How do you return serve?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Fuji, Aug 26, 2011.

?

How do you return serve?

  1. Take a full Cut?

    62.2%
  2. Poke it back?

    17.6%
  3. Try and redirect?

    47.3%
  4. Lob it!

    4.1%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    I was practicing with my friend the other night, and he wouldn't attack any of my serves, even if they were short, or didn't have much on them. His reasoning? "Serves are serves, they really can't be attacked". The question came to me, how do you return serve? I personally go for almost ever serve I can. I take a full cut at the ball, and first serves I at least try to knock back with some good redirection. A lot of local rec players that I were watching, were just bunting the ball with a lob or just barely getting it back, when the serves were slow with no pace at all.

    So the question TT! How do you return serve? I've always tried to attack weak serves, but I'm curious as to how everyone else fairs! :)

    -Fuji
     
    #1
  2. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

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    on hard serves i block it back and try to direct it CC short. for softer serves, but still hard, i try to add TS and go DTL. if i get a shot that i can attack, i will, i dont want to give them a free point on their serve. the best result for me, other than a full out winner, is to get it back in a hurry, deep and at their feet. because i know when i am serving, that is the hardest shot to counter.
     
    #2
  3. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I use all your choices except the lob.
    The lob, I use only when netman is atop the net and server is changing forewards.
     
    #3
  4. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Interesting! :)

    So far no lobbers! It's actually quite a common thing here to do. A lot of 3.0-3.5 players lob whatever serve comes there way, in a moonball fashion!

    -Fuji
     
    #4
  5. FedExpress 333

    FedExpress 333 Professional

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    LOL i would smash those to death.
     
    #5
  6. HiroProtagonist

    HiroProtagonist Professional

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    Really depends on the serve. I play against a wide variety of style and skill level being mainly a public court pick-up player nowadays.

    If I'm facing a competent server with some decent pace and placement I go with the abbreviated take back and redirect using their pace to fuel my own, usually aiming DTL or at their feet, but will go CC if their sere takes me that way.

    If I'm playing a dinker or a spin it in type I usually step up and rip it going for the winner DTL or CC and accept the increased number of errors, it's just more fun.

    I do play a 1HBH so against top notch servers I do block or slice the ball back off that wing, but I have actually developed a very consistent and effective FH serve return, very simple and compact.

    So I guess I choose redirect since I have to pick one.
     
    #6
  7. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Ironically, I struggle to lob off of serves. I hardly ever attempt it.

    One reason is that if the server is coming in, lobbing is not a good idea. Better is to just put it at their feet.

    The other problem with lobbing is that it is rare for the serve to push me back behind the baseline. For most decent 3.5 ladies serves, I start inside the baseline. It's hard to get off enough topspin to get the ball up and down. For men's 3.5 serves, the pace and lack of backswing on my return makes hitting a topspin lob tricky.

    I rarely try to win the point off of the return. I just seem to dork it up. Unless the serve is absolutely miserable, I just return it deep and crosscourt or to the server's feet and take it from there. If the server has a bad BH, I might get brave and return deep to the BH corner and come to net. Only when I feel brave, though.
     
    #7
  8. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Interesting! Thanks for replying everyone!

    Cindy, here a lot of people "lob" by just getting under the serve and popping it up into a lob.

    We stand near the same position when returning serve it sounds like! I stand about 6 inches in, since I love to take the serve early and try to out right win the point. I'm okay with making errors, because I know once I get the timing down for any particular server, I can learn how to start teeing off on them. I play such attacking tennis, there is rarely any easy points for my opponents! :)

    -Fuji
     
    #8
  9. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    LOL, and that's how you advance in the score, and in your level of play! Most people I play against know, that if they return anything less then perfect with placement or pace, I'm going to be attacking it with pretty high percentages to boot! :)

    -Fuji
     
    #9
  10. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    in singles i try and get it deep
    on really fast servers that might mean a block
    (i voted full cut)
    but in general full swing but get it deep

    in doubles if they serve and volley i want it to hit the service line
    if i can get a full cut with enough topslin thats great
    if i have to chip it to there feet (fh and bh)
    thats ok too

    all i want is for them to volley up

    if the server stays back i like a moony type of ball deep(full cut alot of topspin high over the net)
    the high ball is difficult to poach on (especially for the poachers backhand side) and the air time lets me get in to net:)

    if the server is a net rusher and doesnt split step ill lob over the net player
     
    #10
  11. Headshotterer

    Headshotterer Professional

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    my choice isnt here.

    shorten swing and hit a solid return
     
    #11
  12. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    I'm pretty sure that's "Block it Back" under the options. I did forget to add your option though! Anyone know how to edit the poll options? :confused:

    -Fuji
     
    #12
  13. BurnNotice

    BurnNotice New User

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    I'll chip it back if it's a really fast serve or gets too high on the backhand side, forehand it's usually a block.

    On medium paced serves I redirect the ball with some pace.

    On slow spinny serves I go for hard cross court angles or take a real good whack and send it deep with pace.

    Why anyone would dink back a dink serve is beyond me.
     
    #13
  14. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    I'll either redirect on hard serves or poke it back just to change the pace.

    I'll usually only take a full cut if the opponent serving is giving me a completely horrible, low-pace serve.
     
    #14
  15. esgee48

    esgee48 Hall of Fame

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    Will redirect hard serves. Anything else is going to get a swing or a lob (in doubles) if the serve is truly horrendous!
     
    #15
  16. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    I do all four, depending on the opponent and/or how I'm returning on that particular day. Many times, playing doubles, I'll also put up a DTL lob when returning a great server's ball. It's a more effective shot than hitting a short sitter.
     
    #16
  17. Limibeans

    Limibeans Rookie

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    Depends on the serve coming at me and what the opponent is doing. Also, singles returns are A LOT easier than doubles returns. For example, slicing a backhand return in doubles will probably cost you the point at your level which is 4.5. In singles, you can slice your return all day and you'll be ok.

    Generally speaking, short swings, firm.

    Backhand, more of a block, pushing forwards.
    Forehand, more of a push, moving upwards.

    I hardly ever get the chance to really "attack" someones serve. If its a high level serve its a gamble. If its a low level serve im probably playing for fun and crushing the ball is not in anyones best interest.
     
    #17
  18. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Lob by getting under the serve and popping it up?

    The hell, you say!! :)

    Nope, not gonna do it. Too ugly. Style points matter. If I can't get some topspin and make the lob offensive, I'd rather not lob at all.
     
    #18
  19. krizzle

    krizzle Rookie

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    Today, I was taking a full cut.
    Tuesday, I was just trying to get the ball back.
    Last Friday, I was trying to redirect it.
    It really depends.
     
    #19
  20. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    The reason we don't mention lobbing as an option in singles is that we don't play singles against anyone less than 4.0, and those guys can hit overheads while moving forwards.
    Guess what? 4.5's, 5.0's, and 5.5's can also hit overheads while moving forwards.
     
    #20
  21. Roy125

    Roy125 Professional

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    With a fast serve to my body, I usually redirect the pace to the center of the court (or to the corners if I'm lucky).

    With a serve that is quickly going away from me, I lob it so that I get back in position.

    For serves that I have no time to prepare for, I try to poke it back.

    For slow and bouncy serves, I take a full cut at the ball.
     
    #21
  22. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    LOL! Cindy, I think this post made you officially graduate to 4.0! :D

    Trust me, this is one of the ugliest returns I've ever seen. I watched a 4.0 male serve to a 3.5 male, and he got under the ball, with a slice type motion, but instead of driving it, he "flicked" up and 30 feet in the air it went with back spin. Truly horrendous. :shock:

    -Fuji
     
    #22
  23. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

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    Rec players often have terrible return of serves because they don’t practice it outside of matches. Even tournament players get into the same rut of baseline rallies and 11s and totally neglect their serve and return which is probably the top 2 most important shots in tennis.
     
    #23
  24. baek57

    baek57 Professional

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    Depends on the serve. But generally speaking anything to my backhand will be coming back as a slice and anything to my forehand will be coming back with topspin. The pace of the serve will dictate how much of a cut I take at the ball (slower serve = bigger cut).
     
    #24
  25. HEADfamilydynasty

    HEADfamilydynasty Rookie

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    Full Cut

    i almost always take a full cut. i only do otherwise when i didn't anticipate the serve properly.:twisted:
     
    #25
  26. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I can't graduate just yet.

    I remembered I have a friend who practices singles with me. She loves to S&V. At first, I used to try to pass her. She comes to net like a freight train, so this didn't work often enough. What did work was, um . . . getting under the serve and popping it up. Because of her excessive forward momentum, any decent lob would win the point.

    Oh, the shame . . . .
     
    #26
  27. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Oh Cindy, the shame!!! :)

    Soon enough, you shall become a legitimate 4.0, and all of TT will rejoice! Then, the hunt for 4.5 begins....

    -Fuji
     
    #27
  28. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Hmm, the percentages of the answers are adding up to 135%
     
    #28
  29. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    You can select more than once answer ;)
     
    #29
  30. Laver777

    Laver777 Rookie

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    depends on the serve. but generally i try and take a full cut and back myself. but i allways try and mix it up to keep the opponet guessing. add in a chip n charge sometimes too.
     
    #30
  31. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Oh!
    I'm limiting myself unnecessarily.
     
    #31
  32. Freshest_Cereal

    Freshest_Cereal New User

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    For your poll, perhaps that's what you meant by "redirecting?" Because I'm pretty sure the above poster is not blocking it back. Blocking (to me, and perhaps I am quite wrong on my tennis terminology) implies that you're not swinging, which would be more similar to a volley.

    In my experience (and I'm relatively young), my current coach and the ones before him all seem to be on par regarding the shortened back-swing return methodology. The above post seems to be of similar style:

    It's not that the swing is small, but merely the strategy of not taking the racket [racquet] back all the way. A complete follow-through is a MUST to get enough topspin to keep in the court, in most cases anyway. With a slightly shortened back-swing, what I'm gaining is not hitting my returns too deep (aka out)...

    More importantly, it counteracts my ADD so that I'm not getting to the ball too late (seriously! Oh, look, a squirrel... ;)). Pathetic, but it works, because my return game has skyrocketed with this minor adjustment.

    Now, neither pace nor spacing out cannot deter my returns! If I'm doing everything else right, anyway...

    It also works with slower serves, spin of various sorts, and the junk that I get from friends who cannot serve, because I don't get out-of-control when I see a "lay-up" presented to me in the service box.
     
    #32
  33. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    While I'm not much of a dinker at all on rtns, I can see why players building confidence in their games would choose this. IMO one of the most important things I can do when the the other guy is serving, is to make him work hard if he is going to hold. The harder I work him, the less chance his good serve will determine those points and the better chance to break him, along with breaking his confidence. I'm fortunate that rtn is one of the better parts of my game, so I can be quite aggressive and stay very consistent as well. When returning I want to make sure I get some rally shots going for keeping a rhythm on strokes for when he is serving, because I don't expect to hit as many strokes when I'm serving. When I'm serving, I will keep the points shorter and push my advantage, but when returning, IMO you should extend rallys and not let him push the advantage of his serve.
     
    #33
  34. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    Pretty much always short backswing and solid return. Throw in the occasional skidding slice BH to keep them on their toes.

    I can't imagine taking a full cut at a serve that's anything less than a complete dolly. For a serve with any sort of pace it's unnecessary and just takes time away from yourself. Basically, it lowers the percentage of the shot for negligible additional benefit. There's a reason why none of the great returners (Agassi, Djokovic, etc.) are known for a big backswing on their returns.

    If I have enough time to take a full cut at the ball and still hit it reliably, that's telling me that I'm standing too far back. I'd rather stand closer, have better angles and take more time away from my opponent.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
    #34
  35. USERNAME

    USERNAME Professional

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    Depends... BIG serve with great varied placement, Ill just try to get it back.
    BIG serve with consistent placement, Ill redirect it.
    Midpace serve with great placement, Ill redirect at first but if I find a tell in the toss or motion or something Ill take a cut.
    Midpace with consistent/no placement WATCH OUT! Im bangin the return.
     
    #35
  36. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Hard serves: redirect with compact motion with either a small amount of slice or top. Very little backswing, but still follow-thru. Follow-thru doesn't wrap around as much as racket speed is slower.

    Slower serves: more topspin and more aggressive cut. Full follow-thru with full wrap. Also, may hit underspin or topspin approach shot if serve is short and slow.

    Encourage everyone to attack slow serves. This is basically like a short ball in a rally and should be treated as such. Go for it.
     
    #36
  37. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I play a lot of doubles and usually in the ad court. I never lob intentionally though my chips on very good serves can end up an deep defensive lobs in practice. I will take a full cut on the FH wing (and I try to run abound my BH on returns) if possible. I will chip BHs, either very CC or in my alley as I face a lot of aggressive poachers. Same with the FH off of very good serves or against S&Vers (which is a lot of my competition).

    Full cuts usually end up as easy to volley returns in doubles, chips end up as scooping, difficult volleys against S&Vers.
     
    #37
  38. UWBTennis

    UWBTennis Rookie

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    I like to redirect slow first serves (<60 mph serves) by taking a short backswing and keeping the ball in front and pointing my racket where I want it to go. On faster serve I just poke it back as a deep slice. On any second serve less than 50 mph I'll take a full swing to put on the pressure. One thing I do try to do though is never be more than a feet off the baseline when I return the serve. I'm rarely outside the baseline when I return a second serve and am always either on the baseline or inside the baseline (depends on serve speed) when I return the first serve.
     
    #38
  39. okaythen

    okaythen New User

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    this video said always go diagonal toward the serve and never run parallel to the baseline...is it true for most serves? any exceptions? thanks
     
    #39
  40. ShoeShiner

    ShoeShiner Rookie

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    Lob return can be used in double.
     
    #40
  41. sunof tennis

    sunof tennis Professional

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    Agree with this. Obviously depends on the type of serve I am facing as well.
     
    #41
  42. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Watch most recreational players, and when a guy tries to step it up and blast dink serves back, he ends up making more errors than he does hit winners or put away points in one or 2 shots.
     
    #42
  43. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    Makes sense I guess depending on your skill set. Most of the time I can tee off on sitters which isn't an issue.

    I've slowly changed my return game from when the poll was first made actually. I still take nice solid cuts, but rarely ever at anything above 80% power now.

    -Fuji
     
    #43
  44. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    If it's hard I take a half swing and if it is slow I take a big cut:)
     
    #44
  45. Jason130497

    Jason130497 New User

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    Across the body on a hard serve normally a first serve and sometimes a second. Direct the ball normally down the line on a weaker serve or second serve.
     
    #45
  46. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Like it slept with my wife.

    J
     
    #46
  47. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    i don't face strong serves at my level (non-pros always overestimate how hard they serve imo).

    I usually try to take a swing at the 1st serve (abbreviated for the stronger ones). I attack 2nd serves nearly every time on both wings. Mostly cross-court, but will throw the odd down-the-line to mix things up. I should block more on 1st serves to be more competitive, but i can't resist swinging.

    I find that I make too many unforced errors on dink serves because i have too much time and my eye ends up wandering to where i want the ball to go. i need to focus on the ball more and not aim for corners\lines as much.
     
    #47
  48. tennytive

    tennytive Semi-Pro

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    Hard serves… block it back.

    Medium serves… attack. Full cut, chip and charge, or drop just over the net if he doesn't move well.

    Dink serves in doubles… topspin lob over netman or sharp angle crosscourt either as a drive or drop shot.

    Hard serves to the body are my weakest returns.
     
    #48
  49. matchmaker

    matchmaker Hall of Fame

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    I have to agree with this. The return really depends on the incoming serve. I find that if you play different people, you will encounter strong servest even at medium low level. Off course those strong serves tend to be quite irregular, and may only be in one out of three times. But still, the times they are in you wanna get them back. In that case, it is often a matter of being sharp in reaction and trying to get the ball back in the best possible way. This can mean, block or half swing if you have the time. The fact that the incoming serve has a lot of pace means you don't have to make pace on it anymore. A buddy of mine can occasionally get serve bombs in. A few of those got smoked by me, by just concentrating on the ball and redirecting it, which has occasionally led to laser returns.

    I feel that between first serve returning and second serve returning there is a world of difference, unless you play against a really bad server. I can't stress enough how important it is to get that second serve ball into play. Overhitting is bad, as is underhitting. I feel concentration really needs to be highest on second serve returns. I count my own UEs on second serve returns and every one I miss hurts me a lot, as those balls were points to be played and not missed.

    Many people overestimate their offensive capacities. Only try to hit a winner against a second serve if you are sure it will land in, i.e. if you know the stroke you are executing is something you are good at and 9 out of 10 it will be in. If you can't hit a winner, try to get the best ball out of it you can. Which often means a deep ball. That will set up a rally in which the odds favor you.

    Mostly on second serves I take a full swing but the most important thing is not hitting winners, but putting your opponent under pressure. That is why I scarsely chip and charge on serves. I rather hit the return +1 shot to appear at net, except if it is really a weak serve.
     
    #49
  50. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Decent First Serve: I normally use a slice on the BH and a little topspin blocking motion on the FH. I try to just take the strings to ball and follow thru. If really big serve, I will use a slice forehand - like a volley with a bit of a follow-thru.

    Weak Serve: I hit a mini-ground stroke. Again, just take the strings to the ball but I will try to hit it with a bit of topspin off both sides. Use full follow-thru for pace and direction.
     
    #50

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