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New player needs help with serve returns

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freakinjstu View Drop Down
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    Posted: 08/14/2018 at 4:18pm
I'm a new player struggling with serve return. I have a tournament this weekend and looking for a tip that might help mitigate this weakness.

The good news: people at my level don't serve with much spin, speed, or deception.  The bad news: I still suck at it. 

Here are my returns from a match last month (please forgive the low standard of play I'm still learning):


Most obvious problems:
1. I make lots of unforced errors on easy balls
2. Because of #1 I'm extremely tentative

The long term answer is "lots of practice" ... but ... am I making any obvious errors that I should be correcting before they become more ingrained?

Thanks for any help :)
Sometimes I use big words I don't fully understand to make myself seem more photosynthesis
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/14/2018 at 4:36pm
You actually went pretty far to correcting the main error over the course of this match. Your receives became a lot more active and more often with topspin from set 1 to 4. Here are a few suggestions:

Expect every serve to be long until the other guy proves he can serve short

Expect every serve to have weak or no spin (ie is attackable) until proven wrong

If faced with a short or heavy spin server, develop a heavy, deep, well-placed push. That is worth practicing, you will use it forever at any level.

The other 99% of matches, try to topspin those long serves. Don't go for a winner, just a nice, consistent topspin at the opponent's elbow, or bh, wherever they show weakness.

You may miss a lot and lose a match because of it. But you probably would have lost that match returning passively, and that way you wouldn't have learned jack. Once you learn to topspin those serves with confidence you will move up a group or two.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/14/2018 at 4:39pm
Also, you reversed the order of your 1 and 2. Because you are tentative you make lots of errors on easy balls. Tentative strokes are garbage. Ther is no topspin to bring the ball down on the table. They hardly ever work. A normal free full swing is actually a lot safer.
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mts388 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mts388 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/14/2018 at 4:48pm
You are extremely tentative on balls you can hit, but are not sure of.  Most of his topspin serves were very hitable, but you played it safe and gave him a ball he could hit.  Go ahead and hit those balls, each success will give you more confidence to do it again.  Try to hit the ball at the top of the bounce. 

On backspin balls, try to push the ball short, or long and hard.  Either way should work at your level.  Have someone at the club serve you simple serves so you gain confidence in your returns.

It looks like you are okay at reading the serves, but so afraid of making a mistake that you made mistakes not trusting your reads. 

Try to be more aggressive. 


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bard romance View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bard romance Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/14/2018 at 4:50pm
I actually don't think your serve return is a relative weakness compared to the rest of your game. Maybe even a relative strength.

That said, if your goal for the tournament this weekend is maximize your chance of winning, don't bother with trying to make any technique adjustments just a few days away. If your goal is more long term improvement, then just say screw it and practice committing more to your returns, for better or worse. That's how you'll learn what you can and can't do.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hookumsnivy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/15/2018 at 8:13am
In addition to the advice above, pay attention to your opponent tendencies on where we stands and sets up after his serve (it helps to have someone watch and tell you between games). Even if you can't make an aggressive return, good placement makes it a better return. 
For instance, your opponent often moved (early) to his backhand corner and set up for a FH. That gives you 3 good options - wide to the FH side to see how he moves, to his FH elbow/middle, or tight to his BH corner because he's not set up at all to his a BH. The worst spot would be to the middle of the table. Also, because his stance was often extreme for a FH setup, his BH will be weak and inconsistent unless he moves well. This specific opponent looks to be tall with long arms - typically you want to crowd those players with balls to their elbow and middle since they have to make space to hit the ball properly. There were a number of times you did that and he had to make an awkward shot.

Btw, sometimes a ball with little spin can be harder to work with since you have to generate all the spin.


Edited by hookumsnivy - 08/15/2018 at 8:15am
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bard romance View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bard romance Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/15/2018 at 2:06pm
Again to reiterate, don't work on any of these changes until after the tournament if your goal is to win at the tournament. But do, if you aren't really so concerned with results in the short term. 

Most players at this level aren't really good enough to punish weak serve returns anyways. So for the short term, you're better off just putting the ball on the table, then tightening things up as more of a long term goal. 
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Baal View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/16/2018 at 6:23am
If you find yourself nervous in the middle of a match take a second to think about the law great sex you had. Mental trick.
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Mirchev View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mirchev Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/26/2018 at 7:11am
1.Start earlier with the feet - even before the other player tosses the ball. 
2.One step with the right foot to the center of the table and then adjustment according to the direction of the serve.



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darucla View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote darucla Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/26/2018 at 8:46am
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

If you find yourself nervous in the middle of a match take a second to think about the law great sex you had. Mental trick.

Hypothetcially (I'm asking for a friend) what if your memory doesn't go back that far?
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