I injured my forearm when I tried to return a fast aggressive serve at about 200km/h with basic forehand grip and backswing: the hit can extremely damaging to your ulnar nerve more here (particularly if you are too slow to react). I realised in my last tournament that I can return such serves easily with basic volley grip: no topspin but the ball reflect without much effort safely on the other side. If you have basic forehand grip, you need to be very quick and it is very very exhaustive to your forearm. Currently, my goal is to learn the safest technique to play against aggressive players. Now simple question:

Techniques to return very aggressive serves?

Related questions

I. How does the volley in serve-returning compares to the basic volley near net?

I. Same footwork in the volley-returning serve as in the basic volley near the net?

II. What is the safest technique to return very aggressive serves?


2 Answers 2


I recently had a game against a hard server (at my level I very rarely come across) which resulted in a sore arm (particulary elbow).

Becuase of the reduce time to react I was using more of my muscles to get the racquet head back and then through into the ball. If I did not time it perfectly the jarring would cause pain.

There are a couple of things that I found that helped. (some of these might be obvious but wanted to list them anyway)

  1. Relax the grip and arm as part of the server's early serve motion. Any tension can jar if not timed correctly. Look at this video of Victoria Azarenka
  2. Stand a little further back from the baseline. Although this may open up wider serves the little bit of extra time can help. You can do this early on the game and work your way in when you are warmer and more confident on the pace of the ball.
  3. Reduce the back swing. Pros such as Federer do this a lot but they have exceptional timing. Try to not to bring the head back as far as you would with a ground stroke. You may loose power on the return but can be effective to at least get the ball back to your opponent (especially if you can get it deep).
  4. Use the pace of the serve. Alot of pros seem to stab the ball back on the backhand side rather than a full topspin return. With the pace on the ball you do not have to try too hard to get the ball back. It tends to float to the baseline but can give you time to get back into position. A hard server sometimes wins the point simply by having you out of position from the return of serve
  5. Stay on your toes and bounce a little at point of contact the server has on the ball. To help with all the above, being able to shift weight to the correct side as early as you can will help with the swing and timing.

I believe that injury off the serve can happen from being too tense and mistiming the ball (because you are rushed into a shot). Mitigating these 2 should reduce injury, as I have found.


During my college days when a competitive match came, I always encountered big servers because it throw of your balance and you can kill the rally by simple one-two punch, I will teach you my technique on how to counter and use your opponents strength and can do return ace.

First is early in the game, try to figure your opponent's habit during serving and return every serve with slice to enemy's backhand side. This has worked every time because of service follow-through and so the return from their backhand is not too strong.

So once I figure out his habits, I try to do half swings during his service and I'm a kind of player who has erratic return and unpredictable by slamming the ball in the inside out for a winner. And for you, by using half swings and place them in his weak side or it depends on you, move back from the baseline and don't forget his habits and its probability where his serve would land, with this you can dominate the match.

In learning this style, I watched Roger Federer vs Andy Roddick matches in order for me to figure out how to counter big servers.

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