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Created on 20 January 2017

Introduction:

After serving, returning is technical and tactical situation with the greatest influence on the outcome of a match.

Winning service games is something that is expected.

The turning point is a break - the moment when a player wins a game on opponent’s serve.

 

Technically, tactically, physically and mentally, returning is complex situation. It requires quick reaction, technical adjustment, instant tactical decision and full concentration.

 

TECHNICAL COMPONENTS OF RETURN OF SERVE

READY POSITION

In ready-position, the return player is focused on the moment the server starts to serve.

As the server starts to toss the ball, by moving forward, the return player activates the body from the static ready position

 

SPLIT-STEP

It is important to  coordinate the split-step, which activates the body from static position, with the moment when the server hits the ball. On landing, the return player should be aware of the direction of the serve.

 

GENERATING ENERGY FROM SHOULDER AND LEGS


As soon as the split-step is over, simultaneous turning of the shoulders and transferring the body weight to the forehand or backhand side, indicates that the player recognized the serve direction.

At that moment the player should start generating energy from the ground to the upper body parts. 

 

ADJUSTING BACKSWING AND FORWARD SWING

According to the speed of serve, the player adjust the backswing which is usually shorten than on baseline game rallies.

 

HITTING THE BALL

At contact point full concentration should be directed only on the ball. The head is still and eyes are focused on the ball. The body is in perfect balance.  

 

POSITIONING

After finishing return, a player moves toward the position where he expects the next shot.

TECHNIQUE

Introduction:

Explain players that hitting the ball with return of serve is similar to hitting forehand and backhand from the baseline, but not the same.

The first difference is the importance of the fast reaction.

In baseline game, player responds to opponent's forehand and backhand which are relativelly slow, while in return, player responds to the fastest stroke in tennis-serve.

Further, in return, the player moves toward the ball, while in baseline game player moves in all directions.

The next characteristics of return, because of  speed of serve, is shortening racket backswing.

 

 

Practice specific technical elements of  forehand and backhand return:

 

MOVING FORWARD

SPLIT-STEP

 

 

SHOULDER TURN+BODY WEIGHT TRANSFER+SHORT BACKSWING

 

HITTING POINT

 

 

MENTAL SKILLS PRACTICE

Introduction:

These games develop anticipation, perception and concentration skills.

 

Game 1.

"GUESSING"

The return player tells the teacher on which side he anticipates the server will direct the ball.

Purpose:

Practice anticipating serve

Player A serves only.

Player B returns only.

Super tie-break is played.

Players change the roles after each game.

 

Game

"Forehand or backhand?"

 

Game 2.

"EARLY-ON TIME-LATE"

 

After the point is over, return player says the teacher if his reaction on serve was early (before the ball passed the net), on time (ball passed the net), late (ball entered the service box).

Purpose:

Practice perception skills on return.

Player A serves only.

Player B returns only.

Super tie-break is played.

Players change the roles after each game.

 

PRACTICE CONCENTRATION SKILLS

Basic skill practice:

Teacher explains players or ask them first, why it is important to watch the bounce of the ball on return of serve and contact point on serve.

 

Game:

"YES or NO"

After the point is over, players say the teacher with YES or NO if they saw the bounce of the ball (return player) or contact point (server).

Purpose:

Practice concentration skill on serve and return

Player A serves only.

Player B returns only.

Super tie-break is played.

Players change the roles after each game.

 

It is enough to check where was player's attention before and during hitting point.

Just tell players:"on next point try to be focused if the answer was "no" or keep focus if answer was "yes".

 

 

"20 SECONDS BREAKS"

                         

POSITIVE REACTION               RELAXATION

PREPARATION           SPLIT-STEP 

 

Mental preparation for return consist of 20 seconds breaks between the points. This time should be used well. Young players should practice it just like forehand or serve and find their personal style.

 

In 20 seconds breakes there are four stages: positive reaction, relaxation, preparation, action.

 

SEMI-TACTICAL AND TACTICAL PRACTICE

 

PRACTICE NEUTRAL RETURNING ON PRESSURE SERVE

PRACTICE PRESSURE RETURNING ON NEUTRAL SERVE

PRACTICE FINISHING POINT WITH RETURN

 

Introduction:

Serve and Return of serve are two most important strokes in tennis.

Every point starts with serve for one player and return of serve for the other.

The server tries to win games in which he serves.

The return player tries to break the server.

If the player wins all serve games, he needs only one break to win the set.

 

SERVE-RETURN PRACTICE GAMES

It is important that the practice games are  realistic.

Both players should be equaly motivated to play the best they can.

 

Game 1.

"SERVE vs. RETURN"

Introduction:

It is expected that server wins more than 50% of points.

If return player wins 50% or more points, he wins the game.

Player A serves only.

Player B returns only.

Super tie-break is played.

Players change the roles after each game.

 

Game 2.

"RETURN vs. SECOND SERVE"

Introduction:

In this game it is expected that return player creates pressure and maybe wins the whole game, because the server has only one serve.

Player A serves only.

Only one serve is allowed!(second serve).

Player B returns.

Super tie-break is played.

Players change the roles after each game.

Variation:

"WINNER WITH RETURN"

Introduction:

Sometimes the player decides to win the point with one stroke.

This game is right situation for this decision.

There is only serve and return in this game.

It is "win or lose" game.

 

Game 3.

"SERVE-VOLLEY vs. RETURN"

Introduction:

In this game return player practices returning low returns in the service box.

Server practices approaching the net after serve.

Player A serves only.

Player B returns only.

Super tie-break is played.

Players change the roles after each game.

Variation:

"WINNER WITH RETURN OR VOLLEY"

Purpose:

This game is right situation for return player to pass the server with one shot.

For both players it is interesting game.

Server has only one volley to finish the point.

Return player also has only one shot.

It is also "win or lose" situation.

 

 

 

Game 4.

"FLAT SERVE vs RETURN"

Purpose:

In this game server practices only flat serve.

Return player practices neutral respond on fast serve.

Player A serves flat serves only.

The point starts when he hits the ball in the service box.

Player B returns only.

For each point that return player wins, he gets two points.

 

Game 5.

"SLICE SERVE vs CROSS-COURT RETURN"

(semi-tactical game)

Introduction:

On wide slice serve, in most cases, return will be cross-court or "in the middle.

Why?

Because cross-court return is "high percentage shot".

Down the line is "low percantage shot".

Player A serves wide slice serve from the duce court only.

Player B returns cross-court only.

After that the game is open.

Super tie-break is played.

Players change the roles after each game.

 

Game 6.

 

"TOP-SPIN SERVE vs CROSS COURT-RETURN"

(semi-tactical game)

Introduction:

On wide top-spin serve, in most cases, return will be cross-court or "in the middle.

Why?

Because cross-court return is "high percentage shot".

Down the line is "low percantage shot".

Player A serves top-spin wide serve from the ad-court only.

Player B returns cross-court only.

After that the game is open.

Super tie-break is played.

Players change the roles after each game.

 

PHYSICAL PRACTICE

 

Practice fast reaction on serve.

Excersise:

Teacher or player serve from the service line.

 

Practice fast throwing action

Excersise:

Medicine ball throwing from return ready-position