One of the toughest assignments in the game of racquetball is to successfully return a well-placed serve in the backhand corner. It is improtant that the receiver be able to neutralize the server’s advantage and get on an equal footing to play the point out. Notice that I didn’t say it is important for the receiver to “kill” the server return or hit a winner to end the point, although there are times when players look like they are trying to do just that. Remember that you are at a disadvantage: the server has great center court position and you are being forced to hit a backhand return from about 38 feet from the front wall. The better his or her serve is, the more you should be thinking defensive, not offensive play.
The best return to a tough serve is a ceiling ball. Ceiling balls force the server to run all the way to the back court from the service area where they will encounter a ball that has to be hit from shoulder height or higher. You should aim to hit the ceiling about 2 to 7 feet from the front wall. Use a full smooth stroke: make sure you don’t “punch” at the ball with your arm or you will not be consistent.
If the serve return can be hit with a good stroke before it gets to the back corner, or if it is hit hard enough and high enough to come off the back wall, you can begin to think more offensively. This is the time for a straight shot down the wall or a crosscourt pass shot to the opposite back corner. Make sure that you have time to actually set your feet and get back far enough to be in position to take the shot.
Remember to be SMART when returning serve. Force the server to back court and wait for another time to try and “kill” the ball in front court…and don’t forget to move into center court position as soon as you can!