1. Sports
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

The Battle for Control


Once the serve and serve return have been played, the main rally begins. How the rally will develop will depend upon the quality of the serve and serve return. Essentially, the rally is the battle for control of the point - the player who is in control of the majority of the points and attacking successfully will be the player who is winning.

  • A bad return will put the server in the driver's seat for the rally, and he should be in control of the rally until the receiver manages to make a shot good enough to even things up or even wrest control from the server.
  • An average serve return will still give the serve the first chance at controlling the rally, since he should be able to perform the first attack (although not a power attack). Again, the server should be in control until the receiver can play a shot good enough to equalize the rally or take control himself.
  • A good serve return should put the rally on even footing, since the server will not be able to attack the serve well enough to take control, but he should be able to prevent the receiver from attacking hard as well.

    The rally will continue to be even until either player makes a mistake and allows their opponent to attack, or one player takes a risk and makes an attack from a difficult ball, thus taking control. In this situation, you will generally see pushing rallies until one player hits an attack and takes control, or counterhitting rallies when each player is attacking, but the other player is attacking as well, and neither can attack hard enough to control the point.

  • A great service return will put the server on the defensive, allowing the receiver to make the first attack. The receiver will be in control of the rally until the server can make a shot good enough to equalize control or take control himself.

What you should do during the rally will depend on whether

Next: General Rallying Tips

Return to Putting Your Strokes Together

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.