Tennis Return of Serve – Learn to Return a Tennis Serve

Being able to dominate the service play of your opponent is a very good sign for you to win the match. Breaking your opponent’s serve is not an easy job to do, but there are ways and means to come out victorious.

How to hit a return of serve

Court position

The first thing to learn in order to return a tennis serve is to stay on the right part of the court when his opponent is about to serve. For beginners, it is advisable for them to stand about two to three strides from the baseline sideline corner. In some occasions, the best position is for the beginners to step inside the court especially if the server is also a beginner. This is because, most beginner’s serve are short balls. Thus, if is you stay on the baseline, you have to cover a wider distance to return the serve.

For more advanced players, the tennis return of serve may prove to be more difficult. It will require quick movement as well as the correct technique.

Ready position

You have to stand facing the net; bend your knees, racket in front of you (pointing to your opponent) with your racket hand holding it and your free hand supporting it on the racket throat. While you are in this position, you have to anticipate the ball. When the ball arrives, you can either return the ball with your backhand or with your forehand.

Footwork and preparation

Footwork plays a major role in the success in returning tennis serve. For beginners, it is always advisable take a step forward in returning the serve. Early preparation is also necessary and this is done with a split step making sure to bring the racket back early. It is important to do a split step when your opponent is about to hit the ball so that you will be on your toes once the ball arrives and you are ready to go to any direction.

How to hit the tennis return of serve for advanced players

When you are in the receiving position, it is very important to neutralize your opponent’s serve so that he or she can’t play offensively against you. This means that your shots that force him or her to make awkward returns. If you are able to do this, you can turn the momentum to your advantage.


There are two ways in preparing to return a tennis serve. The first one is to move forward and the second is to remain further back behind the baseline. The former is the most common preparation use by advanced players especially in returning a first serve. However, some players like Roger Federer move backwards occasionally, instead of moving forward before hitting the ball. These two tennis return serve preparation techniques are discussed below.

  • Move forward and hit the ball early

In this tennis return of serve technique, the player steps forward and hits the ball early while it is still on the rise. If you use this technique, be sure to use the speed of the ball. It will require perfect timing on the return. In this tactic, the non serving player stays behind the baseline but during the point of contact, he or she is already on the baseline or slightly inside the baseline.

  • Remain further behind the baseline and hit the ball with a full swing

Another tennis serve of return preparation is when the player does not hit the ball early, instead he or she stays further behind the baseline and hits the ball with a full swing. In recent years, this tennis return of serve technique is becoming very popular especially on the second serve. This can also be used with in returning a first serve to give you time. Specifically, this technique is very good when you hit a forehand or when your opponent is serving on the deuce court. Take note that if you use this technique, use the full swing as in your normal groundstrokes.

Attack your opponent’s weak second serve

If your opponent has a weak second serve, it is a very big advantage in your side. A weak second serve is just like a short groundstroke. This means you can control the play and possibly win a point. If you have the chance to control your opponent’s second serve, you have a big chance to win the match.

Chip and charge

Although this tennis return of serve technique is becoming unpopular in modern tennis, it is still very useful to use especially if you like playing net. This technique is beginning to lose its prestige because not many players, especially the professional players do the serve and volley techniques. Despite this, this technique can still be a very effective offensive shot.

The chip and charge return of serve can be done by hitting the ball when the ball is on the rise from its bounce rather than when it starts to fall down after the bounce. A slice shot is also ideal to use here, this is done by coming forward to the net and waiting for your opponent’s return. The good thing about this technique is it keeps the ball low; at the same time always puts pressure on your opponent, especially if he or she does not like to play at the net.

Power approach shots

In this tennis return of serve technique, you have to hit a powerful (as powerful as you can) approach shot and quickly move to the net. This may sound like the chip and charge technique but technically it is not. This is because in chip and charge, you hit a slice return but here you hit a flat return. You gain an advantage with a flat return because of its speed, thus giving your opponent less time to prepare for his next shot.

This situation is to your advantage because he or she has less opportunity to hit aggressive shots. In addition to a flat return, you can also add topspin in your shot to produce a high bounce which can be uncomfortable to your opponent.

Target the weaker side of the opponent

If you are going to return a first serve or a second serve, try your best to hit your shot on the weaker side of your opponent. Like for instance, if your opponent’s weapon is the backhand, then hit the shot to his forehand. On one hand, if your opponent’s weapon is the forehand, then hit the shot to his backhand.

Hit sharp angle shots

With your opponent in an awkward position on the baseline, one of the best tennis return of serve techniques is to hit short angle shots. You can also do sharp angle shots on the farthest side of the court from your opponent. This will force your opponent to cover a wider distance which can be very difficult for him considering he still has to recover from his serving position.

Let your opponent run around the court

Another return of serve tactic is to make your opponent cover a big area around the court. If your opponent is serving to his right side of the court, you hit your return shot to his farthest left side and hit the ball with topspin. This forces your opponent to move back behind the baseline to cover the open court. As a result, you have more options as where to hit the ball where your opponent might not be able to return.

Aim for the winner shot

Players like the Williams sisters are very good in this tennis return of serve tactic. This tactic can be hard to do with a first serve especially if your opponent has a powerful serve. However, if the second serve of your opponent is weak; this is your best opportunity to win points by hitting winner shots. The best technique here is to hit the lines, just make sure that you don’t over hit your shots.

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