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View Full Version : Doubles: errors require change of strategy?


raiden031
05-12-2009, 05:50 AM
When you're playing doubles, do you always feel like you need to change your strategy if you are losing? I think there is a difference between losing because your opponents are exploiting something or that a game plan isn't working, or losing because you and/or your partner are just hitting too many errors.

I often find that my game plan works and I'm in position to win the point, but I just have one of those days where I miss routine shots over and over. I think I suffer from yips with certain strokes such as my backhand volleys, high forehand volleys, and serve toss, where some days these things just don't feel right and I lack my normal level of coordination.

Anyways if you have a major off day on strokes, is that cause for changing your strategy even though everything is working except your execution? I feel like partners always need to suggest a strategy change when the only thing I want to change is the number of UEs that we are hitting. For example, if I'm poaching at the net and making contact but just mishitting alot, is that a reason to start staying at the baseline?

kylebarendrick
05-12-2009, 07:51 AM
I would look for changes in strategy that would minimize the number of times you have to hit the shot that is letting you down. If your volleys are failing you, you can play back or let more balls go through to your partner. If one groundstroke isn't working, you may want to switch sides. If neither groundstroke is working, you may want to start charging the net more. You can also mix up the shots you hit to your opponents (changing pace, direction, lobbing, etc.) so they can't exploit your UEs as well.

If you can take the pressure off the unreliable stroke, the you can get some momentum working for you and your game may straighten out. If you are going down, you eventually need to change something.

LuckyR
05-12-2009, 08:13 AM
This is a great question and I have had the best luck changing strategy rather than waiting for my poor strokes to magically change into winners. That isn't to say I haven't played matches where UEs have not decreased a lot in the second set. But I would argue that if you and your partner decide to hit higher percentage shots to keep down UEs, that that is not a change in strategy too.

Kick_It
05-12-2009, 08:17 AM
Sure. And this by no means is specific to doubles - it applies equally to singles.

One thing that always helps me is knowing what I have that is/not working at a given moment. You figure the same out for your opponent.

Your goal in any tennis match goal is to maximize what is working for you, preferably by attacking what is not working for your opponent - before they do it to you. Whomever executes that most frequently usually wins ;-)

K_I

Fedace
05-12-2009, 08:27 AM
Raiden. You are mostly right. On BAD days like i had last weekend in the Playoff match nonetheless, you have to remember the fundamentals.
1. Like keep your racket head up on the volleys and spin the 1st serve in and work on placement.
2. Just chip the Return low at the feet of incoming volleyer and don't try to do much with it. and Mix inthe high % Lob returns.
3. and come into net and execute high % volleys like just hitting it deep or just aim for the service line instead of baseline.

Last weekend, despite my off day, i still found a way to win, Just cause on really important points, i made sure i do the fundamentals. Like take a short backswing, keep your eye on the ball, keep that racket head up on volleys etc.

Cindysphinx
05-12-2009, 11:24 AM
Raiden, when this happens, I am always the one suggesting a strategy change and my partner is always the one saying we just need to cut our UEs. But . . . we're not making UEs on purpose, so it isn't possible to just "will" them to stop happening.

Anyway, what helps me is to change tactics to avoid hitting the offending shot. If the lob fails twice in a row, I have forfeited my option to lob, at least temporarily. If I miss two poaches, the next time I have to stay home. If I miss two approach volleys, then I need to stay back the next time.

hotseat
05-12-2009, 12:47 PM
as long as the skill set is relatively evenly matched, there is ALWAYS a way to win if you find the right strategy. reading some of your other posts I know this concept won't make sense to you, but it's the truth. I recall your post on mixed doubles and how you can never win because your female partner is so inferior (ridiculous), but honestly, in doubles, there is always a way to win if you know various strategies.

hotseat
05-12-2009, 12:52 PM
For example, if I'm poaching at the net and making contact but just mishitting alot, is that a reason to start staying at the baseline?

yes, that would be an example. or, you could look even deeper. where are you mishitting your volley? is it because the opponent is good at keeping the ball nice and low, or simply because your timing is that far off? if they have nice, solid, low returns, change your positioning. move CLOSER to the net, and step into your volleys. you may even need to "hug" the net so to speak, just make sure your racquet doesn't cross the plane of the net until you strike the ball.

if you're just having a terrible day with timing, yes, by all means.......hug that baseline for dear life and utilize your groundies. are they excellent volleyers and just hitting winners off your groundies? use defensive lobs to get them out of a rhythm. you DONT need to hit a winner off this lob, or even cause an UE on their part because your lob is so good. the point of this is to simply get your opponents out of the zone where they are winning a lot of the points (in this case, on top of the net). test their overheads. it's actually pretty tough to hit an overhead winner with a lob that's only near the half court line in doubles unless theyre over 6' tall. in doubles, you and your partner can stand way back, cover a lot of ground, and scrape a lot of balls back. do whatever it takes to throw your opponents out of a rhythm, even if it means playing "ugly" tennis you normally wouldn't play. still no success? hit every single ball down the middle, then approach. blah blah blah i could go on and on

bottom line, when you win the match, it doesn't seem so ugly, just smart.

JavierLW
05-12-2009, 01:39 PM
When you're playing doubles, do you always feel like you need to change your strategy if you are losing? I think there is a difference between losing because your opponents are exploiting something or that a game plan isn't working, or losing because you and/or your partner are just hitting too many errors.

I often find that my game plan works and I'm in position to win the point, but I just have one of those days where I miss routine shots over and over. I think I suffer from yips with certain strokes such as my backhand volleys, high forehand volleys, and serve toss, where some days these things just don't feel right and I lack my normal level of coordination.

Anyways if you have a major off day on strokes, is that cause for changing your strategy even though everything is working except your execution? I feel like partners always need to suggest a strategy change when the only thing I want to change is the number of UEs that we are hitting. For example, if I'm poaching at the net and making contact but just mishitting alot, is that a reason to start staying at the baseline?

I think Im with you on this one.

If it's just a matter of me not making my shots, then I dont feel changing strategy is warrented. Moving to the baseline is probably WAY worse then just missing shots at the net.

Changing strategy is good when something is not working because of something YOUR OPPONENTS are doing.

Like if you are struggling on returns because either the net player is just too darn efficient up there, or a combo of that and a very good serve. Then it's time to play two back sometimes so you can relax a little more.

But otherwise if you're just having a bad day, the best thing your partner can do is just to play their own game and do it well so then if you figure out what you're doing on your own you'll have some sort of game to come back to.

At 4.0 doubles there is probably less places you can go as far as strategy changes anyway.

More advanced methods can be used but you need to execute for those as well, and you cant revert backwards into the sorts of things 3.0 players back into (due to lack of doubles skills).

Sometimes you're just playing bad, if you lose you'll certainly blame it on that, not on some particular strategy that you didnt employ. (and that's just speaking from what is likely your case, not anyone in general, at 3.0 someone may be playing a bad strategy which makes the game harder for them and results in more UE's, but I have to hope at 4.0 that's not the case most of the time)

(ie....you certainly cant play two back as the serving team, and you cant simple play statue at the net or choose not to come in off the serves because you're more experienced teams will take advantage of you easily then)

Steady Eddy
05-12-2009, 01:56 PM
I had a partner who started going for a winner on every shot. I asked her what she was doing, and she said that since we were behind she should go for more winners. What do you think happened? Does anyone thing we lost very rapidly from then on? You're right. Don't do that strategy. It does show what might work, though. When you're losing, try to keep the ball in play more, give your opponents a chance to make mistakes, and be more patient about winning points. Generally, changes should be in the more conservative direction rather than trying for more low percentage shots.

Cindysphinx
05-12-2009, 03:15 PM
I had a partner who started going for a winner on every shot. I asked her what she was doing, and she said that since we were behind she should go for more winners. What do you think happened? Does anyone thing we lost very rapidly from then on? You're right. Don't do that strategy. It does show what might work, though. When you're losing, try to keep the ball in play more, give your opponents a chance to make mistakes, and be more patient about winning points. Generally, changes should be in the more conservative direction rather than trying for more low percentage shots.

Mmmm, I see your point, but I don't agree necessarily.

Last night, my partner and I were losing. We decided that we would be more aggressive and take the net. This put us in the position of hitting the tougher shots (approach volleys, S&V) and taking more risk. We almost won the set. Had we stuck with Plan A -- keep the ball in play, keep our errors down, make them hit a winner if they wanted a point -- we would have lost the second set as badly as we lost the first.

Sometimes ya gotta Go Big.

SteveI
05-12-2009, 05:09 PM
Mmmm, I see your point, but I don't agree necessarily.

Last night, my partner and I were losing. We decided that we would be more aggressive and take the net. This put us in the position of hitting the tougher shots (approach volleys, S&V) and taking more risk. We almost won the set. Had we stuck with Plan A -- keep the ball in play, keep our errors down, make them hit a winner if they wanted a point -- we would have lost the second set as badly as we lost the first.

Sometimes ya gotta Go Big.

On the other hand, staying with the less aggressive approach might have paid off in the long run. The other team may have cooled off and they might have begun to miss. Going big when it is not your game in most cases only ends the match quicker.

tfm1973
05-12-2009, 05:49 PM
i also like when my opponents suddenly start going for more winners and being more aggressive because this is usually a recipe for an easy win. if going for winners and being aggressive was their normal strategy -- then they would employ said strategy all the time.

watching opponents go for broke and try for winners usually means they are A) frustrated or B) out of options or C) both frustrated and out of options. this is a good situation and i am very happy to supply the rope if my opponents want to hang themselves.

in doubles it's also fun to see only one of the guys implode while his partner is trying to keep playing his game. this is when you feed the guy who's frustrated some more shots his way. :)

Cindysphinx
05-12-2009, 06:18 PM
I think it is common and perhaps even recommended (Winning Ugly) to start off conservative and dial it up as need be.

I also think many players play better when they fall behind because they begin to go for their shots.

Steady Eddy
05-12-2009, 08:24 PM
Mmmm, I see your point, but I don't agree necessarily.

Last night, my partner and I were losing. We decided that we would be more aggressive and take the net. This put us in the position of hitting the tougher shots (approach volleys, S&V) and taking more risk. We almost won the set. Had we stuck with Plan A -- keep the ball in play, keep our errors down, make them hit a winner if they wanted a point -- we would have lost the second set as badly as we lost the first.

Sometimes ya gotta Go Big.
Yeah, she just went for a winner on every ball that came to her. So as soon as one did, the point was over, and usually that wasn't in our favor. We were behind 0-3, but the 3 games we lost were close, the next 3 might go our way. Once she changed the game, we started losing at love. If she was at the net, that might be ok, but this was more about ripping it from the backcourt. That was recent, so it's what I think about on a thread like this.

I think what I read in Nick Saviano's book has some relevance. He played Edberg once and broke Edberg's serve at love, so Edberg 'changed his game' and stopped playing serve and volley. That was a mistake, Edberg was easier to beat when he stopped playing S&V. Don't always change a losing game. Sometimes you just have to stick with it and hope the tennis Gods start to smile on you.

raiden031
05-13-2009, 02:30 AM
I think what I read in Nick Saviano's book has some relevance. He played Edberg once and broke Edberg's serve at love, so Edberg 'changed his game' and stopped playing serve and volley. That was a mistake, Edberg was easier to beat when he stopped playing S&V. Don't always change a losing game. Sometimes you just have to stick with it and hope the tennis Gods start to smile on you.

This was what I was trying to get at in my OP. Sometimes you are playing the right strategy such that you are pressuring your opponents and setting yourselves up to finish the point. But then you are just blowing too many opportunities because something is just off for you that day. When I have these types of days, I usually find myself leading and then blow the lead because errors start happening at the wrong time. Sometimes when I go through periods where I hit lots of errors (and I'm not talking about going for a winner every shot, I'm talking about errors on normal shots), things will turn around later in the match. But if you change your strategy prematurely because you think losing requires it, you could prevent your team from turning things around.

SteveI
05-13-2009, 02:49 AM
This was what I was trying to get at in my OP. Sometimes you are playing the right strategy such that you are pressuring your opponents and setting yourselves up to finish the point. But then you are just blowing too many opportunities because something is just off for you that day. When I have these types of days, I usually find myself leading and then blow the lead because errors start happening at the wrong time. Sometimes when I go through periods where I hit lots of errors (and I'm not talking about going for a winner every shot, I'm talking about errors on normal shots), things will turn around later in the match. But if you change your strategy prematurely because you think losing requires it, you could prevent your team from turning things around.

I understand and agree. You should play to the strong parts of your game. Going off the deep end and trying something out of your comfort zone just leads to fast exit. The pros on the other hand (maybe when hurt or worn down) may try to keep points short. They know of course, that it is high risk but have the skill and have a decent chance make it work in a match. We are not taking about pros here...so playing into your strengths is always the way to go.

Nellie
05-13-2009, 05:29 AM
I don't know how big of an adjustment you are talking about. I think it is smart to know what is working and what is not, and to make small changes accordingly.

For example, I have a had nights where the overhead just does not go in (bad footwork nights), so after missing the first 5, I may go to high volleys to the open court. Likewise, my low vollies are not as good on second days of tournements (sore legs don't get down as much) so I like to move a step closer to the net.


Also, there are often strategic decisions involved, so you can make small changes to improve your game. I doubt that you have nights when, for example, no grounds strokes or vollies work. Instead, your down the line shots may miss (often, because of bad timing by milliseconds), so you should keep your shots down the middle, which is not a bad strategy.

A big change like going from serve and volley to playing from the baseline is likely extreme and an act of desperation. Small constant adjustments are likely a better decision.

Cindysphinx
05-13-2009, 09:50 AM
Anyways if you have a major off day on strokes, is that cause for changing your strategy even though everything is working except your execution?

I guess on some level I don't fully get the question.

I mean, look at the bolded part. If your execution isn't working, is there anything else that matters?

I feel like partners always need to suggest a strategy change when the only thing I want to change is the number of UEs that we are hitting. For example, if I'm poaching at the net and making contact but just mishitting alot, is that a reason to start staying at the baseline?

I had that situation recently. This partner has good hands but poor footwork. She was executing her poaches poorly and missing them because her feet were in cement. She dumped two of these balls into net, and I lost my serve.

The next time I served, I told her to take the high balls, but don't try to go for anything that is hard or is low. I assured her I would get every one of those balls. She followed this advice, and I held.

Later in the match, she went for a low, hard ball and missed. I reminded her of our plan, and again she started letting these balls through. We won in straight sets.

Now. Say she hadn't been able to resist going for those balls or had disagreed with my advice. Say she thinks the reason she is missing is that she was having a bad night or is "making contact and mishitting a lot." Then I would have asked her to play 2-back with me. 'Cause we can't afford to keep losing points as she works out the kinks in her game that night.

Cindy -- whose partners take it badly if she suggests that they move back to the baseline

raiden031
05-13-2009, 10:13 AM
I guess on some level I don't fully get the question.

I mean, look at the bolded part. If your execution isn't working, is there anything else that matters?


What I mean is that you are always in good position and able to construct points and pressure your opponent, but you just miss too many routine shots such that you are not winning the match. So its not like your opponents are pressuring you or exploiting some weakness or they have a strategy that is making it difficult for you.

JavierLW
05-13-2009, 10:25 AM
What I mean is that you are always in good position and able to construct points and pressure your opponent, but you just miss too many routine shots such that you are not winning the match. So its not like your opponents are pressuring you or exploiting some weakness or they have a strategy that is making it difficult for you.

Makes sense to me.

I think players resent being told what to do when they are struggling in the middle of the match. And they REALLY reset it even more when it's something that normally they were able to accomplish.

If they know you well enough I think their best course of action is to just let you figure it out and keep trying to do their own job well. Trying to change the whole strategy or give you advice only serves to put more pressure on you which is sometimes unneeded.

The whole concept of "we cant afford to lose this match so......" is damaging sometimes because teams need to just work on the points, not the final outcome of the match.

Especially in your example because obviously everything else is working. If you missed the put away shot or not, you should always hope to get more opportunity's like that. It will sort itself out eventually, except for the people who sit and worry about it and say things like "Im having a bad day today!!!!", or "Im missing every single overhead, what's going on??????", etc....

raiden031
05-13-2009, 10:32 AM
Makes sense to me.

I think players resent being told what to do when they are struggling in the middle of the match. And they REALLY reset it even more when it's something that normally they were able to accomplish.

If they know you well enough I think their best course of action is to just let you figure it out and keep trying to do their own job well. Trying to change the whole strategy or give you advice only serves to put more pressure on you which is sometimes unneeded.

The whole concept of "we cant afford to lose this match so......" is damaging sometimes because teams need to just work on the points, not the final outcome of the match.

Especially in your example because obviously everything else is working. If you missed the put away shot or not, you should always hope to get more opportunity's like that. It will sort itself out eventually, except for the people who sit and worry about it and say things like "Im having a bad day today!!!!", or "Im missing every single overhead, what's going on??????", etc....

Right. There are matches where I spend more time in defensive mode and don't get many putaway opportunities. Those matches usually require some kind of change in strategy because the opponent is pressuring us.

But then alot of times I have lots of putaway opportunities, which means we are doing something right, but then my footwork or timing is just off so I blow some of these opportunities. I don't necessarily want to stop what I've been doing to create these opportunities because I'm having trouble finishing the job.

moonbat
05-13-2009, 10:36 AM
When my shots are off, I take a deep breath and focus on really watching the ball all the way to my racquet. When I give away a few points, I know it's because I let my mind wander to something else, and narrowing my focus helps block the other thoughts.

sphinx780
05-13-2009, 11:36 AM
Right. There are matches where I spend more time in defensive mode and don't get many putaway opportunities. Those matches usually require some kind of change in strategy because the opponent is pressuring us.

But then alot of times I have lots of putaway opportunities, which means we are doing something right, but then my footwork or timing is just off so I blow some of these opportunities. I don't necessarily want to stop what I've been doing to create these opportunities because I'm having trouble finishing the job.

I agree with keeping the overall strategy the same, if it's only the put away that is failing you and you are in consistent position to win, changing the total strategy will hurt your cause...but I would look at changing the strategy solely on the shot you are missing. If you are going for the put away and missing, then why not try playing the safe shot from the same court position and lead your opponent into the mistake...or vice versa if you're bunking the 'safe' shot from the winning court position...punch a couple for the winner. Changing the focus with what you attempt on that shot, can sometimes get your routine shot back on course. For me, I find that I'm overlooking something with my form and by changing that focus, I can self correct after a few.

I see it as a macro and micro strategy...the macro is the overall game you and your partner are playing to get to that position in the points, the micro strategy is the decision you make on each individual shot.