How To Have A Great First Move On The Return
Jeff Salzenstein here, and today I’m going to share some tips with you on how to have a great first move on the return.
One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that on the return you have very limited time to react. Especially when returning a first serve. So, you need to have a quick and precise first move, use the right footwork, and have a solid finish.
If you get those three things dialed, you’re going to have a great return. So, here’s a few tips to help you do exactly that.
Shortening Your Backswing On The First Move
When your opponent hits the serve, you need to recognize as soon as possible if the ball is coming to your forehand or backhand.
Once you pick this up, make a quick first move. Don’t take your racquet back far, as this may often cause you to be late. Instead simply make a small shoulder turn, setting the racquet to the side of your body. From this compact position, you should go forward through the ball with your hand and racquet.
A common mistake that players make is that they take the racquet back more, after they are already set in a good first move preparation position. You can avoid this by simply moving your hand and the racquet forward to the ball, from your first move position.
Return Of Serve First Move Footwork
Using the right footwork is vital to having a great return of serve.
Unless the ball comes into your body, you want to use what I call the “back to front ” footwork pattern. This footwork will help you move forward into the ball at the correct time.
Here’s how it works:
Load up your back leg as you make the first move. Be patient and keep the wait loaded on this leg. Then as the ball comes towards you, transfer your weight and energy forward to the front foot, as you make contact with the ball.
Make sure to avoid the common mistake of shifting the weight too early. This will cause you to make contact early, lose power, timing, and rhythm.
Give those two tips a try for how to have a great first move on the return, and you should find that you’ll feel a lot less rushed and jammed on your returns.