When a serve pulls you off the court and you return down the line, you are very vulnerable to a forcing crosscourt shot from the opponent. Returning crosscourt or to the middle will leave you in a much better position to cover the court.
When returning and coming in, pick the outside shot to hit the return whenever you have a chance.
If you want to hit the return and attack to the net, hit to the opponent’s weak side if he/she has a very weak shot. If his/her forehand and backhand are about the same, hit down the line or to the middle. Hit cross court only once in a while to surprise.
On hard-courts players will take advantage of the speed of the opponent’s serve, stand close to the baseline and block the return. On clay-courts, a blocked return will not be as effective because it will usually be too slow. Therefore, players will back up and take a longer more aggressive swing.
The number one goal of the returner should be to make the opponent play. Everything else is secondary. Unless you are getting enough returns in the court, you will never get the opponent in trouble and will have a hard time breaking serve. Find a way to get the return in every time and you will see the difference right …
Make sure that you vary your return position to take advantage of the circumstances. Stand in a spot that favors your strengths or cover your weaknesses, but also adjust to be able to cover the opponent’s best serve.
On keys points, a small adjustment in your return position can give you the needed advantage to win those important points. It may be enough to pressure the opponent into hitting a bad serve or it may give you the necessary head start to hit a more aggressive and balanced return.
As you play a match you should study the opponent. Find out his/her favorite patterns and shots. Then use this information wisely. For example, on key points make sure to cover your opponent’s favorite serve. Play the odds. Make your opponent uncomfortable.
On key points, return consistently by picking smart targets. Hit towards the middle or crosscourt to give yourself more margin for error.
Aim to the middle of the court and low to return a first serve when the opponent is serving and volleying. On second serves, try to stretch him/her.
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