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Are You Giving Away Points on Your Return? Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 118

By Kselz @TennisFixation

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I have a question for you this week and that question is - are you giving away points on your return? Are you just handing points over to your opponent without requiring them to do any work at all to win those points? In this episode of Tennis Quick Tips, I'm talking about giving away points on your return. And I'll give you my best tips for making sure you hit the kind of returns that force your opponents to do at least some work to win the point with no help from you. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link:

Are You Giving Away Points on Your Return? Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 118


I was getting ready for this episode and I couldn't quite how I wanted to kick-off the episode to show you what the point of this episode is. But I went to drills today and, at the end, we were playing doubles points. And, in one game, my partner was serving and I was up at the net, and our opponents basically handed the game over to us because they hit four returns in a row, four points in this one game, where none of their returns were in. So all my partner had to do was get her serve in and then the returns would either go out or in the net and that's how we ended up winning that particular game.

And this is what I'm talking about when I say are you giving away points on your return?

I know a lot of us lot at the return as a time when we are just reacting to whatever serve comes over the net. We tend to sit back, relax a little, and think, "Well, I don't know what's about to happen so all I can do is stand here and wait." And I really think that's a mistake. I think that's the wrong mindset to have on your return and so I'm going to give you my three tips for the mindset I think you need to have when you're hitting a return. And I think, through these three tips you'll see how to approach the return in a better way so that you're not simply handing points over to your opponents.

So here are my tips for hitting a better return and NOT giving away points to your opponent.

1. Be Focused And Aggressive When Returning

You really need to adopt a much more focused and aggressive attitude when you're returning. Think about how you view the return right now. Do you see it as a time when you're just getting the ball back or do you see it as your chance to take control of the point? Many of us, probably most of us, are pretty passive with our returns. We view the return as a reaction shot, a shot to just keep the point going. We relax just a bit when we're standing there at the baseline getting ready to return because we know that, at least initially, the pressure is all on the server.

But, relaxing like this and thinking that we're just getting the point going and we're reacting to whatever serve comes over the net is a mistake. Our attitude when we return needs to be one of focus and aggression. We need to view the return as our chance to really attack our opponents and take control of the point.

2. Get Your Return In

Your number one priority on your return is to get it in. You absolutely do not want to give your opponent free points by missing your return. A weak return that lands in is better than a powerful return that goes out.

Now, maybe you're thinking, "But, you just told me to be focused and aggressive on my return. How can I be focused and aggressive if I'm just trying to make sure my return is in?"

Well, I think you do this by starting off returning in a very straight-forward and safe way but not a relaxed way. So, unless you've played this opponent before and know their strengths and weaknesses inside and out, I think it's best to begin your returning game with the kind of returns that you know will go in and you know will not get partner in trouble if you're playing doubles. That means, if you're returning the serve of an opponent that you really don't know much about, then a strong, deep, cross-court return is usually the best way to start out returning in a match. It may be kind of boring, but it usually works.

Yes, I love to pull out a down-the-line return early in a match because the receiving team usually isn't expecting that. But, I hate to admit it, I myself am usually not warmed-up enough, physically or mentally, to hit a really strong down-the-line return very early in the match. So I'll save that until I feel better prepared to hit it and I feel like I know more about my opponents' tendencies as far as poaching and court coverage.

3. Have A Plan For Your Return And The Next Shot

This is what I'm referring to when I talk about the tendency to view the return as a reaction shot. It's not a reaction shot. You should be standing there thinking, "If the return comes to my backhand, I'm going to do this and then this." And maybe it's "I'm going to hit that strong, deep, cross-court return and then come in and volley at the net player." Or "I'm going to hit that strong, deep, cross-court return and then stay back and lob." Whatever seems to be appropriate. But my point is, do not stand there and wait for the serve and then make your plan. Have your plan ready before the serve ever comes across the net.

So have that return and then the next shot planned in your head. That means you may have to have more than one plan. You might have one plan for the serve that comes to your backhand and a different plan for the serve that comes to your forehand. That's not a lot to think about. It's a lot more than standing there and reacting to the serve. That is how you need to be focusing. You need to be focusing on what you will be doing to take control of the point. And having a plan for your return and the next shot is how you do that.

So those are my three tips for gaining control of the point with your return and stopping this situation of giving away free points to your opponent when you're returning. Those three tips again were:

  1. Be focused and aggressive on your return.
  2. Make it a priority to get your return in.
  3. Have a plan for your return and the next shot.

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Now I've got another episode of the mechanics of hitting a return and how you can improve those to hit a better return. That episode, How to Hit a Better Return, can be found over at

Let me know your how your tennis is going by leaving me a comment below. And, as always, Happy Tennis!


For tips on how to improve the mechanics of your return, check out this episode:
How to Hit a Better Return - Tennis Quick Tips Episode 30


And if you're interested in getting a better serve - fast! - get my free ebook, 10 Quick Fixes to Improve Your Serve: No Lessons Required.

Are You Giving Away Points on Your Return? Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 118

By applying the 10 simple tips to your serve that I give in this ebook, your serve can become a tool that you can use to gain control of points. It can become more powerful, more accurate, and something you're actually proud of. Just enter your email below and you'll get instant access to this free ebook as well as weekly updates with all of my best tennis tips!

Are You Giving Away Points on Your Return? Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 118

© Kim Selzman 2016 All Rights Reserved

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