Doubles tactics for dummies!...

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Ross K, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    Please reel them off folks!... the more basic the better (to start with anyhow...)... no point in me denying I'm clueless (very little doubles experience tbh and recently I've just become a anxious, frustrated, wreck with zero rhythm, timing or fluency... it's as if my normal singles form evaporates as soon as the doubles begins...

    So what are some doubles fundamentals?

    Please help!

    TIA,

    R.
     
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  2. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

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    ^^i will follow this with interest, i have played doubles twice and the sum advice i have received is to stand on the yellow line (which is just infront of the service line) when not at the base line. I dread to think what to do whe i play on a different court that doesnt have this yellow line.
     
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  3. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Three ideas for singles players who don't know what to do when they are at net.

    1. Split step every single time an opponent is hitting the ball.

    2. Shift with the ball when you are at net. When ball goes wide, move wide a bit. When ball goes up the middle, move over to the middle. *Keep the ball in front of you.* Make the opponent work to get the ball by you.

    3. Discern whether you are on offense or defense. If your partner's shot sucked, you are on defense so you probably can't poach and should be farther back in the service box. If your partner's shot was awesome, you are on offense, so move up and try to reach the next ball. If your opponents are confused, off-balance, retreating, then be on offense!
     
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  4. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    There's a million different ways to look at this one...

    ......which there didn't used to be. Doubles the old way was always serve and volley, chip and charge, and now you see all kinds of stuff. Even on the WTA and ATP, the server doesn't always serve and volley. If your partner serves and stays back, what's a poor netperson to do? I kind of think you have two choices:

    - First, forget about starting at the net in this situation. If you're not going to take advantage of the fact that you have one person already at the net, it's better off to have both in the back court, then work it from there.

    - Second, if you are going to start at the net and your partner isn't going to serve and volley, you and your partner need to have a fireside chat. What Dave Hodge told me when he was coaching a bunch of us and ran us through some doubles clinics is that the most important person on the court is the server's partner, and the server's partner should be poaching or faking a poach on every single point. Especially if your partner isn't serving and volleying, if you're not poaching or faking a poach, there's no point in starting at the net, because you know your opponents know you never move, so they'll hit the return away from you and gladly take over the net. Obviously, if you're gonna poach or fake a poach, you and your partner need signals or have to at least talk it over before each point.

    The moving back thing after you don't get a ball and they come in is contraindicated. Either do something at the net, or start back on the baseline with your partner.

    As I said, in the old days, and pretty much at all levels except the absolute beginner, everybody was at least trying to play serve and volley, chip and charge. Most of us can pretty well describe who needs to do what and when in that situation.

    Today, it's a lot more complex because there are all kinds of formations and strategies that win matches, at all levels. IMHO, however, what you and your partner have to do is pick out a strategy that works for you...that maximizes your strengths, tries to deny the opposing team the opportunity to pick on your weaknesses, and, most important allows you to play as a team. This last bit is really important. When I watch a lot of doubles these days, and I don't mean to pick on anyone, but it tends to happen most below the 4.0 level, what I see are four people playing singles on a doubles court. To effectively play together as a team, you and your partner need to sit down and have a discussion about what you're going to do, because you each have to know what the other is going to do and you can't depend on ESP for that information. And I think what you'll find is that there are general principles you can follow, but no cookie cutter solutions. Here's an example:

    - Team A has two strong servers. The elect, on both partner's serve, to serve and stay back with the other person at the net. This works really well for Team A, and they hold serve a lot. Why is this? Well, we said both players have strong serves...strong enough, it turns out, that at the level they are playing, the opposing team can only get back 40% of the returns, first or second serve, so the server gets a lot of cheap winners, and doesn't really have to expend the energy to serve and volley. And the second part of this scenario is that most of the 40% of the returns that do come back are wounded ducks, and the net person easily picks off most of these.

    - Team B also does the serve and stay back with a net person strategy, but it's not nearly as effective. In fact, Team B rarely holds serve using this strategy. Why is this? Well, to start with, both players have just so-so serves, so the opposing team gets lots of returns back, and is able to tee off on second serves. And neither player on Team B has an outstanding volley, and neither one particularly likes playing the net. But Team B actually has very strong ground strokes, because they're both tough baseliners in singles. For Team B, therefore, my advice is the following:

    - Serve, and both stay back. I'd say also return and both stay back.

    - Get some heavy groundies going. See what works best, maybe if you hit heavy to the back player (they're playing an back returner/up net player formation), you'll get some easy errors or some short balls that you can either whale on or use to hit an approach and move in. Don't neglect the net person, however, because remember that you have good groundies, and if you can hit some heavy balls at the net person, you may get some volley errors, short balls, or even force the net person to retreat...leaving the net open to you, if you want it.

    - The above might be plenty enough to win matches. If this is going well, however, you might want to experiment with having both of you move into net in situation where you get a short ball or drive one or both players on the opposing team behind the baseline. Yes, I know, playing net is not your forte, but what you're trying to do is come into net pretty much only when you know you've got an overwhelming advantage...and therefore you could probably hit the winning volley with a broom.

    I basically don't play a whole lot of doubles any more, but when I do, it's always with 3 other guys who only let the ball bounce on service returns. I like it that way...kind of like a knife fight in a phone booth. I had a partner a few years back who played doubles the way I do, serve and volley, chip and charge. We had both been playing tennis, and playing doubles, since God was in short pants, and got to the finals of a couple of big tournaments. So, naturally, we thought we knew everything there was to know about doubles. Then our coach, Dave Hodge, who played on the ATP tourn and is now one of the National Team coaches for Tennis Australia ran a doubles clinic for 4 of us, including me and my partner. What an education that turned out to be. I will put this in the next post in this thread...
     
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  5. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Next post...

    In men's doubles at the 4.5 level and above, there's some givens or almost so:

    - Serve and volley on both serves. I'll be giving a clinic for 4.0/4.5 players in Longmont, Colorado this weekend, and the main demo/drill part of the show is going to be serve and volley. Why do we serve and volley, anyway? The idea is that if your partner is already at the net and you're serving, and as a team, you want to take charge of things, you need to get up to the net with your partner ASAP, and the shortest distance between those two points is serve and volley.

    - Chip and charge whenever possible. Keep the return down, make the server stretch for the volley, try to get up to net with your partner ASAP. One up/one back is a clear invitation to the other team...want a point? Just hit through the diagonal!

    - Court positioning/strategy is not necessarily what everybody thinks, and some of this came out in the preceding comments. As Dave Hodge, one of my coaches said, "In doubles, each person has a job", to whit:

    - Server. Serving from way out near the singles lines is not really a good idea. You've just telegraphed that you're going wide on your serves...and if you're not, the serve in the duece court down the T is going to be a hazard, because it'll break into your opponent rather than tailing away. If you're serving from way out, you've also just left your partner with two unenviable choices: (1) Move over to cover the hole down the middle, and give up way too much space down the line, or (2) leave the hole down the middle open...and you can mail in the results of the match, see above. Serving from a little wider than your normal service position for doubles is fine...but if you can't hit a variety of serve directions/spins from there, go work on your serve, don't go stand way out somewhere.

    If you're not going to serve and volley, serve, hit the first groundstroke, and move in. If you put it off any longer than that, your partner is stranded, the other team just took over the net, and you just lost. Obviously, a good forcing serve is essential...you'd better get in at least 70% of your first serves, or...you lose.

    - Server's partner. Most important player on the court. On every point, the server's partner, who is at the net, should either be faking or poaching. This means you gotta communicate with your partner, either via a strategy discussion before the point or via signals. You make the "poach or not?" decision as a team before the point, so neither one of you gets surprised. So what if your partner has a 57 m.p.h helium ball for a serve? Well, you do a lot of faking, and resolve to work on the serve next week in practice. You're also governed by what your opponents do, however. If the other team returns a 57 m.p.h helium ball to the same spot every time...well, I'd think about poaching. Stand maybe a racket and half's length from the net, in the middle of the service box. Yeah, you'll give up a little of the line...but the middle of the service box is just your starting point. You're allowed to move, once the point starts, if you see the returner winding up for a bullet down the line. And you're never gonna be able to poach effectively if you stand over on the singles sideline.

    - Returner. Okay, I'll say it: A doubles return is different than a singles return. Doubles is a different game than singles. All I ever play, any more, is singles, so if I wind up playing doubles, I know it's going to take me at least a set or two to get the movement, strokes, strategy and rhythm back on track.

    In ATP singles tennis, most of the guys play Andy Roddick Smashball, where you hammer a serve, the returner tries to hit heavy crosscourt through the court, and then we settle down for some heavy-duty long range artillery with 100 m. p. h. backhands and forehands. There is a trickle down effect all the way to most public parks/NTRP/high school tennis: everybody bangs the big serve, the returner goes for a heavy topspin return, and you're off the the races. In doubles, get lots of returns back (there are two guys on the other side of the net, and they're supposed to win their serves), make the other team move and stretch, and keep the ball down. I love people who belt a return off my serve that ends up going a 100 m. p. h. three feet over the net. Response: angled volley at the net man's right hip, point over.

    When you get a break in doubles, it's rarely at love. Usually, you get to 30-30, and scratch together a couple of winning points to get the break. Therefore, assuming you're both righties, who has the better backhand return in the ad court? Because at 30-40 or 40-30, you need to get the return back so you can break. It's also a reason why if one of you has a streakier return, put that person in the duece court. If you get a winning return in the deuce court, Mr. Steady in the ad court can then finish off the job. The reverse strategy doesn't work as well.

    - Returner's partner. The guy in the Danger Zone. If your partner hits a duck return, guess who's going to see the ball next? Answer: you, and the ball's going to be trying to dig you another navel. Returner's partner starts off on the service line, halfway between the center line and the singles sideline...and you're facing the server's partner...because if there's any trouble, that's where it's going to come initially. After the point gets started, follow the ball, and stay with your partner...
     
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  6. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    ^^^Thanks v/much ski and Cindy... I'm taking notes!:)
     
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  7. tennislefty

    tennislefty New User

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    wow! love the ideas skiracer 55! now it makes me realize why i love doubles so much! the net! my teams is in usta states this weekend and with hopes to make it to nationals...il be sure to process this now before the start of the tournemet! this stuff will get ya to the next level!
     
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  8. ls206

    ls206 Professional

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    When I'm at the net I like to watch the other net player when my partner is hitting a shot. If you see them about to poach it gives you a fraction more time to react, I base my position on theirs and where they like to volley.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
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  9. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Coolness...

    ...read it, know it, live it, and by all means, good luck, and let us know how you do in your upcoming matches!
     
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  10. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    In Dubs, Making first serves is more important than hitting big first serves unless you have a very strong and consistent second serve.
    Good spin and a kick are generally more important than raw power for doubles serves, as the spin and kick give you more ways to work the returner for weaknesses AND really tend to set up your net man for him to do some damage. Power serves actually sometimes aid the returner in sticking the return back in tough and unexpected spots. Often happens at the worst times too.

    Returner's partner is the most mis-played position due to starting at the service line (No-Mans land). Most players just don't move or read properly from there. Facing and watching the opp. net man is a start, but the key is knowing if you should move to the net or retreat to the baseline to defend. Most players just get caught up in the point and wander thru parts of No-Mans land, becoming the target of the next shot.

    If your partners return of serve gets thru cross ct, getting past the opponents net man avoiding a poach, then move closer to net staying in front of the ball to cut off the passing angles. Especially move strongly if your returner returns dipped down to the opp. feet!
    If it does not get by their net man and he moves to make a tough poach, read his stick and be ready to make a clutch save; often this means a quick half volley off the center T area, as good poachers will target this area early and hard.

    If your returner lobs or hits higher soft return, retreat near the BL and square up to play clutch defense.
    These are the 3 main options to help out your returner and take off some of the pressure.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
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  11. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Assuming you're playing 3.0-4.0 doubles, here's the best tip I can offer...

    Serve down the 'T' to the receiver's BH side (assuming a righty) and have the net guy play an aggressive position (3-4 feet from the net and 3 feet from the center service line). You want to get into the receiver's head.

    This will force a ton of errors from the receiving side as most player at that level have weaker BH's (and haven't figured out how to change their return tactics to compensate). It also gives them a very small window in which to hit CC. However, If you see the serve is going too wide to the FH side... make sure to slide over and quickly to cover the line. You'll miss the easy CC poach but won't get passed DTL.

    When I'm playing against a team with an aggressive net player... most returns from my BH side get lobbed over the net guy (CC or DTL). It's amusing watching them try and poach an overhead lob that is clearly out of reach.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
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  12. ManuGinobili

    ManuGinobili Hall of Fame

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    Yup even advanced players have a tough time with the inside out backhand... attack that!!

    Don't forget to communicate! Compliment your partner when you can and it will pump both's spirits up

    That's all, you should spend your valuable time to memorize skiracer's stuff
     
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  13. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    If you're going for an offensive volley, ALWAYS aim for the net man. And as you get better, aim at their feet.

    On low balls, aim low. Use touch and placement over power.

    Fake or poach, but never stay still.

    Cheat a little to where the ball is. If it's wide crosscourt on your side, cover down the line. If it's wide crosscourt to your partner's side, cover the center. Both of you need to do this at the same time. This is when you're at net though. Baseline it doesn't matter too much, but whoever is at net must follow those guidelines.

    If you expect a weak response coming, pounce on it. This probably the part where I don't really play doubles, but play more of a singles style in which I dominate the net by constantly anticipating the next shot when I see a weak response coming. It allows me to easily and comfortably play my game to take control of the point and eventually smack a winner. They won't get it by me anyway if it's weak, and my opponent can cover me easily even if they don't know which side to cover.

    Get a high first serve percentage.

    Serve down the middle or into the body. Use wide serves only if you think you can draw a weak response or ace them. Down the middle and body cuts down on the angles they can use against you, allowing your partner to do more.

    If you have to hit a passing shot, dip it low.

    Hit down the center of the court until you get a high volley, then put it away at the net man or at an angle. This is an alternative to hitting to the net man of if there is no net man. I was skeptical about this at first as well, but it works VERY well.

    Keep the ball in play.
     
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  14. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Oh, and after you poach, keep going all the way to the other side. If you didn't make it, go back as quickly as possible.
     
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  15. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    ^^^ Some excellent replies guys and girls. Thank you all. I'm now slightly less apprehensive about next forthcoming doubles sessions and games... I'll try and take proper stock of that wealth of good advice.
     
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  16. GetBetterer

    GetBetterer Hall of Fame

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    Teamwork is key. You don't want both you and your doubles partner to be playing singles together on the same side of the court, you have to use teamwork.

    Be aggressive, I find that most people get scared. I like to instill fear into my opponents.

    Focus ON THE BALL. Not on how you're going to hit it, not on what type of shot you're going to hit. Just go "okay, the ball is about X feet away from me" and then let your unconscious side naturally hit it. :)
     
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  17. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Some very nice "pro" style advice. I think I play doubles at a lower level then most of you guys. My advice is if you want to win don't be afraid to lob..

    Often I face VERY aggressive net players that CANNOT cover an overhead to save their lives. Just lob it over this net person's head and watch the partner that scrambles back run for their life.

    Often that same aggressive net person will either switch or not move again and you can do the same thing. Even if they catch on they probably can't hit overheads..so you will win the point.

    They key is most people fancy themselves "good" tennis players and they want to play this hard hitting - keep the returns low and spank volley's style of tennis. But they don't have the skills to really make this work. You can take advantage of this..

    The same goes for hitting serves out wide (something I read earlier in this thread) - good advice. Its not a great shot down the middle gives your partner better returns to poach.

    But what if your partner doesn't poach well? Those out wide serves can give you easy free points. Some guys don't even adjust to the crazy out wide positioning you can get away with in doubles. If you have a hard slice serve (basically a flat serve with some slice action) you can grab yourself some free points.

    Be forewarned many players will hate lobs - and lob returns and will complain your playing "wrong" but make no adjustments to counter this.
     
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  18. rk_sports

    rk_sports Hall of Fame

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    Pre-Tactic stage (lol) --
    Find the 'right partner - one with the right attitude is the most imp thing, even if the partner is not the best player, one who can communicate well (and of course that goes for you too)

    Mental stuff --
    'help' your partner :)
    Partners unforced error - If your partner was trying the right shot, Encourage
    Partners unforced error - If your partner was trying a low percentage shot when there were much better options, communicate in a 'positive' way
    Know your partners strength and weakness -- this will allow when to poach/fake poach much better etc

    Basics --
    One of the most important thing is learn how to properly “shade” - Idea is that you and partner have to shrink the court for your opponents

    Tactical --
    Lot of good points by other posters (and some too high level as GuyClinch said :) )
     
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  19. JamaicanYoute

    JamaicanYoute Rookie

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    3 rules to live by:

    The very first rule of doubles (net play in general) is to cover the (your) line.Without this, your partner or yourself will not be able to put his/your best focus on his/your side as you'll always wonder about the pass. Communication is vital, but especially when dealing with the net. I play a lot of doubles, especially with my brother, and we beat down on most people simply because of the communication and like-mindedness. Side note: I was always taught that the man at net wins. Especially if you're playing doubles, so make sure at least one person is at the net unless you both don't know how to hit a volley.

    Also, as most people aren't comfortable at the net I would be very aggressive. Especially when hitting towards the guy at net. I'm not saying to hit him (or that hard anyway), but show him that he won't have an easy day at net. What this does is keep a little fear in the back of his head which will naturally deter him from a) going up and b) reaching and reacting to balls that if he were more positive, could probably hit without much difficulty. After that, every time you pounce, more than likely he's going to give up on the point.

    Last, simple rule - divide and conquer. Focus on hitting shots that run one opponent out of the court leaving the second to cover the entire court. When the man runs down the ball, your guy at net should have plenty of options.
     
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  20. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    some good stuff, especially about making sure to cover the line. By doing this you also force the guy to the harder xcourt shot (harder because it must cross your poaching position safely, which is especially tough if he is on the run for a wide ball( which is where most DONT cover the line well)) or lob and act as sort of a funnel to force the opp to hit where YOU want them to hit.
    It is another way to dictate the point.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
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  21. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    "cover your line" is bad doubles advice. I don't think I've ever played with anyone who I thought "I wish they'd cover their line better" (although I've played with lots of people who can't volley the down the line shot well). I've lost count of the number of people I've played with (even very good players) who think they're doing their job by standing close enough to the tramlines that the opponents never hit down the line.

    As the net man you need to cover one half of the court. If your opponents are never trying to pass you down the line, you're not covering half the court.

    If you're going to cover your line, make sure that the line is at the extreme of your reach: that is with one large crossover step and a volley stroke. I'm 5ft7 and that's over two meters for me. And think about your opponents shot tolerance. How often is your opponent really going to be able to make that down the line shot? If he's slightly off one way his shot goes out, if he's slightly off the other way you get an easy volley winner to the middle of the court.
     
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  22. Camilio Pascual

    Camilio Pascual Hall of Fame

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    Excellent, it is also bad singles advice.
    My experience, at least at 4.0 level and lower, is that nobody is going to consistently hit the ~6 inch gap I try to leave along the sideline without missing a lot and making too many errors. I very much like to play with people who continually try to do just that.
     
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  23. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    These screenshots (sorry for the terrible quality) are taken from a talk given by Louis Cayer and he's commenting on the positioning of some of the people in his Doubles DVD.

    First up are some Australian guys he says were ranked about 130 in the world, he calls the following Server's Partner position "very weak" and laments that he had to put this in the DVD because he had to find examples of certain moves from Davis & Fed Cup:

    [​IMG]

    Here is an example of what he calls "good" position, the Server's Partner here is Lisa Raymond. He says for good position the foot closest to the tramlines should be in the middle of the box.

    [​IMG]
     
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  24. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting comments.

    first- cover the line is bad
    second- cover half the court

    Isn't your line on your half the court??
    I've not seen many who have trouble cover most of their half, but see quite a few that can be burned down the line. I earn quite a few points almost every match hitting down poorly covered lines.

    Other than trying to play in No Mans land, this is the most regular mistake players make. Maybe at 2.5 to low 4.0 you don't see players hit well down the line, but better players will often take some of the tougher balls dtl, as it is often easier in many respects.

    We never said not to cover your half, or even where to stand, quite the contrary;
    but if you are getting smoked DTL with me as your partner, I'm not happy as it is very hard for me to help on that side. You are all we have over there, so you really need to get that done. I can really cover you and help to augment on the middle balls though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
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  25. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Initial position means nothing, and in fact position in general means very little in and of it's self. It is "What you can cover".

    This pics tell us nothing about what they have chosen to cover in the coming point. Their position may be a complete decoy as to their intentions on coverage.
    You seem to confuse position with coverage in this discussion.
    We are talking about what must be covered and your comments are about where to stand.
    No "good" pro will ever say to concede your line and not have coverage there, but they may suggest a position that conceals the line coverage.
     
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  26. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    Obviously we have opposite experiences playing doubles.

    In my experience
    8 out of 10 people don't cover half of the court because they are "covering their line".
     
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  27. FloridaAG

    FloridaAG Professional

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    Communicate with your partner and move as a team - frankly there is plenty of strategy and I agree with much that has been posted above, but at the end of the day communication and coordinated movement is the key.

    If your partner is pulled wide, you have to shift to the middle to assist and can't stay planted on your side. Watch and adjust and move at all times.
     
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  28. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I am curious to what level and part of the country you are observing this, if you are inclined to share that info.

    Also I would be interested in the negative effects of playing with someone who covers their line too well?
    Are they placing too much demand on you in the center of the court?
    thanks
     
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  29. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    Initial positioning is important because you need to be at an equal distance between your potential finishing points when the server hits the ball. If the serve is out wide, you want to be approximately between the "poach position" (center line) and the non-poach position (just outside the tramlines). If you're too close to the tramlines when the server serves you'll have to move too early to get to the poach position on time and on balance.

    Initial positioning is critical.
     
    #29
  30. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    England. I'd say I'm approx. 4.5. I observe this at all levels.

    Also I would be interested in the negative effects of playing with someone who covers their line too well?
    Are they placing too much demand on you in the center of the court?
    thanks[/QUOTE]

     
    #30
  31. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Cover the line is a myth...

    ...what you need to do is pack the center. If you and your partner cover the lines, you leave a hole you can drive a truck through right in the middle of the court...and getting a shot into that hole is a percentage shot, because it's over the low part of the net, and it's nowhere near any of the side lines.

    If you pack the middle, you just took away the easy ball down the middle. Now your opponents have to think about hitting to the outside, which is riskier because they might miss outside the lines and it's over the high part of the net.

    What does "packing the middle" consist of? Basically, you and your partner should be laterally spaced so that if you extend your rackets toward each other, they should just about touch. To start with, let's assume you hit through the court, then both got to the net. So you're "centered" at the net. Now you have to (a) stay linked with your partner...maintain the horizontal spacing so your rackets almost touch and (b) move with the ball. If you're in the right court, for example, and you hit a volley cross court, you and your partner both shade cross court.

    Trust me, this is not something I just made up. If you had a chance to see the Bryan brothers at Wimbledon, this is how they play: link with your partner, pack the middle to start, move laterally with your partner...
     
    #31
  32. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I'll take a double helping of "Don't worry about covering the line."

    I pull my hair out in clumps with partners who position in such a way that the only thing they are covering is the line. What's so hard about standing in the middle and then just getting in front of the ball, wherever it happens to be? If it goes wide, shift wide. If it goes up the middle, shift to the middle.

    I mean, I hit a good serve up the middle, return is a duck but my partner started off with one foot on the tram line and so the duck is out of reach. Aargh!

    I remember a team practice when I had a new partner. I was serving, and she was literally in the back corner of the service box nearest the alley. This left me with about 88% of the court to cover by myself. The returners, being smart, started blasting returns directly at the center of the service box where she *should* have been standing. I said, "Hey, would you start off in the center of the box closer to net so you can grab some of those returns up the middle?" She said, "No, if I do that they will hit down my alley." She kept lining up the same exact way.

    I haven't partnered with her since.
     
    #32
  33. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Bingo...

    ...as you have described, the idea is for you and your partner to play as one wide singles player, not as occasional acquaintances in separate but parallel universes...
     
    #33
  34. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Again as mentioned earlier, there is confusion here in positioning vs coverage- they are not the same thing,
    although in most of these posts they are being discussed as if they are the same. The situation u describe of both covering allys at the same time with the truck hole down the middle, would never be the case unless you also don't under stand "shift and stagger".

    Both in the middle assumes a rare middle ball going to your opponents if they are deep and in this situation, there is no DTL for concern.

    If you are getting passed down dtl, you have poor coverage.
    If you are not getting hurt down the lines, your coverage is satisfactory.
    Position how you prefer to make it happen.

    Deluxe, you think covering 70% (not a valid %) of the court is hard; wait till you try to cover that ally on the other side of your partner that you suggest he not cover.

    .
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
    #34
  35. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    very eloquently stated.:)
     
    #35
  36. crystal_clear

    crystal_clear Professional

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    skiracer55 said, "...the server's partner should be poaching or faking a poach on every single point. Especially if your partner isn't serving and volleying, if you're not poaching or faking a poach, there's no point in starting at the net, ..." I should apply this concept into my game instead of waiting for balls coming to me.
     
    #36
  37. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    i think that what some of the posters are trying to say is the people who cover the alley are positioned in a way that leaves the center wide open so they are not able to cover their portion of the court because they are overprotecting the alley.
    i disagree with your comment
    "If you are not getting hurt down the lines, your coverage is satisfactory"
    if you are getting killed down the middle but not down the line the coverage is NOT satifactory.
     
    #37
  38. julian

    julian Hall of Fame

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    I could NOT resist

    A name of a country is Scotland
     
    #38
  39. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Well all these players supporting leaving the lines uncovered explains alot about my win/ loss dubs record over the last 4-5 years.
    And I thought it was because of the way I pound the middle early in the match! Little did I realize so many folks just plan on leaving it open from the onset, lol.
    I guess pounding the middle early is still a great way to get warmed up before feasting on the uncovered allys.

    best to you!
     
    #39
  40. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    This was in the context of discussing dtl coverage.
    No one has questioned the need to cover the middle have they??

    There is no reason to leave any court uncovered in dubs with proper shift and stagger. If playing with me, shade your coverage to the outside where you have NO help. I can help you cover the edges of your middle coverage.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
    #40
  41. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Yep, I'm cool with that...

    ...the next question is, where do you go from there? Meaning that you and your partner are both starting on the baseline when your partner is serving...what's next? You can both stay there and hit groundies, is one choice, and while this wouldn't be my way, a couple of years back, two of the Chinese women actually made it to the finals of a Grand Slam by employing exactly this tactic. If, however, you and your partner like the idea of going to the net together, then if you get a short ball or other opportunity, then you can both come up at the same time. So now you have a "we started at the baseline, joined at the hip, now we're going to move to the net, still joined at the net" strategy...try it, you might like it...
     
    #41
  42. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    This whole discussion is very interesting...

    ...and illuminating to me, because I'm starting to believe that there are almost more possibilities in doubles these days then there are in singles, where "big serve, big forehand, that is all you need to know" often works at the highest levels!

    Very interesting also, because I'm going to be coaching a group of 4.0/4.5s tomorrow, and this is an extension of a clinic I did about 3 weeks ago. In the first clinic, the focus stroke was the volley, and I talked about different doubles formations and strategies and a more or less basic set of ideas for initial positioning/roles for each player per one of my posts, above. And everyone seemed to get a lot out of what I was working on, regardless of whether he or she actually changed the way he or she played! I think it's important to know all the possibilities, and to know where you fit in the range of those possibilities. If you can see that a choice is to "pack the center" but you're convinced that you need to "cover the line", then fine...if it works for you, and that's the way you want to play tennis, that's your choice. That's the nice thing about tennis, is there are many different paths to success and good times on the court.

    What I'm going to be doing tomorrow is a progression:

    - From 8 to 9, I'm going to be doing a demo hitting session with one of my hitting partners, who is also a 5.0. The idea is not so much to say "this is how to hit a forehand" or "here's how you strategize point play", it's really to say "here's how to take 45 minutes to an hour, especially if you're time constrained, and effectively and efficiently train to improve your tennis." To me, this is the building block...get into a routine like this, and you'll be working toward dependable, consistent strokes that you can take into pattern play and actual point play in matches.

    - At 9, we're going to get two volunteers and do a serve and volley demo. First, I'm going to say "Okay, why do we serve and volley, anyway?" And I'm hoping somebody will say "Well, if I'm the server, and my partner is at net, and I want to get on up there with my partner, the shortest distance between two points is to serve and volley with no intervening ground strokes...right?" And that person gets an A plus, or I provide the answer. Then I'm going to do a serve-split-step at the T-first volley- move in demo at 3/4 speed. I want to emphasize the movement pattern, because it's possible to play S&V, I believe, at any level, if you target your serve and succeeding strokes and if you move intelligently on the court.

    Serve and volley, to me, simplifies the whole process of playing doubles. There isn't nearly as much "Yours...Mine? No yours!" going on, there isn't so much of a possiblity of the net person not having anything to do until the next millenium, there is less of a conscious effort required, IMHO, to coordinate movements with your partner. I really, really advocate that all players, at whatever level, should give S&V in doubles a try. Then we're going to crank up the volume and play some full one, big serve/big volley points to conclude the demo.

    After that, everybody splits up into doubles pairs and I walk around and coach, or, if desired, we have a drill court where pairs/individuals can work on whatever is desired...overheads, chip and charge patterns, doubles returns, more volley stuff, whatever. I'm looking forward to it, the group I had before, and I think there will be a lot of returnees, was incredibly enthusiastic and willing to learn new things quickly...wish y'all could be there!
     
    #42
  43. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    I think some folks are missing the point about initial position and covering the line. If I am at net, my understanding with my partner is that if he hits wide, I will move to cover the DTL shot, and he's responsible for the middle. Obviously, if he hits in the middle, I am responsible for my part of the middle and anything DTL - I will give priority to covering the more likely shot through the middle in this case. The decision to cover the line or the middle is dynamic, based on how and where you or your partner hit the previous ball, and which part of the court needs most coverage.

    Similarly, initial position depends on the communication you had with your partner. If he's going to serve down the middle, you want to be closer to the middle. If he's going wide, you look for DTL and he moves to cover the middle. Same kind of reasoning applies to returning.

    Of all the principles in doubles, this is the most important one for me. Not that I win too many doubles matches - most of them are pick up games, and my partners usually have no clue about setting up their net man. And they hit the ball with nothing on it and the opponent has so many choices that it is not possible for me to cover the net efficiently...

    Edit: And that's why even though I love doubles dearly, I end up playing a helluva lot more singles.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
    #43
  44. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    You got it man, position is dynamic, but coverage stays intact!
     
    #44
  45. crystal_clear

    crystal_clear Professional

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    Me and my partner played Intercounty ladies double (8.0). One of the opponent slice everything with consistency. The other lefty opponent hit topspin ground stroke though less consistent. We started with one up one back and got lobbed and lost 1:6 1st set. We then adjusted to play two back and it worked for a while but we lost some crucial point and 0:5 in the 2nd set. We decided to move up since we got nothing to lose. We became active at the net and won 6 games in a row 6:5 then 6 all. At tie-break, we played not to lose and moved back again. We lost 3:7 in the tie-break.

    We lost the net and we lost the battle.
     
    #45
  46. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    I'll second this from another perspective. The primary shots to cover as a net player are drives from your opponents. When your opponents hit a good drive, you won't have a great deal of time to move, you're just going to have minimal footwork. When your opponents hit angles, they can't hit it as hard, so you'll usually have more time to move to the ball. The right concept is that you pack the middle to cover the drives and you move out to cover the angles.
     
    #46
  47. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I agree with you, but I have some issues with the bolded part.

    I set up in the same exact spot regardless of where my partner has told me she will serve. Once the serve is struck, I then move based on serve location. Varying your starting position tips alert receivers as to what is coming.

    And even if the receiver doesn't "read" the serve based on where you are starting the point at net, varying your starting position creates another problem. Say your partner says she will serve out wide, so you start closer to the alley for that point. You have put no pressure on the crosscourt return. The receiver can relax and spank the return with little worry it will be intercepted because you are too far away. Better, I think, is just start in the middle and shift over with the serve. Then the opponent will have movement at net to deal with while she is hitting, which is always a good thing.

    Cindy -- who *loves* opponents who line up near the alley and who will take that crosscourt angle for every single return
     
    #47
  48. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    So why do you have so many balls in the middle of the court and facing drives?
    In dubs, most baseline shots come from one side or the other,
    or they should so you can set up the court to play 2 on 1 and squeeze down the court on the hitter.
    So the drives you speak of defending with no time to move are DTL, with the angles you say you can move to- being xcourt to middle or wide.

    Mainly the only time you will have middle deep balls will be when serving to the T, and of course the net man follows the ball and packs the middle;
    But
    the line is covered adequately due to geometry and bisecting of the angle.
     
    #48
  49. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    Another perspective:

    If you were to win 60% of points, you're doing well.

    If you take two equal level players, if you ask one to return a well struck, deep ball (or a serve) and hit it a drive down the line and actually hit the line, I'd suspect they'd be lucky to do it 1 in 100 times.

    Lets give the receiver a 6 inch margin, now how often will he get it between the tramline and 6 inches inside the tramline? If they couldn't hit that 6 inch gap off a deep shot with a good drive at least 4 times out of 10, then I'd say you shouldn't be covering that 6 inches. If your opponents are going to hit shots they can only make 40% of the time, you're going to win.

    Even if you think my 40%-6 inches figure is wrong at any particular level, there is going to be *some* margin which they can only hit 40% of the time, and you shouldn't be trying to cover that margin.

    It's better to cover 6 inches more of the centre than to cover that 6 inches on the side.
     
    #49
  50. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Where you start is a tip to what you will do?? Why?
    Why would you not give different looks, then follow with a variety
    of moves after the serve is in flight? Why be so predictable?

    5263-- who loves to line up near the ally, then poach shots from those who think this tells them something.
     
    #50

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