How to Return a Serve in Squash
The Return of Serve is the second shot of any rally and like the serve is incredibly important.
With a strong Return of Serve, a player can set themselves up for the next phase of the rally and apply pressure to their opponent immediately. If they hit a weak return of serve, they could well find themselves chasing the ball or even out of the rally before it’s begun.
The ideal Return of Serve is a Volley. By Volleying you take the initiative in the rally and providing you play it well, you ask questions of your opponent from the outset. The majority of your Volley Returns should be Straight to Length as this is the safest option and yet it allows you to apply pressure and take the T-Position. Of course it is important to vary your Return of Serve to keep your opponent on their toes and quite often you can steal a few quick points with a good Drop Volley, Volley Kill or Volley Boast as people are often vulnerable just after they have served as they’re not really settled in the rally.
Play a return of serve in five quick steps:
These steps and tips are rather general with regard to the Return of Serve and focus on aspects that are common and important to any return you care to imagine. If you are looking for assistance with volleying the ball, please take a look at our Volley section.
- Use the service box as an arrow – Treat the corner of the service box as an arrow pointing to where to stand. This arrow shows a number of good places for you to start your Return of Serve, although being quite close to the corner of the box is best for volleying. This position gives you options as it is fairly neutral and so you can move forwards, sideways or backwards as required to deal with each serve.
- Take an open stance – You should take an open, neutral stance somewhere between facing the front wall completely and facing the side wall closest to you. This gives you options as you can turn or move to anywhere required. When you strike the ball though it is often best to be facing the side wall.
- Watch your opponent – One of the most common and basic errors made at many levels of squash is not watching the ball. So many players stand there gawping at the front wall (‘wall watchers’) as if the wall is the thing moving. Make sure you watch the server and the ball as they hit it. The ball is the object that will be moving!
- Space – Give yourself plenty of space as you go to play your Return of Serve. It is very easy to rush in and find yourself with no room to move your racket with the wall and your body in close proximity, so give the side and back walls a wide berth and take baby steps (these can always be quickly undone).
- Make sure your racket is high – You need to be ready to attack the ball, especially if you wish to play a Volley so get your racket up and ready! You can find out more tips about hunting the Volley here.
→ Check out our other related pages:
→ Recommended posts for those looking at Serve & Return of Serve:
Cross-Courting a Return of Serve, Watching the Ball as you Return Serve, Varying the Serve in Squash, Which side should you Serve to first?, The Importance of the Backhand Serve, Watching the ball on the Return of Serve