Ask Tennishead: Improving Annie’s return of serve
Originally published on: 26/02/10 16:34
Annie, West Yorkshire, UK
“I can’t break serve,” says Annie. “Should I block serves back or take a swing?”
The Doctor says…
Can’t break serve, eh? Take a seat, Annie. This won’t hurt a bit. To be able to break serve, first and foremost, you need to make your opponent play more balls.
A good rule of thumb is to block back first serves (which are normally the faster of the two deliveries) and try to do a bit more with your opponent’s second serves – be more aggressive. You could even try some chip and charge tactics if your net game is up to it.
The Doctor on first serves:
- When you’re facing fast, first serves keep your backswing short as you’ll have less time to react.
- All you should focus on is neutralising the serve so you can start the rally in a 50-50 situation.
- If you’re facing a serve-volleyer don’t panic – try your best to make them play any kind of volley and, if you can, try to get your return down to their feet.
- Aim for the centre of the court to increase your margins. If you catch it a little early or late you should still find the court.
The Doctor on second serves:
- Think of returning a second serve as an opportunity to dominate the point.
- Take the ball on the rise to give your opponent less time to react.
- Try to use your favourite groundstroke. If you have a big forehand, run around your backhand. If your backhand return is your strongest side, run around your forehand.
- Throw in the occasional chip and charge to keep your opponent guessing. The sight of you charging the net will often rush your opponent into making a mistake.
Your treatment is complete, Annie. Now go and try these out in training – the return is one of the most neglected areas when players are on the practice court.
Do you need help?
Don’t panic – book an appointment now! Get in touch with your symptoms and keep an eye on the On Court channel for the solution.