How to practice return of serve

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by slowfox, Sep 20, 2012.

  1. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

    Oct 3, 2011
    If you can't find someone who's willing (and capable) of serving to you for an hour straight (or whatever devoted time you want to do), how can someone really practice their return of serve? Ball machine has no setting (I think). Hire a coach (yes you pay them, but again, are they willing since they're probably more used to feeding balls underhand from a hopper)?

    So what to do??
  2. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

    Aug 14, 2006
    Try returning your own serves
  3. Rozroz

    Rozroz G.O.A.T.

    Nov 12, 2011
    cannot keep the cake and eat it too
  4. bhallic24

    bhallic24 Guest

    lol, honestly, if that were possible I'd love to try. Think it'd be really interesting to see if my serve or my return game is stronger. Honestly I think a lotta people would be interested to do that.

    Also, I want to see how the game would play out if I played against myself/or clone.

    Just some interesting thoughts.
  5. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

    Sep 18, 2010
    Here's what I do.

    1) I use a ball machine. I position it 12-15 feet behind the baseline near one of the sidelines, set it for as much topspin as possible, the set the speed and height so that the balls land in the service box.

    2) I hire one of our pros to hit serves to me for an hour

    3) I get a hitting partner to hit serves to me

    4) I get anyone to hit serves to me from the service line rather than the baseline. Even a poor server will give you a major challenge from that close.

    Hopefully you can employ at least one of these methods. ;)
  6. Long Face

    Long Face Semi-Pro

    Aug 2, 2012
    British Columbia
    Never have this problem because some of my doubles buddies have good serves.

    I guess the best way to practice return of serve is to look for people who serves well, and play them.

    And in a nearby university tennis center here they have a ball machine which can feed pretty powerful balls. If we could elevate it like what Agassi's father did......
  7. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

    Mar 24, 2010
    1) I used to have a cheap ball machine (little prince I think) .... any who I made a platform out of PVC that I could assemble / disassemble that would shoot serve like balls at me.

    2) Anytime I see someone practicing their serve I ask to return them ... I help them pick up balls so it is a win-win.

    3) I have this one friend who does not really like to play sets against me since it is not competitive ... but he loves to work on his serve & volley. When I need some time returning I set up a practice date with him.
  8. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

    Oct 1, 2005
    I do the same!
  9. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

    Jan 21, 2008
    Telly, watching AO.
    Do you generally jump over the net, or go around it ?
  10. pmata814

    pmata814 Professional

    Dec 6, 2005
    I used to practice with my bmachine. I bought one of those folding tables at home depot and i would get up really close to the net and adjusted settings as closely as i could to replicate a serve. It worked well but it was very annoying setting up and tearing down and having to load the balls when its on the table... so i returned it.
  11. maleyoyo

    maleyoyo Semi-Pro

    Apr 11, 2005
    Return of serve is essentially a ground stroke, so improving your ground strokes will naturally make your return of serve better. The only difference is the serves may come at you at a greater speed than normal strokes. As a result, things like split steps, moving forward, cutting off angle, shortened backswing…become much more important in your preparation.
    Knowing exactly what to do with a certain kind of serve will help. For example, I treat a high kick serve to the BH as a looping ball ground stroke to my BH, so I hit it on the rise, slice a high BH, or lob.
  12. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

    Jun 24, 2009
    At Large
    Honestly, that's a lot to ask of someone to serve to you for an hour so you can practice your returns. My shoulder and quads hurt just thinking about that. How about you each serve a hopper and then switch back and forth so you each get a chance to work on serves and returns. Mix in some points/games to your practice too.
  13. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter G.O.A.T.

    Jun 10, 2010
    The best way is to have a practice partner that you can practice your serves and returns with. Most good coaches will hit serves to you. Typically, they stand in close (about 10 feet in front of the baseline), so they can get them all in and make it challenging without wasting their arms.
  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    I can return most flat services and top/slice serves decent enough, but the heavy hissing, oval, ball that slides 5' sideways thru the air gives me and my bad eyes problems.
    Only by playing those players can I get the practice, losing to them first, then getting closer later.
  15. dlam

    dlam Semi-Pro

    Aug 3, 2010
    Just have to play a lot of matches with different players to improve the ROS
    Maybe allow the opponent to serve first
    My ROS feels more like a volley stroke than a ground swing

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