Analysis: Trouble with the Deep & Fast Serve

Hover over any picture below for detailed analysis of what is shown.

In theory, the return of serve should be quite easy. Your opponents are 45ft away and have to hit underhand, right to you. But a deep and fast serve can cause trouble for some players. Let’s examine what frequently happens at the intermediate level.


The returner’s first error is to misread the depth of the serve. Notice how she takes an initial step into the court, as though the ball will be shorter than it is. This forces a last-second step back in order to give the ball space to bounce.

Players prefer to make contact with the ball out front, between their body and the net. But the poor set-up leads to an impact point that is beside the player’s body instead of ahead of it. This makes the ball harder to control.

The player immediately starts running to the net — almost as if it is part of her shot. While that may be fine if your momentum is already moving forward (i.e. if the serve is shorter), in this case it suggests too little focus on the moment of contact with the ball. The player seems to prioritize getting to the net over setting up well to hit the return.


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