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Cindysphinx
11-24-2009, 08:43 AM
My clinic partners and I were having a discussion about doubles. It seems that each of us feels that we should win more, bottom line. We were talking about why we don't.

One lady said that one of her partners started off the match by saying, "All right. Let's play this match with a goal of having no unforced errors at all. Period. No excuses. If we don't make unforced errors, we'll win." And they did in fact win that match. So this lady was saying that would be her new mantra: "No Unforced Errors Ever."

I have been mulling that idea ever since, and I am not sure I am on board.

I mean, I think there are Bad Errors and Good Errors. A Bad Error is when you just dork up a shot you shouldn't miss. A rally ball. An approach volley. A second serve return (or any return against a crap serve). You weren't going to win the point or pressure your opponent with that shot, so the most important thing is to make the shot.

But there are Good Errors, also. A Good Error is a shot that, had you executed it, would have won you the point. A Good Error is also a miss that yields benefits by getting into your opponents' heads or causing them to change what they are doing. A missed poach. A return at the net player. An aggressive return because the opposing net player is poaching so you need to make her back off.

I feel like if I play conservatively enough to never make an error, I will play too conservatively to win the match. I won't be aggressive because the risk of making an error is too high. And I think I will do a lot of pushing.

What do you think? Is "No Unforced Errors Ever" a workable or successful approach to doubles?

Nellie
11-24-2009, 09:01 AM
I think it is terrible idea- doubles should be about aggression.

If I stand at the baseline all day and slow hit low lobs to the opponents all day, I would lose 0 and 0.

raiden031
11-24-2009, 09:04 AM
I agree with you and disagree with your clinic partner. The no error strategy would only work at the lowest levels where people don't have the skill to punish you for not being aggressive. If you only hit conservative shots it is much easier for the opponents to close in on the net and also poach your shots.

The no error strategy would be more effective in singles, but still only up to a certain point. I would imagine at 4.5+ you need to start hitting more pressuring shots if you want to win.

10sguy
11-24-2009, 09:08 AM
My clinic partners and I were having a discussion about doubles. It seems that each of us feels that we should win more, bottom line. We were talking about why we don't.

One lady said that one of her partners started off the match by saying, "All right. Let's play this match with a goal of having no unforced errors at all. Period. No excuses. If we don't make unforced errors, we'll win." And they did in fact win that match. So this lady was saying that would be her new mantra: "No Unforced Errors Ever."

I have been mulling that idea ever since, and I am not sure I am on board.

I mean, I think there are Bad Errors and Good Errors. A Bad Error is when you just dork up a shot you shouldn't miss. A rally ball. An approach volley. A second serve return (or any return against a crap serve). You weren't going to win the point or pressure your opponent with that shot, so the most important thing is to make the shot.

But there are Good Errors, also. A Good Error is a shot that, had you executed it, would have won you the point. A Good Error is also a miss that yields benefits by getting into your opponents' heads or causing them to change what they are doing. A missed poach. A return at the net player. An aggressive return because the opposing net player is poaching so you need to make her back off.

I feel like if I play conservatively enough to never make an error, I will play too conservatively to win the match. I won't be aggressive because the risk of making an error is too high. And I think I will do a lot of pushing.

What do you think? Is "No Unforced Errors Ever" a workable or successful approach to doubles?

If it's not a significant/meaningful match, I would just as soon hit out at least some of the time - when appropriate - and have some fun, win or lose. After all, it's supposed to be fun, right?

sureshs
11-24-2009, 09:10 AM
I think there is some benefit to this mode of thinking. The first goal of tennis must be: Keep the ball in the court. After this level is reasonably achieved, more risks can be taken. There are many doubles players at or below the 4.5 level, especially men, who think that a wild aggressive shot is warranted 90% of the time. It is a pain being partnered with someone like that. All your effort is squandered away by your partner. One of the reasons I like to avoid playing dubs if I can.

goran_ace
11-24-2009, 09:13 AM
It depends on how you apply that strategy. Trying to minimize unforced errors doesn't have to mean you stop plaing offensively. Playing smarter should be the goal. Play the high percentage shots.

ohplease
11-24-2009, 09:18 AM
Most players, at all levels, make way too many errors. This is why ugly, overweight, slow, weak, morally corrupt club level pushers win all the time.

You only really need to hit a ball good enough to keep your opponents from hurting you more often than they hurt themselves. In club level doubles, this doesn't have to be a very strong shot, at all. No, this approach won't get you to the pro tour - but you're not getting to the pro tour any other way, either.

Try it during a practice match sometime. Doing nothing more than cutting out errors and daring your opponents to hit winning shots over and over again will get you much farther than you think.

catfish
11-24-2009, 09:24 AM
It depends on how you apply that strategy. Trying to minimize unforced errors doesn't have to mean you stop plaing offensively. Playing smarter should be the goal. Play the high percentage shots.

I was going to say the same thing and you beat me to it. You can be aggressive, move forward and still play higher percentage well-placed shots which will minimize unforced errors. Unfortunately, many players confuse being aggressive with hitting every ball as hard as you can and going for lines.

Ripper014
11-24-2009, 09:27 AM
I assume the bottom-line is to win in your case and pushers win alot.... ALOT! Being a pusher in doubles might not be as effective in doubles... but then if you both have good lobs then it might.

As mentioned it is all about your level of play.... at some levels of play defensive abilities are far better than offensive abilities. This is why at some levels you see the one man/woman up one man/woman back strategy (mostly in womens tennis). The reason for this is that the attacking players do not have the ability to put away the overhead on a consistant basis.

What you need to do is take a hard look at your level of play... do you consistantly put away deep overheads... does your team defend better than you attack. If you believe you are better defenders... then realize that as the more aggressive player you take much highter risks than the pusher.

I know you are a 3.0 - 3.5 player... and would guess that your tennis team might do well concentrating on reducing errors... you can prevent poaching by simply lobbing over the opponents backhand side. As your skills improve you can play more attacking tennis.

As said... it depends on the level of play what the most "effective" strategy is... not what is the best strategy for doubles. In order to play a high level of doubles you need to have the skill to play it... so the truth is you need to be honest with yourself and evaluate how aggressive can I play. If you continue to try and hit shots you cannot make consistantly you are just going to lose.

cak
11-24-2009, 09:47 AM
I believe the OP is a 3.5 (which may change as soon as the end of the year ratings come out...) At the 3.5 level players make more errors than winners, so someone who makes no errors would most likely win a lot more. Thus the successful pushers at that level. Though playing aggressively is much more fun.

I'm thinking the higher levels are higher because they are able to play aggressively with fewer errors. This is why folks say to play aggressive, even if you lose. Because eventually you'll win, and that's how you will move up.

fe6250
11-24-2009, 09:56 AM
Lot's of good thoughts here on this topic. There are a lot of people out there who simply beat themselves with errors and if you play these people in a match - there is no sense helping them. I believe this develops into patience and high-percentage tennis as the level improves and there ARE such things as a high-percentage winner!

One other variable is game score. I will sometimes go for a more aggressive shot on 40 - love (my favor). This might be trying two first serves or taking an aggressive return in an effort to 'break'.

split-step
11-24-2009, 10:08 AM
At the 3.5 level players make more errors than winners,

Just wanted to point out that this is true at all levels of play, including the pros.

Tennis matches are decided on who made fewer errors not by who hit more winners.

What aggressive players do is force their opponents to make more errors than them. In the process they end up hitting winners as well.

If you approach the game as trying to force your opponent to make mistakes rather than you trying to hit winners, you will find you can be aggressive AND consistent.

Topaz
11-24-2009, 10:15 AM
It depends on how you apply that strategy. Trying to minimize unforced errors doesn't have to mean you stop plaing offensively. Playing smarter should be the goal. Play the high percentage shots.

Well said...worth quoting again!

Personally, right now I'm working on consistency...that means deep and placed well (smart!)...then adding power after I have the consistency. That being said, your set up your point so that you can play the aggressive shot to win. At the 3.5 level, though, sometimes you don't get that far, because the ugly errors have stepped in (either on your own side or your opponent was nice enough to hand one over).

Mick
11-24-2009, 10:37 AM
Mario Andretti said: If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough.

So, if you are not making any unforced error, you are not playing hard enough :)

raiden031
11-24-2009, 10:52 AM
Just wanted to point out that this is true at all levels of play, including the pros.

Tennis matches are decided on who made fewer errors not by who hit more winners.

What aggressive players do is force their opponents to make more errors than them. In the process they end up hitting winners as well.

If you approach the game as trying to force your opponent to make mistakes rather than you trying to hit winners, you will find you can be aggressive AND consistent.

Trying to force your opponent to make mistakes is prone to errors just like going for winners. In both cases you might be trying to hit shots that are too good for the present opportunity and/or your developed skills.

So you can hit the ball right back to your opponent, but if you try to hit too deep, too flat, or too hard your consistency will still suffer. So being able to pressure your opponents enough to make mistakes requires a certain level of stroke proficiency in itself.

LuckyR
11-24-2009, 11:33 AM
Mario Andretti said: If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough.

So, if you are not making any unforced error, you are not playing hard enough :)

But there is a big difference between deciding to minimize UEs beforehand and indeed lowering your UEs but play your regular style and changing your style such that you actually don't hit a single UE in the match.

Geezer Guy
11-24-2009, 11:47 AM
Mario Andretti said: If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough.

So, if you are not making any unforced error, you are not playing hard enough :)

I tend to agree with this. My old boss, who traveled a lot, used to say that if you never miss an flight, you're spending too much time at the airport.

I kind of think that a match without any errors doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun. Half the fun is taking a risk and seeing if it pays off. Testing your limits. The sting of failure makes the warmth of sucess feel all the better.

split-step
11-24-2009, 12:27 PM
So being able to pressure your opponents enough to make mistakes requires a certain level of stroke proficiency in itself.

Exactly. This is what you what you want to work towards.
When you attain this stroke proficiency, rather than trying to hit winners and going for too much or too close to the lines, you focus and forcing the issue with your opponent. This allows you more margin while being aggressive.

LafayetteHitter
11-24-2009, 12:34 PM
I think most of the people here that said it would end up making a 3.0 or 3.5 too timid are correct. The old saying that tennis players use about 3.0 and 3.5's making more errors than winners is not always the case. The fact is that at 3.0 and 3.5 there are many winners because of the lack of anticipation and court coverage skills. I see overweight slow moving 3.0 women hits winners that should not be a winner except for the fact that the women they are playing simply don't move.

retlod
11-24-2009, 12:47 PM
It is *a* winning strategy, not *the* winning strategy.

Topaz
11-24-2009, 12:49 PM
I think we really need to stop grouping 3.0s and 3.5s together...there are tons of players at both of those levels, and even more different styles of players...so 'pigeon hole' yourself into one strategy is never going to be successful against the majority of players. Sometimes you can win simply by keeping the ball in the court. Other times you need to step it up and be aggressive. And yes, even in women's 3.5 singles, I have faced serve and volleyers (twice this past year and yes they drove me nuts).

Again, the key here I think is learning to play *smart*. Once a player learns how to do this with their own game, then moving up will happen.

And, in my experience at 3.5 women's singles, you see very few overweight women who don't move well...and if you do, they sure aren't hitting winners. Again, a gross generalization that condescends instead of contributing.

Topaz
11-24-2009, 12:49 PM
It is *a* winning strategy, not *the* winning strategy.

Exactly. Against some, that will be enough. Against others, you will be toast!

Tennisman912
11-24-2009, 12:53 PM
Most players, at all levels, make way too many errors. This is why ugly, overweight, slow, weak, morally corrupt club level pushers win all the time.

You only really need to hit a ball good enough to keep your opponents from hurting you more often than they hurt themselves. In club level doubles, this doesn't have to be a very strong shot, at all. No, this approach won't get you to the pro tour - but you're not getting to the pro tour any other way, either.

Try it during a practice match sometime. Doing nothing more than cutting out errors and daring your opponents to hit winning shots over and over again will get you much farther than you think.

This is some of the best advice regarding tennis you will ever get. Someone obviously understands the game of tennis who suggests this. Only hit the shot as hard as is needed, not as hard as you can. As suggested, a decent solid shot is almost always good enough if you do it consistently. The vast majority of players vastly underestimate how many errors they make. I will say that again. Almost all players vastly underestimate how many errors they make. How often do you play with someone who misses shots all day, and then when it really matters and they miss one say something like "i am sorry. that one error could really cost us." They conveniently forgot about all the other errors that put you in that position to begin with. It is simply denial.

If you really pay attention to how many errors you make, how many returns you miss that you shouldn't have, how many volleys you missed that should be pretty routine; you will be shocked if you can handle the truth. This is true at all levels but in general, the lower the level the player, the more in denial they are about just how much they miss on relatively easy, unforcing shoots. I pay very close attention to these things and it pays very large dividends.

Give it a try and I promise you will not be disappointed. That is if you can live with the truth instead of the image of your tennis game you have in your mind (hint vastly overestimated). As they say in shooting, Aim small to miss small. Pay attention to what is really a happening with your game and you will like the results.

Good tennis

TM

Carlito
11-24-2009, 01:54 PM
This is some of the best advice regarding tennis you will ever get. Someone obviously understands the game of tennis who suggests this. Only hit the shot as hard as is needed, not as hard as you can. As suggested, a decent solid shot is almost always good enough if you do it consistently. The vast majority of players vastly underestimate how many errors they make. I will say that again. Almost all players vastly underestimate how many errors they make. How often do you play with someone who misses shots all day, and then when it really matters and they miss one say something like "i am sorry. that one error could really cost us." They conveniently forgot about all the other errors that put you in that position to begin with. It is simply denial.

If you really pay attention to how many errors you make, how many returns you miss that you shouldn't have, how many volleys you missed that should be pretty routine; you will be shocked if you can handle the truth. This is true at all levels but in general, the lower the level the player, the more in denial they are about just how much they miss on relatively easy, unforcing shoots. I pay very close attention to these things and it pays very large dividends.

Give it a try and I promise you will not be disappointed. That is if you can live with the truth instead of the image of your tennis game you have in your mind (hint vastly overestimated). As they say in shooting, Aim small to miss small. Pay attention to what is really a happening with your game and you will like the results.

Good tennis

TM

This really is good advice. But just to follow up, there is no rule saying you can't be agressive and not make errors. There is a difference between controled aggession and wreckless aggression. It just means don't take shots you know you cant make and put away shot you know you should. Be patient and don't try to force things.

But espcially in the 3.5-4.5 levels, you can't make stupid errors. When I play tournament, occasioanlly I have someone track my winner/unforced error ratio. I've won quite a few matches in my time and you would be surprised how many free point I earn. I have a wins over quality opponents where I had to hit less than 10 winners. You just need to play steady. Im not saying just push it. But whats the point in hiting it 100 mph at the lines when 70 mph gets the same results.

10sguy
11-24-2009, 02:21 PM
Lot's of good thoughts here on this topic. There are a lot of people out there who simply beat themselves with errors and if you play these people in a match - there is no sense helping them. I believe this develops into patience and high-percentage tennis as the level improves and there ARE such things as a high-percentage winner!

One other variable is game score. I will sometimes go for a more aggressive shot on 40 - love (my favor). This might be trying two first serves or taking an aggressive return in an effort to 'break'.

That's reminiscent of a "red light, yellow light, green light" approach to points based upon the match and especially the game score

fruitytennis1
11-24-2009, 03:14 PM
Just wanted to point out that this is true at all levels of play, including the pros.

Tennis matches are decided on who made fewer errors not by who hit more winners.

What aggressive players do is force their opponents to make more errors than them. In the process they end up hitting winners as well.

If you approach the game as trying to force your opponent to make mistakes rather than you trying to hit winners, you will find you can be aggressive AND consistent.

A great game plan that is. The reason:its my game plan.

Cindysphinx
11-24-2009, 03:57 PM
Who here thinks you should never double-fault?

There was an article in Tennis magazine a few months back that essentially said that if you never DF, you are not doing enough with your second serve.

Wouldn't the same thinking apply to any other shot? If you never miss a service return, you are probably not going for enough, for example?

Also, let's not assume that being aggressive = hitting harder. There are lots of ways to be more aggressive that wouldn't involve hitting wildly but will involve taking (appropriate) risks. If you never poach, you'll never make a poaching error, right?

I always figured it was the winners v. errors that mattered most. If I hit 20 winners and make 10 errors but my partner never hits a winner but only makes 5 errors, who played better?

Ripper014
11-24-2009, 04:14 PM
Who here thinks you should never double-fault?

There was an article in Tennis magazine a few months back that essentially said that if you never DF, you are not doing enough with your second serve.

Wouldn't the same thinking apply to any other shot? If you never miss a service return, you are probably not going for enough, for example?

Also, let's not assume that being aggressive = hitting harder. There are lots of ways to be more aggressive that wouldn't involve hitting wildly but will involve taking (appropriate) risks. If you never poach, you'll never make a poaching error, right?

I always figured it was the winners v. errors that mattered most. If I hit 20 winners and make 10 errors but my partner never hits a winner but only makes 5 errors, who played better?

I think tennis is still contested by points, games and sets won... so depending on who won the most of those... that person.

Base on my personal experience the higher the level the less unforced errors there are... and the more winners. So IMHO... if you are playing to win at the 3.0-3.5 level... it is not a bad strategy to make your opponent beat you by cutting down on unforced errors. I think I mentioned it earlier in this thread at lower levels your defensive abilities are much better compared to your offensive abilities, keeping the ball in play is not a bad strategy.

LeeD
11-24-2009, 04:18 PM
Pushers try to limit unforced errors.
Players who hit out and want to force the issue don't worry too much, but there is a bottom line....more mistakes than winners equals LOSER.
Second serve, you should never DB playing below your level or at your level. Above your level, you have to make some adjustments, and a deeper, bouncier, more spinny second serve is one of the adjustments, so yes, you may double fault against superior players.

maverick66
11-24-2009, 04:52 PM
There was an article in Tennis magazine a few months back that essentially said that if you never DF, you are not doing enough with your second serve.

I agree with this to a degree. It depends on what the score is as well. Giving away free points at 30 all is really bad but if your up 40 love going for a little more and missing most likely is not gonna kill you. Its not as black and white as they make it seem. Its very situational.

I always figured it was the winners v. errors that mattered most. If I hit 20 winners and make 10 errors but my partner never hits a winner but only makes 5 errors, who played better?

It depends on the opponent. If your friends opponent is donating a ton of points then she is playing correctly. If your friends opponent is not she is not playing correctly. There really is not a one strategy plan in tennis. Its all about who your playing and what the match looks like. If I play a guy that wants to hit a 100 mph on every ball im gonna let him until he proves he can make it every time which outside of the top players i have not met one that can. If they are consistent then yes your gonna need to go for a little more and try to open the court up to put you into the best position to win.

Tennisman912
11-24-2009, 06:22 PM
Carlito,

I never said to push the ball to keep it in play. Controlled aggression is a great way to look at and I completely agree that is the best policy. But very few in the 3.5-4.0 seem to be able to balance the need to keep it in play and the net to force the issue. They poach on balls they have no chance of putting away but still think it was a good play. They try the lob a better player instead of just keeping it in play crosscourt to the weaker player. They have a high ball to end the point but instead try to hit a drop shot directed toward the better player instead of ending the point or hurting the weaker player even more. Things like this. They seem to be at the extremes. They either just keep it in play or just try to kill everything. In situations where they could choose either option, they seem to choose the wrong option the majority of the time. I think it comes more from the fact most don’t really pay much attention to what is happening on the court and just play. A decent 4.0 knows and can hit a solid forehand but they choose the wrong shot at the wrong time, shooting themselves in the foot and making life much harder than it has to be.

It is the same as a good golfer who thinks his way around the course. It is very difficult for the average player to: A. know where the shot is going consistently B. Take a look at the shot and leave outs for themselves, i.e. hitting to the fat side of the green, not going for the par 5 from 250 (and waiting to try) when they’re avg drive only goes 220 max and so on. It all comes down to course management. As Raymond Floyd said in one of his golf books, “If would be possible for me to have your exact game and play you, I would beat you 99 times out of 100. Why? I play smarter than you will.” It is the same on the tennis court.

My point is most people don’t use the tools they have to maximum advantage, thus making things much harder on themselves than it has to be. When you suggest some of these things to be aware of or too think about, they usually can’t put them into practice in a match situation. They either forget the sound strategy they think is correct and just go back to their own way or if they try to think about it and incorporate the strategy, by the time they think about what they should do and why, the point has already been lost because they just don’t think about the right thing fast enough, it just isn’t internalized like it is with better players.

Good tennis all

TM

Tennisman912
11-24-2009, 06:42 PM
Cindy,

While on the surface, it may seem that if you not double faulting you are not going for enough, I would disagree with a blanket statement like that. There are too many variables for strategies like that. One great example is the excellent point brought up by maverick66. Why would you be going for too much on a first serve, let alone a second, if your opponent can hit a certain shot to save their life? Yet I see this all the time and it just doesn’t make sense to me. Why would someone go for too much on the first/second serve when just getting it in is more than enough? You should most likely be spinning/kicking your first serve into your opponent’s trouble shot instead of trying for the ace you hit one in 20 times. It comes back to choosing the correct shot at the correct time as discussed above and the theme of this thread.

Also, if you have a solid serve, this also would not apply. Why? Because as you advance you can already place your first AND second serves where you want with various spins, speeds and placement. Why hit it hard if you don’t have too? For example, I played 3 sets today and had zero double faults. But I can place a second serve to the opponent’s backhand (or weaker stroke, depending on the situation) even if they are trying to run around it. Sure I could try to kill second serves and go for the ace on the second serve. But I would rather win as easily as possible than stroke my ego with a lot of aces or second serve aces. A shot into the net, framed or returned for an easy putaway accomplishes the same thing with less effort. Getting back to the theme of the thread, there is no reason to do more than you have too with any shot IMHO.

I would argue that if you can’t put in 80 %+ first serves, you are over hitting it in doubles. Why? A solid serve out wide and even a decent flat serve up the T means if you can hit both with the same toss, they essentially have to guess which to defend as they just can’t get to both and do more than give your partner an easy volley, at least until you get to players above 4.5. So why try to kill every serve or rely on a second serve (that any good player will step into and try to thump) unless you have an above average serve? My point is that your serve is a great advantage if you work with it, instead of against it.

Don’t sacrifice the war by trying to win the battle of going for too much on your serve. A solid first serve percentage (especially if you have a weaker second serve) is your best weapon in helping you hold serve easily. With the second serve, if you can direct it to your opponent’s weaker stroke on purpose consistently, you will like your results.

Good tennis

TM

Steady Eddy
11-24-2009, 07:12 PM
If it's not a significant/meaningful match, I would just as soon hit out at least some of the time - when appropriate - and have some fun, win or lose. After all, it's supposed to be fun, right?Yeah, if I had a partner who said, "No unforced errors -- Ever!" I'd think it's not going to be a fun afternoon.

Cindysphinx
11-24-2009, 07:19 PM
Hmmm.

It seems that many people equate aggression with overhitting. Or equate "going for" your serve with trying to ace people. Why does it have to be that extreme?

Honestly, if I took so much off of my first serve that I got 80% of them in, I would get utterly killed. Not only that, if I want to S&V (a tactic I have been getting boffo results with lately), I have to go for a lot on my serve. "Going for a lot" for me does not mean MPH. It means *swinging the darn racket* so that my serve has some action on it and is tricky for my opponent to hit a passing shot. I could get a first serve percentage of 80+ percent by just waving my serve into the box. Is that a good idea?

You know, my pro was standing there when this discussion of No Unforced Errors Ever came up. He didn't object to it, but he didn't endorse it. I've been wondering why.

I think it is because he falls somewhere in the middle. He constantly criticizes us in clinic because we change the way we play once we begin keeping score. In drills, we attack the ball. Once we begin keeping score, the pushing and conservative play begins. He begs us to go for our shots even when we are keeping score -- he says that is the only way to make the new skills part of our game. Can that be squared with No Unforced Errors Ever? I doubt it.

At the same time, he says that most of the attacking should be done with the feet. Meaning footwork and aggressive court positioning. Maybe part of the problem is that we all tend to define an UE as a ball that didn't make it into the court. But there are lots of other errors that are also UEs that go unnoticed: Failing to follow a successful lob to the net, failing to play an obvious poach, failing to close the net when appropriate, for instance. I think playing No Unforced Errors Ever just means you are reducing one kind of error (missed shots) for another kind (failed aggression).

So I don't think he'd agree with No Unforced Errors because it would cause us to revert back to the cautious play we mastered back in 3.0 level.

Anyway . . . I guess part of my frustration these days is that many partners don't seem to go for enough and are happy to just keep it in play. I'm sorry, but at high 3.5, 7.0 mixed and 4.0, that just isn't good enough. For example, a high ball comes to my partner at net and she hits a volley sitter with nothing on it. Yeah, she got the ball back. Yeah, she didn't make an UE by burying it into the net. But the shot was crap, and high 3.5-4.0 players will eat that stuff up.

I feel like No Unforced Errors Ever will win you some matches now, against the weaker opponents at your level. But it will leave you with nothing to build upon. If I keep attacking my volleys even if I miss some, I will eventually miss fewer and will know how to attack. If my partner is satisfied with hitting volley sitters -- both missing the opportunity to finish the point and also giving our opponents the chance to finish it -- she will never, ever get any better. So our partnership is doomed over the long haul.

I dunno. When my partners make UEs and a shot doesn't find the court, I really don't think the problem is overhitting. The problem is often underhitting out of a misplaced sense of caution.

I need to think on this some more . . .

Carlito
11-24-2009, 08:35 PM
To be fair, it is unrealistic to make zero unforced errors. But that doesn't mean you should make excuses for making errors.

To say it is ok to double fault or it is ok to miss sitters is ridiculous. When is there ever going to be a time when you say "Its a good thing I missed that shot"? But they are going to happen. The key is to avoid them as much as possible. But that doesn't mean you should push everything in.

It is possible to go for your shots and not miss.

But if you hit everything as hard as you can and aim for the lines or go for sharp angles all the time, obviously the more likely you are going to miss. You just need to make sure you don't take uneccesarry risks or go for shots you know you can't make.

Ripper014
11-24-2009, 09:41 PM
oh where to start....


Honestly, if I took so much off of my first serve that I got 80% of them in, I would get utterly killed. Not only that, if I want to S&V (a tactic I have been getting boffo results with lately), I have to go for a lot on my serve. "Going for a lot" for me does not mean MPH. It means *swinging the darn racket* so that my serve has some action on it and is tricky for my opponent to hit a passing shot. I could get a first serve percentage of 80+ percent by just waving my serve into the box. Is that a good idea?

I don't know what boffo is but I am going to assume you are having some success with it. The problem with not keeping your 1st service percentage up is as you have acknowledged, is that your opponent is going utterly going to kill you. Well guess what.... if your 1st service percentage is at 50% your opponents are going to utterly kill you the 50% you don't get that first serve in... on top of the times they do get your killer super duper tricky spinning serve back.

If you keep your service level at or around 80% they have to respect the fact that at any time... you would send in the super tricky serve of yours, and it would make it difficult for them to attack. When they know you are going to provide them a second serve their mindset changes... because they know you are going to provide them an opportunity to attack.



So I don't think he'd agree with No Unforced Errors because it would cause us to revert back to the cautious play we mastered back in 3.0 level.

Anyway . . . I guess part of my frustration these days is that many partners don't seem to go for enough and are happy to just keep it in play. I'm sorry, but at high 3.5, 7.0 mixed and 4.0, that just isn't good enough. For example, a high ball comes to my partner at net and she hits a volley sitter with nothing on it. Yeah, she got the ball back. Yeah, she didn't make an UE by burying it into the net. But the shot was crap, and high 3.5-4.0 players will eat that stuff up.

I feel like No Unforced Errors Ever will win you some matches now, against the weaker opponents at your level. But it will leave you with nothing to build upon. If I keep attacking my volleys even if I miss some, I will eventually miss fewer and will know how to attack. If my partner is satisfied with hitting volley sitters -- both missing the opportunity to finish the point and also giving our opponents the chance to finish it -- she will never, ever get any better. So our partnership is doomed over the long haul.


Ok you can hate me... but I still believe that at the 3.0-3.5 level your defense is better than your offense, even at 4.5 I feel it is a bit of a push. Balls that should be put away still come back more often than they should or missed (trying for too much or making a bad decision). But this is just the way of life.

The reasons we play the level we do because that is all the skills we have... and it is ok not to be able to play the same game the pros play. But we need to be able to recognize our abilities and play within them. If we can get 50% of our first serves in and win 3 of those serves with our volleys, we are still losing 2 points.. off our first serve alone... let alone what happens with the 5 "utterly get killed" second serves we have to deal with.

The best advice I can give you at this point is what someone offered up, try and watch one of your team matches (someone you feel plays like yourself) with an open mind and a paperpad... track service percentages... winners... and errors. Or have someone do it for one of your matches.

As for hitting winners... I have been trying to explain to someone... pace alone will not win you a point... if you hit the ball hard at skilled player... they will get it back. It is about placement then pace... you don't have to win a point on one shot...

My basic strategy in doubles has always been simple... create a hole in the other team... and put the ball in it. At the 3.0-3.5 level I am not sure they can make enough quality shots to play the tennis you are expecting... I am not sure those at the 4.0-4.5 could do it consistantly.

On a side note... I got to play some men's night tennis on the weekend and saw close up what 3.0,3.5,4.0 and 4.5 players look like. Some of them tournament winners, so I have a pretty good idea how they play... it has not changed since I stopped playing. I just wanted to make this point because I have been accused of not knowing how good 3.0-3.5, well now I am comfortably aware to the 4.5 level.

Ken Honecker
11-25-2009, 02:56 AM
Yes being a human backboard and waiting for the enemy to screw up is the easiest way to win for most players but it is only fun for a few and most of us desire a modicum of fun with our tennis. There are degrees of unforced errors. I would have no problem with either myself or my partner hitting the ball 200 MPH and missing the line by a couple of inches. However if shots are constantly hitting the back fence in the air or even better beaning cars passing by on the highway then control is an issue. It doesn't have to be power shots either if a cute little spin shot isn't clearing the net, or setting up there to be crushed back at you after the first dozen times maybe it should be put on the shelf for the rest of the match.

My take on DF's is that I hate to hand over a set on a final one but otherwise I'll put up with a lot. I don't mind 7 a game if I get 3 aces and 6 unreturned balls to go with them. Not that it happens much but there was that one time.

Tennisman912
11-25-2009, 10:55 AM
Cindy,

You make some valid points regarding the serve about our designated 80% serve rule (ok, my rule) in fearing waving the serve in the box and I would agree that is not going to help you in the long run. But if you have to serve over 80% or close to 100% to get what you consider some action on your serve, I would respectfully think you are muscling the ball on the serve and working much harder on your serve than necessary. Why do I say that? Think efficiency of motion and energy. With solid technique, you can hit the ball with all the action needed and less energy at 80% with just as much effectiveness long term and I would argue more effectiveness because you will get in many more first serves. So this is more of a problem with any one particular player than a faulty way of thinking about the serve and how to use it to maximum advantage.

Think of a pro golfer. Very few swing close to 100% of effort on all shots (those that do may average 310 off the tee but hit from the trees too often to win). I bet most average in the 70-85% range. Watch them, especially in person. No jerky swing, just smooth and relaxed power and acceleration through impact. It is known to knowledgeable golfers that those who swing smoothly have higher club head speed than those who try to kill the ball. Sound familiar? Exactly why the best servers are so smooth and seemingly effortless. Why did I pick the 80% number? Because as in golf, it is about as hard as most can swing and remain in control of the racquet, maximizing pace, control and consistency. It is not set in stone but is adjusted based on the individual player.

Your example with your pro in lessons is 100% spot on as he is correct on all accounts. You have to find the happy median or you are doing your game a long-term disservice by pushing in play when it matters as he says. But this just further proves the point that in a match situation, many rec players go to one extreme or the other instead of searching for and hopefully finding the happy medium of controlled aggression.

I believe it can be squared with no unforced errors. How? Make no mistake I am saying that to eliminate all unforced errors is impossible. That is not the point of this philosophy. The point is to eliminate the multitude of stupid misses that invariably happen during a match that can be eliminated. Shot selection of many players is stupefying to some because what people try has such a low probability of success that it is amazing they can’t see this. But they don’t. Some examples. You (speaking of the collective you and not the personal you) have an opponent that is off the court and you try to hit a drop shot instead of just finding the open court. You poach on a ball and stretch yourself out so far that even when you get there you can’t put the ball away but 1 in 15 times but think that the poach was a good idea, even though you miss routine volleys half the time. You hit a great shot and come in for the sitter, but try to kill it instead of just hitting a solid shot to the open court and dump it in the net as a result. You have an opponent in doubles who can’t return a serve so you go for too much and double fault. You have one player in doubles that is significantly weaker and have a high volley to hurt your opponents. Even though you could steer it to the weaker player, you hit a popped up volley to the better player over hitting it and he/she burns you, again. In the tiebreak on an average serve, you don’t get it in play by going for too much. These are the types of errors we are talking about. Things the thinking player should know better than but obviously doesn’t as evidenced in practice.

How do you learn to differentiate between which shot when? Common sense, experience, learning from and observing better players to incorporating these techniques is the only way to gain this. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts in tennis.

Good tennis to all

TM

fe6250
11-25-2009, 12:29 PM
That's reminiscent of a "red light, yellow light, green light" approach to points based upon the match and especially the game score

Actually - I've heard it called that, so maybe that's where I learned it. I also tend to take fewer risks on 'set up' points. I'm not sure if there is an accepted definition of what a 'set up' point is, but to me it is a point where IF you win the next point you have a game point (e.g. 30 - 0, 30 - 15, 30-30, Deuce) available.

raiden031
11-25-2009, 12:58 PM
It seems that many people equate aggression with overhitting. Or equate "going for" your serve with trying to ace people. Why does it have to be that extreme?


I think people exaggerate the overhitting of club players such as 3.5s. I think most 3.5s are what they are not because they make unintelligent shot selection, but because their strokes are not fully developed and grooved. They are simply incapable of executing the shots (reliably) that they need to execute in order to play good quality tennis. I don't think they should stick to rudimentary tactics because they just don't have the skill for advanced tactics, but they should play like an advanced player, and consistency will build up as long as they are self-critical and figure out what went wrong when they hit errors.

For instance, when you are returning serve in doubles and the server's net person is aggressively poaching, you can't take the typical teaching pro's advice to "hit the ball 4 feet above the net". You have to hit the ball lower and to a smaller area than in a singles match. If the net person is really quick you must hit the ball with more pace too. This is going to lead to errors. Failure to attempt these better shots will result in yours shots being poached easily. I've been on both ends of this.

This is why I think pushers suck in doubles, because they don't have the ball control even though they are consistent when they can hit it wherever they want without being punished for it.

fe6250
11-25-2009, 01:05 PM
^^^ I agree with you on this. Singles oriented shot selection won't typically work in doubles as adding the net person into the equation really changes the strategy. I really think singles and doubles are two different games altogether and are more different than many think - but that's for another thread. ;) One additional thing to consider is that you see less poaching at the 3.5 and under level too, so perhaps it becomes a bit easier to get away with at lower levels.

jpr
11-25-2009, 04:23 PM
great thread

i've thought about this one quite often also. my most common errors are:
1- shot selection (poor target for the circumstances)
2- over aggression (trying to end the point too early)
3- tentativeness (not capitalizing on the right ball)
4- lazy preparation (footwork, anticipation, eyework, etc)

i like to break mental errors from execution errors. I think it is highly possible to reduce/eliminate mental errors, but physical execution errors are not feasible to eliminate.

I have lost to players with fewer weapons who "played smarter" than me. If i could improve the mental side i could improve substantially (ie working the point better to maximize the chances for my weapons while attacking their weaknesses). this also means reading, responding & adjusting to my opponent better.