Give Your Opponent A Different Look

Today we’re going to go over a return of serve lesson that will add more variety to your game. It’s all about moving back on the return of serve. You’ll want to use this return strategy at certain times in a match to thrown your opponent off when he/she is serving.

There are many coaches out there who tell their students to always stand on the baseline and take the return of serve early much like the great Andre Agassi did. Always standing on the baseline and taking the ball early works very well if you are winning, but it can limit your effectiveness as well.

Why? By always standing in on the baseline to return serve, you never give your opponent a different look…essentially you become too predictable.

It’s a good idea to move back behind the baseline at different times in a match to give yourself more time to hit the return like a heavy rotational groundstroke with a lot of topspin. By moving back especially on a 2nd serve return, you can let the ball drop allowing you to rip the ball with more topspin.


Move Back As Your Opponent Tosses

One way you can execute this return of serve lesson is to move back as your opponent is tossing the ball to serve. Start in your normal return position and as your opponent tosses the ball, move back behind the baseline as you prepare to hit the ball.

The next major key is to let the ball drop on this return of serve. Many players, who move back, do not go back far enough and still end up hitting the ball when it’s too high. Instead let the ball drop down or settle into your strike zone so you can hit the return of serve with lots of topspin.

If you can jump on the return of serve, you can also try using the switch pattern or the outside hop when moving back when hitting forehands. If you cannot jump on the return of serve, make sure to get back quick enough to get your feet set in the right position.

If you are going to try moving back on the return of serve, make sure to let the ball drop into your strike zone which will allow you to hit the return of serve with more topspin back to your opponent.

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  1. Marcin

    Great tip. Some mental game implemented. I would also mention to make sure that players keep offensive mindset while moving back to not push the ball

  2. Brian Li

    Hello Jeff,

    Thank you for the awesome lesson.

    But what if the server can also serve out wide?

    Would you still move back or determine weather to move forwards or backwards, when he tosses the ball?

    Thank you,


    • Jeff Salzenstein

      Hi Brian, Yes, you have to adjust if your opponent can serve wide. Maybe you don’t move back as much or you move back more on the side where they serve out wide less often

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