Where exactly again is the best place to stand to return a kick serve

ttwarrior1

Professional
high bouncing. What if he charges the net, doesnt it change anything.

I feel if i am back, he is at the net and somehow has it all covered.
I don't feel comfortable coming closer in to return it because he has a great flat serve also, but doesn't use it at much.

My last match i just decided to go for it, I was basically hitting slam returns down the line or middle.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
high bouncing. What if he charges the net, doesnt it change anything.

I feel if i am back, he is at the net and somehow has it all covered.
I don't feel comfortable coming closer in to return it because he has a great flat serve also, but doesn't use it at much.

My last match i just decided to go for it, I was basically hitting slam returns down the line or middle.
I use a topspin serve almost exclusively and play mostly doubles and come in behind it. I know I'm in for a rough day when the opponent is standing in half way between the baseline and the service line. He knows what he's doing. He can catch it before it gets up above his shoulder (unless I really get something on it with placement, depth, and pace), can chip it at my feet, and can likely beat me to the net.
 

FitzRoy

Professional
If you're pretty sure the kicker is coming, then you should probably get in as close as you're comfortable getting, and then cheat to whichever side makes sense given the server's handedness. The advantage to getting in closer is especially true if the guy is charging the net behind the serve as you need to give yourself more opportunity to create angles and get the ball low.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Totally depends on your skills against arcing spin serves.
If you can't volley, you can't stand inside the baseline too far.
If you have long loopy swings, you have to stay back.
If you hate high balls, you either move inside the baseline or stand back.
If the serve spin itself causes you to mishit, you have to practice returning those serves much more.
If you stand too far in, the server serves into your body, or out wide.
There is NEVER a universal cure all for every malady.....except more beer, of course.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
If the vast majority of the serves are kickers, then I move in and take it on the rise. The return can be a block, chip or flick but the stroke will be short. If he burns me with a fast one, then so be it. It's a matter of percentages though. If your opponent is winning a lot of points making you uncomfortable, do something else. You don't really have a lot to lose.

If your approach is a very short stroke, then you might be able to get one of the flat ones back too.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
I've never had trouble with returners who stand in.
I just hit into their body a lot, mixing low skidding slices with high bouncing kicks. Then when they start to shortarm the returns, aim wide or hit flat.
I HAVE had tons of problems with returners who stay well back, easily handling my fastest serves, yet are still mobile enough to cover the wide serves. And standing back naturally allows them a bigger court to dip into my feet, and to catch errant long returns.
 
I stand 7-10ft behind the baseline to return the first serves, but well inside the baseline to return 2nd serves. This works superbly, against faster 1st serves and kick 2nd serves.
 

FitzRoy

Professional
I just hit into their body a lot, mixing low skidding slices with high bouncing kicks. Then when they start to shortarm the returns, aim wide or hit flat.
OP didn't ask how to deal with low skidding slices into body. If you're doing those as much or more often than the high kickers, then you're asking a different question of the returner.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Did you read the replies who say to stand IN is the cure all?
There is NO cureall, for everyone.
I'm just warning you guys that standing IN might get you hit in the balls, from a smart server.
Oh sorry, you extoll the virtues of standing IN, while I just rufuted your statement by explaining why standing IN is not the best for everyone against every server.
 
Did you read the replies who say to stand IN is the cure all?
There is NO cureall, for everyone.
I'm just warning you guys that standing IN might get you hit in the balls, from a smart server.
Oh sorry, you extoll the virtues of standing IN, while I just rufuted your statement by explaining why standing IN is not the best for everyone against every server.
See good returners AT PRO LEVEL. Most all of them stand inside the baseline to return the 2nd serves, even against the pro level serves!
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Geez, lots of naysayers here.
Did I tell you guys NOT to stand in on second serves?
Or did I point out some possible downfalls to that strategy?
Who cares what is done at the PRO levels?
Do we face pro servers?
Do we play like pros?
Does Nadal stand in on second serves?
 

FitzRoy

Professional
Oh sorry, you extoll the virtues of standing IN, while I just rufuted your statement by explaining why standing IN is not the best for everyone against every server.
I didn't say it was the best for everyone against every server. Just that it's generally the best way to return kick serves, in my experience playing and watching others.

If you look, my initial comment was prefaced with something like "if you're pretty sure a kick serve is coming"
 
If the pros can stand in 1-2ft inside the baseline against pro serves, then a good returner should stand in 3-4ft inside the baseline against all lesser serves.
 

FitzRoy

Professional
If the pros can stand in 1-2ft inside the baseline against pro serves, then a good returner should stand in 3-4ft inside the baseline against all lesser serves.
Think you're going a bit far here. I think it's a mistake to insist on a constant return position unless your footwork and reaction time are both outstanding. For most of us recreational players, certain serves and servers are going to give us more trouble than they should if we stand in a disadvantageous place relative to the serve in question. There's a few guys I play against whose serves I don't consider very good, but they create issues with my timing for various reasons and this is especially true if I stand in too far. Against said guys, I often get better results by backing up and giving myself more time to create a full swing.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Yes, and you two guys see amateurs returning serve from inside the baseline all the time?
Maybe besides what you two do alone, you should watch what other player's are doing.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
OK, it's obvious I replied too soon, FitzRoy does know the answer.
Sorry, FitzRoy, to include you in post 15.
 
Think you're going a bit far here. I think it's a mistake to insist on a constant return position unless your footwork and reaction time are both outstanding. For most of us recreational players, certain serves and servers are going to give us more trouble than they should if we stand in a disadvantageous place relative to the serve in question. There's a few guys I play against whose serves I don't consider very good, but they create issues with my timing for various reasons and this is especially true if I stand in too far. Against said guys, I often get better results by backing up and giving myself more time to create a full swing.
I play regularly against a guy who hits flat 100+mph first serves and kick 2nd serves that bounce over the head. I stand 7+ft behind the baseline on first serves, but well inside the baseline on 2nd serves. I OWN those 2nd serves! Those used to cause me problems when I was standing behind the baseline.
 

FitzRoy

Professional
OK, it's obvious I replied too soon, FitzRoy does know the answer.
Sorry, FitzRoy, to include you in post 15.
No worries Lee. I think we're mostly in agreement here. I tend to think standing closer is better against a good kicker, but if I played someone who hit a lot of good kickers to my forehand, in singles I might stand pretty far back to try to hit deep, looping drives. But I play more doubles than singles lately and the guys who hit kickers tend to hit them to my BH where I like to get well inside the court.

So in general I'd advocate taking the kickers early, inside the court, because I think it tends to be a better way to do it more often than not, but I'd also say that what works best is going to vary depending on both the server and the returner, singles or doubles, etc etc.
 

Aretium

Hall of Fame
Good returners can hit well from all contact point. I actually have no problem with kick serves at any height, above the shoulder is fine because I can flatten out more. LeeD mentioned slicing it more occasionally if they stand in, this is something I use a lot, they start to look at the court and complain about the bounce. Kick, twist or slice.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I've never had trouble with returners who stand in.
I just hit into their body a lot, mixing low skidding slices with high bouncing kicks. Then when they start to shortarm the returns, aim wide or hit flat.
I HAVE had tons of problems with returners who stay well back, easily handling my fastest serves, yet are still mobile enough to cover the wide serves. And standing back naturally allows them a bigger court to dip into my feet, and to catch errant long returns.
Well, the original problem is vast majority of kick serves and a few flat serves. If you're losing most of the points anyways, there's no downside to moving in.

If a person can and does hit three different kinds of serves and can place it, then the receiver has to do more work. But that's not the problem here. My experience with 4.0s and under is that they tend to do the same thing over and over and over again with some but not much, variety.

I think that the next level up is to study the server and see if they telegraph anything and use that if they can. Also, move your feet. That really old guy with the slice backhand that someone put on the slice backhand thread did it very nicely. When the ball went into his body he moved laterally very nicely.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
That's why, as a low 4.0, but sometimes smart enough to use flats, low slices, high kicks, twists, and move it around, ....and sometimes double faults, there is no ONE strategy or body placement that works for everyone.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
One thing about standing in on lower-level players: just the fact that you're standing in will generate double-faults. With some servers, I'll stand between the service line and the baseline and I'll be about five feet from the service line when I hit the ball, basically looking to half-volley the ball as I'm moving in.

This even works against some rated 4.0 players.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Standing in works if you can volley, or have short quick swings and quick recognition skills.
For the rest of us, it doesn't work at all, especially when the server has a bit of brains behind his brawn.
I have seen a former ATP 1,500 player stand in mid NML to return even the fastest 4.5 level serves, and he got them back, only to be pasted by the following deep groundie that he had to dig out from his toes.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
Standing in works if you can volley, or have short quick swings and quick recognition skills.
For the rest of us, it doesn't work at all, especially when the server has a bit of brains behind his brawn.
I have seen a former ATP 1,500 player stand in mid NML to return even the fastest 4.5 level serves, and he got them back, only to be pasted by the following deep groundie that he had to dig out from his toes.
Sometimes it works and sometimes not.

I once was in a doubles tournament where there was either a pro or satellite player. He didn't have a partner - he just grabbed someone off the street to hold a racquet up. He was playing a couple of older teens and he just ran all over the court while his partner was off to the side. The two teenagers were decent players but they got very frustrated in not being able to keep the ball away from this guy. I didn't see what the end result of the match was but it was entertaining.

The heavy racquet helps with the half volley bunt returns. You don't need much motion to get the ball back deep.

I remember McEnroe doing this a lot off pro serves back in the 80s. He could, of course, put it in a four square-feet area with the slightest of taps on the ball and he was right on top of the net afterwards because the ball didn't have a lot of pace on it.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
If you're pretty sure the kicker is coming, then you should probably get in as close as you're comfortable getting, and then cheat to whichever side makes sense given the server's handedness. The advantage to getting in closer is especially true if the guy is charging the net behind the serve as you need to give yourself more opportunity to create angles and get the ball low.
This is called the Andy Clayray school of serve returns.
 

donquijote

G.O.A.T.
I use a topspin serve almost exclusively and play mostly doubles and come in behind it. I know I'm in for a rough day when the opponent is standing in half way between the baseline and the service line. He knows what he's doing. He can catch it before it gets up above his shoulder (unless I really get something on it with placement, depth, and pace), can chip it at my feet, and can likely beat me to the net.
This is eactly how I beat my opponent recently after seeing him serve huge kick serves and deciding to step well inside the baseline.
It's a bit of a gamble though. Because I was covering his corner, he tried to bombard the T to make me pay but failed.
That broke his confidence and made him fall apart and surrender after a while.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
This is eactly how I beat my opponent recently after seeing him serve huge kick serves and deciding to step well inside the baseline.
It's a bit of a gamble though. Because I was covering his corner, he tried to bombard the T to make me pay but failed.
That broke his confidence and made him fall apart and surrender after a while.
I work on the slice serve to the other corner of the box about one twentieth as much as I should. I guess I justify it by practicing so many half volleys, instead. :)
 

LuckyR

Legend
high bouncing. What if he charges the net, doesnt it change anything.

I feel if i am back, he is at the net and somehow has it all covered.
I don't feel comfortable coming closer in to return it because he has a great flat serve also, but doesn't use it at much.

My last match i just decided to go for it, I was basically hitting slam returns down the line or middle.
Sounds like you are playing singles. Sounds like he will S&V at least some of the time.

It all comes down to your game. If you have Modern strokes, you likely will not be intimidated by high balls and many can punish folks at the net from the baseline. Obviously if you could do that you wouldn't have made the thread. So either you can't handle high balls (perhaps have Classic strokes?). I agree with you not to back up farther if you have classic strokes since a S&V will eat you alive.

I have Classic strokes and good volleys, so I charge the serve once the toss goes over his head. I then chip it and approach the net myself. If I do it right it will be at the feet of a S&V server or land low and short if he stays back, both of which I can handle from first volley position.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
You have to stand EXACTLY, and I mean exactly, 7'3" from the center hash, and 17" inside the baseline at contact, and no where else, lest you fail the test.
 

Enga

Hall of Fame
Personally, my usual return position of right on the baseline doesnt work well for topspin serves with not much pace. I either move back 2 or 3 paces, or move forward 1 or 2 paces. On the baseline seemes to generate a lot of errors for me.
 

Ballinbob

Hall of Fame
Split step properly and make sure you have a good center of gravity. Taking it early is easier IMO because you can shorten the takeback and still get some pop on the ball
 

mightyrick

Legend
high bouncing. What if he charges the net, doesnt it change anything.

I feel if i am back, he is at the net and somehow has it all covered.
I don't feel comfortable coming closer in to return it because he has a great flat serve also, but doesn't use it at much.

My last match i just decided to go for it, I was basically hitting slam returns down the line or middle.
If his serve has has topspin but no real lateral movement, then I stand back and wait for the ball as it is falling and take a huge cut. In this situation, the return should be no different than hitting a normal rally forehand or a backhand.

If his serve has pretty good lateral movement, then I will plant myself right on (or just behind) the baseline and take the ball on the rise -- before it has a chance to move laterally. This has the added bonus of taking time away from your opponent if he decides to come in behind his serve.

Of course, taking a serve on the rise is not easy. However, it is absolutely essential if you want to break an opponent with a good kick serve.
 

heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
Are you Gasquet? :)
I stand 7-10ft behind the baseline to return the first serves, but well inside the baseline to return 2nd serves. This works superbly, against faster 1st serves and kick 2nd serves.
But for an American Twist(a legit kick) my only hope is to stand around the baseline and then move in trying to attack it on the rise. It's very hard to do and to hit it cleanly but a legit kick will get away from me for an ace if I hang back.
 
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