Bradford Athletics

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Bradford Tennis Tips - Strokes


How to Prepare for a Service Return in Tennis

'The service return requires good reflexes, and it's one of the most important shots in the game. Most players do not practice the service return specifically, and it shows.' ' Bill Van Keuren, USPTR certified instructor and Director of Tennis at Eddie Farm Inn & Sports Resort.

  • STEP 1: Use the continental grip, as it's the most common and allows you to change easily.
  • STEP 2: Get a partner to serve the ball to you on a repeated basis.
  • STEP 3: Practice hitting with both you and your partner standing at the service line, taking shorter swings and reacting quickly.
  • STEP 4: Have your practice partner stand at the service line rather than the baseline, and serve the ball to you. This will give you little time to prepare and therefore force you into a compact swing mode.
  • STEP 5: Make sure to split step just as the ball is being served.
  • STEP 6: Step into the ball with your left foot (as a right-hander) for forehand return, or with your right foot for a backhand return. This gives you more power and lets you step across to cover the wide-angle serves.



  • As the speed of the serve gets faster, your service return will become a quicker, shorter swing rather than a regular groundstroke with a big backswing.
  • If the ball comes really fast and you have little time to react, place your racquet out forward in a volley or blocking position to put the ball at your opponent's feet.