What's the Purpose of the Return of Serve?
When you return the serve you are positioned in the back of the court about 2-3 feet from the back wall. You are as far away from the front wall as possible, which is the target and you are on defense. Unlike the Server, who is positioned in the middle of the court approximately 20 feet from the front wall, and is hitting the ball out of their hand. The server is in total control and is on offense.
With this in mind, the purpose of the return of serve is to move the server out of center court and put them in the most difficult position to score…the VERY back of the court which is the furthest from the target. Your goal is to regain strategic control of center court position by placing your opponent in the backcourt. The two best shots that will accomplish these objectives are the ceiling shots as well as the passing shots. These 2 shots will help you neutralize the server who is in total control of the match at this point. It is plain and simple…. if you cannot return the serve or return the serve well you will not be able to get your opponent out of the middle nor will you be able to get yourself into good position so you could rally and possibly force a side out. Remember, you are the most vulnerable at this point so play smart and get your opponent out of the middle, center court.
Use the techniques in my book “Championship Racquetball”, Chapter 3, “Dominating Returns” P. 92-99.
Here’s how my Championship Team and Junior Championship Team utilizes these techniques:
Rocky Carson and Paola Longoria
They spend hours drilling the return of serve, as they know just how critical it is to have a “good” return of serve, which pulls their server out of the middle and puts them deep in the court where it is tougher to score from vs. a “bad” return of serve, which leaves their server up front in better scoring position.
Rocky was very susceptible to lob serves to his forehand 2 years ago and lost many matches because of that weakness in his return of serve. Well, that summer I had his sparring partner, Don, hit him NOTHING but lob serves to his forehand every practice and Rocky would attack and hit the overhead pass. Now Rocky has the confidence in returning the lob serves and putting his opponent deep in the court. His attitude is “bring it on” vs. “oh no here comes the lob serve.”
Paola was very uncomfortable returning the high lob Z serve to her forehand as she allowed it to get deep into the right corner. I showed her how to move up on it, attack it and return it with an overhead pass. She practiced that return religiously and now that is one of her best returns driving her opponent back into the deep court.
Understanding what the “purpose of the return of serve” is, is yet another required skill on the road to championship racquetball. ALL of the players I coach, from the professionals led by Rocky and Paola to the amateurs, know just how important it is to have a “Good Return of Serve” that puts their opponent in the back of the court. It’s not easy to do, but a MUST. Rocky and Paola are BOTH 2 of the most decorated athletes in racquetball. Paola finished the 2014-2015 ranked #1 on the LPRT for the 4th consecutive season and was crowned the 2014 World Champion, the Central American Champion and the 2X Pan American Champion. Rocky finished the 2014-2015 ranked #2 on the IRT and was crowned the 2014 World Champion and 2015 Pan American Champion..
In the next issue, I will continue to build your Championship Racquetball Game one level at a time so you too can be ready to become the champion you always dreamed of becoming, by giving you the tools to make it a reality. Rocky and all my athletes “Championship Racquetball Games” stem from their focus on ALL 3 sides of the triangle working together so they can develop into top competitors. Without a shadow of a doubt, they KNOW just how important it is to do the work. They are living proof it works and their titles substantiate it.
For details on more personalized instruction, a weekend camp, instructional DVD’s, our book, Championship Racquetball, and our APP (coming soon), ALL which covers all aspects of the Sports Racquetball Triangle and more, please visit www.FranDavisRacquetball.com. Fran Davis is a 2004 racquetball Hall of Fame inductee; Racquetball Woman of the Year 2009; Coach #2 IRT Pro Player / 1X US Open Champion / 4X and present World Champion, 2X Pan American Champion, Rocky Carson; Coach #1 Women’s LPRT Pro Player / 5X and present US Open Champion & World Champion, 2X Pan American Champion, Paola Longoria; Coach Jr. World & National Champion, Jordan Cooperrider, Wayne Antone & Mitchaell Turnern; Master Professional Instructor/Coach USAR-IP.