How to become a great returner

Ever wonder how Andre Agassi and Novak Djokovic are routinely able to crush those 120 mph serves? Want to be able to add that to your game? Then this is the post for you.

Now, returning is something which I think often gets overlooked. And that’s a shame because returning serves, is a lot of fun. If you’re an aggressive returner, you can position yourself to take charge of the point right away by hitting a low, fast paced shot, deep cross-court. Keeping it over the middle of the net, is always a good idea because this is where the net’s height is lowest. Thus, you will be less likely to have a return clip the top of the tape. Whenever you’re unsure about where to return the ball, always go deep, cross court. It’s simply the smartest, high percentage return you can hit and (winning) tennis is about being able to successfully hit one more shot than your opponent. It doesn’t matter whether you hit a winner or they hit an error. Every point, that you ever win, will always have been because you were able to make one more ball than your opponent.

Short balls, are another way to establish control of a rally. Most times your opponent, won’t be expecting the ball to land short. So if you find yourself in a long rally and feel like it’s time to change up the pace, then give the short ball a try. It’s effective against players, who tend to stay back too far behind the baseline. And If they’re net skills aren’t sound, that’s all the more reason to bring them in.

The most important thing to remember when returning, is to look for your opponent’s weak points. Does your opponent like fast paced rallies? Do they have a one handed backhand or two handed? How do they handle slice? What about high balls to their backhand or forehand? All players, have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Find what works for you and then incorporate that into a strategy for dealing with them.


2 thoughts on “How to become a great returner

  1. I agree, the ability to assess your opponents strenghts and weaknesses is a key element. So many assume the forehand is going to be the better shot of their opponent they automatically return to the backhand side. A good player is prepared for this and has matered the return on the backhand side.

    Dedicating a regular lesson to the serve return is one of the best bangs for your buck. Most can hold serve but it is that break that is the key to the win. So being able to take control of the point from the return will put you in a winning position. Being able to make the more difficult return up the line will give you an edge and keep your opponent off balance.

    A really aggressive return on the second serve will force your opponent to make a good second serve and often will cause a couple double faults. It’s all about control.

    • Thanks, for the comment Sandra.

      Yes I agree that most players have a weaker backhand than forehand. Righties are taught to stay on the backhand and keep the ball going to the ad-side.

      That changes of course when you’re facing a player with a really great backhand or a lefty.

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