Racquet Ball Technique: Tips For Improving Your Service Return

With a few quick tips, players can greatly improve their service return game. The following are just some of the ways to make your racquetball game more successful.

Because the server has most of the control, returning serves is one of the most difficult areas of the sport of racquetball. While serving is typically an offensive weapon, returning serves is primarily a defensive one. There are, however, a few ways the receiver can make returning serves an offensive strategy. Before discussing the different types of service returns, this article will mention four areas that can be critical to the receiver's success, before the ball is even served.

The first of these areas involves body positioning. While waiting for a serve, it is important that the receiver's feet should be shoulder-length apart. His weight should be on the balls of his feet, which will allow for the quickest movement upon the serve. The receiver's knees should be slightly bent and his shoulders should be directly in line with the front wall. Arms should be somewhat bent, with elbows remaining close to the body. Hold the racquet with a backhand grip (most serves come to the backhand). Grip the racquet somewhere between knee and waist high, which will allow the shortest backswing distance and the most rapid return.

The second area focuses on the player's position on the court. The positioning should be halfway between the side walls, and no less than five and no more than nine feet from the back wall. If the server is hitting hard, the receiver should move up to nine feet so as to have less distance to cover, which consequently gives the server less room to score. Being positioned halfway will allow the receiver to play the backhand as easily as the forehand. Caution against leaning the body even slightly, as the better servers will take advantage by hitting to the opposite way the player is leaned.

Another key aspect of the pre-serve setup is the player's foot movement. It is recommended that the player "bounce" slightly before the serve is even hit. Many players find being in motion aides them in staying in motion (law of physics) once the serve is played. Reaction time is much quicker from this pose.

Observing the server is the last key area on which to concentrate before we move on to the returns. Keeping a close eye on the server is of course critical. Pay attention to clues that can give away the type of serve that is to come. Clues can range from the server's place in the service area, the turn of his body, and the delivery of the ball. Turning his body towards the corner and a shorter backswing are also clues the server can give. Learn to interpret these signals and be on the way to being more successful before even seeing the serve.

There are four main service returns in racquetball. Each has its own strategy against different types of serves. The ceiling return should be used on any serve that is hit waist high or above. It can also work well against line drives. Receivers would do well to land the return in the left-hand corner because the opponent will be forced to hit a backhand, universally thought of as the most difficult shot overall. The ceiling serve turns into an offensive serve when the receiver forces a backhand off the return.



When a serve is coming towards the receiver low and hard, the kill serve tends to work best. Use the kill shot when a serve lands in the center court.

A passing return is best used either down-the-wall or crosscourt. It should be played when an easy, soft serve is delivered. On serves such as this, the receiver automatically becomes the offensive player and should take advantage of the opportunity.

The final return to focus upon is the volley. When a player uses this return he generally catches the server off guard and therefore gives the server less time to get in position at center court. The volley is efficient against the lob serve if the player volleys before he is forced into a high backhand shot from the left corner.

The type of serve to use should be determined by the receiver's ability, the kind of serve and the ability of the server as well. Of course, different returns should be used for different circumstances. Be sure and practice all four returns in order to discover what works best in each situation.

Although returns are generally regarded as defensive maneuvers, the receiver should always be prepared to transform a return into an offensive weapon. Always take advantage of poorly hit serves with kill or passing shots. The chances on winning a rally outright will then improve. If the serve is an effective one, use a ceiling return because this allows the receiver ample time to obtain a good position and keeps the server out of center court.

Some keys to follow before every serve are: always pressure the server to feel like he must hit a brilliant serve or else he will be in serious trouble; don't try to score on every serve; and hit many different types of returns so the server must always guess what's to come. The receiver must be able to adapt his return strategy depending on what serve is played. Be the aggressor.

If a receiver follows these steps he can expect to see drastic improvement in the service return aspect of his game and will thus become a more successful racquetball player.

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