October 11th, 2010 by Ben
One of the first things I teach my players at ASU once they get the basic idea of the proper strokes is to effectively return serve. Far too many players take high risk shots and make errors, handing points away to their opponents. It drives me crazy to see this; despite the fact that the pro’s do it (with a high degree of consistency) does not mean that everyone else should be trying to play the same way. Let the pros make the tough shots, you should play the easy way.
Below is an excerpt from my book which gives you an overview of the basic concepts and a set of rules which you must follow for success.
Return of Serve—Starting Position
The return of serve is critical to your success in a match. If you cannot effectively neutralize a big serve or hit the proper shots off of a lob serve, then you will be hard pressed to win. The server has most of the advantages, but not necessarily all of them.
Good footwork and smart choices will help to reverse the server’s advantage. One way of relieving some of the pressure during a match is not to give anything away, force your opponent to earn all of his points.
There are four rules you must live by for the return of serve:
1. Never, ever skip a serve return.
2. Do not take high risk shots.
3. Hit a pass for your return.
4. A good ceiling ball return is very effective
Your goal is to make your opponent have to earn every point, so do not take difficult, high risk shots that will lead to errors. Be conservative and hit a ceiling ball in reply to your opponent’s good serve, and if they give you an opportunity to be aggressive be sure to hit a pass. Make your opponent run to the back court to play their first shot of the rally, it will make your job of defending the serve much easier.
Be sure you start in the proper position (pictured above) and the proper distance into the court. I see that most people play too far forward and end up turning away from the front wall to hit your first shot. To avoid this, reach back and touch the back wall with your racquet and set up your position in this spot.
For more information on the starting position, specific footwork that should be used and detailed instruction on how to play a more effective game you can purchase either of my books Racquetball 101 or Percentage Racquetball to learn more. Log onto Racquetball Warehouse’s website and order your copy today!
ASU Racquetball Head Coach
Ektelon Collegiate Director