Turn the Return Inside out

This week we look at how to combat a serve to your backhand return on the deuce side (ad side for lefties).

Any serve to most people’s backhand is tough, but a serve down the middle to your backhand presents extra problems. Mainly, it is very difficult to hit a backhand crosscourt (away from the net man in doubles). This kind of return is called an “inside out” backhand.

The main reason the inside out return is difficult is that the natural direction of your swing pulls the ball straight out in front of you, right at the net man. While this is not always a bad play, you want to be able to choose this shot, not have it be the only option. An aggressive net man will put this away, especially if he knows you can’t hit anything else off the backhand return.

So what do you do? Learn the inside out backhand return. Let’s look at some pointers:

  • Move your feet (most important). You’ve got to get set up properly to hit inside out. 
Crosscourt Foot Placement

If the ball is coming at you, you’ve got to move away from it to give yourself room to setup for the shot. You want your feet pointed cross court to get a good shoulder turn.

  • Turn the shoulder drive/slice the ball depending on your skill, preference, and ball height.

 Assuming you are playing doubles, you may have an aggressive server that serves and charges the net. This puts extra pressure on your inside out backhand return. Your crosscourt shot can be a short angled block to combat this scenario. Short angle tennis return