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View Full Version : Aggressive netplay vs. Staring Stupidly - Doubles question.


PushyPushster
02-02-2009, 07:23 AM
Hi, I need some advice. Let me preface the question by saying I'm playing 3.5 doubles and my style of play is pretty much like the screen name suggests, except for a somewhat respectable forehand. My partner is a solid player with soft hands and a force at the net.

We just played a team that loved charging the net and going two-up as soon as possible. Despite barely eeking out a victory it brought a few questions to my mind about how I'm playing the game. Whenever I'm playing poorly at the net (often) I like to fall into a two-back formation and wait for my partner to work his way up to the net while I take the baseline. Here are the questions:

1.) Does this strategy suck? Would it be better to stay at the net, no matter how bad you are, and force the opposing team to at least think about making a decent cross court shot?

2.) How much would this tick you off if you were partnered with me? After all, I'm forcing him to generate pretty much all of our offensive threat. Granted, he's good at it, but still. Since he's a nice guy, I'd never know if he was really thinking, "hey - how about a little help here, A-hole?"

3.) Poaching. I suck at it, but our opponents reminded me of how effective it can be at disturbing your concentration. It forced some UE's out of me just by making me split my attention. Anyhow, I rarely poach. Do you think it's worth doing, even if I flub the put-away (very likely) just to put that fear in the opponents head?

Thanks for the help.

LeeD
02-02-2009, 07:30 AM
First of all, how are your volleys? If they suck, you gotta stay back mostly. If they're basically OK, but you don't have depth, then try to transfer weight into the shot with your hitting arm forward.
How's both your overheads? In tournaments, they will be tested.
As for one up, one back, back person needs forcing groundies, or they get poached and your partner eats balls.
Why not spend a week working on correct volleys and overheads?
Then, next match, you poach ONLY after you signal your serving partner to hit up the middle. And try to only poach on your stronger volley side, usually the forehand volley.
Level of players determine what formation works. Two bad volleyers never win at the net. Conversely, bad groundies never win back. And when a great groundie is at net, and a great netman is back, you don't win again :confused::confused:

raiden031
02-02-2009, 08:35 AM
Yes your strategy sucks. At 3.5 there is nobody that should be forcing you to play two back as a primary strategy. You might get pushed to two-back if your opponent hits a weak lob or something, but you shouldn't be going two-back on purpose. So you need to work on the net game and learn to play up there. Thats it.

PushyPushster
02-02-2009, 09:59 AM
First of all, how are your volleys? If they suck, you gotta stay back mostly.

"Suck" would actually be charitable.

So you need to work on the net game and learn to play up there. Thats it.

Hey, while I'm at it I'll get one of those 120mph serves, too.

Maybe for the purposes of this discussion we could just stipulate that my crappy volley skills will remain crappy for the remainder of the current doubles season? Any advice should definitely be based on that datapoint.

spot
02-02-2009, 10:06 AM
On WEAK balls are you able to put the ball away at the net?

JavierLW
02-02-2009, 10:18 AM
"Suck" would actually be charitable.



Hey, while I'm at it I'll get one of those 120mph serves, too.

Maybe for the purposes of this discussion we could just stipulate that my crappy volley skills will remain crappy for the remainder of the current doubles season? Any advice should definitely be based on that datapoint.

Well if you have that attitude then the answer is there is no answer. Either you are going to lose, or your partner is going to have to carry you.

Volleying is not that hard (especially as not hard as hitting a 120mph serve, if it seems that bad then you shouldnt be playing doubles (although most of us dont have that choice).

Just take a lesson, watch some YouTube videos, and stick to it. If your first response is "I cant do it", then that's your problem.

Playing two back (especially when your partner is serving) is pretty much giving up to losing.

Especially if he's the WAY stronger player and the far more threatning, because if you are both back, they will just hit every single ball to you and avoid him entirely.

That's why sometimes pushers dont do very well at doubles, but if you get stuck playing doubles, you might as well have a positive attitude about it and do what you can at the net.

I dont think you have to kill every ball away at 100mph, especially if your partner is very good.

Just treat it like singles, keep looking ahead for the ball and get anything you can get your racquet on.

Ive seen a lot of teams with one really strong player and one weak player, and sometimes if the weaker player is at least good enough that they can block the ball back up there (which keeps us from picking on them too much) that's good enough.

If you can take it a step further and block it back at the other's feet or behind them, then you'll win a lot of points.

I know a team of two 68 year old's who won our local Metro 3.5 Indoor Doubles tournament 3 years in a row and they dont hit one single shot that looks threatning, they just put a lot of really slow low balls into areas of the court where nobody will get to it.

raiden031
02-02-2009, 10:26 AM
"Suck" would actually be charitable.



Hey, while I'm at it I'll get one of those 120mph serves, too.

Maybe for the purposes of this discussion we could just stipulate that my crappy volley skills will remain crappy for the remainder of the current doubles season? Any advice should definitely be based on that datapoint.

So you want advice on how to win matches while refusing to improve your game and playing with a poor strategy? My best advice is that you should pray for victory.

spot
02-02-2009, 11:15 AM
There is a doubles drill that I love you don't need a coach to run. Get a bucket of balls and 4 people. One up one back on both sides. Have the back person on one side feed an EASY ball into the crosscourt service box and the back person over there moves in and goes right at the opposing net person. The point is then played out from there.

At the net this gets you used to expecting the ball to come at you. It helps you learn to move forward on balls hit right at you. It gives you practice hitting the hole on one up one back. It gives the opposing net person practice on that ball hit towards the hole. And it gives one person practice and driving the ball at the net person. Seriously- do this drill for a while at your next practice and you will become a better doubles player.

PushyPushster
02-02-2009, 11:20 AM
Volleying is not that hard (especially as not hard as hitting a 120mph serve, if it seems that bad then you shouldnt be playing doubles

No offense, Javier, but I can decide if I want to play doubles or not. I'm not 'stuck' playing doubles, I like it (despite the fact that I'm better at singles). Btw, different people have different athletic skills. I realize that most people on this board probably think it's ridiculously easy to volley a ball for a winner. What can I say? I can't freak'in do it. On the upside, though, I can stand at the baseline and trade shots for a long time.

Anyhow, I've obviously explained myself poorly. I wasn't requesting lessons on how to hit a volley, I was hoping to get a little strategic input. Basically, is it better for a poor net player to stay at the net and try to force the issue and provide a little pressure, or is it better to concede a two-back formation until your partner can work his way up?

Playing two back (especially when your partner is serving) is pretty much giving up to losing.

No, it isn't. Not at the 3.5 level, anyhow.

Especially if he's the WAY stronger player and the far more threatning, because if you are both back, they will just hit every single ball to you and avoid him entirely.

Well, geez, I'm not that bad. I suck at the net, not the baseline. My partner is a far better doubles player than I am but the few times we've played singles I've won. If people want to target me at the baseline I'm fine with that.

On WEAK balls are you able to put the ball away at the net?

Yes. Firmly hit shots to my FH will usually result in a blocked ball that an opponent will be able to dig. The harder the shot to the FH the more likely I'll cough up a UE. Anything other than a lame duck to the BH side is a total crapshoot with the best-case scenario being a blocked ball.

My best advice is that you should pray for victory.

Already covered.

JavierLW
02-02-2009, 11:55 AM
No offense, Javier, but I can decide if I want to play doubles or not. I'm not 'stuck' playing doubles, I like it (despite the fact that I'm better at singles). Btw, different people have different athletic skills. I realize that most people on this board probably think it's ridiculously easy to volley a ball for a winner. What can I say? I can't freak'in do it. On the upside, though, I can stand at the baseline and trade shots for a long time.

Anyhow, I've obviously explained myself poorly. I wasn't requesting lessons on how to hit a volley, I was hoping to get a little strategic input. Basically, is it better for a poor net player to stay at the net and try to force the issue and provide a little pressure, or is it better to concede a two-back formation until your partner can work his way up?



No, it isn't. Not at the 3.5 level, anyhow.



Well, geez, I'm not that bad. I suck at the net, not the baseline. My partner is a far better doubles player than I am but the few times we've played singles I've won. If people want to target me at the baseline I'm fine with that.



Yes. Firmly hit shots to my FH will usually result in a blocked ball that an opponent will be able to dig. The harder the shot to the FH the more likely I'll cough up a UE. Anything other than a lame duck to the BH side is a total crapshoot with the best-case scenario being a blocked ball.



Already covered.

I play 3.5. Any team that decides to play two back (at least when serving) is going to lose to any 3.5 team where both of their opponents even have any clue or experience as to what they are doing.

I figured you can get mostly every ball back from the baseline, obvously. But the problems with that are this:

1) If you just push the ball back, you are dealing with at least one net player who can get in the way and win the point, if not eventually two players.

2) This is an EVEN bigger deal. Maybe you dont think you are weak at the baseline? Well you still would prefer to the ball to go to your partner is he's clearly the better player (even when he's on the baseline).

Staying at the net and at least holding your ground can accomplish that.

If you cant hold at least hold your ground and they are winning points just by hitting it to you while you up there, then you either are a weak 3.0 volleyer or you are really playing 4.0/4.5 players.

And if you are a weak 3.0 volleyer, then you are really just a weak 3.0 doubles player, that's all there is to it. You cant commit to playing doubles without accepting that volleying is involved.

Even at 3.0 with any amount of practice they seem to be able to get their big gigantic oversized racquets in the way of that little tiny tennis ball and get it back.

Ive played a lot of weak players even when i was in 3.0, and it was pretty rare to find that someone was actually bad enough that we wanted to hit every single ball right to them at the net.

Usually all it took was a few lucky deflections into the open court and we were discouraged to overplay the "weaker player" because it's really a win/lose proposition. (versus hitting cross court which is usually safer)

So even if you stand up there and only cover a tiny area at least your doing something. I think even if they hit it at you and you miss they at least still have to think about you at least, (just dont miss every single time).

In 3.5 my partner and I are good volleyers but even at that, our goal at the net is really most of the time just to do enough to discourage the other team from hitting to our side as much as possible which forces them to hit it right to the server. (or returner)

And despite your reluctance to learn how to play up there or your failure to think you can do it, the problems you are facing are probably the same common issues that all of us had to deal with when we first started playing doubles:

1) It's hard dealing with the fact that not every ball is yours, so it causes us to just stand around wondering "is it mine? should I let my partner get it? too late....".

2) In singles if you find yourself at the net, you probably ran up there and your feet are moving so it's just a matter of getting to ball and hitting it, just like any other point.

In doubles you are starting out cold from up there or standing around when the ball goes behind you, so if you stop moving your feet or dont get started, you have to lunge at the ball from a cold stop. So miss a lot more shots that way or hit them weakly because our legs dont get involved.

Also Ive been playing in a USTA 3.5 doubles indoor league lately with a lot of players that remind me of you.

A lot of them are new players, but I would describe them as really not all that bad (skillwise especially groundstrokes), but they dont have a lot of experience at doubles, so a lot of them shy into the alleys or sometimes they play two back. (because like you, they've concluded the same thing based on the idea that they dont feel all that comfortable up there)

My partner and I are pretty experienced doubles players, we're not like the best in 3.5 or anything, normally on our summer team we play #2 or #3 and do not even have a huge winning record.

But we LOVE it when these guys go two back. A couple of them tryed it and it was awesome!!!! And again, they are not bad players, but when they go two back all we do is drive the ball between them and both get to the net ourselves and the point is over.

It also relieves any pressure we have on our return because we have the entire doubles court to hit the ball in.

Even if one of them is shaky at the net, sometimes just having them stand right there in front of us at least does something. If anything else, it's not very natural to want to hit right at someone at the net (because risk losing the point) even if they are bad enough to do so.

cak
02-02-2009, 03:21 PM
Yesterday I came across one of the few times where standing back while my partner was serving worked in my favor. It was seniors, I can lob, our opponents had a pretty wicked sun right in their eyes. If I stood back, and she served and volleyed, I could lob to my hearts content, and eventually she'd get the put away or they would be too blinded to even see the ball.

That said, unless you have amazing sun this isn't going to help you.

JavierLW
02-02-2009, 03:35 PM
Yesterday I came across one of the few times where standing back while my partner was serving worked in my favor. It was seniors, I can lob, our opponents had a pretty wicked sun right in their eyes. If I stood back, and she served and volleyed, I could lob to my hearts content, and eventually she'd get the put away or they would be too blinded to even see the ball.

That said, unless you have amazing sun this isn't going to help you.

I think if you have an awesome lob that makes all the difference in the world as well.

I have a guy on my 3.5 team that is 67 years old and is an amazing lobber, he never needs to serve and volley. (but he still plays the net when that's his spot)

We did a lobbing drill once and some teaching pro setup a tiny little area in the corner with cones that we were supposed to aim for. I thought it was actually kind of goofy but this guy was hitting it everytime.

Geezer Guy
02-02-2009, 03:46 PM
Hi, I need some advice. Let me preface the question by saying I'm playing 3.5 doubles and my style of play is pretty much like the screen name suggests, except for a somewhat respectable forehand. My partner is a solid player with soft hands and a force at the net.

We just played a team that loved charging the net and going two-up as soon as possible. Despite barely eeking out a victory it brought a few questions to my mind about how I'm playing the game. Whenever I'm playing poorly at the net (often) I like to fall into a two-back formation and wait for my partner to work his way up to the net while I take the baseline. Here are the questions:

1.) Does this strategy suck? Would it be better to stay at the net, no matter how bad you are, and force the opposing team to at least think about making a decent cross court shot?

2.) How much would this tick you off if you were partnered with me? After all, I'm forcing him to generate pretty much all of our offensive threat. Granted, he's good at it, but still. Since he's a nice guy, I'd never know if he was really thinking, "hey - how about a little help here, A-hole?"

3.) Poaching. I suck at it, but our opponents reminded me of how effective it can be at disturbing your concentration. It forced some UE's out of me just by making me split my attention. Anyhow, I rarely poach. Do you think it's worth doing, even if I flub the put-away (very likely) just to put that fear in the opponents head?

Thanks for the help.

1.) I'd say it's best to stay at the net as long as you can handle routine volleys. This puts more pressure on your opponents to hit the ball past you, into the court. If you guys play 2-back, it'll be very easy for them to hit approach shots and take the net. Once they're at the net, they're in control.

2.) One of the guys on our team plays like what you're describing. While I don't call him an A-hole in my head, it does disturb me that he gives up the net so easily and puts us on defense. Even when we get a short ball we can approach on (which I usually do) he hangs back. The only way we can win is by playing great defense, and hoping the opponents make some errors. That's a tough way to win.

3.) Personally, I think poaching is often the x-factor to winning at doubles. It can help someone with an average serve hold easily. Even if you don't do it a lot, just one or two poaches a set can get in the head of your opponents and give your team some easy points.

NetMaster70
02-02-2009, 06:23 PM
You have GOT to get to the net to play good doubles and you have to move aggressively. If you are not confident in your volleys, then you just got to work hard to improve. Pushers can win in singles but you can't beat a decent doubles team from the backcourt.

PushyPushster
02-03-2009, 04:21 AM
I play 3.5. Any team that decides to play two back (at least when serving) is going to lose to any 3.5 team where both of their opponents even have any clue or experience as to what they are doing.

First, thanks for the advice. I've got to say your statement (above) doesn't match up with my experience, though. I used to play doubles with an older gentleman who was fantastic at the net. Great wingspan, and if he got his racquet on the ball it was going to be a put-away. He played with two knee braces, though, and mobility was an issue. Our strategy for the entire season was based on getting him to the net as quickly as possible and me to the baseline. It worked like a charm and we won the majority of our matches. The sum of that team was definitely more than the parts. Conceding two-back for a few shots didn't end up being a big issue.

Maybe you dont think you are weak at the baseline? Well you still would prefer to the ball to go to your partner is he's clearly the better player (even when he's on the baseline).

No - not to take anything away from my partner, but I'm probably a bit better from the back court. My game has improved a little from when I chose this screen name and while I don't hit hard shots, I can hit them firmly and accurately enough that opposing teams aren't going to make a living by poaching me from the baseline.

So even if you stand up there and only cover a tiny area at least your doing something. I think even if they hit it at you and you miss they at least still have to think about you at least, (just dont miss every single time).

Yes, this is exactly what I was thinking. The opponents don't know how bad I am at the net (at the beginning of the match, anyhow), so making them think about their shots might be a better way to go.

But we LOVE it when these guys go two back. A couple of them tryed it and it was awesome!!!! And again, they are not bad players, but when they go two back all we do is drive the ball between them and both get to the net ourselves and the point is over.

I realize it's a big concession. I've played against the occassional two-back team as well, and there's no pressure at all. Keep in mind that our strategy isn't permanently playing two-back, though ... it's just until my partner sees an opening to take the net. It puts us at a big disadvantage until he gets there - that's for sure.

2.) One of the guys on our team plays like what you're describing. While I don't call him an A-hole in my head, it does disturb me that he gives up the net so easily and puts us on defense.

I was afraid that might be the case. Thanks for the honesty.

raiden031
02-03-2009, 04:31 AM
pushypushmeister,

Why can't you just learn to volley and play the net? All you need to do is learn proper technique and practice it a little and your volleys will turn around dramatically. Do you not want to become a better player? Are you content going .500 in 3.5 matches 5 years down the road?

Fedace
02-03-2009, 04:44 AM
:(Hi, I need some advice. Let me preface the question by saying I'm playing 3.5 doubles and my style of play is pretty much like the screen name suggests, except for a somewhat respectable forehand. My partner is a solid player with soft hands and a force at the net.

We just played a team that loved charging the net and going two-up as soon as possible. Despite barely eeking out a victory it brought a few questions to my mind about how I'm playing the game. Whenever I'm playing poorly at the net (often) I like to fall into a two-back formation and wait for my partner to work his way up to the net while I take the baseline. Here are the questions:

1.) Does this strategy suck? Would it be better to stay at the net, no matter how bad you are, and force the opposing team to at least think about making a decent cross court shot?

2.) How much would this tick you off if you were partnered with me? After all, I'm forcing him to generate pretty much all of our offensive threat. Granted, he's good at it, but still. Since he's a nice guy, I'd never know if he was really thinking, "hey - how about a little help here, A-hole?"

3.) Poaching. I suck at it, but our opponents reminded me of how effective it can be at disturbing your concentration. It forced some UE's out of me just by making me split my attention. Anyhow, I rarely poach. Do you think it's worth doing, even if I flub the put-away (very likely) just to put that fear in the opponents head?

Thanks for the help.


OK, i know this is just 3.5 level but Slowly fall back to baseline and have your partner go to net ???? if you kept doing this to your partner, most of them will NEVER play with you again. Even if your volley is Poor, stay at the net, and work on improving the volley, and forget about winning for a while. There is nothing more confusing and detrimental than the Netman falling back to the baseline and hoping his partner to rush the net. this opens up the court for a EASY winner up the middle by your opponents.

PushyPushster
02-03-2009, 05:34 AM
pushypushmeister,

Why can't you just learn to volley and play the net?

Well, Raiden, I suspect it's a combination of bad technique, poor reaction speed, and general lack of athletic talent. To be honest, though, I don't spend a lot of time agonizing over it. Just like I don't spend a lot of time wondering why I could never run a 4.2/40, dunk a basketball, or hit a home run. I just kind of accept it and go on with life. You don't seem nearly so accepting, though. In fact, you seem downright offended by my inability to play the net. What's up?

To everyone who has suggested I practice volleying: Yes. That's a good idea. But here's the deal - I'm in the middle of a doubles season and we're in the running for both the playoffs and a Bag Tag. And everyone likes those Bag Tags, right? I know I do. So I'm trying to maximize my current, limited, tennis skills by using the best strategy for our doubles team.

Fedace
02-03-2009, 05:36 AM
^^Here is the deal. It is ok to back up, i suppose. but if you are planning that, JUST start on the baseline to begin with, then you will save yourself the time and agonizing footwork backtracking. and just have your partner Rush the net as soon as the point starts.

raiden031
02-03-2009, 05:48 AM
Well, Raiden, I suspect it's a combination of bad technique, poor reaction speed, and general lack of athletic talent. To be honest, though, I don't spend a lot of time agonizing over it. Just like I don't spend a lot of time wondering why I could never run a 4.2/40, dunk a basketball, or hit a home run. I just kind of accept it and go on with life. You don't seem nearly so accepting, though. In fact, you seem downright offended by my inability to play the net. What's up?

To everyone who has suggested I practice volleying: Yes. That's a good idea. But here's the deal - I'm in the middle of a doubles season and we're in the running for both the playoffs and a Bag Tag. And everyone likes those Bag Tags, right? I know I do. So I'm trying to maximize my current, limited, tennis skills by using the best strategy for our doubles team.

I'm not offended by it. I just think there is no basis for your belief that you can't do it. Volleying at the 3.5 level cannot be likened to running a 4.2 40 or dunking a basketball, so why bring up these rediculous examples? I am an advocate of having *reasonable* goals. That is why I laugh at any 18-y/o who has been playing for 2 years and is asking how they can go pro.

JavierLW
02-03-2009, 06:01 AM
Well, Raiden, I suspect it's a combination of bad technique, poor reaction speed, and general lack of athletic talent. To be honest, though, I don't spend a lot of time agonizing over it. Just like I don't spend a lot of time wondering why I could never run a 4.2/40, dunk a basketball, or hit a home run. I just kind of accept it and go on with life. You don't seem nearly so accepting, though. In fact, you seem downright offended by my inability to play the net. What's up?

To everyone who has suggested I practice volleying: Yes. That's a good idea. But here's the deal - I'm in the middle of a doubles season and we're in the running for both the playoffs and a Bag Tag. And everyone likes those Bag Tags, right? I know I do. So I'm trying to maximize my current, limited, tennis skills by using the best strategy for our doubles team.

We have a hard time accepting it, because you keep comparing volleying to hitting a 120mph serve, and all of these other things that take a fair amount of excessive talent or practice and that only a few select few can accomplish.

So your comparisions dont make a lot of sense and they just show a general lack of trying.

Even 3.0 players can volley (or at least block things with their giant oversize racquets). It's not that hard. If you take a beginner tennis lesson it's not like they skip over volleying altogether until the super-mega-advanced lessons.

It's more on the order of groundstrokes. The only thing that happens though is people just LOVE hitting groundstrokes so much because they love swinging at things, and you can get away with doing it incorrectly a lot easier because you have more time.

You cant claim that you are so awesome at on the baseline but you are some sort of 2.5 net player that lacks any skill, that doesnt make any sense.

Ive been running teams for 8 years and I know. It's a question of attitude more then it is skill.

If you were trying to have a 120mph serve or even serve using the right grip, that's different because that's really hard to do and takes a lot of practice. Volleying does not.

I know very few real 3.5 players who cant volley at all. (or at least get by with whatever technique they have) There are not even that many 3.0 players. (because most of them have to play doubles as well, at least 6 out of 8 of them in the adult leagues)

In any event the best place for you to be is up there even if you stink up the net.

So as long as you find yourself up there, you might as well find a good YouTube video with some simple instructions and at least "try" to get a little better at it, rather than go on and on about how you cant do it.

penpal
02-03-2009, 06:01 AM
A few ideas:

1. I would recommend you stay at the net whenever you begin at the net, and stay on the baseline when you begin there ... at least for now. So, when your partner is serving, stay at the net and play there. When your partner is returning, stick on the net. When you are serving/returning, play at the baseline. In this way, you'll begin getting used to playing the net, but you won't have to deal with rushing to the net and being forced to hit half-volleys while moving forward.

2. Stay tight on the net when you are playing up. Let your partner know that's what you are going to do so that he'll be prepared for lobs. Be willing to get beat by a good lob, but stay on top of that net. It's much easier to hit a volley the closer you are to the net.

3. Poach confidently. Don't be afraid to flub your volley. Don't be afraid to get passed down the line occasionally. Don't worry about hitting volley winners, just get your volley back in play (down the middle is fine). When you do get your volley back in play and it isn't a clear winner, get in the ready position to hit another volley. Volley winners are great, but the greatest thing about volleying is it takes time away from your opponents, no matter how good/bad the volley is (unless it's so bad it just pops up short, of course). Also, even if they can dig your volley, many 3.5 players will screw up if they see you are prepared for another volley. Poaching is a must. It will get in the returner's head and it will lead to UEs on their part.

4. When you are at the net, consider it your job to force the opponent who is in front of you to either hit a very good cross court shot or a very good down the line shot. Put it in your mind that anything he hits that is less than "very good" will be cut off at the net by you. If your opponent can consistently hit very good cross court shots, let your partner handle those (he'll appreciate that your narrowing the amount of court he has to worry about). If your opponent can consistently hit very good down the line shots, adjust. Oh, and if your opponent can hit very good lobs, maybe take one step back on your partner's second serve to cover those a bit better. Also, don't get fooled into thinking your opponent can hit better shots than they actually can just because they hit one or two good ones. Remember that it is exceptionally difficult to win a match hitting nothing but perfect down the line shots and perfect lobs.

Long story short, don't worry about missing some volleys, or failing to put your volleys away every time. Focus on three things: 1) Taking time away from your opponents, 2) Making your opponents think before hitting their shots, and 3) Forcing your opponents to feel that their range of shot options are narrowed (they have to hit a good shot or you, the net person, will cut it off).

Like you say, you probably aren't going to learn to be a great volleyer during your season. But you don't really have to be a great volleyer to be a good net player. To be a good net player, you just have to hit an occasional volley in play, force your opponents to hit some poor shots, and help your partner by limiting the amount of court he has to cover.

I think if you do these things, you'll find it will help you and your partner immediately. And if you make it to the playoffs you'll have a much better shot against the really good 3.5 doubles teams you're likely to face there.

Nellie
02-03-2009, 06:02 AM
Pushy-

On your partner's serve, I would start the match up at the net because you should be a physically present to make the return harder. If you are not that strong at the net, you can be conservative in your net play, for example, by not hitting any poaches. In fact, I would encourage you to poach on the very first play, and then not worry about it any more because, win or lose, you will leave the impression that you will poach and the other team will need to respect you.

If you are at the net and start getting hit at (something I would do to a weak volleyer), you should either move forward or back. Surprisingly, most people do better at volleys if you close in on the net. It will open you up to lobs.

On your serve, I would stay back, however, I would work into the court because you need to be aggressive in your baseline play, and it is easier to hit angles when you are a foot or two inside of the baseline. Also, this positioning allows you to better reach short volleys.

GPB
02-03-2009, 06:16 AM
Long story short, don't worry about missing some volleys, or failing to put your volleys away every time. Focus on three things: 1) Taking time away from your opponents, 2) Making your opponents think before hitting their shots, and 3) Forcing your opponents to feel that their range of shot options are narrowed (they have to hit a good shot or you, the net person, will cut it off).

Like you say, you probably aren't going to learn to be a great volleyer during your season. But you don't really have to be a great volleyer to be a good net player. To be a good net player, you just have to hit an occasional volley in play, force your opponents to hit some poor shots, and help your partner by limiting the amount of court he has to cover.

I think if you do these things, you'll find it will help you and your partner immediately. And if you make it to the playoffs you'll have a much better shot against the really good 3.5 doubles teams you're likely to face there.

penpal's whole post is exactly what PushyPusher needs to hear, but I like this takeaway the most.

read it again.

Geezer Guy
02-03-2009, 07:39 AM
I must say, I thought penpal's comments were right on as well. I remember several years ago I played a lot of doubles with a partner that was a much better doubles player than I was. One match in particular, our opponents figured out I was the weak link, and really pounded balls at me whenever I was at net. I was shanking and framing volleys into the net right and left. I was ready to give up net play, but my partner told me to stand CLOSER to the net. Suddenly, all my frame shots and mishits started landing on THEIR side of the courts for easy (if unintentional) winners.

PushyPushster
02-03-2009, 09:55 AM
penpal: Thanks very much for the advice. Taken to heart.

Even 3.0 players can volley (or at least block things with their giant oversize racquets). It's not that hard. If you take a beginner tennis lesson it's not like they skip over volleying altogether until the super-mega-advanced lessons.

So ... it's just me? I'm the only guy on this board who can't hit winning volleys? Look, I don't know about the rest of the posters to this thread - maybe they all have solid games and play 4.5 tennis. But you're just like me, a 3.5 player. That means you've got holes in your game too. Maybe not the same holes I have, but you've got them. How would you like someone saying, "Hey, Javier, why can't you hit an accurate shot down the line? I mean all you have to do is hit the ball. Down the line. Accurately. It's as simple as 1-2-3, doofus." Having you tell me how easy it is to hit a good volley doesn't actually make it any easier for me to do it. Trust me on this.

One match in particular, our opponents figured out I was the weak link, and really pounded balls at me whenever I was at net. I was shanking and framing volleys into the net right and left. I was ready to give up net play, but my partner told me to stand CLOSER to the net.

Yes, yes, yes. This will happen to me at least one (maybe two) matches a season. A team will figure out what a liability I am at the net and just start drilling the ball right at me. However bad I was playing before, this will make things 10x worse. Man, that's a horrible feeling. I always go two-back at that point.

Jim A
02-03-2009, 10:04 AM
I, too, am a poor volleyer and play mostly singles

not sure if you have time but is there a local drill/ball feed you can attend? Nearly all the drills in my area are doubles focused to utilize all 6/8 people and it has helped my game immensely, we also focus on being aggressive, coming to the net.

there are times you'll get picked on, happens to me at drop-in quite a bit but you just need to stick with it, I find as my footwork gets better and I acclimate to having people go at me, its easier to relax and just play..

appear confident even if you're not, once you start dropping the head and showing poor body language they will start to tee off on you

LuckyR
02-03-2009, 12:51 PM
Hi, I need some advice. Let me preface the question by saying I'm playing 3.5 doubles and my style of play is pretty much like the screen name suggests, except for a somewhat respectable forehand. My partner is a solid player with soft hands and a force at the net.

We just played a team that loved charging the net and going two-up as soon as possible. Despite barely eeking out a victory it brought a few questions to my mind about how I'm playing the game. Whenever I'm playing poorly at the net (often) I like to fall into a two-back formation and wait for my partner to work his way up to the net while I take the baseline. Here are the questions:

1.) Does this strategy suck? Would it be better to stay at the net, no matter how bad you are, and force the opposing team to at least think about making a decent cross court shot?

2.) How much would this tick you off if you were partnered with me? After all, I'm forcing him to generate pretty much all of our offensive threat. Granted, he's good at it, but still. Since he's a nice guy, I'd never know if he was really thinking, "hey - how about a little help here, A-hole?"

3.) Poaching. I suck at it, but our opponents reminded me of how effective it can be at disturbing your concentration. It forced some UE's out of me just by making me split my attention. Anyhow, I rarely poach. Do you think it's worth doing, even if I flub the put-away (very likely) just to put that fear in the opponents head?

Thanks for the help.


Some thoughts:

1- Deciding to go two back can be a reasonable strategy, in certain circumstances, but I didn't hear about your blistering groundies that were going to win you points with the two back formation.

Staying up when possible is completely reasonable even if your groundies are a tad better than your volleys, just play closer to the net from the get go. The first couple of volleys you will hit for winners and the other team will leave you alone or lob you if they are smart.

2- This would not tick me off one iota, IF we spoke about it beforehand and came to a consensus as to strategy.

3- Don't worry about poaching. It is a small minorty of 3.5 doubles that is heavily into poaching.

Wilson6-1
02-15-2009, 02:20 PM
Pushy,

From a strategy perspective, I would need to have a little more information:

Does your partner have a big serve, average serve or weak serve? It can be difficult to play the net when your partner has a weak serve (or weak 2nd serve). If so, playing back may be a viable strategy. If not, then I would encourage you to play at net. I always tell my partner, I would rather they tank 10 volleys in a row, then stop trying to volley.

If your partner can cover the back court, you can play the net and simply be selective on volleys, it is difficult to actually hit the net player, therefore, you can wait for the right opportunity. If your partner is not really mobile, and you really are that concerned about your volleys, then you may play back.

Playing 2 back offers a lot of flexibility to your opponents. Not only do they have much better angles but they can drop it short, causing you to hit up on the ball, making it that much easier for them to hit the volley/overhead for the winner. I played a mixed match today where our opponent decided to play 2 back in the second set (after losing the first), we were up 5-0 before taking the foot off of the accelerator and finishing 6-1.

Don't get me wrong, if you can move well and are really accurate, then you playing back on your partner service games isn't going to necessarily lose you the match, I have seen many teams win by mixing it up like this.

Also, I think if your partner was that upset with you dropping back, he would have at least mentioned it, even in a non-confrontational manner.

Hang in there, playing to your strength isn't a bad thing, but conceding the net will put a lot of pressure on the rest of your game.

PushyPushster
02-15-2009, 09:13 PM
Wilson -

Thanks for the advice. We played the strongest team in our division (and lost), but I went with what Penpal said, and it helped quite a bit. Nobody has been able to win more than 6 games off these guys but we managed to take it to 3 sets, so I feel pretty good - they were a quality team. I'm pretty sure playing two-back would have been a particularly bad decision against them since they were both very tall and very aggressive at the net. After looking at the advice on this thread, I'm going to tough it out at the net for the rest of the season and even do my share of poaching. We'll see how embarrassing that turns out to be ... :-)

Jim A
02-16-2009, 04:27 AM
PP - you are going to hit easy sitters into the net, flub shots out, leave some easy put aways for the other team, but it happens at all levels

don't be afraid to go out with a ball machine for 30 min and just hit volleys..

recently the person I've been playing with @ drop-in and I have been pretty aggressive, lots of 1st serve poaching (when down the middle) and just going for our shots, been quite effective and a confidence builder

raiden031
02-16-2009, 04:52 AM
So ... it's just me? I'm the only guy on this board who can't hit winning volleys? Look, I don't know about the rest of the posters to this thread - maybe they all have solid games and play 4.5 tennis. But you're just like me, a 3.5 player. That means you've got holes in your game too. Maybe not the same holes I have, but you've got them. How would you like someone saying, "Hey, Javier, why can't you hit an accurate shot down the line? I mean all you have to do is hit the ball. Down the line. Accurately. It's as simple as 1-2-3, doofus." Having you tell me how easy it is to hit a good volley doesn't actually make it any easier for me to do it. Trust me on this.

Yes, yes, yes. This will happen to me at least one (maybe two) matches a season. A team will figure out what a liability I am at the net and just start drilling the ball right at me. However bad I was playing before, this will make things 10x worse. Man, that's a horrible feeling. I always go two-back at that point.

Somehow I missed this post when you posted it, but I wish I'd seen it. I can kinda relate because I feel like the only person on the board who can't win with a weaker doubles partner, and I get told that the weaker their serve, the more I should poach. I understand your frustration. I have a 4.0 rating, but unless my doubles partner is strong, I'm a 3.5 at best in doubles because I can't play my aggressive game effectively when my partner isn't hitting good shots.

I think you are hearing the advice wrong though. Being a good volleyer isn't easy, but being able to play at the net at a 3.5 level is do-able by anybody if you put some effort into it. It is worth it to stuggle for awhile while you improve it. If you have holes in your game that you know about, it is in your best interest to fix those holes.

autumn_leaf
02-16-2009, 05:21 AM
1.) Does this strategy suck? Would it be better to stay at the net, no matter how bad you are, and force the opposing team to at least think about making a decent cross court shot?

2.) How much would this tick you off if you were partnered with me? After all, I'm forcing him to generate pretty much all of our offensive threat. Granted, he's good at it, but still. Since he's a nice guy, I'd never know if he was really thinking, "hey - how about a little help here, A-hole?"

3.) Poaching. I suck at it, but our opponents reminded me of how effective it can be at disturbing your concentration. It forced some UE's out of me just by making me split my attention. Anyhow, I rarely poach. Do you think it's worth doing, even if I flub the put-away (very likely) just to put that fear in the opponents head?

Thanks for the help.

1. - you're leaving a lot of angles open if you're two back.
- i don't believe it's better for you to be up at net if you're indeed that bad at volleying. if i was your opponent i would be aiming at you if you were at net to force an error.

2. - it's just a game. i would be okay with it if you're maximizing your strengths

3. - poaching badly is dangerous for the main reason if there is no communication between you and your partner you would have half the court open.
- another reason being that if you screw up the poach allowing the back opponent to come foward to take a offensive shot at the ball you will now likely face two position.

i pretty much sucked at volleying a week ago. we had drills for 3 days pretty much just on volleying and i can say i'm a lot better now. well at least i'm not popping up my volleying 10-20 feet into the air now.

you have to practice it with your teammates or friends. it's a huge liability especially if your opponent forces you up to net, or you get an easy sitter and screw it up (happens to me more often than i like to remember).

raiden031
02-16-2009, 06:40 AM
I'm pretty sure playing two-back would have been a particularly bad decision against them since they were both very tall and very aggressive at the net. After looking at the advice on this thread, I'm going to tough it out at the net for the rest of the season and even do my share of poaching. We'll see how embarrassing that turns out to be ... :-)

Experts will often say that two-back is actually better than one-up/one-back but from my experience it is not. Granted this could be that you might need stellar groundstrokes to play two-back effectively, or maybe they mean that it holds true when you are on the defensive, so two-back is a better defensive formation. But just the presence of the net man makes a huge mental difference for me. I feel no pressure when playing against opponents that are two-back, because one of my weaknesses is avoiding the poach on my return of serve. So I can do whatever I want with returns and not worry about getting poached, which means less UEs trying to avoid the net man.

The only time you should be in two-back is when your opponents are attacking at the net and you get pushed back because your partner hit a weak lob or something, or if your opponent has an amazing serve and you or your partner is getting killed on the poach. But both of these are purely for defensive reasons. If you learn to play offensively, like at the net, I guarantee you will become a better player unlike if you stay within your comfort zone at the basline.

JavierLW
02-16-2009, 07:59 AM
Experts will often say that two-back is actually better than one-up/one-back but from my experience it is not. Granted this could be that you might need stellar groundstrokes to play two-back effectively, or maybe they mean that it holds true when you are on the defensive, so two-back is a better defensive formation. But just the presence of the net man makes a huge mental difference for me. I feel no pressure when playing against opponents that are two-back, because one of my weaknesses is avoiding the poach on my return of serve. So I can do whatever I want with returns and not worry about getting poached, which means less UEs trying to avoid the net man.

The only time you should be in two-back is when your opponents are attacking at the net and you get pushed back because your partner hit a weak lob or something, or if your opponent has an amazing serve and you or your partner is getting killed on the poach. But both of these are purely for defensive reasons. If you learn to play offensively, like at the net, I guarantee you will become a better player unlike if you stay within your comfort zone at the basline.

People that say two back is superior to one up / one back say so for one main reason:

You are both on the same level so it's easier to coordinate with your partner and cover the whole court, similar to being two up.

Sometimes when teams are playing one up / one back, especially when they are unfamiler with doubles it doesnt work out well because the net player has no idea where his partner is hitting the ball (or what types of shots) thus he has no way of knowing where to position himself.

This sometimes creates a big hole between the two players and an area on the court where a smart player can easily win the point (I see these older guys do it all the time, they dont even hit the ball hard, they just put it in the appropriate spot behind the net player really low and the ball never comes back)

That's probably not everyone though. I think if you are really familar with your partner and have some consistancy then it's not as bad. If your partner who is behind you is great and hits awesome shots that never get picked off, then it's nice as well because you can get set up at the net for some easy put away volleys.

That being said, the only time Ive played two back is similar to what raiden mentions. It's only done on return games and only when we are struggling on the returns for some reason (either due to the server, or due to a mega-aggressive volleyer). It takes a little pressure off the returner sometimes as well.

moonbat
02-16-2009, 01:55 PM
Pushy-

On your partner's serve, I would start the match up at the net because you should be a physically present to make the return harder. If you are not that strong at the net, you can be conservative in your net play, for example, by not hitting any poaches. In fact, I would encourage you to poach on the very first play, and then not worry about it any more because, win or lose, you will leave the impression that you will poach and the other team will need to respect you.

If you are at the net and start getting hit at (something I would do to a weak volleyer), you should either move forward or back. Surprisingly, most people do better at volleys if you close in on the net. It will open you up to lobs.

On your serve, I would stay back, however, I would work into the court because you need to be aggressive in your baseline play, and it is easier to hit angles when you are a foot or two inside of the baseline. Also, this positioning allows you to better reach short volleys.

Great point. If you're crowding the net, your opponents may be more inclined to lob over you rather than go right at you. That will help you not get nailed as much, but your partner will have to cover the lobs. Also, have you tried hitting your backhand volley with two hands? That might help.

moonbat
02-16-2009, 02:01 PM
People that say two back is superior to one up / one back say so for one main reason:

You are both on the same level so it's easier to coordinate with your partner and cover the whole court, similar to being two up.

Sometimes when teams are playing one up / one back, especially when they are unfamiler with doubles it doesnt work out well because the net player has no idea where his partner is hitting the ball (or what types of shots) thus he has no way of knowing where to position himself.

This sometimes creates a big hole between the two players and an area on the court where a smart player can easily win the point (I see these older guys do it all the time, they dont even hit the ball hard, they just put it in the appropriate spot behind the net player really low and the ball never comes back)

That's probably not everyone though. I think if you are really familar with your partner and have some consistancy then it's not as bad. If your partner who is behind you is great and hits awesome shots that never get picked off, then it's nice as well because you can get set up at the net for some easy put away volleys.

That being said, the only time Ive played two back is similar to what raiden mentions. It's only done on return games and only when we are struggling on the returns for some reason (either due to the server, or due to a mega-aggressive volleyer). It takes a little pressure off the returner sometimes as well.

It's fine to play one up and one back if the net person moves up into volley position as the ball goes to the opponents' court, and moves back to the service line and toward the middle of the court as the ball goes to his partner. That helps plug the hole down the middle if the partner hits to the net man. (I have to say I rarely play with people who do this, but I do, and when I play with someone who does we cover the court quite well.) That said, if you're going to play one up and one back and your opponents come to net, you'd better have great lobs and monster groundstrokes.