Return of Serve Drill @BIGJ98

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Maximagq, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    #1
  2. BIGJ98

    BIGJ98 Rookie

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    Thanks....
     
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  3. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
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  4. FitzRoy

    FitzRoy Professional

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    Hey, don't have time to watch the whole vid (vid in the OP) right now, did you ever do the same drill but with him mixing it up between FHs and BHs? Like after you get a lot of reps on both sides. Sorry if it's later in the vid

    Definitely a great return drill
     
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  5. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Not specifically in that video but that is a variation of the drill that I have done in the past that worked really well!
     
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  6. FitzRoy

    FitzRoy Professional

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    I think both are good drills. Doing a lot in a row to one side helps get a ton of reps in, imparts the muscle memory, and the feel of good contact. Then the drill with mixing it up is good for helping transition those return skills to something more like real match play
     
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  7. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Agreed, I have seen the college coaches at USC and UCLA do this and my coaches have adopted it
     
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  8. taurussable

    taurussable Professional

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    Thanks for posting drills. They are awesome. Can't wait to try the return drill this wkd.
     
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  9. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Sure thing. These drills helped me a lot growing up. Have fun with them haha
     
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  10. SouthboundAgain

    SouthboundAgain Rookie

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    Very useful drill. Matt, I was wondering if you had any good advice/tips on the service return itself, or if you remember a few specific things that the college guys mentioned on this topic.

    I've been struggling with my return lately and could use some good free advice!
     
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  11. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Hey! Some of the key things to point out are that you should try to get your weight moving forward into the court on both first and second serves. This really helps because it makes it easier to return a fast serve when you get your momentum moving forward rather than falling backwards or staying stagnant in your position. Watch Andy Murray. You can see that on a first serve, he stands further back and moves forward as his opponent tosses the ball. On the second serve, he is right on top of the baseline and still moves forward to intercept the serve before it kicks too high.

    The other key things are to keep the backswing minimal and just focus on clean contact. On a return, you really only need to reflect your opponent's pace back at them, so extraneous motions are inefficient for doing this and lead to errors. Focus on just turning your shoulders and going through towards the target. A good way to imagine this is to cut your backswing in half and extend your follow through twice as much towards the target. That's an exaggeration but that is the mentality that they instilled in me.

    Going back on what I said about the backswing, you have to watch the server and try to read what kind of serve he is hitting in order to get clean contact with the strings. It's analagous to watching a good hitter in baseball. In Brad Gilbert's Winning Ugly, Gilbert mentioned that a hitter with a 0.400 career average (I don't remember the name because I don't follow baseball) watched the ball so closely that he could see the seams as it came across the mound. This can be applied to tennis; you really have to watch the ball as soon as your opponent begins his toss. Then, you have to react with not only your feet to get into position, but also your eyes.

    Your feet play an important role because you want to split-step as your opponent strikes the serve. This makes sense because of Newton's First Law, which states in informal terms, objects in motion tend to stay in motion. When you split-step, you are able to react faster because you have already overcome inertia and then you can cut off angles on the return much more easily. If you notice the top returners, the footwork pattern isn't a bunch of little steps like in normal baseline rally. Rather, they split and then they take a large hop towards either side depending on where the serve is placed. It's similar to the recovery shuffle steps that you see guys like Federer employ to return to the center after they hit a baseline groundstroke.

    Tactic-wise, you want to get as many returns back into play, ESPECIALLY right at the beginning of the match. What Matt Kecki from USC emphasized was to place your shots deep but UP THE MIDDLE because this takes away a potential variable for error (missing wide). In tennis, there are three possible errors: 1. Missing into the net 2. Missing long 3. Missing wide. When you aren't fully warmed up, you want to be able to get into a rhythm on your opponent's service games so that you can start to chip away at his defenses over the course of the match. By minimizing one of the three possible errors, you are giving yourself a statistically much higher chance of winning the point and coming up with a break. After you start to get grooved, you can start going more towards the corners, but the important thing to realize is that missing a return is analogous to a double fault on your service games. It's like giving away a free point. You want to make your opponent work to hold his service games.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  12. SouthboundAgain

    SouthboundAgain Rookie

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    Awesome Matt. I appreciate the insight and the depth you went into. I'll definitely try to put those tips into practice.

    As far as return position, I'm guessing from your tips/videos that you prefer to take the ball early (by keeping your return position close to the baseline) rather than taking a few steps back and hitting from further back?
     
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  13. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    ^ Great stuff. My FH return needs work... I've got into an awful habit of chipping it back.
     
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  14. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Yeah I prefer standing on the baseline and taking it early, but it's really personal preference. This hurts me against big servers but it helps a lot on returning second serves. I try to cut off the angle and get into a more neutral/offensive position off the return. It's fine to stand further back to give yourself more time when necessary. I do that against bigger servers but my returns tend to fall shorter and I lose more points.
     
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  15. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

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    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for sharing. I wish I could hear the serve lesson though.
     
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  16. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

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    Hey! Some of the key things to point out are that you should try to get your weight moving forward into the court on both first and second serves. This really helps because it makes it easier to return a fast serve when you get your momentum moving forward rather than falling backwards or staying stagnant in your position. Watch Andy Murray. You can see that on a first serve, he stands further back and moves forward as his opponent tosses the ball. On the second serve, he is right on top of the baseline and still moves forward to intercept the serve before it kicks too high."

    Biggest factor in my return game for sure. The odd thing is that I often forget to do it. Comes down to being disciplined I guess.
     
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  17. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

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    "...missing a return is analogous to a double fault on your service games. It's like giving away a free point. You want to make your opponent work to hold his service games."

    Never heard that one. Great way to put it. Makes you think about being more careful/disciplined.
     
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  18. crash1929

    crash1929 Hall of Fame

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    Hey Matt what was Chris telling you about your stance? Did you get anything good out of the lesson?
     
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