Plan or react on returns?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by J011yroger, Mar 3, 2013.


Do you mostly plan, or react on service returns?

  1. Mostly plan.

  2. Mostly react.

  3. About even.

  1. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

    Feb 2, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    Do you try to figure out where your opponent is going to serve?

    Do you think ahead of time where you will return the ball if it is served to a specific location?

    Do you plan the type of shot you will hit (Block, drive, slice, dip) before the ball is struck?

    Do you decide to run around before the serve is hit?

    Do you just concentrate, and react to whatever comes?

  2. Bergboy123

    Bergboy123 Semi-Pro

    Jul 27, 2011
    Typically I react unless it's a second serve that I consciously plan to run-around and go for a forehand, normally on break point or 30 all. I usually miss though, I just struggle with trying to turn a return into an attacking shot :( So I try to stand on/right behind the baseline and react for a deep return.
  3. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

    Mar 24, 2010
    I react ... but I am actively working on picking up on the physical ques from my opponents. If I could develop the skill of knowing the placement and spin earlier, then I could make a plan on the toss.
  4. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    I plan on how high the ball is going to be.
    I plan on topspin or slice depending on my confidence level.
    I plan what to do in case a body shot is coming.
    I plan to move my butt somewhat forwards on all returns except body shots.
    I react to how far the ball is from my reach and to what side.
  5. OrangePower

    OrangePower Legend

    Sep 7, 2007
    NorCal Bay Area
    A bit of both.

    Usually when I am getting ready to receive I have something in mind that I want to try if I get the chance; maybe take a crack down the line if the serve is wide, or dipper and follow it in, or maybe a lob, and so on. Then when the serve comes if I have time and I'm in position then I try what I had in mind, but if not time or out of position than I just react.

    Also sometimes the plan from the get-go is just to react... when I decide up-front to take the serve early and return from halfway between baseline and service line.
  6. OHBH

    OHBH Semi-Pro

    Aug 8, 2009
    I mostly plan. If a player has a big serve I will usually back up to give myself time to direct the return where I want it. I'm always want my opponent to hit that second ball from their weaker wing or on the stretch. I don't see too many big servers though.
  7. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

    Feb 9, 2012
    I plan on reacting. Then I react to that plan.

    Other times I just plan on having a plan. That is usually followed by reactions to the reaction I was surprised by.

    Then I call an injury TO and talk to myself for a couple minutes. Usually asking myself what Cindy would do.

    Then I lose.
  8. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

    Jan 27, 2010
    Newtown, PA
    I try to plan which way I'm going to hit the return (e.g. forehand crosscourt, bh down the line or something like that), but mostly I have to react. I try to take returns early inside the baseline if possible, so there's necessarily going to be a lot of reaction.
  9. tdhawks

    tdhawks Semi-Pro

    Apr 24, 2012
    I try to plan as well. However, my reaction isn't always the greatest! Once I get a feel for the guy I'm playing, I can usually judge his serve well enough to plan my return.
  10. axel89

    axel89 Banned

    Feb 13, 2012
    i react figuring out your opponents serve is nice but it loses me more points then wins me at this point in my career
  11. VeeSe

    VeeSe Rookie

    Jul 11, 2012
    react at first, plan after getting used to the serve. I won't plan down to the detail, as there are too many things to predict, but it usually goes like this: I'm gonna return to his backhand side no matter if it's a forehand or backhand return. If I have time, I'll try to get it closer to the line. If it's too fast, I ditch the whole plan and just try to get it back, but I usually only plan on 2nd serves, which rarely surprise me.
  12. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

    Feb 2, 2007
    Long Island, NY
    Epic post.

  13. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Aug 31, 2006
    The reason you lose is because you skipped a step.

    You have to plan to react to your reaction plan.
  14. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

    Dec 12, 2012
    On the courts; hard & clay ...
    I feel it...
    Eyes closed...
    Body relaxed...
    Senses heightened...
    Take in the idling silence of the crowd...
    Can feel the weight of the air on my brow as opponent tosses the ball up...
    It's thick with moisture and the smell of dirt, sweat and competition...
    Hear the swoosh of his racquet through the air, the thwack sound of impact...
    Heart calm, can feel the ball travel across the net...
    Body moving into position...
    Limbs loose, but movement coordinated, weight falling into the court...
    Ball Bounces!
    Eyes Open! Wide-Squint-focused!
    Body Coiled!! Expression grimaced!!!
    Swooooosh!!! .... Thwuwapoookk!!! Winner down the line!!

    Credits roll across the screen, i put down the controller, turn the PS3 off and head to the courts to practice...
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  15. Rjtennis

    Rjtennis Hall of Fame

    Aug 16, 2009
    I'll occasionally plan on going down the line/crosscourt but I otherwise react. Its tought for me to plan when my opponent is mixing up the placement of his serve.I do try to guess where my opponent is serving, though that is just an attempt to get a jump on the serve and get it back into play. The only thing i mostly plan is running around serves because I take a couple of steps to my left shortly after the ball is tossed so I can get a clean look.
  16. polytheist

    polytheist Rookie

    Dec 7, 2011
    Irvine, CA
    I find that keeping an open mind and just reacting does better for me. When i plan it usually compromises the return.
  17. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

    Mar 14, 2010
    Facing a good 1st serve, I'm mostly reacting, but still paying attention to which serve(s) are giving me the most trouble and trying to improve my returns of those if possible.

    2nd serves (or mediocre to weak 1st serves), I'm pretty much planning. I'll decide where I'm going to hit the return, how I'm going to hit it (drive, slice, etc), and if I'm coming in behind it, before the serve is struck.
  18. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Jun 2, 2006
    The Great NW
    In singles I concentrate more on the depth than the angle. In doubles, which I play a lot more of, there is a huge part of the court that you shouldn't hit into, unless you are planning to hit there (where the netman can get it). So it takes less thought. Of course if you are playing a team with a lot of poaching, which is not that common, then you will have to start to try to outguess the netman, which takes planning, by definition.
  19. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

    Dec 12, 2012
    On the courts; hard & clay ...
    i usually plan where i want to hit the ball and then react the serve.

    1st Serves:
    i also usually expect people to serve to my backhand on first serves, so i plan on returning with that grip and then react accordingly (changing grips if the serve is to my forehand).

    2nd Serves:
    If the server has a weak one, then i'll hit an inside out forehand or backhand, depending on which side of the court. I'll hit cross court and hard.

    If the server has a good one, i'll return as I do the 1st serve.
  20. onehandbh

    onehandbh Legend

    Dec 19, 2005
    If I'm up three break points at 0-40, I plan on a cracking a return for a
    winner, but my return will probably end up blasting the side fence instead
    of the court...
  21. cknobman

    cknobman Legend

    Sep 7, 2007
    Saudi Arabia
    Depends on how good the server is.

    The better the server can place the ball and the more pace they can put on it the more you have to plan for it.

    If they cant place the ball very well and/or dont have a lot of pace then you can just react to it and do pretty well.
  22. mhj202

    mhj202 Rookie

    Apr 16, 2011
    New York, NY
    Which side fence (left or right)? I'm usually late when I plan on cracking a return so I hit the right side fence (I'm right-handed).
  23. tennisjon

    tennisjon Semi-Pro

    Jan 8, 2007
    West Orange, NJ
    I (4.5) usually try to anticipate where the server is going based on his/her patterns. I have an intended location of return planned as well as a spin/pace based on that. If the serve isn't what I expected to happen, then obviously I am forced to react. On occasion, I will run around my backhand to hit a forehand return, but my returns are pretty equal and it really just depends on what type of spin/speed/location the server is hitting and where I want to return it.
  24. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

    Aug 30, 2010
    I prefer returning off my backhand wing, so I try and bait them into hitting to the BH as much as possible off serve. So I guess it's a bit of a "plan" that I leave a touch more space on that side. :razz:

  25. stapletonj

    stapletonj Professional

    Mar 31, 2009
    Lavalette, WV
    I always plan for where I think they are going to serve. Then I get physically ready for that (grip change, etc.)

    Then I think, what if they go to the other side and get mentally ready for THAT.

    Then I freeze, the ball sails past me for an ace and I say "nice serve" as I meekly walk over to the other court......

    I HATE returning serve.
  26. storypeddler

    storypeddler Semi-Pro

    Jun 22, 2005
    Hickory, NC
    Sometimes I plan how I am going to strut toward the net after my screaming forehand DTL winner rockets past my opponent. And then the serve is to my backhand and I end up having to react and throw up an old-man lob to recover. Geez, I love tennis! :oops:
  27. dlam

    dlam Semi-Pro

    Aug 3, 2010

    I find that the faster the pace of the serve the more i react
    When the serve is a slower pace ( usually the 2nd in some ppl) then I can plan and sometimes run around the serve and hit a winner
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  28. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

    Dec 12, 2012
    On the courts; hard & clay ...
    I plan generally where i want to hit he ball and how, but react to the actual serve... i find having a target in mind helps focus my returns.
  29. mmk

    mmk Hall of Fame

    Sep 20, 2011
    1 AU from the Sun
    Depends on my opponent. I play around 10 guys on a regular basis, most of them I can plan my returns, as their serves are nothing special. There are a few who can hit a variety of very hard serves with the same set up, ball toss and motion each time - those guys I just react to. I know that I have given my intended serve away by my toss, and so I've worked to fix that.
  30. Sakkijarvi

    Sakkijarvi Semi-Pro

    Jan 8, 2007
    Q. Do you try to figure out where your opponent is going to serve?

    A. Yes, reading body language, toss and patterns. By all means, yes.

    Q. Do you think ahead of time where you will return the ball if it is served to a specific location?

    A. Yes. As a former baseball player, this is zoning a pitch, same thing. 'If I get a serve here, I will hit this shot ...' That is my approach.

    Q. Do you plan the type of shot you will hit (Block, drive, slice, dip) before the ball is struck?

    A. See preceding answer.

    Q. Do you decide to run around before the serve is hit?

    A. If the pattern is a weak second serve, yes. But running around is not the end of the choices. Run around and hit down the line receiving on the ad side, run around and hit inside out forehand... hit deep up the middle. Slice forehand and come in behind it. A plan, based on zoning the serve, and getting it where you can do what you are considering. Or chip it back. Or some other defensive return if you don't get it where you can do what you want.

    Q. Do you just concentrate, and react to whatever comes?

    A. At my 4.0 - 4.5 level I don't see that many servers that have the kind of pace that forces me into a purely defensive posture such as this suggests.

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