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Cindysphinx
01-12-2010, 04:22 PM
I simply have to come up with a solution to this problem.

The problem -- which can and has happened with partners of all levels and genders and doesn't relate to one particular partner -- is your partner is playing well below his or her ability. Lots of UEs. Serves. Returns. Easy put-aways. Partner is struggling and knows it. What do you do?

In the past, I mostly just ignored my partner's mistakes and focused entirely on my own play. I've now decided that probably isn't enough. I think silence can easily be construed as disapproval, which makes matters worse. Personally, I prefer that my partner say nothing -- I am trying to diagnose and fix the problem and can't handle a lot of chatter -- but I think I am probably unusual in that regard.

For 2010, I have decided to make more of an effort to make my partner feel better about mistakes. I watched the Hopman Cup, and I noticed that the mixed doubles players smacked hands on almost every error. I tried that recently, and I have no idea whether it relaxed my partner, but it gave me something to do, anyway.

When I have a struggling partner, I have definitely ruled out Coaching ("Toss the ball higher" or "Bend your knees") as a response. Most of the time I didn't even see them hit, so I have no idea what they did wrong.

I have also ruled out useless obvious statements ("Just get it in") and anxiety-producing remarks ("Come on, we need this point").

Then there's the option of focusing on strategy. "Put your serve up the middle and I'll poach." Or "I'm going to follow my serve in, so be ready to smash her lob."

I know a lady who makes "deals" with her struggling partners. Like, "OK, from now on, we are only allowed to miss one service return per game. If you miss, then neither of us gets to miss anymore for that game." Another guy I know keeps a ledger: "OK, you missed that volley, so you owe me two good volleys now." Annoying? Helpful?

How about bland, general suggestions? "All right, let's get our feet moving!" Or maybe bland optimism? Like "We got this, we got this" and "We'll get the next one."

What works for you and what doesn't work?

apor
01-12-2010, 04:49 PM
When my partners hit it long, I tell them to hit it harder. I don't think they ever do, but I want them to relax and swing normally. It seems to work. You can't tell someone to relax, it's something that comes from within.
When they go for a winner and it's out, but it was the right play, I tell them that that was a good miss, a shot that I would have gone for.
I personally don't mind a little coaching if my partner can see what I'm doing and has the skills to diagnose my particular problem that day- and I have something going on most days.
Yesterday for example, my most prized shot, my back hand, which I can usually put just about anywhere, just would not go (well, it went too often in the net). My partner said nothing, and that's OK too. It took a while, but I adjusted my game, going for more loopers and lower paced shots. A little coaching might have had me dial my BH down a little earlier and thus we might have won by a wider margin, but we won anyway, so it's OK.

cak
01-12-2010, 04:51 PM
I'm not sure you can always pull a partner out of a funk. But occasionally I can. I tend to go for the "lighten up" type of comments. In drills we always hear the saying you can't get mad at your partner until they miss 10 poaches, so we tend to say things like, "9 more of those and I'll be mad." Or if they are close "Nice form, next one's going in." Or the catchall "No worries, we can get this." And okay, if its a really horrendous mistake I tend to laugh. If they are losing concentration then I tell them a plan, any plan, doesn't really matter. But now they are concentrating on the plan, and focus better. I also tend to take a few more balls that I can reach, but they might of had a better angle. Or if I'm serving I'll go for a bit more on my serve. If you can step it up and win a few points or a game without them to give them time to breathe they can sometimes pull it together, and gain confidence in you both as a team.

kylebarendrick
01-12-2010, 05:05 PM
I tend to walk up to my partner (another guy) and say something like "you really look sexy in those shorts". Anything to make them laugh and get them thinking about something besides unforced errors.

brad1730
01-12-2010, 05:07 PM
It depends on the person. If the guy 'stressing' I usually wait for an apology of some sort, and say "hey, I'm just out here to have fun - no need to say sorry." I really mean this, and it has been the most effective.

If the guy seems to be OK mentally, but is playing a little tentative - I'll say "let's just play all out. If we lose, then we're going down in flames."

If it's truely a strategic problem, I will suggest some type of solution - but usually this is with someone that I look at as a peer. If my partner is wrapped up in their own problems, then the last thing they'll want to work on is strategy.

ALten1
01-12-2010, 05:41 PM
Before the match starts I just say to my partner, win or lose lets have fun and then give a high five or a fist bump. I never try to tell someone how to play or what they are doing wrong and don't want anyone telling me how to hit the ball or what i'm doing wrong, thats what practice is for. I always use positive reinforcement, regardless if my partner is making mistakes or hitting winners. Most people are so hard on themselves they don't need someone else coming down on them too.

If my partner is having a bad outing or starts to make a lot of mistakes, inbetween serves i'll go talk to them about what they had for dinner or what their plans are for the weekend, something to get their mind off of whats going on. Our opponents think we are talking stratagy I suppose. People seem to loosen up when and play better when they're not stressed.

Steady Eddy
01-12-2010, 06:34 PM
When I have a struggling partner, I have definitely ruled out Coaching ("Toss the ball higher" or "Bend your knees") as a response. Most of the time I didn't even see them hit, so I have no idea what they did wrong.
Right. If you say "Toss the ball higher" then you're criticizing them. Also, they might have a reason for not tossing it high, and now they've got to persuade you as to why they play the way they do. Never criticize a partner during a match.

I have also ruled out useless obvious statements ("Just get it in") and anxiety-producing remarks ("Come on, we need this point").
Also good. Creating more anxiety won't help.
Then there's the option of focusing on strategy. "Put your serve up the middle and I'll poach." Or "I'm going to follow my serve in, so be ready to smash her lob."
Not as bad as the others, but I think it's making the match seem serious when you want to lighten things up.

I know a lady who makes "deals" with her struggling partners. Like, "OK, from now on, we are only allowed to miss one service return per game. If you miss, then neither of us gets to miss anymore for that game." Another guy I know keeps a ledger: "OK, you missed that volley, so you owe me two good volleys now." Annoying? Helpful?
What if someone misses TWO service returns? What's their punishment? Somebody saying "you owe me"? I'd hate that. Then you're going to concentrate on all this bookkeeping instead of playing the match?

How about bland, general suggestions? "All right, let's get our feet moving!" Or maybe bland optimism? Like "We got this, we got this" and "We'll get the next one."
What you call "bland optimism" is good. I'll say goofy things like, "That was a good 'un." We're communicating and it shows we're having fun. I remember a player on the 49ers saying that during a time out in a big game, quarterback Joe Montana said, "Look, there's John Candy." The player said, "He's so relaxed, he's noticing there's John Candy." I think Montana was doing it to keep the team loose. Would he say, "Whatever you do, don't drop the ball!"? No, he's too smart for that.

alice301
01-13-2010, 05:13 AM
I tend to walk up to my partner (another guy) and say something like "you really look sexy in those shorts". Anything to make them laugh and get them thinking about something besides unforced errors.

hahaha.that's a good one. i also really like cak's "i'll get mad after 9 more of those." last night at practice, my mixed partner and i were down 0-2, and love-40 in the third game, and he nodded at me, and said, "we got 'em right where we want 'em." i relaxed, and we came back to win the set 6-4.

i appreciate all the humor because i'm there to have fun, and more importantly, anxiety is what causes my game to break down. if my partner can get a giggle out of me, then i can relax and clear a small space in my brain to remember how to play my game. but that's just me. i know other players who function better under the gun; guess you just have to know your partner.

athiker
01-13-2010, 07:03 AM
If its a trend and not just a one-off in-the-match situation I would suggest taking some time to hit some singles with her. Doubles can be such a staccato game that is can be easy to lose cofidence in a particular stroke. For me, starting to play more singles where you take so many more strokes, really boosted my confidence so that I don't resort to "aiming" and "blocking" balls back after missing a few strokes in doubles.

If you mean a normally solid player is simply having an off day and tailspinning then I agree humor if possible is always good...whatever relieves the tension. Its very hard to force yourself to play better unless you can force (allow) yourself to relax a let your athletic ability and technique come through. If a partner is getting angry, instead trying to teach them during the match a simple "Hey, breathe buddy!...no one's died here!" might let them relax a bit. Strategy is good...lets them focus on something besides their errors. I also like the "Hey, that was the right play...keep going for it" comment (if it applies).

I'm not a big hand smacker...the occaisional fist bump is cool, but I get annoyed just watching the e-v-e-r-y s-i-n-g-l-e p-o-i-n-t hand slap, high-five, whatever...I don't even like watching it on T.V. and would never do it myself. Just a personal preference.

Finally, as far as giving pointers during a match that is probably personality/relationship/skill level difference dependent. I appreciated tips when I started playing doubles as I knew I needed them and knew I was playing with more experienced players. But I was the type that made it clear that's what I wanted...I was looking to learn and asking questions. That being said, tips are better received sparingly. One guy had a tendency to give instructions on what seemed like almost every point...that can start getting jumbled and make it hard to focus.

SlapShot
01-13-2010, 07:08 AM
Personally, I think it depends on the partner. My regular partner likes to focus on strategy (and I do as well), so when we're misfiring, we both start to try and make adjustments. A lot of times, it's as simple as paying attention to our feet.

I never, ever try to give direct coaching - I hate it when my partner does that to me, so I don't do it to my partner.

Sometimes, all that's needed is some bland positivity - I think that no matter what, you need to keep the communication flowing, even if it's just a simple "That's the right play" or "We'll get this one right here."

raiden031
01-13-2010, 07:20 AM
You cannot pull your partner out of a tailspin. I have never once found anything that a partner said to me was helpful when I wasn't playing well during a doubles match.

The only thing that is even remotely helpful is to praise when your partner does something good. If they do something bad, then the best thing you can do is just show that you are not bothered by their mistakes.

And just to be clear, I don't have a problem if someone has an idea for strategy that they think would work against the opponents, but when its obvious that their strategy is suggested simply to avoid mistakes I'm making, then its not very helpful to me.

This is one reason #28 why I prefer singles over doubles. Doubles is just not that fun when you are the stronger player and want to win.

Gemini
01-13-2010, 07:20 AM
In most of my matches these days, I'm never so serious that my partner's errors bother me. Like many have said, I try to remind him/her to just have fun. Most of my partners know that I'd rather you go down swinging than to hold back on your strokes.

I always compliment my partner on the intent and "coach" the execution if necessary. Also, I try to take some of the pressure off of my partner by taking up a more defensive posture (two back on serves and returns normally).

Usually that helps break up the tension that my partner might be feeling and most of the time his/her play improves. If my partner is so far into his/her own head (from my personal assessment) that their not hearing me, I focus on my own game and just pray that we win.

SlapShot
01-13-2010, 07:24 AM
You cannot pull your partner out of a tailspin. I have never once found anything that a partner said to me was helpful when I wasn't playing well during a doubles match.

The only thing that is even remotely helpful is to praise when your partner does something good. If they do something bad, then the best thing you can do is just show that you are not bothered by their mistakes.

And just to be clear, I don't have a problem if someone has an idea for strategy that they think would work against the opponents, but when its obvious that their strategy is suggested simply to avoid mistakes I'm making, then its not very helpful to me.

This is one reason #28 why I prefer singles over doubles. Doubles is just not that fun when you are the stronger player and want to win.

What this tells me is that you haven't found a steady doubles partner yet - when you get into a rhythm on the court as a team, the strategy should just come naturally, and both people will have played with the other person in a funk. When you get to that point, it becomes a lot easier to know what your partner needs from you when they are playing poorly, and vise versa.

raiden031
01-13-2010, 07:30 AM
What this tells me is that you haven't found a steady doubles partner yet - when you get into a rhythm on the court as a team, the strategy should just come naturally, and both people will have played with the other person in a funk. When you get to that point, it becomes a lot easier to know what your partner needs from you when they are playing poorly, and vise versa.

Its true that I've never had a steady doubles partner. But I just don't like being told something I already know about my own game. For example, I have been spending the past year trying to improve my 1-hbh return of serve, so I don't need to be told, "just get it in", when I miss a backhand return of serve. I have the same good and bad days in practice sessions as I do in matches, so I don't need to be comforted when I miss a shot during a match. I mean heck, I am more likely to throw a racquet in practice than in a match, probably because in practice I have no pressure and still miss routine shots, whereas in a match at least the added pressure gives me an excuse.

Nellie
01-13-2010, 07:37 AM
Then there's the option of focusing on strategy. "Put your serve up the middle and I'll poach." Or "I'm going to follow my serve in, so be ready to smash her lob."


This is generally my approach. But I particularly like to play to my partner's strengths in recommending a strategy and to give a lot of encouragement at the same time. Such as:

"Your have such great crosscourt backhands and definitely have an advantage over Opponent X in that exchange. On this serve to the ad court, why don't you serve wide and I will really cover the alley to force a crosscourt return to set up your rally?"

goran_ace
01-13-2010, 07:40 AM
For 2010, I have decided to make more of an effort to make my partner feel better about mistakes. I watched the Hopman Cup, and I noticed that the mixed doubles players smacked hands on almost every error. I tried that recently, and I have no idea whether it relaxed my partner, but it gave me something to do, anyway.

Make it a ritual between every point, good or bad, to communicate with your partner. Doesn't always have to be verbal, just a high five or fist bump is good enough sometimes. If she messed up pretty badly, look at how football teams treat their kicker who missed a field goal. Sometimes a pat on the back/shoulder is all you need to do.

When I have a struggling partner, I have definitely ruled out Coaching ("Toss the ball higher" or "Bend your knees") as a response. Most of the time I didn't even see them hit, so I have no idea what they did wrong.

Avoid any talk of technique. This may just make your opponent angry on top of frustrated. Now is not the time.

I have also ruled out useless obvious statements ("Just get it in") and anxiety-producing remarks ("Come on, we need this point").

'Just get it in' can be seen as insulting.

AR15
01-13-2010, 07:58 AM
I wish there was a 'one size fits all' solution for this situation, but I don't think that's possible. What you say or do will be perceived entirely differently between two different partners.

One might like coaching statements, while another thinks you are an arse for making them.

One partner just wants you to be quiet, while another thinks you are ****ed at him.

One partner likes to hear "let's just have fun", while another interprets that to mean you don't care if you win or lose. (this one personally happened with me and a partner)

Cindysphinx
01-13-2010, 08:09 AM
Are there really people who want to be coached in a match when they aren't playing well? Seriously?

To me, the coaching says, "You suck, and the reason why you suck is so obvious that even I can see it. Your sucking is so blatant that I can see it even when you are behind me. Indeed, you suck so badly that you cannot be trusted to fix your sucking yourself, so you need me to help you."

Coaching makes me play worse. Then I start thinking things like, "Oh, yeah? Your last service return bounced before it hit the net, so who's sucking now, eh?" It is funny how often the partner who coaches makes an error on the very next point. Maybe coaching messes with their head too?

I have a friend who doesn't like it when a partner tells her to settle down or relax. She was partnered with someone who says, "Easy, easy" after a miss. When the partner missed, my friend said "Easy, easy" just to get under her skin.

Maybe it is best to say nothing and do a fist bump after every point.

sureshs
01-13-2010, 08:41 AM
I watched the Hopman Cup, and I noticed that the mixed doubles players smacked hands on almost every error

They do that in men's and women's doubles too these days. To indicate their camaraderie even when they lost the point. Seems very artificial to me, but that is what is expected these days. Imagine two workers working on a project and one or the other keeps goofing up, and yet the two keep shaking hands. You wouldn't want such workers fixing anything in your property.

Cindysphinx
01-13-2010, 09:12 AM
^But it does serve some purposes. It gives the Struggling Partner something other than the silent treatment. It doesn't distract them or give them some chatter they need to tune out. It gives the Non-struggling partner a way to say "It's OK" without needing to come up with a quip.

I did try the fist bump thing yesterday. I often forgot to do it, so I need to work on that. I can't know if it helped my partner; I didn't notice any change in how or how well she played. I felt it helped me feel a bit less awkward or frustrated.

athiker
01-13-2010, 09:19 AM
They do that in men's and women's doubles too these days. To indicate their camaraderie even when they lost the point. Seems very artificial to me, but that is what is expected these days. Imagine two workers working on a project and one or the other keeps goofing up, and yet the two keep shaking hands. You wouldn't want such workers fixing anything in your property.

"Artificial"...that was the word I was looking for. It seems so automatic that it would seem to lose any real emotional support value. Obviously others feel differently b/c you do see it on the pro level all time...in tennis, beach volleyball, etc.

I agree, telling someone to "calm down" probably works about as well as it does when used in a bar fight or to a spouse (not that those last two things are similar at all of course! :) ). For some reason a specific reminder to "breathe" or something similar seems different to me. But maybe that's just me b/c I know I can get in a bit of a rush to get to the next point to correct a mistake that I tense up when I need to do a Sharapova and take a moment, look away and take a few deep breaths to clear my head and make a new beginning with this point. That being said, I don't think I've ever told my partner to "breathe"!! :razz: Maybe something similar would be to briefly chat about a completely off topic subject on a change over...question about their kids, etc...just to break the spiral and free up the mind a bit.

There are a lot different personalities out there so its hard to say what would really help without knowing them of course.

sureshs
01-13-2010, 09:43 AM
"Artificial"...that was the word I was looking for. It seems so automatic that it would seem to lose any real emotional support value. Obviously others feel differently b/c you do see it on the pro level all time...in tennis, beach volleyball, etc.


As Cindy said, it can be useful even if it seems artificial to us. It must be a proven sports psychology thing, else everyone will not be doing it. Different people will feel differently. Like some people say "I love you" frequently to their spouse of 30 years while to others it looks like an unnecessary (and probably untruthful) thing to say.

Ripper014
01-13-2010, 12:06 PM
Helping a partner that is struggling is a difficult thing.

All doubles teams is a relationship between two people, not unlike a marriage... (Ripper would not know... still single), it is a mingling of personalities... we each would have defined roles and we need to understand and appreciate each person for their part in the team.

What I am getting at is, who is perceived to be the better (stronger player)? Are both players open to suggestions and/or constructive criticism. I personally find it hard to accept instruction from a playing partner... and only give it when solicated.

Most of the things suggested are things I would stay away from, they add more pressure to perform, whether it is a statement like "we need this point", or "just get it in". Believe me they are trying... you are only stating the obvious.

Playing good tennis is most of the time about confidence... if you have confidence in your partner you are going to be able to take care of your own game. You are not going to try and compensate for what you preceive are weaknesses in your partners. Supporting your partner goes a long way... You really need to know your partners game as well as your own. I was playing last night... some friendly tennis with some friends. My partner was not playing his best, I am not sure if he was a bit nervous or just not playing well. He has only been invited a few times to play with us... (a very nice guy). After a few games I just said to him to stay positive... and hit his shots... don't worry if you miss, just commit to what you are doing. He was starting to push shots and it was only getting worse... whenever he hit a shot I did not feel he was committing to I would give him a stern look with a bit of a smile and say... "come on... commit to the shot". If he committed to a shot and missed I would say "good shot, just a little unlucky". As soon as he believed that I would support him whether he missed or not... the pressure to perform was lifted and his game started to improve... after a set his level was well above when he started. One good shot will build on another... then another... you need to learn to smile and just play hard.

Know your partner, know their game... and know yourself. Celebrate the good shots... and bring energy to your game as a team. Somedays you are the bug... somedays you are the windshield.

I guess the bottomline is that tennis is just tennis, be it league play or tournament play. Some days you are not going to have your best game... the best players though will fight their way through and find ways to win. Most of us will forget about a win or a lost once we walk through the front door of our houses. Never lose sight of why we play... we LOVE THE GAME.

Oh my best tip if you are struggling... work on making good contact with the ball, pick your shot... and commit to hitting it. If the netperson poaches and makes a winner, say "nice poach". Sometimes the people on the other side of the net are just better than we are.

Ripper014
01-13-2010, 12:10 PM
"Artificial"...that was the word I was looking for. It seems so automatic that it would seem to lose any real emotional support value. Obviously others feel differently b/c you do see it on the pro level all time...in tennis, beach volleyball, etc.


I agree... but I think they do it as a form of connection to your partner... to remind them they are a team. I personally like to do it on a well played point... though some might feel it can be a negative thing when you don't do it... for me it emphasizes a well played point. I do it whether we win the point or not... I just like to recognize the fact my partner played a great point.

Steady Eddy
01-13-2010, 12:44 PM
"Artificial"...that was the word I was looking for. It seems so automatic that it would seem to lose any real emotional support value. Obviously others feel differently b/c you do see it on the pro level all time...in tennis, beach volleyball, etc.

Just because something seems artificial doesn't mean that it won't work.

apor
01-13-2010, 03:36 PM
I've had a partner tell me "just get it in" (return of serve).
The thing is, though, that i understood this to mean that instead of really crushing the ball, just loop that sucker back over and start the point neutral. She said this to me after I missed a few easy returns with a case of the jitters in my first USTA match. I started looping them in and it only got better from there.

Klaus
01-13-2010, 04:00 PM
If my partner is making a lot of UE, and looks at me in the "I'm sorry" manner, or says "sorry" then I say "no worries, next point!" enthusiastically. This spurs me on to play at my best, so they know I am not upset at all.

I am very careful with my body language, as it is very "readable." If I get ****ed at a dumped into the net shot or at a botched sitter (hi Cindy!) I turn around and walk so my partner can't see my face.

If they ask me to troubleshoot at a change or break, I ask them what they think is happening and how they would fix it, that way, I am not acting as their coach. If they come up with ideas about why they are spinning out of control, I support them, and encourage them thus: "sounds good, try that and see what works."

I have had great results that way, coming back from 5-1 and winning on several occasions.

I too, prefer singles!

AR15
01-13-2010, 05:02 PM
Are there really people who want to be coached in a match when they aren't playing well? Seriously?

To me, the coaching says, "You suck, and the reason why you suck is so obvious that even I can see it. Your sucking is so blatant that I can see it even when you are behind me. Indeed, you suck so badly that you cannot be trusted to fix your sucking yourself, so you need me to help you."

Coaching makes me play worse. Then I start thinking things like, "Oh, yeah? Your last service return bounced before it hit the net, so who's sucking now, eh?" It is funny how often the partner who coaches makes an error on the very next point. Maybe coaching messes with their head too?

I have a friend who doesn't like it when a partner tells her to settle down or relax. She was partnered with someone who says, "Easy, easy" after a miss. When the partner missed, my friend said "Easy, easy" just to get under her skin.

Maybe it is best to say nothing and do a fist bump after every point.

You've never had a partner ask what they were doing wrong?

athiker
01-13-2010, 05:19 PM
Just because something seems artificial doesn't mean that it won't work.

Yep, kind of how the "Fake it till you make it." saying came into being, or the whole cottage industry built out of "positive affirmations" or some of the tips found in many sales books over the years. No doubt it can be effective by forming a positive habit to keep negative thoughts at bay or simply believing something works, like a placebo, can have a positive effect. I just don't see it catching on much in my crowd...not after every point at least.

jefferson
01-13-2010, 05:39 PM
I personally do not respond well to coaching on the court from my partner. Unless I ask a question. But I seem to respond to a little faith and trust from my partner. My current partner knows that I will come around and doesn't get on me. He'll talk about the beer that is waiting.

My partner in college, who was complete tool but I learned to love him, would say things like, C'mon bro what are you doing? Things of that nature. At the time (10years ago) that was fine with me. But that would not work for me anymore.

If my partner is playing poorly, I usually crack a joke or say something completely ridiculous or off color to lighten the mood.

ALten1
01-13-2010, 08:07 PM
To me getting coached makes me start thinking of the mechanics. That leads to tunnel vision. The focus of play is squarely centered around how to fix what is wrong instead of adapting to what is wrong and finding a way to play around it.
By the time you fix what is wrong the game is probably over.

Cindysphinx
01-13-2010, 09:01 PM
You've never had a partner ask what they were doing wrong?

Yes, I take it as a rhetorical question. They really don't want amateur coaching.

The most I have ever said is something like, "My pro says that whenever a player misses a shot, the first thing to focus on is footwork."

They can take from that whatever they want.

Cindysphinx
01-13-2010, 09:03 PM
Oh, I did the fist bump thing with my 3.5 mixed partner tonight. He is very solid. Hardly ever makes a mistake. He did have a very, very minor rough patch mid-match, and I liked being able to go give him a bump. I had been doing it prior to that, so it didn't seem out of order.

I think I will stick with it.

Cindy -- who was the one who wasn't holding serve

Ken Honecker
01-14-2010, 06:11 AM
I'm as intense as anyone but unless my partner is goofing off and not trying for hitable balls I don't care if they hit it in or not. If they a say "sorry" or somethig after a DF or running into the net or something I respond with a "don't worry" or something along those lines.

Really I've never felt anyone could lift me out of a funk so I doubt if I can lift anyone else. Now there might be times when I ask my partner if he can see the net 5 feet in front of him and offer him the use of my glasses but it is mostly in good fun.

Gemini
01-14-2010, 06:54 AM
Really I've never felt anyone could lift me out of a funk so I doubt if I can lift anyone else.

I take a different approach. I always leave myself open to insight from my partner. I try not to dwell so deeply inside of my own head and on my own negative emotions. By doing that, I'm always receptive to positive input and it usually helps me at least clean up my game.

Steady Eddy
01-14-2010, 07:49 AM
Cindy -- who was the one who wasn't holding serve
That's ok. You know that not holding serve isn't always the fault of the server, just as holding serve every time doesn't always mean you're serving well. Your partner is a big factor in this. Unless you're double-faulting alot, in which case there's not much the partner can do.

86golf
01-14-2010, 08:05 AM
"Dude, stop using the part of your racquet made in China, use the middle part"

"Hey, if you can't get it over the net with one hand, try two hands"

Seriously though, I respond best to: "Keep swinging"

fuzz nation
01-14-2010, 08:17 AM
Sorry for not reading all of the other responses, but I have a couple of thoughts right off the top of my head concerning tail-spinning doub's partners. A lot of the high school kids that I coach play doubles, but they simply don't know how to best interact with their partners in their matches. Aside from basic doub's strategy, I routinely have to give them guidance on being good teammates.

The best pro's that I've watched have a special knack for keeping their attitudes light, loose, and upbeat on the court, even when they're just practicing together. When you watch their matches, there's no telling what the score is because they always exude an energy and confidence - this is almost always uplifting for a partner to be around. I don't preach doing cartwheels and being a happy idiot out there, but this attitude is a lot more productive and infectious than giving a teammate the cold shoulder for missing a shot.

Keep a troubled partner engaged in the match by including them with decisions on tactics. Do you think I should poach? Where do you want me when this, that, or the other happens? What serve do you think I should give this guy? That way you're keeping them in it mentally and also trusting their judgement - a subtle yet significant confidence booster.

When a partner's game is down, I like to reinforce what he or she did right in that moment so that they might be able to trust themselves. If my partner makes a killer poach, but misses the shot, I like to tell them right away that that's the move and to keep it up. It keeps them from getting tentative as quickly if I'm giving the green light. If a routine shot goes in the net, I might just move on to the next point or I might make light of it and say something like "I can do that" or maybe mention that we'd be killing them if this was a hockey or a soccer game.

Singles player can get away with being introverted in their matches, but a doubles team must interact and feed off each other. When they don't, their potential for success goes into a tailspin, too.

crystal_clear
01-15-2010, 06:28 AM
When my partner said, "Just put the serve in the box." when I struggled with serve; "One more point that is it." at a crucial point; it didn't help me at all.

I welcomed a little coach regarding technique (toss higher, or you kept (I shouldn't) the racket open (at overhead)) or strategy (hit to the weaker player) instead of just saying "Good try". I sometimes ask my partner, "What is wrong with me?" Simple coach (one sentence at a time) helps me correct my mistake much quicker than I figure it out myself.

One time we were 0:40 behind in a ladies' doubles at Intercounty match, my partner said to me, "Let's focus and play one point at a time." This really calmed me down and I focused on the play rather than the score. We eventually came back and won this game then the whole match.

Cindysphinx
01-15-2010, 07:53 AM
It's interesting to hear that so many people crack jokes.

I would never do that in response to a partner's error. I mean, my partner knocks the ball into the net and I say, "Hey, next time let me knock it into the net! Ha! Ahaahahah!" Yeah, it a joke. And she would probably *hate* me for saying it.

It wouldn't bother me if my partner made a joke about my error or my play. But I think the ladies I pair with are more sensitive and would take it badly.

Maybe I should try it just once and see what happens . . . .

SlapShot
01-15-2010, 08:16 AM
I don't make jokes about my partner's shots, but I definitely make them about my own.

On Wednesday night, we faced a couple of weak servers who happened to have fantastic hands. I blasted a couple of my first returns a few feet long, and the first thing I said to my partner was "Well, I think I need to hit the ball harder." Helped me settle myself down. I wouldn't say that to him though.



When a partner's game is down, I like to reinforce what he or she did right in that moment so that they might be able to trust themselves. If my partner makes a killer poach, but misses the shot, I like to tell them right away that that's the move and to keep it up. It keeps them from getting tentative as quickly if I'm giving the green light.

I'm a big fan of this as well - I say a lot of "Keep attacking - you'll hit that one" or "That's definitely the right play." Try and make sure that they know that I will support their play as long as they are putting in the effort.

RD 7
04-23-2010, 08:43 PM
I have decided to make more of an effort to make my partner feel better about mistakes.

Bingo.

If you start giving advice to your partner... or if you make him feel watched... or if you give him the sense that you are counting his errors, you risk making him too self-conscious.

Self consciousness often leads to deceleration in the hitting zone or tentative mechanics.

When my partner makes an error, I pinch him on the tush and say: "stay classy San Diego".

Levity makes people play better. Fear and shame makes them play worse.

Bad doubles partners cause errors. This is why the pros always slap hands fraternally after errors. When money and points are on the line, you can't afford to count and compare errors. Unfortunately, most 4.5 league hacks don't get this. After every league match we play, I always here the same people talking about how their partner blew it.