To continue the theme of serving and how important it is in the game of tennis, let us examine the best strategies for returning good serves. A good serve can be dominating for most players and its consistent use a game changer. The only way to combat this is to develop a solid return game so he opposing player is stymied somewhat on their serve game.
The player serving should win these games for the most part. This is a built in fact of life for the game of tennis. But if each player wins every game they serve then how do we tip the balance in our favor to win the match? It must be in the return game and thus we gain an absolute advantage when competing.
This strategy is often lacking for many players, as they often assume they will lose the point anyway so why bother attempting to build up a good combative stance to fight it? This is a poor attitude to adopt. Do not give up on the idea that a good return can change your game dramatically because it can in a heartbeat. Once you get the right attitude in your head, things can happen very fast, not only in the game of tennis but also in your life in general. Take control of your attitude and take control of your game.
The most important thing physically to keep in mind is stepping into a return. Stepping backwards will provide less power and this is not what you need when returning the ball, especially against a very powerful server. The ball is coming fast so be prepared early to hit back hard, in a certain way, and stay aggressive.
Your footwork is paramount and the stance you take. Stay on your toes and keep your knees bent and ready to move. Be prepared to move fast and in any direction. You can’t hit the ball if you are out of position. That’s first and foremost. Be ready to move and also understand that because the ball is coming so incredibly fast, you do not have to hit the return all that hard. It is more about getting the correct angle on your racquet and thus and let the momentum of the serving ball collide with your racquet and return back to the opposing court.
Andre Agassi, one of the game’s greatest return artist, says the same thing and also states it is all about letting your hips do much of the work. A simple hip turn, Agassi says, will do wonders in your return game. You can practice by having someone yell commands like forehand or backhand and by shifting your hips in the appropriate direction for that particular shot return. Get comfortable with how your body moves and what your hips are doing while you turn.
Another strategy is to give yourself more time to react to the strong serve coming down on you. by stepping farther back on the baseline, you give yourself space and time to react properly to a strong serve. Another thing to keep in mind is to not lean too far forward but rather stay on your feet flatly so you can move sideways more easily to react to where the ball may come. Try to cut the angle off of the serve shot and play the percentages of where the ball may come. Study the position of the opposing player and where they line up before their serving shot.
Understanding your opponent and their tendencies can also be a great strategy to fight against a good serve. During a tournament, it can be difficult to keep track of who does what and how each person plays but even on the court, if you study what your opponent is doing with each serve, you can better prepare how to react to each shot.