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Cindysphinx
04-27-2009, 04:34 AM
I taught my daughter to drive last summer. I remember the early stages. She couldn't maintain a constant speed. She would press the accelerator, then ease off, then press it, then ease off, causing this sense of surging. It was nauseating.

Right now, my tennis is making me sick.

In the past, I tried to be as aggressive as possible. If I were at net, I mentally decided that every ball was mine to play as though it were a drill class. If I were at the baseline, I came in as soon as possible. I hit every volley and overhead as hard as I could. This won me a lot of points. It won me a lot of praise ("Oh, wow, good shot!"). It also won me a lot of errors. That's OK, I figured. If you added the winners to the mistakes my opponents made because of my attacking style, on balance I figured I was doing OK.

Lately, I have tried to change all of this. I have tried to keep my UEs to an absolute minimum. Better, I figured, was to keep the ball in play. This has been in response to higher-level partners seeming frustrated at my errors, especially as it gets harder to hit winners against better opponents. Also, my pro seems well and truly sick of seeing me botch easy shots by going for too much. Hence the effort to change.

What does this change look like? I don't ever try to hit a winner off of a return or from the baseline, so I rarely miss a return now. If I come in, I try to win the point in three shots, not one. I hit two second serves on break point down. I wait patiently while my partner rallies crosscourt until I see a ball that will be easy to poach, so I don't poach off of low, high, or wide returns. I don't attempt drop shots and shots I don't own.

My UEs are way down. My winners are way down.

And I feel like a potted plant.

Being a potted plant isn't a lot of fun, honestly. In my last two matches, I made no poaches off of returns (except one where the lady tried to go down the line). I am finding that being conservative with volleys and groundstrokes in doubles just allows me to be attacked. I am not winning more with this more conservative mindset, at least so far. I am wondering whether I should just go back to my old style of whacking everything.

Has anyone managed to find the right balance between being conservative and being aggressive? How?

Cindy -- who is playing singles this morning and who will probably start off being conservative and falling behind

raiden031
04-27-2009, 04:46 AM
I think you still want to be aggressive in doubles, because you don't have much time to set up the point before your opponent does it first. Maybe its just a matter of drilling those aggressive shots more.

In singles I'm reassessing this myself. Once your aggressive game becomes less effective against higher rated players, you have to use it less because the risk exceeds the reward. My plan is to continue working on my aggressive shots in practice, but not use them as much during a match unless I get a really good opportunity. That means longer rallies and relying more on consistency.

origmarm
04-27-2009, 05:14 AM
I agree with Raiden. In doubles you have to maintain agression because you can't build points like you can in singles.

The thing here is there is a fine line between just bashing everything at the line and "controlled agression". For me you want to be aiming for 70-80% agression if that makes sense. The other thing here is that the error count will go down over time as you learn where that line is.

As to the playing against better players in singles. I think here you have to see what makes them a better player. If they are very consistent there is no point you trying to outdo them here, you are better of taking the risk imo. If you don't take it, you lose. If you do take it, you may lose. If however they are very agressive and you are having difficulty with the pace/spin etc..then you have to tone it down a little. It's about your opponent really in this case.

If you are about even in ability the majority of matches at sub 4.0 level are won based on error count. Here I would aim for 60-75% agression if that makes sense. The idea is not to give the advantage in the point to the other player but not to make an unforced error either. If you see the opportunity press your advantage then pounce but don't push it on every ball.

To answer your question directly, I believe the official version of this is "control, hurt, finish" i.e. you should build the point incrementally. Ultimately it's personal in that your style is your style but for me the key is finding that 70% agression mark. For me I found it when I stopped feeling like I was holding back but didn't want to hurt myself every time I bashed it out :).

If you feel like a "potted plant" (nice expression) then frankly I feel you are not playing the way that suits you. At the end of the day if you are not having fun, what's the point?

Hopefully that made some kind of sense....:)

Cheers, Orig

jrod
04-27-2009, 05:51 AM
After reading this it seems to me you have a decent foundation from which to build a more aggressive and reliable game. Why?

1. You've stated that you have recently managed to cut your UE's way down --> You can keep the ball in play.

2. It's clear from a number of your previous posts that you understand the game, strategies, etc., --> You can think strategically.

3. You appear capable of assessing your game and the game of others without distortion --> You are capable of accurately assessing risk.

With these skills, it seems to me you should be able to hang in a point, understand how to create opportunities, and finally know which balls to take risks on (pressing the accelerator). I suggest you use the tools you have more effectively. You might be surprised at the result.

PushyPushster
04-27-2009, 06:30 AM
I like an agressive net player on my side. It's a talent I wish I had. That aggressive attitude gets in your opponent's heads. It makes them hit unforced errors. My current doubles partner is great at the net but tends to be a little timid because he remembers every error he makes, but forgets all of the winners. Anyhow, I think hitting a few more errors is justified due to the psychological advantage of making the other team worry about their shots.

oldhacker
04-27-2009, 07:19 AM
I agree Cindy - that balance is high to find especially in doubles. For me I find it varies from match to match depending on how I am playing and what sort of opponents we have. Even though my natural and preferred doubles game is aggressive with my volleys and serves being my weapons sometimes it is just not happening and the confidence is not there so I have to try Plan B and just concentrate on consistancy for a bit.

With the return of serve how I play it depends largely on how my opponents play. My primary goal is to clear the net man, secondary goal is to do so in such a way that I can approach the net. If the net man is a strong volleyer and aggressive net player then I have to go for it a lot more on returns to satisfy my primary goal. In doing so I realise I will miss a lot more returns but that is just what I need to do to be competitive against stronger doubles players. HAving said that I am not too proud to resort to 'cowardly' tactics such as trying to lob every decent serve to my weaker backhand over the net mans head if that is what it takes to be competitive.

cak
04-27-2009, 07:33 AM
That's the big difference I see when playing 3.5 and then playing up at 4.0. Playing 3.5, if you are consistent and keep the ball in play you have a better than good chance of winning. At 4.0 you need to earn the point, not just keep it in play.

I've had a partner I've played on and off with since we were 2.5s together. Our partnership kinds of centers around I set her up, she puts them away. Up until 4.0, if she's not having her best day, we can still win, because I can keep the ball in play. But once we hit 4.0, if she can't put the ball away we are toast, because I can't put the ball away either. So I need to be more aggressive.

But I very much identify with the two second serve problem. In a playoff match a few months ago my first serve was not going in on the ad side, and so I had backed down to serving second serves to get the ball in play. So here I am, at 5-4, down to my serve to close the match out. During the switchover my partner tells me to go ahead and muscle the first serve in on BOTH sides. Okay, if she believes...4 service winners and we were off the court drinking wine. Why couldn't I believe I could do it?

shell
04-27-2009, 07:58 AM
I think the way your daughter drove was the perfect way to play a match against 4.0 players :)

You will probably find that you cannot just count on an unforced error all the time, but you can also bet that low percentage tennis will end of costing you. It sounds like you need to find a balance in your game. Ease off when you are not in an aggressive position, but if you get an opportunity, then push the peddle and make something happen.

Now that I think about it, the above is really a summary of 4.0 tennis.

Nellie
04-27-2009, 08:55 AM
You are in a hard position. Being too aggressive just gives away points, but failing to be aggressive will lose as well against the better players (and you are bored, as well). I am trying to be more aggressive in going for shots (to poach and move more, even if I don't make it to the ball at times) but hitting the ball conservatively, more down the middle, instead of trying to hit through the other team. It is helping me stay aggressive (and in the match), but keeps the unforced errors down.

I will tell you that one area where personally need to really improve is to stay away and not try to poach low shots. Those slow, floating slices look so inviting, but I cannot do much with it except to hit a floater back.

FloridaAG
04-27-2009, 08:59 AM
This is a fundamental issue that most players struggle with at various points. I have found, especially in night matches after working all day, that sometimes I am overly passive and do not move forward into the ball enough. I generally try to play patiently and go for winners off short balls and/or at appropriate times but sometimes fall into ruts where I am not going for my shots (when they are there for the taking). Ultimately, blending patience with agression is the way to improve.

larry10s
04-27-2009, 11:14 AM
#1 "potted plant" you mentioned this with poaches. "aggressiveness at the net is appreciated at higher levels as long as you dont tlelgraph and get beat most of the time ( you should get beat occasionally . and as long as most times you finish the point. we all miss easy volley put aways fromm time to time but you should be converting to points at least 70=80 % of sorties #2 watch these better players. they are making every return and rarely hit winners off returns, they place their shots to create openings to win points with the next shot. yes there are times to stick volleys ,crush overheads but bashing and missing is a common lower level trait .i disagree with the poster who said you do not set up points in doubles. # 3 origman said it well control, hurt , finish ( booleteris method of tennis strategy). lower levels think you can hit a winner from anywhere. upper levels understand you have to go through the sequence most of the time. works in doubles and singles with some exceptions

oldhacker
04-27-2009, 03:19 PM
Cindy - after reading your post I happened to be watching a WTA ladies doubles match (all were top 100 players) on TV and can now assure you that the same problem exists at that level. I was quite amazed. Throughout the whole match I did not see a single attempt at serve and volley nor chip and charge (or any other sort of approach) off a return or other groundstroke. Basically the whole match was played out with 1 up, 1 back on both sides and very little aggressive net play was displayed by the net players. The baseliners were trying to bash the cover off the ball to win the rally from the baseline. This often meant points were finished by UE's when one of the baselibers hit long. And when the net players were required to volley anything other than a sitter well over 50% of volleys were netted or hit long. And I even saw some absolute sitters missed.

Cindysphinx
04-27-2009, 03:38 PM
Cindy - after reading your post I happened to be watching a WTA ladies doubles match (all were top 100 players) on TV and can now assure you that the same problem exists at that level. I was quite amazed. Throughout the whole match I did not see a single attempt at serve and volley nor chip and charge (or any other sort of approach) off a return or other groundstroke. Basically the whole match was played out with 1 up, 1 back on both sides and very little aggressive net play was displayed by the net players. The baseliners were trying to bash the cover off the ball to win the rally from the baseline. This often meant points were finished by UE's when one of the baselibers hit long. And when the net players were required to volley anything other than a sitter well over 50% of volleys were netted or hit long. And I even saw some absolute sitters missed.

Was this the Fed Cup between US and Czech?

If so, Huber did S&V a fair amount, but she was the only one. She was very calculated about it, deciding she would S&V and then the next service game staying back. But yeah, they missed a whole lot of volleys.

Did you notice how Huber is completely uninterested in the center line? Say a ball is hit really wide and she is at net. Center line, what center line? Huber does not care. Sometimes she has both feet on her partner's side of the court, looking to intercept(!). Even then, she didn't get burned very often.

oldhacker
04-27-2009, 04:28 PM
No it was a live match on Bet365 from wherever the WTA are this week (saw palm trees in the background). I honestly watched the whole of 2 sets and did not see any S&V and all the observations I made were as seen and not exagerated.

Was this the Fed Cup between US and Czech?

If so, Huber did S&V a fair amount, but she was the only one. She was very calculated about it, deciding she would S&V and then the next service game staying back. But yeah, they missed a whole lot of volleys.

Did you notice how Huber is completely uninterested in the center line? Say a ball is hit really wide and she is at net. Center line, what center line? Huber does not care. Sometimes she has both feet on her partner's side of the court, looking to intercept(!). Even then, she didn't get burned very often.

larry10s
04-28-2009, 07:43 AM
Was this the Fed Cup between US and Czech?

If so, Huber did S&V a fair amount, but she was the only one. She was very calculated about it, deciding she would S&V and then the next service game staying back. But yeah, they missed a whole lot of volleys.

Did you notice how Huber is completely uninterested in the center line? Say a ball is hit really wide and she is at net. Center line, what center line? Huber does not care. Sometimes she has both feet on her partner's side of the court, looking to intercept(!). Even then, she didn't get burned very often.if the opponent is very wide your partner covers the alley and the new middle IS past the center line.. where you should be. just like your other post the center line is not a stop sgn or berlin wall

LuckyR
04-28-2009, 07:58 AM
I taught my daughter to drive last summer. I remember the early stages. She couldn't maintain a constant speed. She would press the accelerator, then ease off, then press it, then ease off, causing this sense of surging. It was nauseating.

Right now, my tennis is making me sick.

In the past, I tried to be as aggressive as possible. If I were at net, I mentally decided that every ball was mine to play as though it were a drill class. If I were at the baseline, I came in as soon as possible. I hit every volley and overhead as hard as I could. This won me a lot of points. It won me a lot of praise ("Oh, wow, good shot!"). It also won me a lot of errors. That's OK, I figured. If you added the winners to the mistakes my opponents made because of my attacking style, on balance I figured I was doing OK.

Lately, I have tried to change all of this. I have tried to keep my UEs to an absolute minimum. Better, I figured, was to keep the ball in play. This has been in response to higher-level partners seeming frustrated at my errors, especially as it gets harder to hit winners against better opponents. Also, my pro seems well and truly sick of seeing me botch easy shots by going for too much. Hence the effort to change.

What does this change look like? I don't ever try to hit a winner off of a return or from the baseline, so I rarely miss a return now. If I come in, I try to win the point in three shots, not one. I hit two second serves on break point down. I wait patiently while my partner rallies crosscourt until I see a ball that will be easy to poach, so I don't poach off of low, high, or wide returns. I don't attempt drop shots and shots I don't own.

My UEs are way down. My winners are way down.

And I feel like a potted plant.

Being a potted plant isn't a lot of fun, honestly. In my last two matches, I made no poaches off of returns (except one where the lady tried to go down the line). I am finding that being conservative with volleys and groundstrokes in doubles just allows me to be attacked. I am not winning more with this more conservative mindset, at least so far. I am wondering whether I should just go back to my old style of whacking everything.

Has anyone managed to find the right balance between being conservative and being aggressive? How?

Cindy -- who is playing singles this morning and who will probably start off being conservative and falling behind


As usual the issue is in my experience a Mental Game thing. I think many if not most dedicated doubles players have to traverse this issue to find the right balance. What worked for me was thinking of doubles like volleyball. Every sequence has a setter and a spiker. If you aren't in the position to spike the ball then you are the setter by default. You are correct to be keeping your UEs down as noone is going to win lots of points in doubles threading smaller needles than in singles off of low percentage shots.

Sounds like you have the "setter" part wired but that you are not pulling the trigger when yoiur partner sets you up, to spike the ball. Next time you watch Pro doubles identify every shot as the set or the spike and the patterns will reveal themselves pretty easily.

jrod
04-28-2009, 08:28 AM
As usual the issue is in my experience a Mental Game thing. I think many if not most dedicated doubles players have to traverse this issue to find the right balance. What worked for me was thinking of doubles like volleyball. Every sequence has a setter and a spiker. If you aren't in the position to spike the ball then you are the setter by default. You are correct to be keeping your UEs down as noone is going to win lots of points in doubles threading smaller needles than in singles off of low percentage shots.

Sounds like you have the "setter" part wired but that you are not pulling the trigger when yoiur partner sets you up, to spike the ball. Next time you watch Pro doubles identify every shot as the set or the spike and the patterns will reveal themselves pretty easily.

LuckyR - This is an excellent analogy and to an extent helps to simplify the game of doubles. While there are a number of complex and convoluted aspects to the game, it really can be bolied down to such a binary scheme.

Many successful doubles teams do have one player who is stronger at "setting" and one that is a better "spiker". Often, the setter is viewed as the less dangerous player and is targeted by the opponent. The more sucessful strategy could very well be to target the spiker instead, since this may result in soliciting more UE's.

larry10s
04-28-2009, 08:43 AM
As usual the issue is in my experience a Mental Game thing. I think many if not most dedicated doubles players have to traverse this issue to find the right balance. What worked for me was thinking of doubles like volleyball. Every sequence has a setter and a spiker. If you aren't in the position to spike the ball then you are the setter by default. You are correct to be keeping your UEs down as noone is going to win lots of points in doubles threading smaller needles than in singles off of low percentage shots.

Sounds like you have the "setter" part wired but that you are not pulling the trigger when yoiur partner sets you up, to spike the ball. Next time you watch Pro doubles identify every shot as the set or the spike and the patterns will reveal themselves pretty easily. good way to look at it

LuckyR
04-28-2009, 11:43 AM
Many successful doubles teams do have one player who is stronger at "setting" and one that is a better "spiker". Often, the setter is viewed as the less dangerous player and is targeted by the opponent. The more sucessful strategy could very well be to target the spiker instead, since this may result in soliciting more UE's.


Very true many times. Usually the team is actually better off with the setter fielding many balls, often from the baseline, using touch shots to force the other team to hit up on the ball, leading to a spike from his partner.