Watch the Bounce: How to Return a Tennis Ball Well and Win More Points

Tennis is a simple game to understand but it requires an incredible amount of hand-eye coordination to play well. The most skilful players anticipate the movement of the ball as it is returned to them and move their body into position early ready to hit it back in the best way possible. Assuming you are playing someone with a similar level of skill, most points will be won by returning the ball accurately as many times as you can. This piece will examine what makes a good strike of the ball so you can focus on that and produce fewer unforced errors in your game.

Forehand Strokes

When you are playing a forehand stroke, the best time to hit the ball is at the top of its bounce. This means the highest point in its trajectory after it has bounced. Hitting it early – or 'on the up' – takes a good deal more skill and will often lead to errors. When the ball is coming towards you, move to its side so that your arm and racquet have enough room to swing into the ball's trajectory freely.

Address the moving ball sideways-on and swing through it evenly without trying to hit it too hard. A natural upturn through the ball should ensure that it clears the net and provides you with topspin. You may need to adjust your body position for various court types. For instance, hard and synthetic grass tennis courts tend to produce greater bounce than natural lawns do.

Backhand Strokes

Beginners should start hitting backhand strokes with one hand before they progress to the more difficult – but more powerful – double-handed backhand. Firstly, get into position so that your feet are apart offering a good balance, a little way behind the point you will want to hit the ball. Facing sideways, transfer your weight to your back foot with your shoulders set back ready to swing forwards. Grip your racquet firmly so that you don't suffer from unwanted rotational problems when the ball is struck, which leads to errors.

Swing the racquet forwards evenly so that you strike the ball slightly in front of your body. This way, you will control the ball easier whilst generating a good deal of power in your return. Your follow through is also crucial. It should continue fully and end up in the direction that you wish to return the ball. Hitting it back to where it came from is the easiest way of ensuring a good return and that the rally stays alive.