Approaching With Your Partner In Doubles

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Another question came up in my doubles drill class yesterday.

    We had four students and a pro, doing a drill. Two students on either side of the net, everyone at the baseline. Pro fed a short ball (no man's land) to one student. She was supposed to treat it as an approach shot and then play out the point.

    I was pretty confused about what I was supposed to be doing when my partner was hitting that ball. Was I supposed to basically just stay with her so we were both at the same distance from the net (leaving me in no-man's land should she stop before reaching the service line)? Was I supposed to just scurry on up to first volley position (a step or two back from the middle of the service box)? Was I supposed to go only as far as the service line?

    The other thing I was unsure about was what I was supposed to do when I was hitting the short ball fed to me. I think I'm supposed to come in behind my shot, shading in that direction, my distance from the net depending on how good my shot is. My instinct was to say "Approach!" as I was getting ready to hit and then, you know, approach in the hope that my partner will come with me. Is this a bad idea because it clues the opponent that I'm coming to net?

    Also, if I am playing doubles and my partner gets a short ball, should I say "approach," indicating to her that she should hit an approach and come in? Or is that her decision? I tend to say "Approach" when I plan to come in behind an approach shot, but my partners tend not to move forward with me. Which makes me think I'm doing the whole thing wrong.
     
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  2. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    You have to ask the instructor. Who knows what the purpose of the drill was? Its a drill not a match.

    There are lots of right answers depending on the purpose of the drill

    - Both crash net
    - One crashes net one takes position around the service line
    - One approaches the other stays back (less useful) but comes in eventually as the point is played out

    - Any of the above yet determined by the placement and quality of the approach shot (which would be a useful doubles concept to practice)

    Its weird that the instructor didn't discuss the purpose and doubles principles you were to work on in this drill
     
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  3. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Assume players are playing two back for whatever reason.

    Is there ever a time in a match where one player hits an approach shot and the other intentionally stays back? Why would that be?

    I ask because in my matches we tend to play two back when things have gone horribly wrong. Because we do it so infrequently, no one has any idea what should happen from that point.
     
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  4. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    2 back is not a strong formation. Its very defensive. There are many angles available to your opponent.

    An approach shot is an offensive shot attempting to take control of the point. So, I would assume the intent is to go offensive.

    So both should be moving forward, in my opinion, the one hitting the approach shot should be coming in more aggressively, your partner less so, yet depending on the quality of the approach shot.

    What's very important to keep in mind is who has covering deep lob responsibility, in this drill it would be the person not hitting the approach shot.
     
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  5. cak

    cak Professional

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    Yeah, I got that drill in a clinic I subbed into and I didn't get it either. When he fed a short ball to my partner I figured she had an easy chance at a strong approach, so I scurried into the middle of the service box for the put away. Nope, he didn't want me doing that. He thought I should stay even with her where ever she was. Still don't get it.

    It depends on if your opponent can hear you and understands whatever language you are speaking. Certainly it helps me, as an opponent, when I'm back getting a great, deep groundstroke to know whether to go for the higher deep ground stroke or top spin it to bounce on the service line. If I know you are going in I'm aiming for your feet. If I know you aren't I'm aiming deep. I absolutely hate it when they sneak in on me.:) Then again, if you happen to be yelling that in Mandarin, well, I'd have no idea.


    Some partners like lots of direction before they hit. Other's get annoyed if you are telling them what to do. Depends on your partner. There is one lady I play with that yells out the most helpful instructions, and I don't mind her doing that at all. Others, for some reason, do bug me. (Yes, I can recognize spinny, you don't have to yell it at me.) I am always open for information on what my partner is doing.
     
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  6. Hooooon

    Hooooon Rookie

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    no... when your partner gets a short ball you should rush the net almost recklessly. you're better off both staying back than getting caught in no-cindy's-land. you should only be worried about lobs when a team has been lobbing you successfully. the goal in doubles at any level is to slam the ball down your opponents throat.
     
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  7. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    We do this drill often in clinics. It has a multitude of purposes. It usually follows our warm up drills of groundies, approaches, volleys and overheads. Sort of puts all that together in the approach drill. On our drills, we concentrate on placing the approach down the line or down the middle with depth. Then we both go to net as fast as possible, bringing in the volley excercise fromt he warm-up. Of course the other team is attempting to get to net as well. Often the approach generates a defensive lob, binging the overhead practice from warm-ups into play.

    It doesn't always happen, but we try to avoid two back or even one back except when defending a lob. The point of doubles is to take charge of the net quickly, if possible. Of course, the other team is doing the same thing. so both teams should be in constant motion goiong somewhere, keeping the feet moving.

    I have never yelled "approach" to my partner. It would freak me out if they didi the same to me. How to handle short balls is up to the hitter. May be a heavy top spin ball deep or angled, could be a slice deep or could be a dropper. Yelling "approach" is overkill. Your partner should know what to do with it depending the location of the opponents and their skill levels. IMO.
     
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  8. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Even if they get the approach shot on the service line, your partner should continue toward the net after their shot. Which means you can follow and not have to end up in no-man's land.

    The only time I wont move up with my partner is when I have someone who decides to freelance all on their own and Im not sure what sort of area they are going to cover or where they are even going with their shot. (obviously I dont know my partner all that well in that case)

    Of if my partner is someone of limited mobility who cant cover a lot of area at the net, then I may stay back because I dont want to open up too many holes for easy put away opportunitys.

    As far as telling your partner to "approach", if they dont know to do that already, I doubt shouting instructions to them while the point is in play is that helpful. That's something you should talk about outside of the point, or figure out on your own what you think your partner is capable of.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2008
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  9. atomicx

    atomicx Rookie

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    If these are questions that came up during the drill why didn't you just ask the pro that was conducting your drills? Seems like the instructor would be the one to have the answers to your questions. It's hard to benefit from a drill if you are not clear about what it is you are supposed to be learning from it. Is there any particular reason why you didn't want to ask the instructing pro these questions?
     
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  10. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    I can't wait for the follow up thread "Approaching your partner in mixed doubles"
     
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  11. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Hey, I was the sub. I didn't want to hold up the other three students with a bunch of questions, as they seemed to understand what to do.

    Like, if I'm supposed to be watching the net man as my partner's hitting and never watching her hit, how am I also supposed to observe that she's approaching?
     
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  12. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    Cindy- I think it depends on what formation your opponents are in. If your opponents are 1u1b then if your partner hits then I would probably move up as soon as I saw the ball go to my opponent- I could be in position no matter what and there isn't a good reason to be 2 back against 1u1b.

    If my opponents are 2 up then I will stay back until my partner hits a ball that they think they can move up on. But that really depends on how effective my opponents are 2 up. I won't stay 2 back if my opponents have weak overheads.
     
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  13. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    If you partner is on the same level or in front of you, you're supposed to be able to watch the net player and notice what your partner is doing at the same time. (they are running in front of you after all)

    If they are behind you and you are already at the net, then that's outside the bounds of your original question.
     
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  14. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    She's ahead of me (closer to net) only if I didn't move with her. Which is part of the question.

    If she moves forward from the baseline to approach (or hit a ball on which she should approach but might not approach), am I supposed to "stay with her" or get ahead of her? That was the dilemma. Don't even get me started on what I do if she hits and backpedals . . .

    Spot's answer makes sense. Which is why the drill is confusing. If the opponents are two back (after all, we were receiving the feed with all four players at baseline), then . . . I guess maybe it's just a crummy drill.

    Maybe we need a thread for that: Crummy Drills Pros Should Stop Making Us Do. :)
     
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  15. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    If I were running the drill and you guys are receiving a short feed and all 4 players are back then I would want you to hit an approach and take the net. I mean its a drill- even if the other team hits a lob then its overhead practice. But if that were the case then its a pretty lousy instructor who wouldn't be telling you that this was the point of the drill.
     
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  16. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Most doubles drills have situations were you are two back. I dont totally understand that myself but it works good for approach shot drills at least. Moving forward and identifying a short ball and getting to net (especially if you are not the one hitting the ball), while still being able to cover the whole court effectively is not easy, and actually because of this particular drill it's really improved my approach game, even in singles.

    My response is this:

    1) If the pro is feeding your partner an approach shot, they should hit the approach shot and continue in toward the net.

    If your partner hits the approach shot and stands there in no-man's land, then your pro should tell them not to. (because that's not an effective way of getting it down)

    If your partner hits the approach shot and backs up back to the baseline, then your pro should really let her have it, because the whole point of feeding someone an approach shot is to work on approaching the net, not to run all the way up, hit a shot and run backwards.

    (even if they want to do that during a match, it's dumb to do that in a drill where you are supposed to be working on your game)

    2) If it's accepted that your partner is doing what they are supposed to do (hit the ball, and continue forward), then you should move up with them.

    You probally can stay slightly a bit behind them if you want to be able to back them up (that's called staggering), but even then that should take you well into the service box.
     
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  17. ZenMac

    ZenMac New User

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    Maybe I'm missing something, but if my partner gets a short attackable ball, I'm taking the net aggressively and looking for a weak reply that I can punish. There's not really any more negotiation or strategery involved. That's what short attackable balls are for.
     
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  18. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    The whole point of the drill, IMO.
     
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  19. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    I'm always coming to the net if possible. I need a reason NOT to come to the net to keep me back. Short ball - I'm in.
     
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  20. weaver

    weaver Rookie

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    Doesn't it matter on how comfortable you are at the net and how much confidence you have in your partner? Obviously it is a good idea to take the net as soon as possible, because you're more on the offensive and you put more pressure on your opponents, but if you aren't comfortable at the net or your partner doesn't hit a good approach shot, then you're putting yourself at a disadvantage. Of course I'm talking about match play, but if it's a drill you should ask your coach and see what his intent of the drill is...
     
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  21. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    In a match, I suppose it would matter but my belief is in doubles you want to own the net and set the wall if you are able and better players will beat you if you stay back. Seeing that this was a drill, I would be surprised if the pro didn't want you to work at coming in but who knows for sure.
     
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  22. shell

    shell Professional

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    Right on here. But realistically, if your partner has a short attackable ball, I would imagine that you will be slightly behind them as far as positioning goes. Your are coming in, but there is the split step as you position for a possible volley by the net person. You are slightly caught in no mans land for a short period of shot recognition time. If they are both back, get on up there. That is the shot you have been waiting for. Hopefully your partner has made the most of the opportunity! :-|

    As for the lob, make them hit a good one. You have charge of the net now. They are tasked with hitting an great defensive lob, in which case you start over. Ughhh. I hate when that happens :(
     
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  23. Applesauceman

    Applesauceman Semi-Pro

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    The approaching player's goal should be to hit the approach shot and then move to the net position. You are the attacking net player and are expected to attack short returns such as floaters. Your partner's goal should be to follow slightly behind you to the net position. Your partner is the defending net player and is expected to defend against long returns such as lobs.
     
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  24. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    I agree on the approaching player goal. I am looking to close, close, close through the point. Unless they push me back - I'm moving in.
     
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  25. Applesauceman

    Applesauceman Semi-Pro

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    fe6250,

    Close, close, close...am I at drill? Is this my coach? It's being pounded into my brain!
     
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  26. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    LOL - sorry - I have to beat that into my own head or I get lazy. Never think the point is over!
     
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  27. Applesauceman

    Applesauceman Semi-Pro

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    We also practice V-shift movement from the center line at the service line while you and your partner are in the net position. This only works if both players understand the movement, if not, you'll leave big holes for your opponents.
     
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  28. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    A couple of things;

    1- You would only be both back if it is in the middle of a point and you just got lobbed, or you are returning a killer serve and you guys made the conscious decision to play 2 back.

    2- If it is the latter situation, your opponents will both be at the net, which is not the situation of the drill, so forget that. That leaves us with the "returning a lob" situation.

    3- You should be also play from no-man's land with your partner when the ball is struck and you should approach together

    4- This is regardless of your comfort level at the net, because...

    5- One up/one back is a much weaker formation than 2 up.

    6- If your partner makes the error of hitting a short ball then retreating to the baseline, you probably should retreat with her (your team has bigger problems than what to do with this situation).
     
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  29. Supernatural_Serve

    Supernatural_Serve Professional

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    That's exactly how I prefer to play it.

    2 up, but only one person is aggressively attacking the net (mid service box and up), the other, the player who is cross court from the ball, attacks the net but DOES NOT CLOSE the net.

    They take position at just inside the service line instead to cover ALL deep lobs and still make a play on angle shots hit from cross court. They also tend to reply with shots cross court (especially against anyone staying back or not moving forward)

    When I play doubles against better doubles players (4.5 and 5.0), and my partner and I aggressively gain control of the net, if we haven't hit a truly offensive shot, it inevitably results in a good lob (from excellent players) and they've taken us out of position and now one of us is fielding a lob from superior players who are now also taking aggressive control of the net and the aggressive net playing partner is now forced to back up.

    This is one of the fallacies of conventional wisdom concerning aggressively playing up, especially against better players. The easy quality lobs they hit that send weaker players back off their aggressive position.

    The better matched or less skilled your opponents, the more aggressively you can play 2 up. When the skills are in your opponents favor, I prefer less aggressive 2 up, without resorting to a passive 2 back or 1 up 1 back which has deeper flaws.
     
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