Doubles tactics for dummies!...

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

  1. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    I'm thinking of having two people at the net (second volley position) against one or two back.
     
    #51
  2. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    Agreed, you can't set up differently for serves going to different locations.
     
    #52
  3. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Why?
    Why would you give up something coverable?
    If you are playing it straight without called plays,
    just follow the serve and you don't need to leave anything uncovered.
    With called plays, you are calling your chosen coverage.
    But I do agree that you never need to cover a shot that you don't think a given opponent can make a few times.
    That said, I don't leave things open on big points where I can't afford to see that 1 in 10 lucky shot.
     
    #53
  4. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    You have to be in the right place at the right time, and on balance. If you start near the alley, your partner serves down the T and you try to get in the correct poach position, you'll have to move way before your partner's serve bounces and you'll have to move so quickly that you won't be making a neutral split step when the receiver hits the ball.

    Unless your partner is serving underarm.
     
    #54
  5. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    As I said. It's percentage tennis. Why would you cover shots your opponents can make 40% of the time and leave uncovered shots he can make 95% of the time?
     
    #55
  6. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    And you are giving them deep balls in the middle to hit?

    Giving them them the choice of who gets to make the play?
    Giving both corners to lob to?
    Letting them choose between inside out, crosscourt, or dipper down the middle; whatever they favor?
    These are all things I would rather control on my terms not theirs, so I don't see this array very often, and strongly prefer to put the iso on one guy.

    But yes, in this rare set up, packing the middle would be good, but the lines will be coved thru bisecting the angles of course.
     
    #56
  7. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    I agree predictability is bad. But even if you always start in the same position, if you can see or already know where the ball is headed, you can make the adjustment on the fly. Or, as 5263 has pointed out, you can give the opponent different looks and obfuscate your real intentions. There is a lot of trickery in doubles... :)
     
    #57
  8. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Not leaving anything uncovered and don't see why you would.
     
    #58
  9. deluxe

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    I'd rather hope to be winning at least two thirds of the points if my team have both players at the net against two people at the baseline one of whom is hitting a deep ball down the middle.

    Assuming equal level players and the net players have good volleys and overheads.
     
    #59
  10. hrstrat57

    hrstrat57 Hall of Fame

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    Textbook stuff here sr55, real good work.
     
    #60
  11. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Since when do you need to take a split step poaching on a predictable returner who thinks that cause you are shading the ally, they have and easy cross court? Or any poach for that matter?
     
    #61
  12. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    If you're 6 inches closer to the tramlines, you're covering 6 inches less of the middle.
     
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  13. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    So you can react to the direction they hit the ball.
     
    #63
  14. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Not true, you just diminish the overlap.

    Net position is a split step. I never have to even consider footwork like this at net. Just be an athlete up there and get to the ball.
     
    #64
  15. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Absolutely, but maybe this is just a skill/ability that I just take for granted.
    I read the serve location, read the swing/racket, balance this against demonstrated tendencies/skills, and be an athlete from there.

    I teach this stuff a lot and do see that lots of folks struggle with the geometry and the "if then" decisions aspects of it. Maybe some of this will come to you when you get back to the court.
    I'll keep and eye out if you want to look at some more aspects of it after getting back on the court.
    take care,
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2010
    #65
  16. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    If your net man can volley that crosscourt groundstroke, you're going to win the point 9 times out of ten. If the guy at the back of the court has to hit it, you're only likely to win in 5 times out of ten (if not less).

    Wow. You must be a natural.
     
    #66
  17. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    One more thing,

    remember, I don't have to consider direction in this case as she stated that she was going x ct based on my position near the ally.
    It won't take long at all to pick up on that tendency and exploit it a couple of times, then have them guessing and trying to react to me and what I'm doing.
    That is where I want them when my partner is serving. More worried about what my line up position than what serve is coming!
     
    #67
  18. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Not sure what you are saying in that first part, but sure we all have some natural strengths. My athletic background is quite extensive and does give me a nice foundation in sports that require good balance and speed.
     
    #68
  19. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    OK, but next time you miss a ball that's hit behind you because you weren't on balance and were rushing to get in position for the that planned poach because your starting position was too close to the tramlines, consider that its possible there are some things you can do to improve your game and that maybe there are some things your natural athleticism can't teach you.
     
    #69
  20. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    Let me expand. If two teams are both playing one up, one back and the baseline players are having a rally: If the net man can intercept and hit a good volley, you're going to win that point nine times out of ten. If it goes past the net man to the other baseline, it's just 50/50. Obviously you'd prefer to have your net man make a good interception. If the net man is 6 inches closer to the middle, he'll obviously be able to intercept more balls and you'll win more points.
     
    #70
  21. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    No, because on a planned poach the area behind me is covered by my partner.
    Yes, I'm always improving my game, but leaving part of my responsibility uncovered is not the way.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2010
    #71
  22. deluxe

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    You have to cover balls that go to your left or your right on your 50% of the court. Unless you're trying to cover your 50% of the court with just your forehand, you have to be ready to hit either a forehand or a backhand. If you're not on balance and in position when the opponent hits the ball, you're not equally ready to hit a backhand or a forehand.

    You're not playing percentage tennis then.

    I'm not sure why you think making an argument from authority is going to convince anyone of anything.
     
    #72
  23. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, okay...


    ...so you lost, but that doesn't mean you're Bad People. A lot of tennis, IMHO, is encapsulated in the following, care of one of my former coaches, Sam Winterbotham, former CU Men's Head Coach, now Head Men's Coach of the Div. 1 runner-up Tennessee Vols:

    - Be honest. This isn't limited to "make honest line calls." If you weren't prepared, and the other guy was just better, don't whine...do better next time.

    - Believe in yourself. Sounds easy, in practice, it's really hard. My opponent has a great first serve, heavy topspin forehand, aggressive net play...and I have none of the above. So what? He or she puts on his or her tennis shorts one leg at a time, just like I do. Just play the ball, not your opponent, and good things can happen...

    - Leave everything out on the court. There's no substitute for not giving 110%...and you'd be surprised how effective it can be against an opponent who "should" beat you...

    - Have fun out there. It's a tennis match, not a firing squad. If it ain't fun, anymore, on some level...go hiking...take up hang gliding...discover surfing...it's your life, and you only have one to lead...
     
    #73
  24. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    I wanted to show that top doubles players don't "cover their line", so I took a random recent match between top doubles players (Wimbledon 2010 Mixed Final) and did screenshots of how the server's partner positioned themselves on a wide serve when they didn't poach. The only problem I had was that Cara Black poached on every wide serve! (At least the ones that were returned). The screenshots below are taken at the point the receiver is hitting the ball, and the screenshot with Cara Black in is not a wide serve.

    I'll leave you all to judge whether or not they're "covering their line" when they're not poaching.

    Moodie:
    [​IMG]

    Paes:
    [​IMG]

    Raymond:

    [​IMG]

    Black:

    [​IMG]
     
    #74
  25. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    Also notice that they're all balanced and split stepping.
     
    #75
  26. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Of course they have the line covered or else the pro on the other side would hit it there. I tried to explain the difference between coverage and position as did another poster. Clearly you don't see this difference. that's fine, have a great weekend.
     
    #76
  27. drop volley

    drop volley New User

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    you have 4,293 posts and you are "clueless" about doubles?

    have you played tennis this decade?
     
    #77
  28. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    Positioning is the whole question of whether or not you are "covering your line". My first set of pictures showed positioning when the server was hitting the ball. The second set show positioning when the receiver is hitting the ball. We've been talking about whether or not it's worth standing 6 inches closer to the middle, or whether that's just "covering overlap".

    [​IMG]

    Lisa Raymond (Server's Partner) is a good 10 foot from the tramline. Paes is hitting a forehand which is probably 5 foot outside the tramlines. If you think Raymond is covering a down the line forehand that actually hits the outside tramline, she must be a much better athlete than anyone else on the planet. She's going to have 11 feet to move in under half a second from a standing start. The most she is going to be able to do if Paes hits that down the line is take one crossover step and reach with her racquet. That's not 11 foot. She's only 5ft5. Measure out 11 ft and see if you think you would be able to move that far from a standing start to volley a forehand down the line from an ATP Pro.

    The reason he doesn't hit that forehand down the line is because it is a low percentage shot. That's why Lisa Raymond is leaving it open for him. She'll be happy for him to hit down the line forehands from there *all day*.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2010
    #78
  29. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    You pics do prove your point that pro do decide to pack the middle at times.
    The vid below also confirms your point on Pro "positioning".
    More importantly for our games, the vid below confirms that most often they have the lines covered; either thru position or great movement to the line.
    It also shows that dtl is not a low % shot as I don't recall one missed dtl in the entire vid, although surely there were a couple.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C-pEt8d9ts

    44 secs in shows brothers getting passed dtl while packing middle
    2:52 in shows one team "covering" the line from mid position
    308 & 321 show dtl passes
    331 shows dtl covered from mid position
    437 shows dtl covered then bro passed dtl
    505 shows bro moving to cover line
    525 shows moving to cover line

    So the point is While great players may not position so that line coverage is obvious, they don't intend to leave the line "uncovered". You have to understand the difference in position and coverage.

    Also, when the line is not covered well enough, they get stung ! Misses dtl are rare with good players. It is not a low % shot as you maintain, unless the ball hit at them is causing major problems; so in that case, most shots will be low %.

    Yes the Bryans do often position as U say and slightly overplay the middle at times, but they also cover extremely well, even from there. Mostly they only move to middle in 3 special situations. 1. called play 2. damaging shot to opp 3. to get in front of a center T shot.
    for every pack the middle pic you have, there are 20 where the position is much more standard with respect to the lines.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2010
    #79
  30. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    Thank you, it's good to come across someone who can accept when they are wrong. I wasn't sure how to proceed if you were going to maintain that Lisa Raymond really could cover the tramline from there.

    You can't take 8 minutes of edited highlights from a 3 hour match and use that to work out how many times they hit a winner down the line. The highlights don't show when the receiver hits down the line and misses.

    They are clearly leaving some margin of tramline uncovered. If they weren't you would see *any* winners down the line, and yet clearly there are. If they weren't they wouldn't be playing the percentages, as shown above.

    Watch a full length, top level doubles match. You should see at least a few winner down the line. That in itself proves that they're leaving some of the tramlines uncovered. But see how the server's partner lines up for the next return. They line up in *exactly* the same place. They're playing the percentages. The percentage play is not to cover the shots your opponents can make 10% or 40% of the time, it's to cover the shots they can make 95% of the time.

    Of course top level doubles players have extremely good coverage, but they can't cover everything. They're not going to cover that 1 inch, or 3 inches, or 6 inches or whatever margin it is inside the tramline. Their opponents can't hit with that accuracy a high percentage of the time.
     
    #80
  31. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    It is not possible, in singles or doubles, to cover 100% of the court. Surely we can agree on that?

    Since you have to leave something open and cannot cover everything, it makes sense to leave open the areas of the court that are most difficult for opponent to hit. In doubles, one such area is the DTL. If you position to best cover the DTL, you are leaving your middle more open. If you position to best cover the middle, you are leaving your line more open. Given that court geometry and net height and difficult in changing direction of incoming ball all suggest that the DTL return is more risky and difficult than the Xcourt return, it makes no sense to focus on covering the line.

    And I cannot believe there is any debate whatever about this. It's so very basic.

    When you understand that, it is easier to understand where to position. Generally speaking, the starting place to position is the middle of your service box, knowing that you will adjust your position based on the ball and the strength of your partner's shot.

    IMHO.
     
    #81
  32. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    And thank you for showing me how hard this is for some to get the geometry on this, as well as understanding the difference between position and coverage, along with shift and stagger.
    You show a couple of still pics showing players caught out of position or working off a called play and think that proves something, but turn around and discount 8 mins of vid with complete points showing "why" players have moved to the position they have (mostly the 3 reasons listed above), as well as showing how well they can still cover from those positions.

    You started all this with your statement that to have the lines covered is bad advice. Those that agree with that statement will get the double results they deserve.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2010
    #82
  33. Camilio Pascual

    Camilio Pascual Hall of Fame

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    If you are getting passed down the middle, you have poor coverage.
    If you are not getting hurt down the middle, your coverage is satisfactory.
    Down the middle is the high percentage in doubles. The net is lower and you have to be off left-or-right by quite a few yards to hit it out by the sideline. D-T-L, by just a few inches.
    Hmmm, which to defend against, the high % shot or low % shot. I'll agree that there are a few players every now and then who have freakishly good shots that go against the norm. You may have an exceptional d-t-l shot which indicates 2 things to me.
    1. Your personal observations of your d-t-l shots have no value in generalizing.
    2. If somebody who is a 4.0 is making great d-t-l shots against me, they must have some glaring deficiency in another part of their game that I can exploit and I should break my general rule and move closer to the line whilst exploiting their deficiency.
     
    #83
  34. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Sorry, I don't see a polite way to respond in this case. Anybody can say anything on the net.
     
    #84
  35. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Well, then. I guess we are in agreement.
     
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  36. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Do love your signature!
     
    #86
  37. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks!

    I need an avatar, but I can't find a good picture of an error generator. :)
     
    #87
  38. deluxe

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    There's been no debate about geometry or shifting or staggering. Your position on court determines what range of shots you can cover. The photos I showed are the standard positioning for an out wide serve when they're not poaching. I took the first such examples in the match. They all have very similar positioning. They are not "working off a called play" as you can see from the positioning of the server in each of the photos. They are not "caught out of position" - they all knew where their partner was going to serve and they all took up a similar position.

    You watched 8 minutes of highlights from a 3 hour match and said you didn't see one down the line shot that was hit out! Good players very rarely miss that down the line shot! Amazing! And yet the very fact that you saw down the line winners disproves your assertion that the net player has that down the line shot covered.
     
    #88
  39. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    There were few DTL winners, but many dtl shots, sometime 2 or 3 in a point. Big difference.
    Do you mind giving your age?
     
    #89
  40. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    To Cindysphinx and deluxe: are you saying that it's just not worth covering the DTL shot? If not, under what circumstances should the DTL shot be covered? Sorry if it sounds dumb, but I am trying to understand where you are coming from.
     
    #90
  41. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    I'm saying there's a margin. If your opponent could hit a 6 inch strip inside of the tramline 40% of the time, don't cover that 6 inch strip. Prefer to be 6 inches closer to the centre where you'll be able to intercept more high percentage balls. If your opponents want to try and hit shots they can only make 40% of the time, they're going to lose.

    For me, I think this is pretty much basic high percentage tennis, but I've backed up the simple logic with quotes and slides from Louis Cayer (coach to Nestor amongst many others) and screenshots of positioning of the server's partner of the four players in the Wimbledon mixed final this year.

    Actually I think at most levels it will be more than a 6 inch strip before the receiver makes more shots than he misses.
     
    #91
  42. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    My point is that with proper shift and stagger, the dtl is covered and there is some overlap in the middle coverage.
     
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  43. athiker

    athiker Hall of Fame

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    Despite the bit of arguing back and forth I enjoyed this "discussion" of "covering" or "positioning to cover" DTL vs more to the middle. To me its been a % thing...first I will make them beat me DTL if they can (harder shot and all). If they burn me a few times in a row, not just 1 out of 3 tries, then yes, I'll give the DTL more respect. Like S&V, when you get burned you can look silly standing there watching the ball go by out of reach, but you have to keep in mind the overall win/loss %.

    The nugget I think that I picked up from this back and forth is realizing that it matters what kind of ball the opponent is being forced to hit on how much "respect" I give to the DTL shot. Not just location, but pace and difficulty.

    If my partner has a hot serve, then I'm less worried about the returner firing an accurate shot DTL past me. He's going to be more concerned with just getting the ball back in play, not painting the lines. If he does go for the DTL window then I like my odds. It'll likely be slower and give me time to get there, or plain out.

    If my partner is dinking a 2nd serve over out wide then you bet I better respect the DTL reply. That's not such a tough shot for the returner to pull off in that case.

    The same goes for a rally ball. If the ball is forcing and going to be tough for the opponent to handle then I can shade more middle to be in better position to cut off the reply. If my partner has just sent over a softer ball that will be easier for the opponent to handle and possibly change direction on then I have to take more care with guarding the line. Then there is every gradation in between.

    I haven't really thought of that aspect before just now, I've just gone by a gut feel of getting burned DTL/not getting burned DTL on how much I shade over, so thanks, I think this will up my success odds.
     
    #93
  44. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    There has to be a trade off what ever you do with shift and stagger. If you cover every conceivable down the line shot, even ones that your opponents can only hit 1 time out of 100, you'll inevitably have to position yourself closer to the tramlines, which means you'll inevitably be able to intercept cross court shots less often.
     
    #94
  45. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    Sure. When you come up against some new opponents you don't know what margin of error they'll have on that down the line shot and there will be some adjustment of position to adjust to their relative skills. Presumably for 5263 there should be no adjustment, because you should always position yourself so that you never get burned down the line. My only claim is that there is *some* margin that you should leave because it is too low percentage for them to hit consistently. Opponents hitting low % shots = you winning.

    True.
     
    #95
  46. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    deluxe, I think we are all talking about the same thing here, it's just a matter of degree. Somebody with high skill and athletic ability could probably cover that improbable 6 inch strip also. With my abilities, and the lollipops my partners usually feed my opponents, I will be ecstatic if I can get the uncovered area down to 6 inches... :) Still, the principle of covering the DTL shot is what we are all concerned with, I think. With a good partner, the middle should be fully covered because he will see you shift towards the alley and automatically watch the middle. Of course, a crazy/lucky crosscourt shot could pass your partner in this case - nothing comes for free! The level and athletic abilities of the players will determine how much of the court is left uncovered, I would think.
     
    #96
  47. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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    But however high the skill level, you'll win more points by leaving it uncovered and covering more of the centre. If the net man can volley that cross court shot, it will be point over most of the time. Why would you sacrifice those crosscourt interceptions for the sake of covering shots your opponents can hit 1 in 10 times? At the highest level, they clearly leave a big gap there such that they can't cover good down the line shots.

    Check out the positioning of top players yourself. See where they stand. I've posted four screenshots from this years Wimbledon Mixed final, there can be no argument about the positioning in those screenshots, but do your own research. Find a match with a top doubles player in and see where they position themselves when their partner hits a wide serve and they don't poach.

    I think the level matters less than you might think. As the level gets lower, the serves get slower, but the groundstrokes get worse and the volleys get worse too. Fundamentally we're talking about geometry and the geometry is the same whatever your level.
     
    #97
  48. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    You have got it exactly and you do a good job of explaining. Coverage is not all about position. Coverage is about making sure the court is accounted for, like in your example better serves or stronger groundstrokes. I never said anything about getting every conceivable ball and don't think that is relevant, as you can't get every ball even when hit right at you.
     
    #98
  49. deluxe

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    Position is the crucial thing that determines what parts of the court you're covering. We're not talking about technical details of how you volley or what your footwork should be.

    To avoid any doubt that may remain about how top doubles players position themselves when they are the server's partner on a wide serve, here are the wide serves from 5263's highlights. Of these I count two attempted shots down the line. One was a mishit lob where the server's team won the point, one went straight to the net man, but the receivers won the point (of course the highlights won't show DTL returns that were misses, they don't count as highlights):

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2010
    #99
  50. deluxe

    deluxe Semi-Pro

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