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Tactics: How to beat a big server.

So what do you do when the ball's coming at you fast and from on high? When you're up against a big server, you can sometimes feel like you don't have a prayer. It doesn't have to be like that, though. We tell you how to overcome your return-of-serve fears. Advice and drills to get you returning those big serves with confidence. Ready? Let's go!

TENNIS TACTICS: HOW TO BEAT A BIG SERVER.

So what do you do when the ball's coming at you fast and from on high? When you're up against a big server, you can sometimes feel like you don't have a prayer. It doesn't have to be like that, though. We tell you how to overcome your return-of-serve fears. Advice and drills to get you returning those big serves with confidence. Ready? Let's go!

 

"Woaaah! I'm getting 220km/h bombs here. There's no way I can return them." You'll often hear people say that when they come up against a big server. It doesn't matter how big they serve, though. Like any player, they will have their weak points and doubts. And that's what we're going to work on. 

 

Common misconception No. 1: You can't break a big server.

 

FALSE, anyone can be broken as long as you put your mind to it, don't get discouraged, and keep telling yourself: "The next point's mine."

 

Common misconception No. 2: If I stand right back, it won't come through as fast.

 

FALSE. When you're playing a big server, try to avoid (unless you're a truly great returner and you're playing on the Court Central at Roland Garros) going too far back behind the baseline because you're going to open up more angles and make it easier for them to serve. Ideally, you should cut the angle by moving into the court and choosing one side. If you keep varying the position you return from, you can sow doubt into their minds and knock them off their rhythm. 

 

Common misconception No. 3: "This isn't tennis! There are no rallies!

 

FALSE. This is tennis. You've just come up against a player with a major strong point and who's giving you a hard time. But don't forget that you have your strong points too and that you can use your skills to counter your opponent's. Big servers do not always return well or play well from the baseline. So when you get into the point, get the upper hand and impose yourself. 

Matches like this can really help you with your concentration, your game plans, and your mental game. Don't give up! They're sure to serve a double fault ;)

 

Now we've cleared a few things up, here are two drills that will help you improve your return of serve.

return-of-serve drill

Drill 1 

Objective: Cut off the ball/cut the angle/block your return. 

Player 1 stands one or two metres behind the service line with a basket of balls. 

Player 2 (the person working on their return) stands in the position they normally return serve from. 

The server hits first serves into the service box, in different areas. 

The returner should aim to execute a good split step so they can drive themselves forward to return the ball. 

Ideally, they should be stepping into the court to try to block and cut off the angles open to the server. 

Do ten sets of high-intensity serves.

Drill 2

Objective: Work on picking up the line of the ball and your reaction time. 

Player 1 hits sets of ten serves. 

Player 2 stands in their normal return position but with their back to the server. 

The server calls out when they are about to hit the serve. This is the signal for the returner to turn around and try to hit a good return by picking up the flight of the ball and reacting in time.