Hey, it’s Jeff Salzenstein, and in
today’s video lesson, we are going to go over the return of serve, and how you can
move better so that you can react to those fast serves coming at you.
Now, I don’t know about you, I think you’ve probably experienced this
before, but when I was playing on the Pro Tour, I was playing big servers, and I
would split step and I felt myself lunging in both directions. Well luckily, I started going to the game
tape. I started studying a lot of great pros, and I particularly studied
Andre Agassi’s return of serve. Now, Andre had one of the best returns of all time,
and one of the reasons was because he had great eyes and great technique,
but a little-known tip that I picked up that most people don’t know about is that
when he would make his first move, he would kind of move to the middle like
this.So, instead of just going up and down, he would actually shift his weight,
shift his body in this direction, and that allowed him to react and take away
the T serve. Believe it or not it, actually helps with
the wide serve, too, because my belief is that when you split like this, it makes
it more difficult to react either way. So, I’m going to bring Max in right now,
and we’re going to bounce some balls to him, and then we’re also going to show
some footage of him returning with me serving, so that you can see exactly how
this is done. We’ve got Max here with us today.
We’re going to go ahead and show you the incorrect scenario first, where you’re going to split,
and where he’s going to split by going up and down, straight up and down.
Then, we’re going to also show him shifting the correct way, so, this is going to be pretty cool stuff
for you guys to check out. So, what we’re going to do is I’m just going to walk over and toss some balls to him as if I’m serving, and first, Max is just going to split up and down, and we’re going to see that he’s going to
struggle a bit getting out to the ball. Good. So, if you just go up and down, you
don’t really have that momentum. Let’s do it one more time. You don’t really have that momentum. Now, he’s going to shift with his left foot towards the middle of the court as the person is tossing, and getting ready to make contact. So, just, just making that little shift
can make all the difference in how you can cover. We’ll do that one more time, and we’re going to get great timing on that one. Here we go. There we go. Perfect. So, just shifting, just shifting towards the
middle, gives him the momentum that he’s going to need to be able to cover that serve. So, Max, why don’t you tell me what your
experience has been when you play servers, and you’re getting beat? What adjustments you’ve made,
and why you’ve made them. Well, I feel like taking that extra step and splitting while moving gives me a lot of better reaction to the ball, like, my reactions are a lot faster, and if I’m going to be in a certain direction, I’ll try and move that way, so, I take away that serve. Now, so, if he’s moving in one direction, he’s going to be able to react, because he’s moving to one side. He can actually push off in either direction, and if a guy has a great T serve, he can take that away, and I’m sure if someone has a great wide serve, you could even shift the other direction, right? Absolutely. Okay. So now, we’re going to go- we’re going to show some voice-over video analysis of Max doing his thing as well. Let’s take a look at Max here, and he’s going to split step, and he’s going to do the traditional split step that pretty much everyone is taught, because I’ve never really seen anybody move or taught the way that Agassi and other returners move before the server hits the ball. So, let’s go ahead and look at what Max does here. Just slow it down, and you can see he just goes up and straight down. Now again, nothing necessarily wrong with doing that, but I found that your reaction time is a lot slower, and you’ll see here Max goes up and down. He gets beat on that T serve, and he’s just lunging at the ball. So, let’s look at that again in slow motion, and you can see that he’s just going to go straight up and down, gets nice height, but he goes straight up and down, so, what we want to do is we actually want to shade in one direction. We want to move slightly to the left or slightly to the right,
so that we can push off faster in either direction. Look at Max shading to the left when he makes his
first move, and this is what i really like to do on first and second serves.
In this case, Max is hitting a second is hitting a second serve return, and you’ll notice here when he’s getting ready, look at that step right there.
I’ll back it up real quick for you. He steps a little bit, and actually, it’s a pretty good step to the left. So, he’s going to be covering the T serve, but what’s cool is even if the serve goes out wide, he will be able to push off with that left foot and get back to the wide serve. That’s the experience that I found with this type of movement. Now that he shaded to the left, if the server goes down the T, he can easily step out and hitting a nice return, and you’ll see here, he uses the back-to-front footwork pattern. He really covers that ball, and hits a laser inside in. So, you’ll notice he loads up this back leg, and then switches to the front leg, and is able to hit a nice return inside in, but again, notice that he’s not at this place right here at the very beginning. He’s not just going up and down with a split step, he steps to the left right there, and that’s what you’re wanting to work on: stepping if you’re right-handed, or stepping to the left, and the deuce court and maybe even in the ad court you can step to the right to cover the T serve.
Of course, if you’re playing someone that’s good at the wide serves,
you might want to step out in the direction of the wide serves to get a good jump on the ball. I really hope you received a ton of value from this lesson today, so you can go take action on the court as soon as possible. If you want to see more in-depth breakdown of this lesson and many others, make sure to join us inside the Total Tennis Training inner circle, where you can get cutting-edge tennis tips and strategies that can fix your weaknesses, and improve your strengths. If you want to be a part of our growing online tennis community and get the best tennis lessons on the planet, go ahead and click the link below, and
we’ll help you go to the next level with your tennis. I’m really excited to help you out, and
thanks for taking the time to watch this lesson today 🙂