August 3, 2020 - How to Vary Your Receive Against Short Backspin Serves

Most players return short backhand serves with a simple push, without much thought to it. This makes the player predictable and vulnerable to third-ball attacks. The key is to vary the return. Let's take a look at just how many effective returns you can actually do against a short backspin serve – and ask yourself how many of them you actually do! Below are the most common effective returns – but there are others. Use your imagination! (And then apply the same thinking to other types of receive. In general, against short serves, focus on consistency, control, placement, and variation; against long serves, play more aggressively.) 

  • Topspin flip to wide forehand
  • Topspin flip to wide backhand
  • Topspin flip to middle
  • Flatter flip to wide forehand
  • Flatter flip to wide backhand
  • Flatter flip to middle
  • Quick push to wide forehand
  • Quick push to wide backhand
  • Quick push to middle (to rush a two-winged looper)
  • Heavy underspin push to wide forehand
  • Heavy underspin push to wide backhand
  • Short push to wide forehand
  • Short push to wide backhand
  • Short push to middle
  • Sidespin push to wide forehand (breaking away from opponent)
  • Sidespin push to wide backhand (breaking away from opponent)
  • Any of the above where you fake one shot or direction, and do another