How to get a slower doubles partner to net effectively?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Andy012, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. Andy012

    Andy012 New User

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    I play high school doubles and am going to play #1 Doubles spot again this year. My goal this year is to make it to state and win at least one match there. Anyway, some background info about me and my partner. I am tall, quick, and love moving up to net (sometimes even when I shouldn't be). I have decent returns, but my groundstrokes are not the best. My volleys aren't amazing but they do the job because my positioning at net is always pretty good. My partner is almost the opposite as me. Shorter, heavy, and slow. He is consistent from the baseline. His net game is actually pretty good too, maybe even better than mine, but it doesnt really matter because he isn't at the net nearly as much as I am.

    With that being said, other than straight up improving his speed, what are some tactics we can use to get him to net effectively? I am fast enough to cover him in the case he gets lobbed, but when I am serve and volleying and I come to net and they lob me, we are usually screwed because my momentum brings me towards the net and he cannot recover.

    I have thought about using an I-formation when he serves. Lets say he is serving deuce side, he could approach the net off a serve/volley on the ad side, and I could slide over from the ad side to the deuce side. I have seen I-formation done, but usually the server just switches sides (or stays), but stays on the baseline. Is a good strategy for getting him up to the net without our opponents drilling a shot at him every time he attempts to get to net? What other tactics can we employ to get us both in the 2-up formation?
     
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  2. Funbun

    Funbun Professional

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    Teach him how to be faster.
     
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  3. onehandbh

    onehandbh Hall of Fame

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    Was that a typo? Did you mean to write:

    "...my momentum brings me towards the net and I cannot recover."
     
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  4. drkplayer122

    drkplayer122 Rookie

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    well, maybe you can tell your partner to stay further back when volleying, so he has a better chance of getting the lob. if you really want to recover. Maybe you can try split-stepping around the service line. Your body should stay still and hopefully you can be able to recover to get the lob.
     
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  5. Andy012

    Andy012 New User

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    Yeah I meant I, my momentum has nothing to do with him haha.
     
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  6. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Well, it sounds like you & partner might need to consider if getting different partners could solve the problem. Its tough getting players to play net/come in to net, if they aren't comfortable doing it which is generally the problem. Sometimes its also being a wee bit lazy or understanding the geometry & weaknesses of playing one up, one back.

    I have kids who play the same way and they generally don't fair well against top teams at the State level. There are many approach and net drills which improve those skills but sometimes/many times you just have teams where one player consistently lays/stays behind the other. One up, one back works with some but not at the HS level. You will see it in HS with the girls but they have to be supper fast.
     
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  7. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Telll him you just saw this great new video series by Ian from Essential Tennis.

    Dominate the transition game: http://www.doublesdomination.com/fe/20443-dominate-the-transition-game

    Dominate the lob: http://www.doublesdomination.com/fe/20444-dominate-the-lob

    Dominate the transition game: http://www.doublesdomination.com/fe/20445-dominate-the-poach

    Let him know that he is easily talented enough to DOMINATE.

    Practice together as Ian shows:
    - serve and volley, and return in the cross court fashion, that mimics doubles play
    - stand on the service lines and work volleys and half volleys back and forth to build up not just your volley/half volley work but importantly your footwork and spacing from the net
    - practice your overheads by feeding each other to get you both ready to dominate the lob
    - you can even practice your poaching skills by having one serve and one stand not as the receiver but as the net man and practice poaching.



    You've had the smarts to look for how to play better doubles.

    Now you've found it.


    Next step is winning over your partner with your enthusiasm. (Hint: keep mentioning you think your partner easily has enough talent to dominate.)


    Both of these steps were/are essential.


    Just as actually the hours of practice that it will take to make it work.


    It's not practice that makes perfect. It's perfect practice that makes perfect.


    [By the way, if your partner is as smart as you, he's been thinking he's got to spend more time working on your groundstrokes, both to improve your returns and keep you from blowing it with unforced errors. Meet him at leas part way with baseline to baseline rally's, but each taking any short ball as an invitation to hit an approach shot and come to the net.]
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
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  8. spaceman_spiff

    spaceman_spiff Hall of Fame

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    Also, focus on serving better.

    Assuming you can't just overpower your opponent, your first serve should have a good enough combination of placement and pace (maybe some spin as well) to make your opponent stretch (or get jammed), which should make life difficult. Your second serve should have enough placement and spin to keep them from attacking. If your opponents are attacking your serves and/or beating you with lobs straight from the return, then you're not serving well enough.

    The best way to practice this is to get together with the most aggressive returner on your team for some singles and serve & volley on almost every point. This will quickly show you what you need to work on, because any poor placement, pace, or spin will be punished straight away. Once you get to the point where you can hold your serve when net rushing against a solid returner, then you're more than ready for doubles.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
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  9. anchorage

    anchorage Rookie

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    If you want to play at a decent standard, it's essential that you really operate as a team. That means moving and covering the court together. There's absolutely no point in your charging to the net independent of your oppoenent; you'll get killed against decent opposition.

    Interesting that you mention being lobbed as a 'fear factor'. How's your smash? If you get your opponents under any sort of real pressure and they pull off a winning lob then just say 'good shot'. Fact is, you will win much more than you'll lose if you dominate the net in doubles and play as a team.
     
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  10. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, I agree - good post.
     
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  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Also, some players just feel more comfortable staying back...can't change that even dangling a trophy in front of them. And if you lose a couple of points with both forward, his confidence goes downhill right quick.
    As said, he plays net just behind the center of his service court, to cover lobs, and he's got good volleys.
    Let him hit his low hard groundies from the baseline. Use his strength, don't force him into an up and back game, which he obviously doesn't feel comfortable doing.
    You are playing high school doubles, around a good 4.5 level. A low fast hitter does just fine.
    Lotsa talk about doubles being a net game. Only if both players are willing and able to play net, cover overheads, and hit penetrating volleys, including reflex volleys.
    Baseline and net take different skill sets. Net, pure quickness, reflex, and first step.
    Baseline play gives the player more time to be deliberate, and more time to start to get going, with a much bigger margin of error.
     
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  12. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Is he interested in approaching the net? If so, he needs to use either his serve or his groundies to punish the other team so he is not "drilled" when in first volley position. Other than that, you should retrieve all lobs.

    Sounds to me he isn't interested in playing at the net. What happens when you are receiving?
     
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  13. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Well, you raise some interesting issues but one cannot escape the court geometry problems with the one up, one back formation. True, depending on the skills involved, the effectiveness of the one up, one back will vary. You see very little of this formation beyond the 12 year olds with the boys - girls stay with it a little longer. Speed of the players can be a factor up to a certain point but the hole in the one up, one back is difficult to counter.
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Assuming we're talking about 4.5 level tennis, top doubles, high school.
    Very few big serves. Lots of consistent groundstrokes. Volleys a fair dinkum whathaveyou's. Overheads decent but not necessarily putaways. Court coverage DEPENDS on player. BIG EGOS, a tendency to dwell on lost points, or big shots by the opponent. A need to NOT LOOK BAD.
    If the baseliner can avoid the netman, if he can hit low groundstrokes, he should play where he chooses. Avoiding the netman is key, the low groundies can be enhanced by nice deep lobs.
    If the baseliner can't avoid the netman, he needs to man up and get to net.
     
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  15. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    Assuming he wants to get to the net. Have your partner lob the netman asap. He can then trot up to the net. That frees you up to handle all lobs.

    That means you can't afford to be surprised when a lob is hit. You can usually tell a groundstroke prep from a lob stroke prep. Be watchful.
     
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  16. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Pretty hard to lob the opponents if they are positioned around the serviceline - it can be done but not that easy. One mistake many make is crowding net - easy to lob a team that does this and you, as a bonus, make them do a lot of running.
     
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  17. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Well, you have really put some conditions on the premise here which probably will exclude quite a few readers. However, even 4.5 players have trouble consistently "threading the needle" trying to pass opponents who are playing "up" - around serviceline. IMO, position trumps shots most of the time -- like 75% of the time.

    Players who are maybe 5.5 + have the weapons from the baseline but even then, position can beat them. There are many variable here (speed, reaction, etc) so there isn't a fixed answer. Staying back generally doesn't work on a consistent basis.
     
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  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I thought this thread was specific to #1 doubles in high school, not a general oversight on the theory of playing doubles. Most high school players know little about theory, don't care about theory, and are relative beginners to tennis.
    Lots of 4.5+ tennis players have played tennis for 8+ years.
    Few high school players have.
     
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  19. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    Didn't know that was a condition. However, if opponents are standing on the service line and partner is hitting a groundstroke, then opponents have no idea what they're doing. Partner can hit to their ankles and take over control of the point from there.
     
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  20. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Exact distance from the net is a chapter all by itself.
    Basically, netperson has to put away waist to overhead balls, defend with a deep shot on balls lower, and cover overheads.
    Now how good a putaway, how good a defense, and how good an overhead changes with where you stand.
     
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  21. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    The winning position in doubles is having you and partner on, or better still, a few feet inside the serviceline. If oppenents stay back, they will have to be content with only winning 25% (plus or minus) of the points. We have to assume both teams are equal - same skill level.

    Your not going to have much success going for ankles because they are going to be drawn in on those types of shots - its just not that easy.
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Slow movers can camp near the service line and play to their max potential, if they can volley. A low or half volley is not a hard shot.
    Quick movers can plant 3' inside their service line, but should not get any closer until the opposition hits the ball.
     
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  23. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    I'm not sure what you're advocating.

    If you're not going to lob because they're too far back and you're not going to hit to their ankles because they can step into their shot, what are you going to do?

    I know what I'd do. I'd hit to their shoes. If they move forward, they could maybe hit a knee-high volley. The point is, they'd have to volley up. That is huge in doubles.

    Positioning at the net for partners is more way nuanced than you describe. But both partners waiting on the service line is never a good idea, except when a lob is iminent, or in hit and giggle tennis, or you don't have functioning knees.

    The OP wanted a way to get his slow, plodding partner to the net. I'm guessing against any alignment: U&B, BB, BU. The only shot that gives him the time he needs to plod safely to net is a lob. Lobbing means: only lob with a reasonable chance of success. When I said asap, I meant ASATOPI or 'as soon as the opportunity presents itself.' He may have to rally a bit before the opportunity comes around, but that's how it goes.
     
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  24. ATP100

    ATP100 Professional

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    If this is the case, YOU need to improve your serve or your first volley if they are doing this to your serve.
     
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  25. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    I think your just looking at this from the wrong side of things. A successfull doubles team WANTS to get (position) both players at or inside the serviceline.

    If teams play one up, one back or both stay back, they are going to lose.
     
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  26. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    True, that first volley is very important - play through the ball and keep comming forward, don't stop.
     
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  27. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    I'm looking at it from the OP's partner's POV. He's not at the net. He wants to get there. He's slow. He needs time to get there without having to half-volley. (We don't know how the other team is aligned.)

    Otherwise:
    I have no problem saying Both Up is the preferred position. But there is good both-up positioning and then there is standing on the service line. There is simply too much room in front of the players and on their sides for them to cover it all well.
     
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  28. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Actually, the position of the "net team" (the winning position) is to have both players on or inside the serviceline - the position is dependent on several factors including placement of opponents, how well the net team covers overheads, how quickly they can scramble back, their heights, how aggressive the opponents are/have been playing, etc.

    The serviceline is an excellent starting reference. Teams that have a tendency to wander too far toward net/play too aggresive, generally get stung by deep lobs - you see it all the time.

    Kids are notorious at getting suckered in too far only to be beaten by deep lobs. Actually I like players to be flowing in & then back as the point is played.
     
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  29. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Players have to learn to play the first volley or they will never be good doubles players.
     
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  30. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    Ahh, so you're talking about beginning doubles players. I thought you meant all doubles teams, like open level, should hang back at the service line.
     
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  31. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Open players can hang closer to the net because they move faster backwards, they hit deeper approach shots, and they need more angle to end the point.
    3.5's can stand at the service line because they need to cover overheads, their opponent's tend not to hit blazing accurate pass attempts, and THEIR approach shots are shorter and weaker.
    You hit a deep volley/approach, you can get well inside the service line and still cover most options.
    You dump a weak volley/approach, you're giving the opponent their favorite shot...basically anything they can hit is good enough.
     
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  32. Andy012

    Andy012 New User

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    Thanks for the advice, your right about my first volleys. I have always had a pretty good serve and being able to get to net and take a volley is an advantage in itself, whether I am forced to take a difficult one by my feet or to the side, or an easy smash. However, the problem is my partner cannot get to the net. He is literally only coming to the net when the opponents cough up a short one that he can easily put away. Even if he hits a good approach shot and they put a weak reply back at him, he struggles with that volley because he is taking it at mid court.
     
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  33. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    As long as he gets inside NML, as close to the service line as HE CAN, that's good enough. Tell him to punch his first volley deep corner and low, and he'll have plenty of time to close inside the service line to cover the pass or lob attempt.
    Embrace the low volley (him). It's a shot that can really frustrate the backcourt guys into some wild mistakes.
     
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  34. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Maybe your not that familiar with High School tennis. Depending on the size of a team the skill levels can vary from the low threes to the high four and sometimes a spec higher. However, as doubles teams, they generally aren't quite as skilled and in many instances they really would just prefer to play singles - unfortunatey, the HS and College format requires doubles be part of the match. Generally, its six singles matches and three doubles -- there are some variations in some sStates.

    Getting High School players to play as a doubles team can be a challenge and I think you can see that in the reluctance of one player - they are more comfortable staying back and unfortunately, they think of coubles as two singles matches on one court.

    So although these kids are very good athletes in most instances, they are not open players although they can easily play in open USTA tournaments and beat most adults who are not serious players. Many of the really talented kids play regional, National or International tournaments like Eddie Herr and the Orange Bowl.

    Now, you used the phrase camping out on the serviceline. Don't know where you got that but the serviceline has to be crossed as you
    progress to net. I have said, that depending on many factors, the position of the doubles
     
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  35. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    Sorry, using a tab with is, at least for me difficult.

    Anyway, depending on many factors, a doubles team is positioned near or several feet in from the serviceline. Read Lees post because there isn't any sense in repeating those variables and I believe I listed them also in previous posts.
     
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  36. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    I got it from posts like that.
     
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  37. papa

    papa Hall of Fame

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    ok, but I've never said a doubles team camps out at the serviceline. My statement was in response to encouaging players to come in - not stay back like the OP was suggesting his partner was doing. Teams quickly discover fairly quickly how far in from the serviceline they can play - there is not a fixed distance and it varies.
     
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