Any easy way to change your timing?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by johndagolfer, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. johndagolfer

    johndagolfer Professional

    Apr 2, 2006
    My story is that I am a 4.0, who was a 3.5 last year.

    My first league match is this Friday so I decided to get some practice in. My partner for this match is the same person who played combo's with me 7.5. We went 5 and 0 and gave up a total of 8 games or so in those wins.

    Today I got my first taste of better serves. We went up against 2 4.5's and lost 6-4 6-3 7-6. I was playing the deuce side and they were absolutely punishing my backhand return (I would say I only had a 25% return rate on that side). My main problem was that I was so late on all the returns. They weren't overly fast, but I think I was spoiled by that fact that in 7.5 combos and 3.5 last year I didn't face that many people who could hit really hard down the middle consistently.

    So my question to you guys is, how do I change my timing? I really tried to force myself to hit out way in front, which lead to my good shots that I did hit on that side. It's just that consistently doing so was very difficult.

    thanks in advance.
  2. esgee48

    esgee48 Legend

    May 30, 2010
    SF CA
    Need a shorter racquet takeback; split step and move diagonally towards the ball. Hit in front (I know, you said you had problems.) I tend to treat hard services down the middle as something I need to half volley; very short takeback and long follow thu.
  3. thug the bunny

    thug the bunny Professional

    Jan 7, 2011
    Out of the comfort zone
    This is not the total solution, but if you really, really watch the ball all the way to your stick you will find that those shots are not actually travelling as fast as it appears.
  4. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

    Sep 18, 2010
    I practice returns with my pro. He hits bombs to my backhand, and I struggle with it over and over and over. Then, I start to get the hang of it, and eventually it become an asset instead of a liability.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  5. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    esgee48 tells you how to do it.

    Maui19 tells you how to practice if you are fortunate enough to be working with a pro.

    But if you aren't working with a pro, practice your returns with anyone you know that has a decent serve.

    Many love to practice their serves, but every point starts with either a serve or return.

    Take advantage of the fact that many would be happy to let you practice returns while they continue to practice their serves. Notice at tennis courts you will often see someone practice serving. Ask if you can practice returns, and not play out the point, and you will help retrieve the balls. This won't always work, but you might be pleasantly surprised.

    You can practice the timing of your returns on the backboard. Hit first serves against the backboard so the rebound will be to your backhand side. Sure, it is an artificial situation that won't let you practice precise placement, but it definitely can help with your timing.

    Play some singles against someone with a good serve. Getting better can mean having to "take your lumps" now in order to improve.
  6. sunof tennis

    sunof tennis Professional

    Dec 21, 2010
    If you don't have a partner who has a good serve, you can try to duplicate the effect by having your partner serve from the service line. I saw the Bryan Bros.' father ( I believe his name is Wayne) doing that on tennis channel. That will help with the reflexes and consistency.
  7. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

    Aug 30, 2010
    Exactly what I was thinking!

    I've seen a few people practicing at my local courts where one guy serves from halfway between the service line and baseline, to simulate a faster serve, and it seems to work well for them!

  8. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

    Oct 20, 2006
    That's pretty much how it's done ^^^ where a hitting partner serves to you from closer in - just be kind enough to at least be prepared to hit a few to their end if requested.

    If you know how to hit a backhand volley, you know how to hit a blocked return of serve off that wing. Use the same motion where you quickly set up behind the ball and use your feet to move forward through it. The heat of the serve will give you the energy you need to work with, since you're looking to redirect that ball instead of taking a swipe at it.
  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Also, the volley stroke is applicable to the forehand side, if the speed of the serve warrants it. Just stay solid on your feet, maintain posture, and stroke thru the return of serve.
    If it's a slower spin serve, take your normal short groundstroke with whatever spin you normally use.
    Very few 4.0's reliably serve faster than 120, so a short swing with a change of grip should work.
  10. BU-Tennis

    BU-Tennis Semi-Pro

    Jan 22, 2008
    West Virginia
    All of the above is good advice, but the underlying point is that in order to get better at hitting harder serves...u have to practice hitting harder serves. I am in the same boat as you right now after just coming back to competitive tennis, so I know it will take some time to get used to the increased pace, but you will get there with practice.

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