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Returning high backhand serves

Published: 10 Oct 2005 - 18:30 by Brendan

Updated: 18 Oct 2005 - 16:22

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I loose many points trying to return high backhand serves.

1. First thing I always try to do is volley before it hits the side wall.

2.Then I try to hit it across court and behind the other player to forehand corner.

3.Or I try to hit it hard and low on the front wall

4.Or soft and low on the front wall.

4.If I am brave I try to boast on the full, not easy.

Is a better option to just try to volley long to the backhand corner, ie play a defensive shot rather than attempt a more agressive winner ? squash game squash extras How to add images to Members' Forum posts and replies here...


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From dmennie - 18 Oct 2005 - 16:22

Hi Brendan,
Some points that may be of assistance.
Your return should be straight and deep forcing the serving player to pass behind you as you move to the T.
You should be on the T before the other player is playing the shot from the back of the court.
Hitting a high backhand straight takes practice but should be your standard return.Returning short is used only as variation.
Be sure the front foot is on the floor just prior swinging.
This provides a stable position to hit from. Keep the knee slightly flexed do not lock it out as this will cause restricted movement and no feel for the shot.
Do not try to hit this hard as this will give lack of control.Shoulders should start by facing the back corner allowing you to connect the ball in front of your foot.
Use the edge of the raquet to impart slice to the shot do not hit flat as the ball will kick once it hits the side wall(the wall will impart spin)The slice keeps the ball tight to the side wall without going out or kicking and being loose or a stroke.
Think of hitting with the butt of the raquet, get through the ball...follow through!!
Take the ball before it drops in on it high like reaching onto the top shelf at home.
Hope these points help
All the best
David M.

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From raystrach - 12 Oct 2005 - 08:07

dear brendan

in addition to the other good advice:
  • get a basic return of serve that you can play say, 70% of the time
  • that return should be safe (ie opponent cannot take advanage of it)
  • drive down the wall is a good one - hit the high ball with an open face around the side of the ball to keep control
  • if it is effective, your opponent will be looking for that shot
  • use the other shots for variety - intersperse them intelligently - you need to keep some element of surprise

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From rippa rit - 12 Oct 2005 - 07:23

Hello again - a bit about the punishing of the racket on the high backhand returns. The cross court volley drop would be the safest option on the tight high return of serves as the racket will be almost parallel to the side wall on contact with the ball, and little swing is required. It would be good advice to say, respect a tight ball, it would be near impossible to hit a winner (unless it comes off the frame!) so go for "position" by playing a shot that will enable you to get off the wall and recover to the centre court, and if you can do that you have done well.

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From drop-shot - 11 Oct 2005 - 23:11

Hello, Brendan,
Reading your question regarding returning the backhand services I saw myself breaking two rackets per month trying to volley back the service .
I have to admit, your strategy is correct and smart - step forward to the front wall and be ready to take off. Fortunatelly for me, I do not break two rackets on the side walls anymore. And I do practice, practice and practice.
One more hint for you - did you ever try to return with the reverse boast? When used sporadically, comes as surprise for the opponent and it's easy winner. That's all from me, just an amateur player :)

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From Brendan - 11 Oct 2005 - 18:13

Thanks for your feedback, very welcome.

I will try the cross court nick, this is not something I usually play as I have a very strong forehand volley, which I hit with success hard and low on the front wall, I guess it makes me just try the same thing on the backhand but it is so much harder to control !

I am playing a reasonable level of squash and the quality of the serving is good so most balls are coming to me in the serve sweet spot, ie high up on the walls.

As I said I do pretty well returning the forehand but it irks me how many points I loose on the high backhand return, giving up points so easily is not smart squash I feel.

I belive not enough thought goes into serving and returning serves and as such I am determined to perfect a stable safe return of serve on both sides.

One stratagy I have been adopting is to force myself half a step closer to the front wall when returning to so I have a better chance of catching the ball before it hits the side wall, only trouble it makes the ball arrive quite a bit quicker obviously !

I will practice high volleys to the back corner and cross court nicks.

I will let you know if I am making any advances and loosing less points on the high backhand.

Thanks for the forum BTW, great to get quality feedback.


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From rippa rit - 11 Oct 2005 - 07:22

Hi Brendan - The high lob serve to the backhand, close to the side wall, is probably one of the most difficult returns to perfect. What you are thinking about when returning the ball is quite ok. Always remember, your main objective is to take your opponent away from the T so you can gain centre court. Just a few comments on your points:-
1. Good idea to stand forward to return the serve; keep away from the side walls; reach high to take the ball early before the ball hits the side wall... good.
2. Be very careful hitting cross court, as it needs to be a cross court lob which will take the player to the back of the court. However, if that shot is done regularly the opponent tends to move into position expecting the shot and makes your return less effective. So, alternate, maybe, cross court into the front court nick, with the high lob return to the back, and that will keep the opponent guessing.
3. It is very difficult to hit consistently and accurately, close to the side wall, hard low front court volleys. Then, if you strike the side wall you will have set up a shot for your opponent. Might give that a miss unless the serve is in the middle of the service box giving you plenty of room to aim into the front corner.
4. That is a good option. Try to hit a volley drop; you will need plenty of slice to slow the ball down, and make it sit; also the slice will help keep the ball above the "tin". A slower sliced ball makes it easier to control the arm action and wrist which in turn should help direct the ball into the target area. Body position is very important also to get the control.
5. Yes, a boast is good but it has to be tight into the front corner nick, and is a more advanced skill. Give the cross court volley nick a try (after some practice of course), with plenty of slice, take the ball out in front, before the serve strikes the side wall, reach up high, control the wrist - I like it.

The good old fashioned straight high lob return, tight, good length,is a good basic service return, and if you can then get to the T and force the opponent to hit a defensive return - perfect!

Your approach sounds very positive so let us know how you go with these new thoughts.

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