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The returning team wins 55% of rallies. It’s vital that you use the return to set yourself up for the point. The goal of the return is not to simply get to the net. The goal is to get to the net and establish the dominant position. To do that, your return needs to create a challenging 3rd shot for your opponents. By giving them a difficult shot you set yourself up for success for the rest of the rally.
In order to give your opponents a tough shot, you need to imagine what the opponents are looking for and give them the opposite. Here are some options for throwing off the other team: 1. Send the return to their non-preferred player. 2. Hit the return deep. This will give you more time to react and read their shot. 3. Hit the return low so that they cannot drive it back. Generally, a third shot drop is easier to return. 4. Use spin on the return so that opponents cannot be precise in their third shot. Use backspin to benefit from the skid on the return. 5. Hit the ball on the rise to get to the net quicker and give your opponents less time. 6. Use speed to give your opponents less time to set up.
Key to the return: Establish dominance at the net.
Key Technical Skills:
Balanced Preparation - Be mentally and physically ready to return anything that comes at you.
Start Behind the Baseline - Do not assume a deep return, but starting back helps you to be ready for anything. It’s better to run forward than run backward.
Expect to Chase the Ball - Your opponent won’t be looking to make life easy for you. Expect short wide serves and be ready to return them.
High and Deep Returns - They do allow you time to get to the net, but they also give your opponents more time to set up and take a good shot. Generally, these are better for your opponents than for you.
Use the return to get the rally going in your favor.