Baseline Doubles?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Bluesparkle, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. Bluesparkle

    Bluesparkle New User

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    A friend and I have recently decided to try our luck at mixed doubles. He's a 4.0, I'm a 3.5. We both feel more comfortable at the baseline than at the net, however I have more doubles experience than he does, and have learned to come in to the net during play. I usually start the point in a staggered position, but if I'm receiving the serve or serving, my partner is on the baseline with me, which just seems odd.

    As a singles player, he is naturally programmed to make an attempt at every ball and is usually behind me ready to back me up if I take a shot in front of him. This tends to leave big holes in the court, as we are playing front to back, instead of each covering a side of the court.

    Would it make more sense for me to join him on the baseline more frequently, so that we have the whole court covered more often? Of course I would come in if the opportunity arose. We have a lot of fun and he has a great attitude, so games are enjoyable...just different from the traditional way I was taught to play doubles. Suggestions?
     
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  2. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Doubles 101: Thou shalt not baseline.
     
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  3. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    the 2 back position is a defensive position not a formation to stay in. if his attitude is good you should be able to teach him HOW to play doubles. everyone CAN play doubles. also you could tell him by learning to play in the front court and learning to transition will make him a better and not one dimensional singles player.
     
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  4. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    have you heard of suggestions that are helpful???
     
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  5. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    Have you heard of posts that aren't condescending?

    It was a joke, lighten up. I'm not a strong baseliner, so I didn't feel qualified to answer the question. Just where was your brilliant advice, Mr. Helpful?
     
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  6. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    read my post to the op. i wasnt being condenscending. i just cant stand it when some people on these boards give replies that are not helpful to the op . if you cant help than dont give an opinion. imHo
     
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  7. Djokovicfan4life

    Djokovicfan4life Legend

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    There will be plenty of helpful posts in this thread, such as your own. I don't need a father figure telling me when it's OK to make jokes.
     
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Leave DJ alone...
    Jokes are part of the equation.... good advice first of all, and if you can't laugh at the game, what good is it?
    Two back CAN work, up to 5.0 or so. But both gotta lob well, respect each other's strengths on up the middle balls, and move as a team side to side AND forwards and back.
    Hit groundies crosscourt facing opposition until they both take the net, then hit hard low up the middle and determine WHERE their backhands are, for the lob you need to keep them honest.
    Two back needs steadier and strong low groundies. If you got that, and weak volleys, ..... well practice volleys of course, then staying back CAN work, if you work together to figure out that up the middle ball.
     
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  9. Racer41c

    Racer41c Semi-Pro

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    I've never seen 2 back work. In fact, I almost start drooling when I see 2 back. I have seen singles players develop into very solid doubles players, moving in and playing at the net.
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Just because YOU have never seen it, don't mean it can exist.
    YOU cannot see everything!
    I play net 80% of my doubles points, but still watch the baseline players who stay back and win points at will, up to my 4.0 level anyways.
    I've seen two 6.0 women beat pants off 4.5 Mens' net players/S/V'ers by staying back 100%. When they were short angled, they just hit out. When they were dropped, they'd just stand there and say ...."not playing with you again"....
     
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  11. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I play doubles 90% of the time. My take is it's not odd to have 2 backs. It's better than 1 up and 1 back where the 1 up does not know how to volley. He would just stand there giving up points and worse begging for injuries. I am by no mean a good volley but I can, but still a picky partner would want me to go back and hit quality groundshots and wait for opportunities --- for him to charge forward or the other guys to screw up. LOL. Amazingly winning in recreational tennis relies alot on other's ue's than your own winners.

    So, if your partner has adequate groundies, my guess is that's good enough. If he can hit quality groundshots the worst is their netman can only block it back and short. That's when you come in and clean up the point.
     
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  12. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    If your partner under no circumstances goes to net, then I wouldn't bother going there either (unless you've lobbed them.) Keep it enjoyable.

    Make sure you play women's doubles the other way. You know, for blood.
     
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  13. Okazaki Fragment

    Okazaki Fragment Semi-Pro

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    That's for the OP to determine, not you. And you're being very condenscending.
     
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  14. Okazaki Fragment

    Okazaki Fragment Semi-Pro

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    I'm not sure how this would work at the 7.5 mixed level. Everyone has pretty decent overheads so you can't go lob crazy like you can at the lower levels. Try it out and let us know. But I seriously doubt this will be an effective strategy.
     
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  15. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    I think you are better off playing one up / one back than playing two back the whole time. The two back position puts no pressure on your opponents whatsoever. Two back is the best defensive position but you won't be on the defensive the whole time so it is a disadvantage because you will pass up attacking opportunities.

    It really is sad that a 3.5 has to ask for advice on how to get their 4.0 partner to the net in doubles. :)
     
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  16. halalula1234

    halalula1234 Professional

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    lovely language
     
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  17. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    good points especially last sentence. you see 2 back position in upper level tennis but mainly as a return serve position to take pressure off the returner or if a lob goes over someones head the partner will go back to join him at the baseline. they then try to get back to the net ASAP. 2 back is not commonly an exclusive fall back to primary position. i guess if the goal is to have fun and do the best you can with the skill set you have to the op you could stay back. it seems you want to do more than that so i will stick with my original suggestion is to try to teach the 4.0 how to play doubles. hope this does not come off condescending. i dont mean it to.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2009
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  18. Bluesparkle

    Bluesparkle New User

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    Out of respect for my partner's abilities (killer serve, powerful groundstroke, extremely fast), I will not try and "teach" him that he should come to the net. He knows that is the doubles "template," but he is neither comfortable at the net, nor does he find as much success as he does from the baseline. Besides, figuring out how to get my partner to the net was not really my question. Rather, it was seeking advice on the best strategy for me to employ on the court, knowing my partner will, more often than not, stay at the baseline.

    Played again last night. Our opponents are friends of my baseliner partner, and know that he won't come to the net, so they used that to their advantage. Lost several points to chip shots, which I saw coming, but could do nothing about because I was on the other side of the court.

    Maybe playing in the "I" formation, with me up front would help? We'd at least have a good chance at the majority of the balls, since at the 3.5/4.0 level there are very few players who can hit a really good wide angle shot.
     
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  19. naylor

    naylor Semi-Pro

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    When I play doubles / mixed with a partner who doesn't naturally come up to the net after serving, if I see that the returner is hitting a short ball I shout "up, up, up!" to my partner. If yours is fast (as you say) a little earlier warning from you at the net, where you have a better view of the length and pace of the return, could make a difference.

    You can try playing the I, but you then have to communicate well as to which way he'll serve and you'll move. The problem I see with that is that you open up a very good return option for your opponents - down the line. Playing against a strong serve, if the returner is a bit late quite often you get a weak shot down the line, which when the volleyer is in the normal position becomes an easy put-away. But if the volleyer is now in the middle, then a return push down the line becomes a good option to play - even if the volleyer moves back, it's now a volley moving sideways (rather than attacking forward).

    By all means try working out Plan B, C, D options, but I'd agree with other posters that you're better off first working on Plan A in doubles, which is getting your partner to come up to the net more often - at the very least, when he should, behind a strong first serve. This is particularly so if you want to improve your standard.

    For this, you could try playing matches against "more natural / better doubles pairings", so your partner can see how effective netplay can be. One of the things that he will find very early on is that he will not be allowed to camp at the baseline and fire passes from there, because the opponents will play more angles and shorter volleys, so he'll have to play more low shots hitting upwards and on the run. Also, unless he places his serve well and you're already a good volleyer, the returns will come closer to you but at pace, and if you let them go past you your partner at the back will have to cover a lot more court than he probably does now so even if he stays on the baseline he won't be able to tee off as much as he does now.

    Enjoy!
     
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  20. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    based on your comments i would find matches where the other team plays one up one back also. at 3.5- 4.0 you should find alot of that. then you have the best of both worlds. you gain the advantage of your partners skills and dont get caught in a weak position against 2 at net. the i formation was very creative and a good idea. your other idea of 2 back and come foward together when possible was also very analytical. i predict in time you will be passing your friend because you are trying to play "correctly or textbook" but looking for answers when thats not possible. excellent
     
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  21. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

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    Well my whole point is that its sad that someone who is good enough to reach 4.0 is going to sell themselves short by neglecting their net game.
     
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  22. naylor

    naylor Semi-Pro

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    Always look at the bright side of life!

    Keep at your own game of playing aggressive S&V doubles and being a positive volleyer when your partner is serving. That will make you a very desirable partner to team with for us natural doubles S&V players.

    It's not too bad when we're playing men's doubles and our partner is a strong player from the baseline, who waits for the right approach shot - AND then comes in. But it's the pits when you're playing mixed doubles, the woman always hangs back at the baseline and then throws a "lob" at the slightest pressure (like, when the return is also close to the baseline so - god forbid - she has to move further back or have good footwork).

    If you play good doubles, you'll be in demand - new doubles partner (who can play doubles properly), problem solved!
     
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  23. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    agree completely
     
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  24. nickynu

    nickynu Semi-Pro

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    good imput-well done for adding to the thread yourself!


    Back to the question, when Massu & Gonzales won their olympic medal they both played at the back of the court because their strength was the huge groundies they could crush. They did however start one at the net for the most part.
    Playing 2 back requires tremendous footwork, as the volleyers will have the advantage and you have little time to get in position, so you have to have footwork get behind the ball and rip it with topspin and power. If you cant do this playing back is for the most part a losing proposition.
     
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  25. naylor

    naylor Semi-Pro

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    Playing 2 back is a defensive option, but the key about it is that together you "control" the full width of the court at the same level (albeit at the back). Your gap is the front of the court, but you can "see it coming" and you know whose ball it is; when you're both at the net, your gap is the back of the court, but again you can "see it coming" and (on anything other than a winning pass) you again know who has to run back and fetch (and what the partner has to do - go back also or stay up but more defensively).

    Playing 1 front 1 back is not a good defensive option, because you're vulnerable to angles - what's too wide to cover for the person at the net is also too wide for the person at the back - and doubles is a game of placements and angles. You start like that (if you both start at the back, you're telling the opposition that you'll play defence and are giving the net up completely) but you then have to decide whether you end up 2 back (which can be effective but it's hard work, as the previous poster put it), or the person hanging back will rally from there to start with but will come in on a shorter ball and join you at the net. But if you play 1 up 1 back the whole match, then chances are you'll lose.

    Look at it as creating a wall across the court, for your opponents to hit against. You can do it at the back, or you can do it at the front. But if you build it half-and-half, it will never be as good.
     
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  26. Bluesparkle

    Bluesparkle New User

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    That is an interesting point. He tends to overhit (big back swing, too much power, etc.) when he's up close, and that does limit his (our) success. I guess it's a macho thing to be the big hitter in the back, and let the girl take the finesse shots. Without both skills, we will always be limited. I'm not that great at the net either, so we both need practice there.
     
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  27. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    Playing two-back puts ZERO pressure on the opposition. It must be apparent to all who come to net that forcing errors from the opposition is an even bigger benefit than the chance to hit a good volley. Seeing two players at net makes all but the best players tighten up and think more about what shot to hit, causing lots of errors. If you want to play baseline, why bother playing doubles?
     
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  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I think it totally depends on the strengths and weakness of all 4 players involved. If no one can volley worth a lick, staying back is not a bad alternative.
    And two back, good groundies, can put tons of pressure against weaker groundie players....and against two weak volleyers.
    And two back, with good low passing shots AND topspin lobs, can be very effective against two good volleyers.
    And some peeps have real overheads, some don't. I'll let YOU figure out the ramifications of that.
     
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  29. naylor

    naylor Semi-Pro

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    "Me Tarzan, you Jane" tennis?

    Yes, sometimes you use finesse, but at the net what you need to be most of the time is surgical (early + sharp + precise), with a bit of brutality added on occasionally for good measure, to position the ball between the opponents where neither can reach easily, or at the feet of the opposition net player, or at an angle to the side. The whole idea about volleying by the netperson is to put the ball away first-time, or to set up (with a difficult shot for the opposition to return) a put-away on your next shot. Because if you don't do that, you're inviting the opposition to "drill" you at the net, or place it into either of the two quarters of the court which you and your partner are not covering for your partner to rescue (away from his baseline macho comfort zone).

    Looking at it the other way, if I'm playing doubles against a macho big hitter at the back, I'm going to have a much better chance by setting up my "wall" at the net, because I can play a lot more angles (or different depth of shots) from there and still get the ball in, and in the process I also take macho-man away from his teeing zone on the baseline.

    The whole point about playing doubles is because it's quite a different game from baseline singles. If no-one can volley worth a lick, then it's probably more fun (and better exercise) to stick to singles, at least you get to hit every other ball. Alternatively, you may well find that the worse baseline team starts playing shorter balls (blocked chips or outright dropshots) to bring the opposition forward into the dreaded volleying slots and thereby move them away from their normal baseline game. This is when it gets really ugly, as you end up playing 1 up 1 back (and the person up watches as his partner merrilly plays singles cross-court rallies from the baseline), or else one of you scurries forward to pick up the shorter ball and immediately retreats back to the baseline (some exercise, at least).
     
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