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How can you use visual clues to neutralize first serve ball?


How  can you use visual clues to neutralize first serve ball?

The return to the first serve ball can be one of the hardest shots because you must follow the ball’s path while it is approaching fast and react almost immediately.

Even though the server controls the shot, there are some visual clues you could use to transform your return  for your benefit.

Four main serve phases

The main serve phases are four: preparation, ball raising,  contact and final part. 

The pictures I suggest you will give you an idea of how your opponent should be in every phase. 

Note that shoulder-over-shoulder  rotation before the contact, gives to your opponent the ultimate control on the ball ‘s placement,  whereas the last two serve phases suggest where the ball will be hit and addressed.



Your opponent’s grip considerably influences what they can do with their serve in terms of rotation and speed.

Less experienced opponents often use forehand grip which restricts their possibility and this gives you an opportunity to bring forward the serve you are going to return.



The position on the field from where your opponent serves (for example close to the center of the base line) often gives you clues about the serve’s direction.

This too gives you an opportunity to bring forward the serve and put yourself  ahead of the game in the point’s  development.



Your opponent’s ball throw, in many cases suggests how they can serve.

The position of the ball in contact with the racket is crucial to determinate the serve direction, rotation and speed.  

As a consequence, less experienced rivals often throw the ball in a point (on the right or behind) that allows only one or two types of serve, giving you an obvious advantage when you return a first ball.


Look at the grip.

The racket is perpendicular to the ground or has a small angle (like in eastern forehand).

Opponent’s position.

How much close are they to the center of the base line?

Evaluate ball’s throw.

The wider is the ball’s throw , the more your opponent’s shot  will be limited in terms of direction, speed and rotation.