionally lob), which in itself is rather problematic.

    If it's true that a slice return in doubles is evident and successful on the ATP tour and also at 5.5 level, then it is good enough for me and well worth the investment of time to perfect.
     
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  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Your "first team" is composed of Div1 singles players and ATP PROS?
    Your "second team" is top college singles players, and A/OPEN players?
    Why are you asking for advice on a forum composed mostly of 4-4.5 level players? We can barely make a Div111 singles team, except for a couple of guys who don't post on tips/instruction.
    Every time you guys play any match, it's a money tournament.
     
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  10. millardus

    millardus Rookie

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    Dunno what to say really, but yeah, the doubles league here has some ridiculous players turning out. The club scene in the middle of England is very strong in the summer months, we had Dan Evans playing 2 matches in our Premier league last year against my local rival club, and it went to 3 sets!

    In the UK, our highest rating is 1.1, which I presume is 7.0 in the US. And last year, 3 of the 8 teams in the Premier league fielded a 1.1. They are not top 100 in the world, that is for sure, but they have that 1.1 rating, whatever it is worth.

    But enough of that as it really doesn;t come into it for me as I only tend to get called in at last minute, and only twice last year out of 14 fixtures, but it wasd still an education.

    I am at the 4.0 level, I just have a decent serve so can occasionally get a game at that higher level to not be an absolute liability - though winning does not come into it.

    And yes, i can get advice from friends of mine that are better.....but isn't it fun to turn up and surprise your friends with new tricks on your own. I think so....
     
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  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    As a 4.0, you have to LOOK at the net player after you return a ball, to see whether he indicates a tendency to cover the middle, or to stay put.
    If he leans a bit when you shot clears his racket, you should hit the next shot HARD right into his alley side, either hard topspin or hard underspin, to keep him honest.
    Lob DTL one in 6. Use him for target practice, his right hip pocket, but tell your partner first so he can plan to step back and cover the middle.
    The only way you can keep a poacher honest is to hit hard right into his body. From his net position, he has to hit anything you cram at him if it's lower than upper chest high....so don't hit higher than that.
     
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  12. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Why are you asking the question? Hit the 2HBH.
     
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  13. millardus

    millardus Rookie

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    I struggle in singles with the 2-hander, movement. But, that is easier fixed than me trying to get my 1-hander to cover all things, this rotator isn't healing fast enough.

    going to perfect the slice over the months, and then see where I am.

    Will have to stick with 2-hander for doubles season returning, but that is ok. When singles season starts in August, we'll see where I am.
     
    #13
  14. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    To me, the biggest part of the block OHBH return is getting the shoulders turned.
     
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  15. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I see. Then use the 2HBH for returns then revert to the 1HBH for the rally.
     
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  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    At some low level of tennis, you should have learned to hit a high backhand volley...DOWN, with bite, low over the net.
    FYI, it's a ONE handed backhand! Surprise surprise.
    So use it to return serves to your backhand. DUH.
     
    #16
  17. Dimcorner

    Dimcorner Professional

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    That's what I do most of the time. I can hit a solid 2hbh return most of time but will revert to 1hbh for rest of rally. Eventually thou I do plan to pick one to stick to. I'm trying to go the 2hbh route but finding it difficult move, settle and hit without throwing myself off balance.
     
    #17
  18. Shroud

    Shroud Hall of Fame

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    Hi Millardus

    This is a great topic

    What grip are you using on your backhand?

    The reason i ask is that the 1 hbh shot you are looking for is an easier return for me then almost any other.

    I think the key for me at least is mostly grip related. When i used the conventional backhand grip it was really hard to just block the ball. But today i use the same grip i use on my forehand ( both semi western and western) for my backhand. With either and especially the semiwestern forehand grip it is possible to really block the ball because the wrist is strong in that position and the racket is perpendicular to the court so a flatter block type shot is fairly powerful.

    Also i dont know about you but it takes me a bit to get used to a serve and often ill hit late especially early in the match. That is really perfect in doubles for the inside out backhand you are talking about. 2ndly with that kind of grip you can get some sidespin along with top much like the modern forehand and that makes it easier to hit insideout.

    Try slowly moving your grip so more of your palm is on the 3 bevel to the left...this is where your other hand ends up on a 2hbh and we are just duplicating that a bit with the 1hbh.

    As to practicing it, i would have a partner set up in the duece court and feed you balls to your deuce court and you just block them back till you get the hang of it
     
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  19. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I can't argue with this. But though I can have trouble with 1HBH returns on occasion (I don't have a 2HBH), I mostly play doubles so a chip return can be devastating, I don't to get a lot of pace on my returns.
     
    #19
  20. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    I'm not sure pace matters a whole lot on the return. Especially in doubles. I think placement is absolutely the key.

    For doubles, there's pretty much two returns options for a backhand: low and wide cross-court or a down-the-line lob. The former being the most preferable. I think keeping the ball low is the most important. Bouncing low -- at or below the height of the net.

    Any return that is a high sitter is going to get crushed -- and you are leaving your partner/net-man hanging out to dry.

    I myself prefer one-handed chip shots on the return. Deep, wide, and low as I can get them. But admittedly, this is tougher on serves with heavy pace.
     
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  21. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    As a confirmed net player, who doesn't care for baseline play, I like poaching best when the returner is hitting topspin, either 1hbh or 2hbh.
    Yes.
    The reason.... topspinners need an earlier prep, is committed earlier than slicers, since their strokes are longer and more body prep is required.
    AND, oftentimes, their ball is higher as it travels over the net, giving me a chance to hit DOWN on the ball. Also, I find a topspin ball, slight, medium, or heavy, is easier to volley than a hard sliced low ball.
    One of the toughest balls to volley is a low sliced shot, hit with bite and conviction.
     
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