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Return of serve winners, why only club players ?

Published: 22 May 2006 - 09:50 by Viper

Updated: 26 Sep 2008 - 07:46

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I watch the pros and they just above never try to hit winners of a return of serve.

On the flip side at a good club level I am finding people hitting clean winners off the serve, and these are pretty good serves as well.

The winners I am seeing are stun volleys just above the tin and side wall volley boasts.

I am guessing the pro scoring has something to do with them not trying to hit winners off the serve, yes ?

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From rippa rit - 04 Dec 2006 - 07:43

What?  Knock knees?

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From gregzilla - 03 Dec 2006 - 23:17

Two words: John White ;-).

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From rippa rit - 15 Sep 2006 - 07:33   -   Updated: 15 Sep 2006 - 07:38

I think we have to break down the pro matches into small components when viewing for technical stuff and ball placement, eg where the serve hits the side wall (and it usually does), where the ball lands (how often does the serve reach the back wall before being struck), and so on.

I mentioned the match with Peter Nicol and Shabana, in a previous post,  where the serve seemed to hit the side wall opposite where the player was standing to receive serve, at a height and angle that made it difficult to step in and volley.  The players generally stood very close to the corner of the service box to receive serve too.

The amount of control that is possible also depends on the amount of heat in the ball, as that makes it heaps easier to overhit and more difficult to control into the corners.   Notice the drops have to hit the nick, and only the "dead" nicks will actually win points.

Notice, also when the players use the front of the court there is more movement, and the length is much more effective when played because of the extra court to be covered to recover shots  from the back wall area.  Hey, I would like the players to wear a podometer to see who really does the most running, and I bet in the Gaultier/Palmer match for the World Open Gaultier would have gone around the clock twice as he ran around Palmer!

To really benefit from watching these matches try not to look at the result of the stroke/point, but at the process that brought about the result.  Then, try it out yourself, eg stand near the corner of the service box to return serve, hit serves at medium pace, using the targets the pros use, and see how you go - is it as easy as it looks 'cos they sure make it look that way?

Look at the play (the shots and their placement) that puts the opponent under pressure and try that too.  It is all a learning experience.

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From pug505man - 13 Jun 2006 - 09:30

court coverage says it all I think - bizarre has it dead right

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From Viper - 29 May 2006 - 17:53

 "the pro game is Squash, but not as we know it! "

Good point Ray, one does have to temper their expectations when watching these guys.

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From raystrach - 29 May 2006 - 12:00   -   Updated: 29 May 2006 - 17:19

hi viper

the psa  pro scoring system should actually encourage winners off the serve as you can actually win a point with it. if you play international scoring (hand out/in) all you can do is win the serve. you are more likely to play defensive on hand out - attack more on hand in because you cannot lose a point, only the serve.

as i have mentioned a number of times, the pro game is Squash, but not as we know it! BizarreCo correctly identified some key points. one coming out of those is, becaue it is harder to hit winners, rallies are longer and the ball is bouncier - it is a viscious circle. it has to be a dead nick, great deception or opponent out of position for a winner to be hit. just miss that clean winner off the serve and you either lose the point outright (goes down) or you are left out of postion for the opponent to hit their own winner.

the percentages just don't add up unless you are really in the groove.

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From BizarreCo - 22 May 2006 - 20:57

Actually I think it might be the retrieval abilities more than the scoring system. Those shots you speak of played by club players aren't actually unretrievable, but still very good shots. At the pro level their retrieval abilities are so good that they can reach more attempted winners from the serve. At that level the rally is rarely won from just one shot alone, more often than not they win rallies in 3 shots. It's kind of like chess where they don't put an opponent in check mate in one move, they have to position themselves and their opponent in the right place first!


Some very important fundamentals of the serve:

1) Get it tight!

2) Get into position to cover the return


That way, if someone wants to try that cross-court vollied nick, everytime they miss you'll be covering it and play a tight little drop shot which THEY can't return. Unless you're playing some kind of squash god then they'll be missing more than they're hitting and you'll win (or they'll change their return!).

Hope that helps!


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