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Coaching Tip of the Week: On Short Serves to the Forehand, Challenge the Forehand, Often Go to the Backhand

Coaching Tip of the Week: On Short Serves to the Forehand, Challenge the Forehand, Often Go to the Backhand

(By Larry Hodges)

Assuming two right-handers play, a common rally might start with a short serve to the forehand. Many receivers don’t understand the tactics in receiving this shot. The two main things to think about are this: First, if the receiver goes crosscourt, he has the long diagonal to go after (10.3 feet, instead of 9 feet down the line, about 16 more inches), as well as a wide angle. Therefore, if he attacks the serve (by flipping), he should often go crosscourt, as wide as possible. (Another option is to attack the middle, the midpoint between forehand and backhand.) Second, because of the threat of this crosscourt wide-angle attack, the server has to guard the wide forehand angle. So, the receiver should often fake this shot, and at the last second go down the line, to the often weaker, and now likely unprepared backhand. You can also fake the crosscourt and simply push down the line – see what works! When a righty plays a lefty (or the reverse), you can do a similar tactic where you fake down the line, and then go crosscourt to the backhand.

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