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 Post subject: Planning return of serve
PostPosted: 06 May 2013, 17:56 
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Dark Knight
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How much planning do you do before deciding how to return a serve? Do you pretty much make up your mind what you're going to do, and adjust depending on exactly what they serve to you? Or do you not plan at all, and just wait to see what comes, and decide what shot to play?

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PostPosted: 06 May 2013, 18:14 
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depends on the standard of player, whether I have played them before, and how much deception they have used on other serves.

If someone whose serve variations I think I know, or uses basic serves where you can (semi) guess where they are going, I will be planning the return, but always with the knowledge there is a chance there may be something different. With the higher level player, it is more likely to be "if it's long, I will attack; short, push or flip", as against planning a specific shot from a specific side.


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PostPosted: 06 May 2013, 18:44 
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Before a game I'll plan a lot if I've had trouble with someone's serve in the past but once the game starts I can't tell them what to serve and I think it's dangerous to go in with you're mind cluttered on what you're going to do their serve especially if they then do something different to what you're expecting. You'll be confused, off balance and probably make a mistake.

Now I just tend to watch the direction the blade's moving in at point of contact with the ball, where the ball bounces on their side of the table and how it's bounced.

If I can't figure out what they are serving, I'll sometimes "give up" a point by just offering a dead bat to the ball to see what type of spins they are putting on it and try and adjust accordingly next time.

If that doesn't work I'd consider trying either

1. Hit through the ball hoping to take any spin I don't recognise off the ball which admittedly has a low percentage chance of success but may intimidate an opponent in to not serving that type of serve again or
2. Someone once told me a team mate of theirs always heavily top spinned the ball back regardless of the servers action - emphasis on spin not power. If the serve had bottom on his top spin would lift the ball back over the net; if the serve had top spin on, the ball would go back high over the net but kick on landing. Rather than use power, they used spin to counter spin.

Service return is definitely something I need to work on. The down side is that you need someone willing to tell you what spin they're putting on the ball and serve the same type of serve to you over and over until you figure out how to return it consistently. Most people I've tried that with either don't want to "reveal" their serves or get pleasure from mixing their serves up on purpose which is not what I asked them to do. :headbang:

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PostPosted: 06 May 2013, 22:31 
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I do generally have some strategy of what I want to do with the ball... like returning deep to their backhand or body with the pimples, or drop it short to their forehand. I try not to do the same return twice in a row, to try and mix it up as much as possible.

I also tend to play to either attack any short serve or play it passively, which can stuff my up when they serve long.

I think it's good to have in mind what you want to do... but you need to be careful doing this as you may not get the right ball to make to viable. If you don't plan you're probably more likely to play the right return for that serve, but it may not fit in as well with your overall strategy.

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PostPosted: 06 May 2013, 22:50 
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I'll have a plan to drop it short and low if its against a looper or someone looking for topspin drive and try to place that in a position that makes the opponent move to the ball just that little bit extra if I can. I will usually test out a few placements for people that defend or have pips on, as I find that it varies more for those types of players what you should do with the return.

I'm basically looking to set up my first topspin attacking shot and denying the opponent his attack or a defender out manoeuvring me on the table denying me my game plan.

It depends on the serve though as this doesn't work very well with the top/side spin serves. For those I will attempt to play an aggressive first ball, either looping the long serve or flicking with the back hand.

... well that's the plan anyway.

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PostPosted: 07 May 2013, 00:12 
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I have a tendency to make up my mind at times (it is always made up to loop or attack) and go through with my plan no matter what ball I get. This is a major mistake as I will try to loop balls that I shouldn't. I am working on more open minded approach.


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PostPosted: 07 May 2013, 01:05 
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I have a plan...get it back! :P :lol:

After that, the plan grows on the fly to...get it back where they won't kill me with their next shot. If I know the player's game, I'll be trying to return to a place where I know they are weak or less strong at least. If I don't, then I try to work that out on the fly. And even when you know someone's game, often its a case of how they are performing with particular shots on the occasion.

By its nature, returning serve is always going to be somewhat reactionary and instinctive, because it depends on what is served to you and you usually only have around a second to decide what to do. Of course having some "set plays" built into your instincts is what allows you to make a good decision in that tiny space of time.

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PostPosted: 07 May 2013, 01:52 
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My initial plan is, if it comes long try to attack it. If it's short, push it fast and deep into the cross-over point or into their backhand corner. If they serve fast and deep to my pips and my counter-attack is not hitting, I'll either try just pushing it back deep, where they have a tough time attacking, or step around and use the forehand (no twiddle for me).

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PostPosted: 08 May 2013, 16:35 
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My first option when returning serve is to push not to chop. 2nd option is to chop and 3rd option is to attack.

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PostPosted: 08 May 2013, 16:55 
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I'm working very hard on keeping my mind open during the serve return and letting my instincts take over.


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PostPosted: 11 May 2013, 07:53 
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My returns have become far too simple of late, as I've been concentrating on learning to chop. If the serve comes to my backhand, I push back to opponent's backhand and vice versa if it comes to my forehand.

It has lost me quite a few games, because my desperation to get backspin on the ball in order to stop my opponent from lacing a topspin past me has meant that I've stopped attacking long serves.

Tonight I've moved my serve receive stance to an almost Ryu Seung-Min position in the wiiiide backhand. This changed my mindset and allowed me to consider attacking loose serves, and also seemed to encourage my opponents to serve to my forehand, which is much preferable for me.

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