How Do You Call Lines?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by adventure, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. adventure

    adventure Banned

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    One of the most frustrating things about tennis is line calling.

    I try to be as accurate as possible.

    But some of my playing partners are very different. One mixed doubles team I've played against is very generous with line calls, to the point that I'm sometimes embarrassed if we win a set off them. They'll return serves when the ball from my vantage point appears to be 2 or 3 inches out.

    Another guy is a relentless cheat. He'll cheat on every line call possible. This infuriates me but no one else seems to mind one bit. They never question him.

    Question:

    1. do I have to be equally generous with line calls when the other team is? It seems the proper etiquette.

    2. what's a graceful way of dealing with line cheats?
     
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  2. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    I call it best I can, I give way more call than I should but even if I'm 99% sure it's out I still call it in. That being said if the guy is generous with calls I return the favor and play balls a few inches out. If the guy hooks me on calls I give him nothing and call it as close as possible. I think it's the best way, treat others like they treat you.
     
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  3. gregor.b

    gregor.b Professional

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    Play it how you see it.If you are being hooked make it known that you know what is going on.If they continue,make sure everybody in the vicinity knows they are cheating.If it still continues,give as good as you get.When you are questioned by the cheat,advise him it will be in a match report going to ALL the teams in the competition so that they already know he is a cheat before the other teams play against him.I don't think he enjoy the infamy or shame.
     
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  4. TiberiusGracchus

    TiberiusGracchus New User

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    If I'm playing against someone that is generous with the line calls, I'll return the generosity. By that I mean I'll hit a generous amount of serves/ground strokes/volleys as close to the lines as possible because hey, my opponent has widened the margins for me!

    But seriously, if someone is letting a few go in my favor that were most likely out, I'll do the same with them.

    If someone is calling my balls out that are in, I'm not so quick to think they are cheating me. I've played against more than one player that is somewhat aloof when it comes to watching lines or just doesn't pay attention well.

    If they are cheating though, I remember Jim Courier had a funny story about that. He told a story about some little brat he was playing when he was a junior that was calling all sorts of good balls out...really trying to cheat a win out. Well, the next time the kid served into the middle of the box, Courier called it out. When the kid threw a fit, Jim said, "We can do this all day." I guess the kid straightened up!
     
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  5. Maui19

    Maui19 Hall of Fame

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    I try to be as accurate as possible, but if I'm not sure, I call it in. It helps that I play on clay.
     
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  6. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    First of all, you can give opponent(s) the benefit of the doubt and play balls slightly out - happens all the time. If a ball is way out, more than an inch or two, it really should be called "out". With the exception of the first serve most balls that opponent(s) play that are "out" only hurt them - they don't gain any advantage.

    In the instance where opponent(s) play everything, just forget about it and move on. Don't get in the habit of over ruling/making calls other than your own. As you move up, this won't be a problem so relax and just play.
     
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  7. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    it's not a lie if you believe it

    - george costanza
     
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  8. origmarm

    origmarm Hall of Fame

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    The approach to this for me is always very clear. Call every line as accurately as you can. If there is any doubt in your mind, the ball was in. Simple as that really. If you feel your opponent is being dishonest say so. If you feel that they are calling in good faith there is no problem.
     
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  9. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Great approach to this subject.
     
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  10. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    +1. If there is a doubt, it is in... unless...

    ... your opponent has been displaying abhorrent gamesmanship and robbing you of obvious calls. In those cases, if there is a doubt... I call it out.
     
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  11. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    QFE. This is the case more than many realize.

    Quite often, an erroneous call is made because of proximity-- the ball bounces too close to a player for them to call accurately. The ball traverses their field of vision too quickly for the smooth pursuit system to track the event successfully. When the ball gets very close to use we often use our saccadic (jump ahead) system to try to keep up with the ball. This happen when we are trying to make contact with an incoming ball or when trying to make a line call very close to our position. The ball becomes essentially invisible for periods of time. Players often mistakenly believe that the person closest to the event has the best perspective. Quite often the opposite is true.

    Point #2: If the eyes are moving or the head is turning as the ball hits the ground, the ability to make an accurate call is seriously hampered. Studies have shown this to be true. The eyes/brain can be deceived. Certified lines people are trained to make calls with this in mind. They are taught to stop following the ball any time a ball encroaches a line. Instead, they fixate on the line keeping both the eyes and head still. Many players make the mistake of believing that their brain "sees" the actual event in such situations. In many situations such as this, the first stable image that the brain perceives, the ball appears to be out. The brain lies. This can be another instance where the saccadic system has yielded an inaccurate perception of the event.

    Point #3: Vantage point or perspective is often the reason for erroneous line calls. In the case of a serve, the receiver often has an inferior view of the back service line. In doubles, they may have the worst perspective of all four players on the court if the ball is close to the back service line. If the ball is just a little bit long (a few cm or a couple of inches), the receiver may be unable to see the space between the line and the ball (bounce). In this situation, even tho' the server (and partner) are further from the event, they can more easily perceive the gap between the line and ball. The receiver's partner may have they best perspective unless they are too close to the bounce (refer to reason #1 above) or their head/eyes are moving (point #2).

    If you keep these 3 things in mind, your ability to make fair calls should improve. You should also develop a better understanding of why others make erroneous calls that they believe to be true.
    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011
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  12. vincent_tennis

    vincent_tennis Professional

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    I find all this ironic considering how your SN is "Systematic Anomaly" xD
     
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  13. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    Spot on.

    Got to expect that you'll disagree with at least a couple line calls from opponents through the course of any set. Since the bouncing of the ball on the court is an event that's too fast for the human eye to actually see, we can only do our best reckoning and we definitely won't "guess-timate" every shot exactly the same. Let a couple of close calls go.

    If you decide to call your opponent a cheater, then the rest of the match will be much less pleasant (at best), so we're not always in such a hurry to go that route, but there is a graceful way to keep things civilized. Once you're into that realm where you're sure you're getting hooked, but you want to keep playing, try this:

    Stop play, stay cool, and go to the net for a quick chat. Offer to your opponent that you're seeing many of your shots land differently than they are and ask them what they want to do about it. That way, you haven't called them out and you've offered them the option to cut the crap while wrapping it in more of an opportunity than a threat. Everyone can still talk to each other this way, but you've also put them on notice without a declaration of war.

    I learned this idea from Vic Braden's book, Mental Tennis, and even though I haven't tried it yet, I think this is a great tactic. Beyond this, I have not patience or respect for cheaters. Wait for when you're receiving a critical second serve (maybe break point) and when the ball lands square in the box, call it out like Jim would do. You're simply returning the favor - hey, it's not tennis anymore when the cheaters come to town and show their true colors. I'm fine with picking up your gear and leaving if those turds want to waste your time, too. If you simply want to throw down, well that's up to you. I'm a fan of ice hockey, so I can sort of understand... :shock:
     
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  14. ChipNCharge

    ChipNCharge Professional

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    I have to say that line calls are worse when I play mixed doubles (I'm a new NTRP 4.5, so I generally play 8.0 and 9.0 mixed doubles). My female opponents, and my female partners, often make line calling errors. I sometimes have to overrule my female partner in mixed doubles.

    I really don't know why that is. Maybe it's because the female players aren't used to the faster pace and/or increased spin, and assume shots will be out, when in fact they dip down and land on the line.
     
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  15. FloridaAG

    FloridaAG Professional

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    SA's point is the reason I often play balls at my feet that are likely out and appear to me possible to be out as good. Especially on my backhand side, which I feel due to my 2-hander further limits my range of vision. So I play them as in.
     
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  16. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    If any part of the ball touches any part of the line, it's in. If I have any doubt, it's in!

    I rarely come up against purposeful cheaters. If I think someone made a bad call, I'll ask them if they are sure about the call. Not that I necessarily expect them to change the call, although sometimes they do, but, to let them know that I think they made a bad call. That's usually enough to put an end to it. If it doesn't, I'll ask for a line judge.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011
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  17. thug the bunny

    thug the bunny Professional

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    Actually, you may have experienced a saccadic system anomaly yourself - it's 'Systemic Anomaly', meaning 'inherent or entrenched in a system'.

    SA is the undisputed king of the intricacies of visual perception.
     
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  18. TheBoom

    TheBoom Hall of Fame

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    I try to be fair so that when its crunch time they believe me when there is a ckose line i call out :twisted: kidding i am pretty goo dabout being fairand if someone cheats i just ignore it if its once in a while or if its constant i start being less lenient about close calls (dont give the benefiit of the doubt). I've played someone who called anything a foot in as out i couldn't get a line judge so he basically cheeted his way to winning and gave my team the bird in the process he got his when my friend played him in districts (where line judges were actually available) and he retired in the 3rd because he was "exhausted" the funny thing was thhat i played him for a good half hour longer than when he retired. Basically if one is available get a line judge it is the best way to deal with close callers
     
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  19. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    Sys. Anom. gives some good info which "bottom lines" to origmarm's post.
     
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  20. Manus Domini

    Manus Domini Hall of Fame

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    I'm bad at line calls if they are really close. I'll see the ball out if it clips the outside of the line but I'll correct the call if someone tells me I'm wrong (happened quite a few times). Also, if it's near me, I tend to call it out accidentally, and correct myself. But I really hate when my partner (in doubles) makes horrid calls. If he says a serve (I'm very generous with those) is out when it obviously hit hit the line, even if it would be an ace, I'll correct him and give it to my opponent.

    If my opponent cheats, I'll let him know I'm on to him, and give him hell till he stops.
     
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  21. junbumkim

    junbumkim Professional

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    I usually try to be accurate and give the point if I am not sure. Fortunately I never had to deal with anybody who was a obvious cheat.

    I think if it was really bad enough to frustrate me, I would probably stop playing with the guy.
     
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  22. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    What do you do if you are tracking a ball and your opinion is it is going to land out, you see it bounce on the court but because you are behind the ball, your view of the outside portion of the line is obscured by the ball itself? Needless to say, you can't see court between the ball and line.

    You "know" the ball is "out".

    If I am playing a "generous" player I will call the ball "in".
     
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  23. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    You have to "see" the ball "out" rather than guess it might be. So in the case you described, the ball would be "in" because you didn't see it "out".
     
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  24. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    No, I disagree with this.

    It's not really a "guess" that the ball is out in the situation described LuckyR. Experienced serve returners will often/usually be able to discern if the ball is long even if they cannot see that gap between the ball and the line from their perspective/location. The serve may be long by 2-3 inches or so and the returner might not be able to clearly see the gap but can still tell that the serve is long. Most/many servers should be able to see that same gap from their perspective and should expect that ball to be called long.

    Sometimes, as a server, I can clearly see that the ball is long and do not prepare to respond to a return. However, the returner does not make the "long" call and rips the ball back for a winner. The "generous" returner idoes the server no favors by failing to call the ball long in this situation.
    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
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  25. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    That's exactly right! It does take some experience to accurately call incoming serves that are less than a few inches out, especially 100+mph serves. Your experience is also bolstered by your opponents concurrence with your calls.

    Having said that, I get a kick out of inconsistent calls from different opponents of my serves and other shots that land close to the service lines and baselines. For example, last week I played a practice set against a very good player who played one of my shots that landed very close to the baseline without calling it out. After the point I asked him if he was sure it was good. He said yes. I explained that the reason I asked was because, although I couldn't really see if the ball touched the line from 70 feet away, I was accostomed to having a ball that looked like that called out by others. Needless to say, a few points later, he hit a brutally sharp-angled lefty slice serve (that hit the side fence), that I percieved as just wide by less than an inch, but, it was very close. I gave him the ace.
     
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  26. jmverdugo

    jmverdugo Hall of Fame

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    First thing you should think is that maybe he is not hooking you, he just doesn't see the lines very good and he is also doing his best. Second there is also the possibility that he thinks you are hooking him and then he tries to do the same, let's face it we can also be the one making honest mistakes. Personally if I saw it out I call it out, I am not sure i just play it. Sometimes I have called it out and then 5 sec later I rethink about the play and tell to the other guy to take the point because actually the ball may have been in, usually they just ask to repeat the point.

    I think the number one rule to avoid frustration for bad calls is to think he is doing an honest mistake and move on. If you start thinking they are hooking you then you will get mad and frustrated.
     
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  27. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I agree with you (obviously), but predicted that the scenario (which is extremely common) would elicit different answers, which is why I posted the situation.

    I predicted that the players more likely to be hitting many high pace serves/shots close to the line would agree that the ball is "out" (since it is out).
     
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  28. jmjmkim

    jmjmkim Semi-Pro

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    it is frustrating to play against people who calls bad lines. Anything close should be played...... in recreational tennis
     
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  29. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Well, you can "guess" about calls but you better be right. As far as I'm concerned, if you can't see it out, its a guess no-matter how educated that guess might be, Your correct we all know, or think we know, if the ball is "in" or "out" and play the ball accordingly but the mark has to verify the "guess" - no second chance if we're wrong.

    I think my position would be that if your "guessing" on a line call (in other words its that close) you probably are better off playing the ball as good.

    I also think we both would agree that a player can't have it both ways or have two bites of the apple. You can't play a ball, assuming its "in" and then after your ball goes astray, decide/declare its "out". If your "out" call is almost immediate after you strike the ball - maybe but I wouldn't encourage making a habit out of it.
     
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  30. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Hall of Fame

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    As others have said, play it as you see it and then forget it. That way you don't have to remember if you have to be generous with calls etc...
     
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  31. treo

    treo Rookie

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    The way the rules are now with "if you are not sure it is out, it is good" works fine for 3.5 level or below where the lower ball speeds allow you to more easily see a gap between the line and the bounce for the out call. But when you get to the 4.5 level and above it becomes impossible to see some very fast balls hit the court. You need to use what you can see to determine whether it was good which is what the pro line judges do to call 135mph serves. You watch the trajectory and angle and determine whether it can land in.
     
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  32. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, good post. Actually, line judges will just watch the "line" so in that one aspect they are a little different than players. Although not fool-proof, watching just the line puts you in a "better" position to make close calls.
     
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  33. TTMR

    TTMR Hall of Fame

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    When in doubt, call it out.
     
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  34. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    I'd say give about an inch with the fair team and stop playing that hooker altogether.
     
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  35. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Stop playing with hookers? :shock:
     
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  36. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Guest

    This. If it's out I say out. If it's in , then it's in.
     
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  37. Ronaldo

    Ronaldo G.O.A.T.

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    They rub me the wrong way
     
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  38. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

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    In other words the honest vs. cheaters even out (hehehe).
     
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  39. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Hookers need exercise too although I don't know why they'd choose tennis. All they do is hook and hook while you they take away your hard earned points. Don't play with hookers.
     
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  40. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    Is this really a big issue?

    If I'm not sure, it's in. If I call something out and they dispute it, I offer to replay the point.

    It's rec tennis, you're not playing for sheep stations.
     
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  41. OldButGame

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    Sheep stations ?????:shock:
     
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  42. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

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    It's a saying... it means there is not much at stake.
     
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  43. neverstopplaying

    neverstopplaying Professional

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    I forget where i saw this first, but my rule is quite simple: " a ball that is 99% out is 100% in".

    Keeps things easy.

    As far a cheaters, i just try my best to beat them and maintain my integrity.
     
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