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-   -   Service Return prep. Do you guess? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=434553)

dlam 08-01-2012 07:40 PM

Service Return prep. Do you guess?
 
Just wondering how many of you try to guess the speed, direction , spin of the serve before the player on the other side on the net actually hits the tennis ball on his serve.
If you do , does it work?
If you guess wrong is it more a hinderence than help?
Is there too much effort involved with trying to guess in your opinion?

Bergboy123 08-01-2012 09:17 PM

I take into consideration only which side I think he'll serve to, based on history, situation, what's been working, paterns, etc. Spins, speeds, all that, I don't worry about. Just which side.

charliefedererer 08-01-2012 09:47 PM

Before the serve, visualize how you will respond to a serve hit to your forehand, backhand, or at the body.

Then come out of your split step ready to react to ball as you watch it intently from the toss all the way to your racquet.

On a fast serve you'll only get one step out of your split step - do it as soon as possible.

On a fast serve remain in an open position with your feet pointed at the net.
But turn your shoulders away from the ball (coil) so you can uncoil to add upper body rotation and leg push off to power your return rather than relying on feeble arm power to block it back.

OldFedIsOld 08-01-2012 09:48 PM

Beginning of the match I just try to chip it back into play until I find out their favorite serves, when I figure them out then I go on the attack.

If the serve is big and the disguise is good then I just split step and try to guess which side is targeted the most, mostly the backhand because that's where everyone would probably try serving to.
If the serve isn't as big and can easily be distinguished I step in and try to add pressure onto my opponent's serve.

Orion3 08-01-2012 11:09 PM

Generally I don't guess, I try to read from ball toss etc. However, recently I've started to make educated guesses (later in the game) on points where I could gain a material advantage (and the risk is less). e.g. break point or 30-30

Guessing is based on what I've seen to date; during the game or if I have played them before. Habits, such as serves wide when in trouble, or down the line when he is ahead.

Mountain Ghost 08-01-2012 11:28 PM

Guessing
 
My advice on guessing is pretty much the same for all shots, except maybe an easy overhead coming at you ... and that is DON'T! If you guess wrong the result is obvious. If you guess "right" there's a good chance you won't be where you want to be anyway ... as in overrunning the ball. Best to be on balance so you can turn to either side quickly and wait until you know where the ball is going before you respond. In reality you have a lot more time than you might think or feel you do.

This is very important during tight volley exchanges at the net like in doubles. I feed balls to my students from the service line and they are always slower and less effective on volleys when they guess than when they don't. I think the same is true for returning serves.

MG

LuckyR 08-02-2012 07:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dlam (Post 6770072)
Just wondering how many of you try to guess the speed, direction , spin of the serve before the player on the other side on the net actually hits the tennis ball on his serve.
If you do , does it work?
If you guess wrong is it more a hinderence than help?
Is there too much effort involved with trying to guess in your opinion?

These questions seem difficult on paper, but on the court they work out to be pretty simple.

A couple of things. Many players serve in a pattern. Some because they only have confidence in one serve type. Lots of players hit 100% spin serves for their second serve. Thus it is not really a "guess" to know that a guy who has hit 100% kick serves for a second serve will hit it that way next time.

In addition as the match progresses an observant returner can notice things like 100% of the time on break point they serve to the backhand, or that they will always either put a little extra pace on their first serve or take a little off. IMO these are actual guesses, but highly likely to be correct (not a coin flip).

On lots of players I am not fearing a second serve ace so I will take off to run around a serve to my BH before the serve is struck. Good news is if I guess wrong I can correct it and still get a FH return over the net. But if I guess right the netman is going to have to deal with a screamer.

texacali 08-02-2012 08:02 AM

I play mostly doubles and most players I have encountered cannot place a serve without some radical starting point on the baseline. I typically play ad side and many players I have played will go all the way out the the alley to hit a wide serve to the backhand of the ad side player. I guess it's because many hit a no spin serve and more direct the serve than place it....the ball will also not have any "action" after the bounce. Pretty much the same on the deuce side also, so I know I can probably play wide knowing that's probably where the ball is going.

Funbun 08-02-2012 08:40 AM

I never guess because it never works. I only guess when I hit a poor lob and await an overhead.

The most important thing is simply to split step and move quickly, watch the player closely before the serve, anticipate what kind of serve he's doing (1st, 2nd) and the spin he uses for each.

Limpinhitter 08-02-2012 10:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mountain Ghost (Post 6770508)
My advice on guessing is pretty much the same for all shots, except maybe an easy overhead coming at you ... and that is DON'T! If you guess wrong the result is obvious. If you guess "right" there's a good chance you won't be where you want to be anyway ... as in overrunning the ball. Best to be on balance so you can turn to either side quickly and wait until you know where the ball is going before you respond. In reality you have a lot more time than you might think or feel you do.

This is very important during tight volley exchanges at the net like in doubles. I feed balls to my students from the service line and they are always slower and less effective on volleys when they guess than when they don't. I think the same is true for returning serves.

MG

I agree with this. The exception is when you're playing someone you know very well and have picked up some clues ie: the way he tosses, or how far he turns during his service motion. Otherwise, just focus on the ball, stay low and loose.

I would also say that steping forward into your split step, and having your weight directly over your feet, on balance, like Djokovic, helps you move quickly and cut off the angle of the ball.

LuckyR 08-02-2012 10:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Funbun (Post 6771677)
I never guess because it never works. I only guess when I hit a poor lob and await an overhead.

The most important thing is simply to split step and move quickly, watch the player closely before the serve, anticipate what kind of serve he's doing (1st, 2nd) and the spin he uses for each.

In my experience you are likely making a statistical error. At the lower levels of play, serves are usually quite predictable so going into each serve without taking into account of the patterns you observe, you are not maximizing your potential. In addition at the lower levels, things are happening slowly enough where you can likely recover if you "guess" wrong, though that is not going to happen very often.

At the higher levels, you will run into competition where they are going to have a huge advantage on serve such that your best chance of getting a single break is to gamble. Remember you only have to guess correctly one game a set to win the set, who cares if you get blown out at love on all the other return games if you get your break once?

dlam 08-02-2012 10:57 AM

Thanks for all the responses.
To clarify I like to make a distinction between " guessing" and 'anticipation'
Guessing in my mind is like when I lob or hit a poor short high ball and the other player has the high ball close to the net and can place it deep and fast on either corner, I really have to no choice but to "guess' .
This requires my commitment without read on the opposing player. It is 50:50 chance.
Anticipation is after reading the body language of the player as he approaches the short ball or lob and where the ball might be place to get to it.
For that matter, anticipation happens in groundstrokes all the time the time.

IMO, I dont "guess" cause it's 50;50 anyway. I try to see if the player gives a read about by his backswing or positioning of his body just before hitting on groundstrokes.If I can get there I go , if i am late I m late. If his overhead is close to where Im am there I have a chance, no wasted effort.

So the question to be more clear is how to "anticipate"the serve?????
I do not like looking at the service motion of the player for number of reasons.
First it may be a ugly nonsmooth rhythm that throws off my service motion.
especially if it's an effective ugly motion I dont want to think to myself "how does he do that? that must hurt"
secondly unless the serve is greater than 80 m/hr, there is time to react without reading.


The ones with the fast serves are the ones I like to split step.
So I time my split with the toss and try not to look at the serve motion.
just the toss and where it in relation to the body.

My grip is loose and not committed to forehead or backhand.
the millisec the toss and split step happens I then have to anticipate and react and go FH/BH grip.

I dont see any players "guess" as I have never seen some move right when the serve goes left even on a 120m/hr serve.
what happens I typically see is the player attempts to move a bit left if the ball goes left at 120 m/hr but doesnt get there on time.

I think how to position the body is likely more important .
How close to the baseline do you like to split step and can you move right or left to get to even the fastest serve?

what complicated things in my mind is the fellow with 120 m/hr first serve and so i follow my usually 1st serve protocol routine.
look at the toss, split step etc.

But then he misses the first serve and has a really slow second serve? Say 80 m/hr
Do i really need to split step?
Do i split step but just move closer to inside the baseline?
Do I angle my body more because I know he serves wide on the deuce court on his second serve 99% of time?
How do you adjust for a fast serving lefty who spins it left and high?

LuckyR 08-02-2012 11:15 AM

In my experience you will get way, way more info from memorizing where the serves go in various situations, than overconcentrating on the nuances of the toss and motion, visually in real time.

Funbun 08-02-2012 11:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LuckyR (Post 6771947)
In my experience you are likely making a statistical error. At the lower levels of play, serves are usually quite predictable so going into each serve without taking into account of the patterns you observe, you are not maximizing your potential. In addition at the lower levels, things are happening slowly enough where you can likely recover if you "guess" wrong, though that is not going to happen very often.

At the higher levels, you will run into competition where they are going to have a huge advantage on serve such that your best chance of getting a single break is to gamble. Remember you only have to guess correctly one game a set to win the set, who cares if you get blown out at love on all the other return games if you get your break once?

Have you ever seen an ATP tour game where the returner "guesses" incorrectly? Of course not!

Those returners always move in the direction of the serve. The pros aren't lucky; they just split and run fast. They never "guess" and run prematurely. I'm sure the pros do anticipate serves, though.

I don't see how you're making a statistical error. You're better off splitting and at least getting a racquet on the ball to keep it in play than throwing away a point by foolishly moving away from the ball. You're guessing at least 3 times in a row if your opponent can get their first serves in every time. Why are you blindly tossing a coin 3 times in a row, per service game, when you are able to see the ball move in the first place?


Quote:

Originally Posted by LuckyR (Post 6772141)
In my experience you will get way, way more info from memorizing where the serves go in various situations, than overconcentrating on the nuances of the toss and motion, visually in real time.

Nobody "overconcentrates" on them. You see the ball move, then you move. It's as simple as that.

LuckyR 08-02-2012 12:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Funbun (Post 6772221)
Have you ever seen an ATP tour game where the returner "guesses" incorrectly? Of course not!

Those returners always move in the direction of the serve. The pros aren't lucky; they just split and run fast. They never "guess" and run prematurely. I'm sure the pros do anticipate serves, though.

I don't see how you're making a statistical error. You're better off splitting and at least getting a racquet on the ball to keep it in play than throwing away a point by foolishly moving away from the ball. You're guessing at least 3 times in a row if your opponent can get their first serves in every time. Why are you blindly tossing a coin 3 times in a row, per service game, when you are able to see the ball move in the first place?




Nobody "overconcentrates" on them. You see the ball move, then you move. It's as simple as that.


Your first sentance is a blatant error. I see them routinely. Though to be honest neither the OP, myself or you for that matter, plays at that level so the point is moot ragardless of the reality.


I agree with your second paragraph IF your skillset is such that you will lose the point if you guess wrong. That isn't my reality and I'll bet it isn't the OP's either. You know yourself best so I won't comment there.

On the other hand, if you are paying attention you likely will not be making a 50/50 guess, you are perhaps closer to 66/33. At that level, even if you automatically lost when you guessed wrong (which again, isn't what I am dealing with but... whatever, Worse Case Scenario), then you would likely guess correctly three times in a row, 28% of the time. This translates to 1 1/4 breaks per 9 game set.


As to your last paragraph, I apologize for being confusing. I was refering (by using the word: overconcentrating) to analyzing the toss and service motion to guess the serve, not reacting to the serve, as you mentioned.

watungga 08-02-2012 12:52 PM

From experience, ATP-level juniors do hit serves super-fast. I intend to guess, if its wrong, theres no way I could return the ball back. If guess is good, there's another problem, the high-kick bounce.

In the end, I start on continental grip and not make a guess. I had a higher % rate of return.

For mediocre serves, I could stay back more and hit an offensive returns. No need to guess.
If i stayed on baseline, this is the issue about OP's topic. Why should I stand on area where I couldn't prepare or guess?

dlam 08-02-2012 03:58 PM

From my experience if the serve is less 70 m/hr I think you can just stand back and just grip with your favorite BH/FH grip and play it just like a regular groundstroke. No need to read, no need to guess, just regular anticipation once the ball is struke.
Just run around to the forehand if you like.
there is time to switch BH and no need to panic.

The ones with better serves. usually 4.0 and higher I think split step is a requirment. With serve in the 80's m/hr or higher the ball has to returned on the rise.
Stepping up closer to the baseline to cut off a second kick spin serve
as those with fast flat serve tend to have 2nd serve kicker that are relatively fast speed and bounce higher off the service court enough to be hit on the rise.
where you stand is determine by where the ball will waist height on the rise after it hits the service line.

two different strategies depending on the server's ability

Funbun 08-02-2012 05:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LuckyR (Post 6772308)
Your first sentance is a blatant error. I see them routinely. Though to be honest neither the OP, myself or you for that matter, plays at that level so the point is moot ragardless of the reality.


I agree with your second paragraph IF your skillset is such that you will lose the point if you guess wrong. That isn't my reality and I'll bet it isn't the OP's either. You know yourself best so I won't comment there.

On the other hand, if you are paying attention you likely will not be making a 50/50 guess, you are perhaps closer to 66/33. At that level, even if you automatically lost when you guessed wrong (which again, isn't what I am dealing with but... whatever, Worse Case Scenario), then you would likely guess correctly three times in a row, 28% of the time. This translates to 1 1/4 breaks per 9 game set.


As to your last paragraph, I apologize for being confusing. I was refering (by using the word: overconcentrating) to analyzing the toss and service motion to guess the serve, not reacting to the serve, as you mentioned.

May you show me a video where a pro guesses incorrectly? I have yet to see any of the top 4 players move in the opposite direction of the ball prematurely, which, along your terms, means guessing incorrectly. The most they do is either stand still and admit the ace, or desperately attempt to get a racquet on the ball.

I have played against a 5.5+, a guy ranked 3rd in my state (MD). (He toyed with me the first time we met, when I wasn't as good a player. Our next meeting, he got angry of his UE's and went all out against me, had a crazy beating.) His first serves were certainly returnable, but the most I could do was run and block stroke or lob-slice it back. I'm sure you'll see the pros doing the same.

I'm not what you mean by "guessing" then. Don't you mean anticipate, instead? There are some pros that rarely get aced, and I don't think it's because they're good guessers, but that they are good at anticipating.

I think a lot of pros guess/anticipate by landing their split step in the direction of where they think the ball is going, if that's what you mean. I wouldn't necessarily call that guessing, however.

Maybe we're just not agreeing on what "guessing" means. I just think the word brings the idea of moving in one direction, without a blind thought to reacting.

TheCheese 08-03-2012 09:02 AM

I doubt very many people would find it beneficial to guess, even against most D1 players. There aren't many guys serving huge like an Isner or Karlovic.

If anything, I'll just adjust where I'm standing to cut off the angles they're using more often.

LuckyR 08-03-2012 02:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Funbun (Post 6772896)
May you show me a video where a pro guesses incorrectly? I have yet to see any of the top 4 players move in the opposite direction of the ball prematurely, which, along your terms, means guessing incorrectly. The most they do is either stand still and admit the ace, or desperately attempt to get a racquet on the ball.

I have played against a 5.5+, a guy ranked 3rd in my state (MD). (He toyed with me the first time we met, when I wasn't as good a player. Our next meeting, he got angry of his UE's and went all out against me, had a crazy beating.) His first serves were certainly returnable, but the most I could do was run and block stroke or lob-slice it back. I'm sure you'll see the pros doing the same.

I'm not what you mean by "guessing" then. Don't you mean anticipate, instead? There are some pros that rarely get aced, and I don't think it's because they're good guessers, but that they are good at anticipating.

I think a lot of pros guess/anticipate by landing their split step in the direction of where they think the ball is going, if that's what you mean. I wouldn't necessarily call that guessing, however.

Maybe we're just not agreeing on what "guessing" means. I just think the word brings the idea of moving in one direction, without a blind thought to reacting.

First, I can't show you a clip, because no one is going to clip and save a routine ace, where the returner doesn't even swing their racquet. If you have ever seen an ace where the racquet wasn't even swung nor even a single step was taken to the ball, you have seen a wrong guess. I don't mean that happens 100% of the time in that situation but it happens a lot of the time. Most people watch tennis by following the ball with their eye, thus many (you?) have never noticed it. Personally, I am currently working on my return game so I watch tennis differently (often I just watch the returner's motion, since I am working on my returns). So I am seeing them routinely.

What I mean by "guess" is I make a move without actually seeing the ball heading in that direction. I am "anticipating" by using what I have observed through the match, so I am right >>50% of the time. I don't do it 100% of the time. I do it mostly on second serves so I can punish them and put myself into a better position should the ball come back. Naturally since second serves are slower, I have no concerns on getting aced if I guess wrong.


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