Need Help on Returning Serve

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Texas Scrambler, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. Texas Scrambler

    Texas Scrambler New User

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Messages:
    97
    I am having trouble returning serve with my shbh. I am consistently late with the stroke with powerful spin serves. Flat serves are not as much of a problem, they are more like short hop volleys. I think I am hesitating a little with the spin and bang I am late hitting open stanced instead of closed stance with racket out front.

    Thoughts on how to cure this problem. And yes, powerful kick serves to the wide ad court are tough. I am right handed.

    I am a +4.0 all court KSix One 95 16x18.
     
    #1
  2. only4theweak187

    only4theweak187 Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Messages:
    250
    "shbh"

    1 or 2 hander?

    i use the blx version of your racket same string pattern as well.

    step in and learn to take the ball early with the 2 hander if ya use it...use the left hand to really help with leverage and to really brush up the ball with spin to take the ball on the rise.
     
    #2
  3. Texas Scrambler

    Texas Scrambler New User

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Messages:
    97
    Single handed back hand. Continental to Semi-Western Grip.
     
    #3
  4. junbug

    junbug Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    140
    Location:
    vancouver, WA across the river from OR
    take it on the rise hit it flat and simple.
     
    #4
  5. dozu

    dozu Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    4,546
    if you can volley back the flats.... I dont see why you can't volley back the spin serves... try to stay lighter on the feet... if you get hurt too much on the kick out wide, cheat a little to that side, and dare the opp serve to your fh.
     
    #5
  6. Texas Scrambler

    Texas Scrambler New User

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Messages:
    97
    Thanks for the video. All pretty good. I often hit off center with strong spin serves to the backhand side while a strong flat serve I hit pretty solid. Same short hop kind of volley but the spin takes away my timing a bit. Need to watch the ball better? If so, how?
     
    #6
  7. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,320
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    FOLLOW THRU longer, is what you need for countering all shots hit with extreme spin, from return of serves, groundstrokes, volleys, overheads.
    And look at the ball, practice, and anticipate bounce height, direction, speed, and amount of curve.
     
    #7
  8. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    4,071
    Depending on the pace and spin of the balls this can be/often is a challenging problem to many players with a 1HBH - there isn't a heck of a lot of time and many 4.0 players have decent serves.

    Blocking back serves, especially on the backhand, is a developed art but can be very effective. Its also a good first step in learning how to return on the BH because you have to/should anyway, keep your eye on the ball. Taking your eyes off the ball and making the unit turn late are the major reasons for screwing up this shot - there are others of course but these are the two major ones.

    You probably don't want to hear this but have you given any consideration to a 2HBH for the return of serve. Although you range might be a spec smaller the possibilities of directing the ball (like blocking) are much higher and will win you more points.
     
    #8
  9. KenC

    KenC Professional

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2009
    Messages:
    1,437
    Location:
    Knowhere
    Do you have an effective split step that helps you explode toward the ball? Are you able to get your body mass moving forward as you are hitting the return? I am now playing against a few people who hit really hard second serves with a lot of spin. My only chance is to get my body weight going forward and to hopefully get a racquet on it with a block or a chip.
     
    #9
  10. only4theweak187

    only4theweak187 Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2010
    Messages:
    250
    Yes def with a one-hander follow through with a longer swing on spinny 2nd serves...definitely helps counteract the spin on the strings, blocking back returns are easiest on hard flat serves to the backhand
     
    #10
  11. athiker

    athiker Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,656
    Sounds like a ball tracking problem to me. Similar to what LeeD says are you making sure you are watching the ball all the way in? A hard flat serve's path is easier for the mind to predict even though it is faster. Spin serves are obviously moving along a changing path so more difficult.

    My 2c, is to stay compact, get turned and set ASAP, watch ball like a madman, stay sideways longer with calm head and trust your stroke (ie...no peeking).

    Also agree blocking a spinny serve is difficult b/c the spin can make the ball ricochet if not countered with your stroke. Either topspin or have you tried a 1HBH slice return? Either way impart your spin while still hitting through the ball to give it your direction.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2011
    #11
  12. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    8,660
    I hit a one-hander myself, but I can only hit a slice backhand return of serve if I go one-handed, unless the serve is rather slow and I have that extra fraction of a second to get set for it. Carrying forward momentum into my pre-return split-step is a must for energizing my returns on either side. That moves me through the shot (along with the racquet) without having to make so much of a swing happen on short notice.

    For more aggressive (topspin) backhand returns, I hit two-handed simply because it's a more compact, quicker shot for me to execute. While a one-hander is clearly my more natural stroke style in a rally, it's more difficult for me to use it for a topspin return, even if I cheat my setup toward my backhand position.
     
    #12
  13. Ptrac

    Ptrac Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Messages:
    220
    try this: when youre in ready postition make sure you have your racquet extended out in front you...almost having your arms fulling extended. This will force you to get your body out of the way of the ball and promotes better preparation and early timing which is key for returning. All you need to do at this point is turn your shoulders and your racquet is already out in front and ready to hit the ball.

    The alt: having the racket close to your chest and then extending your arms when the ball in coming in. This can lead to late timing and lazy footwork if youre getting jammed.

    I had a bad habit of doing this and made returning very difficult. So I cut out one step and now I feel I have more time to prepare.
     
    #13
  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,320
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Ptrac's suggesting can work for certain players. The absolute best returner in our courts always talks about this, sticking the racket as far out as possible, away from the body. He can return real college Div1 singles serves with almost impunity, forcing the server to move forwards or have an ankle high volley 70% of the time...and I'm not talking about my paltry serves, but real Div1 singles player's serves.
    I've tried it only a couple days, and it didn't work for me, but couple of days is not a fair test.
     
    #14
  15. Jamesm182

    Jamesm182 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Messages:
    316
    Good point! Id look to start with a block , almost punch like stroke, and then gradually look to build up the follow through as you feel more comfortable with the stroke.

    If you can look for tells in the opponents technique as to when a kicker is coming that will , or shoudl help your anticipation of it. You also have to stand your ground or be moving forward, if you let it come onto you, you will be hitting the ball at its highest point. Therefore allowing it to be effective against you.

    If the serves are fast you might not have time for a unit turn, rather an open stance punch/block
     
    #15
  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,320
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Some real godly talents can "punch/block" with their groundie grips, but for slow thinkers like myself, it's better to adopt the continental VOLLEY grip and volley the return after it's bounce.
     
    #16
  17. Texas Scrambler

    Texas Scrambler New User

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Messages:
    97
    Thanks for Good Advice

    I am off to play this evening and will crank up the focus on watching the ball and work on holding the racquet out further in front. Another point well made was if there is a lot of spin, blocking may not be sufficient and I will need to swing out. I will start with the eyes, then feet and then hands getting into positon and then work on lengthening the stroke.

    Any drills recommended for backhand serve returns?

    Ge Fed in Dubai. No knock against the Joker, I just like Fed better
     
    #17
  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,320
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Big spin serves, it's much more important than to swing with a long contact point and fully followtru than to just "swingout". "Swingout" connotates to swing like you are hitting a groundstroke, which you are NOT. You're returning a fast spinny second serve that moves away or towards you, not downward like a topspin groundie.
     
    #18
  19. Texas Scrambler

    Texas Scrambler New User

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Messages:
    97
    #19
  20. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2009
    Messages:
    4,266
    #20
  21. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    4,071
    Yeah, some can use the continental very well on the return of serve - you are probably one of them. However, for most using this grip it pops the ball up too much. Most younger players don't use this grip on return of serve but that, in itself, "might" not be definitive for several reasons. Returning serve from behind the baseline, sometimes way behind the baseline, using the continental grip put too much arc into the ball IMO.
     
    #21
  22. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,870
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I'm in that category. If I have to return serve with a single-handed backhand, I always punch/slice the ball, but I have to do it with an EBH grip. If I do it with a Conti, I end up popping up the ball. For me, the Conti is good for backhand lobs, but that's it.

    The only way I can get a conti to stay low and deep is to actually get "wristy" on the backhand and supinate a little bit. But half the time I end up framing the ball.

    I'm jealous of people who can hit a penetrating low backhand punch shot with a Conti. I'd love to not have to turn all the way to an EBH.
     
    #22
  23. Texas Scrambler

    Texas Scrambler New User

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Messages:
    97
    Best Video Yet on Returns

    Thanks a ton Devilito for the video. I am continental to semi-western on the backhand return. And from looking at the video of Gilbert / Bryans, I need track the ball better and more consistently hit out front. Time to break old habits.
     
    #23
  24. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,320
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Conti return of serve is exactly the same as conti volley. Yes, you pop it up if you backfoot, lean back, are tentative.
    If you move forwards, stay down, the ball hardslices a skidder most times, making an effective return of serve even against poacher's, netmen, baseliners, or NMLanders.
    If you can't volley, don't expect conti to work for you.
     
    #24
  25. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,870
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Yep, this is an issue for me. When returning serve, I like to take the ball early so that I can cut off deep incoming angles more easily. Most times I'll stand right on the baseline -- at the deepest.

    If the serve has some good pace to it, I do catch myself leaning back or backfooting it a little bit to compensate. Not surprisingly, my volleys are okay, but if I get a hard line-drive right at me, I exhibit the same behavior.

    Nonetheless, I still depend on the EBH to bail me out of the fact that I'm not forcing myself to step forward into the ball -- on those hard volleys.
     
    #25
  26. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,320
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    If I notice a guy returning my serves with eBackhand and doing it well, I'll serve into the hitting side right pocket of righties, to force them to get out of the way and use their FOREHANDS, not their backhands.
    That's why I always say a server can move a returner into any position he wants, by the location and pace of the serves.
    You stand at baseline for my first serves, expect it into your body, either flat or curving.
    You stand back a bit, then more normal wide serves coming.
    A good server can mix bounce direction with twists, tops, and top/slices, so THREE different spins with 97% IN second serves.
     
    #26
  27. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Messages:
    3,773
    Try bring back the racquet to the height of the ball. I suspect you are trying to take too much of a vertical swing (low racquet to high ball) which is really hard to time.
     
    #27
  28. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
    Messages:
    5,484
    Location:
    Stillwater, OK
    I heard the OSU men's coach say something interesting the other day. Sort of along the Dozu line of philosophy. "If you watch the great returners, the racquet face [angle] doesn't move during the swing."
     
    #28
  29. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,320
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Is that the KISS theory at work?
     
    #29
  30. Texas Scrambler

    Texas Scrambler New User

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Messages:
    97
    Ok I am working on it

    Never thought I am that stubborn but yes I am. Finally forced myself to step in and take kick serve on the rise and was not mentally confident but returned well with moderate underspin chip. Didn't work that day in dubs with the net man poaching well but hey, I am starting to get the ball in play more consistently. I am eligible to play in the +45 Masters so I guess old habits are hard to break. Thanks for he excellent advice and I will keep moving forward when I see the ball toss go to the backhand kick serve.
     
    #30
  31. Davis937

    Davis937 Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
    Messages:
    916
    A strong desire to improve my return of service game resulted in my switching over to a 2HBH ... as mentioned earlier, it's a much more compact stroke and more forgiving (higher margin of error ... off center hits, late hits, etc.) ... two keys that I use to return serve: be aggressive and attack the ball (don't let the ball play you) and make a concerted effort to really follow through with the stroke. Good hitting!
     
    #31

Share This Page