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View Full Version : Doubles trouble being effective at net


raiden031
01-13-2009, 09:47 AM
Most of the time when I play doubles I'm the stronger of the pair (sometimes marginally sometimes by alot). While I try to be aggressive at the net, I find that often times my partners have ineffective 2nd serves (and miss too many first serves as well), that I can't effectively poach shots. Most of the time my opponents direct their shots to my partner when I'm at the net and my partner might stay back too much and allow this to continue. This goes for when I play in men's blocks, or mixed, or when I did combo league matches.

I will often look back at a match, win or lose, and can only remember 1 or 2 times the entire match that I actually put a shot away at the net. One of my strengths is to hit hard shots from the baseline or win a volley battle due to an opponent error. Or my partner will poach some shots that I help set up.

I'm trying to figure out if this frustration is because my net agressiveness is lacking, or whether its because I'm not playing with strong enough partners to set me up with some putaway shots. Is it normal to go an entire match with very few good opportunities at the net, even if you win the match and come to the net at every chance you get?

LeeD
01-13-2009, 10:10 AM
I'm basically in your position, plus I always want to play against the best player of the foursome....
Even with weak, shorthitting partners, you still have to poach occasionally. Most likely, the return is sharp, crosscourt, and far from you. But you still have to make them think and look at you. Rather than wait for your partner to hit a deep groundie, consider poaching on a more normal short ball. I know it goes against the grain, but often, your opponent goes down the line on a deep ball from a weak player, and catches you flatfooted.
I try NOT to poach if I moved twice with no results. The opposition spots it, and can go into your hip pocket just for fun.
As Bungalow Man said, you should communicate with your partner so they can cover down the line when you decide to poach.

raiden031
01-13-2009, 10:15 AM
I'm basically in your position, plus I always want to play against the best player of the foursome....
Even with weak, shorthitting partners, you still have to poach occasionally. Most likely, the return is sharp, crosscourt, and far from you. But you still have to make them think and look at you. Rather than wait for your partner to hit a deep groundie, consider poaching on a more normal short ball. I know it goes against the grain, but often, your opponent goes down the line on a deep ball from a weak player, and catches you flatfooted.
I try NOT to poach if I moved twice with no results. The opposition spots it, and can go into your hip pocket just for fun.
As Bungalow Man said, you should communicate with your partner so they can cover down the line when you decide to poach.

A problem is that I try to poach the un-poachable shots because I feel like I'm not being aggressive enough because I'm not putting anything away. I end up hitting weak volleys or hit errors as a result because they are below the net or a bit out of reach.

As for my partnering covering my alley, I don't like trying to poach a shot I know is going to be hard to reach. If we plan the poach, then I will go too early and they'll hit it behind me or it will be so sharp angled I still won't get a good shot off it. I just don't feel right having to stay at home as much as I feel I end up doing.

Could this be a reflection of my own lacking skills, or is the ability to dominate at the net very dependent on your partner setting you up?

GeorgeLucas
01-13-2009, 10:25 AM
It's very difficult to put away shots if your partner isn't doing you any favors in regards to setting you up. This is where planned poaching comes in. It's a risk, but if your opponent is getting too comfortable hitting cross court, start poaching before he hits the ball - this gives you the chance for a sweet putaway. You can do this super aggressive "guess poach" on a cross court return or unexpectedly in the middle of a cross court baseline rally.

ohplease
01-13-2009, 10:36 AM
Your job as the net guy is to make the alley and cross court rally shot low percentage plays. You need to disrupt anything even remotely within your range. It doesn't even have to be a put away - make them conscious of your presence up there, and have that weigh on them in addition to all the normal pressures of execution.

If you're just watching cross-court rallies go by, you don't know when to cross. Do some reading at operationdoubles.com

Nellie
01-13-2009, 01:23 PM
Are you calling poaches prior to the serve? You need to move forward and across on the poaches, and if you are waiting to see the response before moving, you will be limited to hitting only sitters. On a called poach, your partner needs to get across and get the shot down the alley. Likewise, you need to move to get to any crosscourt shot, even if this means you need to leave slightly early. The whole idea is to disrupt your opponents rythm and not to shock/surprise them.

Rui
01-13-2009, 07:52 PM
A problem is that I try to poach the un-poachable shots because I feel like I'm not being aggressive enough because I'm not putting anything away. I end up hitting weak volleys or hit errors as a result because they are below the net or a bit out of reach.

As for my partnering covering my alley, I don't like trying to poach a shot I know is going to be hard to reach. If we plan the poach, then I will go too early and they'll hit it behind me or it will be so sharp angled I still won't get a good shot off it. I just don't feel right having to stay at home as much as I feel I end up doing.

Could this be a reflection of my own lacking skills, or is the ability to dominate at the net very dependent on your partner setting you up?

I feel your questions are all over the map. That suggests you don't have a clear idea about poaching.

The types of poaches are opportunistic and planned. Always take the opportunity to cross and put away a sleepy return. Planned poaches accomplish two things: 1) a point won, and 2) letting your opponents know you will do it. (It puts a bit of pressure on their returns.)

I suggest reading up on when to start your planned poach and then don't worry about the results. (And don't worry about your partners' weak serves. It happens.)

raiden031
01-14-2009, 05:19 AM
I feel your questions are all over the map. That suggests you don't have a clear idea about poaching.

The types of poaches are opportunistic and planned. Always take the opportunity to cross and put away a sleepy return. Planned poaches accomplish two things: 1) a point won, and 2) letting your opponents know you will do it. (It puts a bit of pressure on their returns.)

I suggest reading up on when to start your planned poach and then don't worry about the results. (And don't worry about your partners' weak serves. It happens.)

I rarely plan poaches because I don't play with too many partners who can reliably put pressure on my opponents return of serve or groundstrokes.

The frustration I have is that I don't get enough opportunistic poaches, so I feel like I will go matches where I have a total of like 1 or 2 put-aways at the net. Is this normal? Does this happen to anyone else?

Fedace
01-14-2009, 05:32 AM
1 or 2 putaways,,, NOT normal. i get many putaways,, can't even count all of them. Trick is spike the ball so that it bounce high and your opponents can't even touch it. you don't have to hit hard.
and poaches don't have to be great poaches. if you expect a floater or weak return usually from the backhand.
and you don't have to cross everytime. just Fake it and it causes alot of problems even though it is a just a fake, usually a Head or shoulder fake will do.

Only time i get REALLY annoyed is when i am helping my partner by faking and poaching on his serve, but on my serve the guy makes 1 or 2 stupid errors at net and costs me the service game. and they look at you like Why was your serve broken just now ????????????????? Hey stupid,,,,cause you just make 2 unforced erorr at net....don't you remember ??????????

princemidplus
01-14-2009, 05:35 AM
i often get frustrated at my partners second serves being too soft and short (thus me getting the ball hit hard at me at the net from close range). I still think you have got to make more opportunities to hit volleys. if you sit back and wait for one that is DEFINITELY in range by the time you know it is in range it will be passing you and you will most likely mishit it. Try to think less and more more. Get your footwork going and do not stand flatfooted. Be ready to try for anything and go for it. So what if you make some mistakes. that is the only way to do it. I create far more chances for my partner to put away when i am back than they do for me but i also try take every chance I do get.

Fedace
01-14-2009, 05:40 AM
^^yes you do have to read your opponent somewhat. if the guy looks at you before the return, he is probably looking to either rip it to your side or lob you. He probably isn't looking at you for your handsome looks.

raiden031
01-14-2009, 06:07 AM
1 or 2 putaways,,, NOT normal. i get many putaways,, can't even count all of them. Trick is spike the ball so that it bounce high and your opponents can't even touch it. you don't have to hit hard.
and poaches don't have to be great poaches. if you expect a floater or weak return usually from the backhand.
and you don't have to cross everytime. just Fake it and it causes alot of problems even though it is a just a fake, usually a Head or shoulder fake will do.


You play at a pretty high level don't you? I'm not sure if that becomes a factor.

Don't get me wrong, its not always 1-2 times a match, but there are quite a few times where I feel like I'm not doing much at the net...enough to warrant creation of this thread.

I'm used to playing with 3.5 partners. I often find their first serves are usually effective at setting me up, but are inconsistent and second serves are not effective much at all. In mixed when my female partner is serving to male returner it is hopeless to poach, but when female is returning I am more confident I can attack.

Bottom line is that I'm starting 8.0 mixed and then 4.0 soon and have little experience with 4.0 players. I'm trying to prepare for this while still limited to practicing with 3.5s (in 3.5 winter blocks and no opportunities to practice with 4.0s) and I am trying to figure out what needs to be done to play more effective at the net.

Steady Eddy
01-14-2009, 07:42 AM
Sometimes a great singles player isn't so good at doubles because he doesn't have a net game. If you're going to be getting into doubles alot from now on, you'll have to learn to play the net. But, if you're good from the baseline and only occasionally play doubles you might consider playing doubles from the baseline. In team competitions when a doubles player has been unable to play and a singles player is used as a replacement, sometimes the team has had the singles player stay back and use their powerful groundstrokes instead of their weak net game. And often they've won playing that way! The best doubles teams will probably always play from the net, but if the net isn't working for you, you can always chose to stay back.

JimW
01-14-2009, 12:42 PM
Most of the time when I play doubles I'm the stronger of the pair (sometimes marginally sometimes by alot). While I try to be aggressive at the net, I find that often times my partners have ineffective 2nd serves (and miss too many first serves as well), that I can't effectively poach shots. Most of the time my opponents direct their shots to my partner when I'm at the net and my partner might stay back too much and allow this to continue. This goes for when I play in men's blocks, or mixed, or when I did combo league matches.

I will often look back at a match, win or lose, and can only remember 1 or 2 times the entire match that I actually put a shot away at the net. One of my strengths is to hit hard shots from the baseline or win a volley battle due to an opponent error. Or my partner will poach some shots that I help set up.

I'm trying to figure out if this frustration is because my net agressiveness is lacking, or whether its because I'm not playing with strong enough partners to set me up with some putaway shots. Is it normal to go an entire match with very few good opportunities at the net, even if you win the match and come to the net at every chance you get?


A couple of suggestions: Ask your partner to serve down the T (if they're capable of doing it). This cuts down the returner's angles and allows you to cheat a bit toward the middle. You'll want to be in the center of your service box when your partner serves, then take a step diagonally forward and to the middle when the returner's racket starts coming forward. A body serve is also a great way to produce weak returns. Next, break up the baseline rallies whenever possible. Unless the angle is too severe or the pace is above your comfort range (unlikely at 3.5), you should cross and force the deep opponent to at least change his shot. Your partner should have plenty of time to cover the open court unless you've advertised the poach to your opponent.

As you move up, your partner's serves will get better but so will the returns.

raiden031
01-14-2009, 07:36 PM
Sometimes a great singles player isn't so good at doubles because he doesn't have a net game. If you're going to be getting into doubles alot from now on, you'll have to learn to play the net. But, if you're good from the baseline and only occasionally play doubles you might consider playing doubles from the baseline. In team competitions when a doubles player has been unable to play and a singles player is used as a replacement, sometimes the team has had the singles player stay back and use their powerful groundstrokes instead of their weak net game. And often they've won playing that way! The best doubles teams will probably always play from the net, but if the net isn't working for you, you can always chose to stay back.

Not an option. I actually do play lots of doubles, but my improvement has not been as much as in singles. I'm more cut out for singles based on my style, but I make it a point to spend as much time at the net in doubles to get better at it. Its not about being able to hold my own at the net, but its just I feel like there is not enough putaway opportunities as I feel like there should be.

Steady Eddy
01-14-2009, 08:44 PM
Not an option. I actually do play lots of doubles, but my improvement has not been as much as in singles. I'm more cut out for singles based on my style, but I make it a point to spend as much time at the net in doubles to get better at it. Its not about being able to hold my own at the net, but its just I feel like there is not enough putaway opportunities as I feel like there should be.
OK, then just keep practicing your net game. I'm now more of a doubles player, than singles player. But, for some reason, it took me much longer to figure out the net than the backcourt. Persistence will pay off, though. Since you have the athletic ability for singles, you'll get the net in time, and when you get used to it, it will help your singles game as well. McEnroe practiced his net game by playing the doubles in addition to singles. Hang in there, because it's lots of fun when you get better.

Rui
01-14-2009, 10:13 PM
I rarely plan poaches because I don't play with too many partners who can reliably put pressure on my opponents return of serve or groundstrokes.

The frustration I have is that I don't get enough opportunistic poaches, so I feel like I will go matches where I have a total of like 1 or 2 put-aways at the net. Is this normal? Does this happen to anyone else?

That's the thing about a planned poach, you go on all types of returns...not just easy marks. That's why I said don't worry about it. Some returns will be too good. But your opponents will note that you are poaching and try to make their returns even finer.

Otherwise, if your partner is pushing his/her serves in, you're not likely to get very many opportunities at lame returns. Don't worry about it. It's not your fault.

Just do what you can do for your team.

Nellie
01-15-2009, 09:06 AM
When I work out the math, I always come out ahead on poaches due to missed returns. For example, I will typically get to more that half the balls when I poach. I may get passed 3/4 times per match down the line, but that is balanced against at least as many missed returns. As you get better, you have to put pressure on the returner to make and execute a decision.

If your partner has a weak serve, you need to plan more poaches to protect that serve! Otherwise, the returner will just crush sharp cross court return winners.

LeeD
01-15-2009, 09:14 AM
Of course, there comes the time when you get paired with someone who seems to deliberately hit slow-medium serves, every one, to your opponents stronger forehands. The opposition sits back and crushes low, blindingly fast ripping shots for winners, over and over again.
That's when I give up, and wait for a new partner. Talking to your partner doesn't help, he just says that's where he serves!
Sometimes, you just gotta say .... "nice shot".

raiden031
01-15-2009, 09:19 AM
If your partner has a weak serve, you need to plan more poaches to protect that serve! Otherwise, the returner will just crush sharp cross court return winners.

Why not just sit home and let the server battle it out with the returner if they can't do much with the serve? That way it reduces the net person hitting errors, weak shots, or getting passed down the line.

For instance, when you are playing mixed and the male is returning...are you more aggressive at the net than if the female is returning?

LeeD
01-15-2009, 09:45 AM
Forget male or female...;
What counts is strong, consistent, angled returns by either opponent.
If you never poach, they get stronger, more consistent, and better angles.
If you disguise your poach, you'll pick off a few, lose a few, but create doubt in the opponents mind. Doubt, coupled with the need to go down the line against you ocastionally, gives them more things to think about and hopefully miss a few too...
Remember, successful tennis is about hitting your best shots, but also about taking your opponent OFF his or her best game.

SlapShot
01-15-2009, 10:06 AM
Forget male or female...;
What counts is strong, consistent, angled returns by either opponent.
If you never poach, they get stronger, more consistent, and better angles.
If you disguise your poach, you'll pick off a few, lose a few, but create doubt in the opponents mind. Doubt, coupled with the need to go down the line against you ocastionally, gives them more things to think about and hopefully miss a few too...
Remember, successful tennis is about hitting your best shots, but also about taking your opponent OFF his or her best game.

I agree wholeheartedly with this. You don't even need to be playing your best if you can make the other guy doubt his shots. Selfdoubt is your worst enemy or your best friend.

fuzz nation
01-15-2009, 11:19 AM
Sort of a lot of issues to deal with there. I played with a mixed doub's team a couple of years back and had to drop it (and ditch a few of my pals) after I spent a season as an on-court spectator watching my partner play two-on-one. Couldn't bring myself to serve full speed to the guys because I'd have to shift gears too drastically for the ladies. I needed a different sandbox to play in and I think that when anyone is stuck in this situation, they just know it.

Keep after the skills you need to be a hellraiser in a doubles setting, but seek out some competitive situations where you can really do your thing. An appropriate partner ought to share the load more evenly with you in a match so that the two of you can use an attacking strategy as a team. If you're both feeding low balls to your opponents to make them hit up to you for example, the two of you are working together. Otherwise you'll stay stuck in that scenario where, instead of playing as a doubles team, you're not much more than a pair of singles players on the same side of the net. That's where you see too many cross-court rallies happening where you aren't invited. When the opposition is easily hitting away from you all day, it's time to look for a match or two where you'll be the weaker one and your opponents are looking to pick on you!

Captain Tezuka
01-17-2009, 03:29 AM
Very good thread for ppl who have this problem just go for more off the groundies + return off serve. also cross-court trade offs. poach is all about disrupting the OP's pattern or stroke production and getting a point or error off it 4 puttaway also ask coach or club if they can move you up since you have non productive partners. I'm more of a doubles player since I lack endurance. :lol: Howeva planned poaches are best. Also my situation is that I know the Aussie Formation and I Formation but when I try to use it my either says what are you doing? or get back on the other side or to the center. I'd say nothing since I didn't want to give away the game plan so I just serve to the middle and stuff geez if know was all the tennis required we would be the pros also I hate ppl that don't know formations and stuff when you know it and thus can apply it to make a fun and exciting match. Then in singles I just lack the stamina and get blasted off court. :lol: