Should you always S&V in doubles?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Ballinbob, May 9, 2012.

  1. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    I'm in a 4.5 league and I had a doubles match yesterday vs an older 4.5 team who S&Ved on every serve and chipped and charged on most returns. My partner and I lost 1-6,4-6 and were left baffled after the match. And the only reason we got to 4-6 in the final set is because we served out of our minds and still got broken at the end.

    These guys would block back hard serves and approach the net, and we could not for the life of us get it past them. Both my partner and I can hit pretty big off both wings but these guys were rock solid at the net and were too difficult to pass.

    All credit to the guys we played, they were good and outplayed us. But, should my partner and I start S&Ving on every point ?Is this what we will encounter as we play better teams this season ? I mean we can volley, I guess we just haven't played a team who could handle our ground strokes/serves like that.

    They played a very, very simple game and I'm wondering if that is the way to go.
     
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  2. equinox

    equinox Hall of Fame

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    Doubles is about control of the net and continually pressuring the baseline opponents.

    Maybe consider working on transition game in practice before implementing in matches. Serve volley + chip charge is lot different / harder than standing volley or poaching diagonally forward at the net.

    More power given to good volleyer sitting on net the better they'll handle your shot.

    Learning to hit offensive lobs helps counter net rushes, buys you time and keeps rushes further from net, opening diagonals.

    How did the dipping centreline passes go?
     
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  3. TenFanLA

    TenFanLA Hall of Fame

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    From my observations the higher level you go in doubles, the more advantage the team at the net seems to have. You could probably kill each of those old guys in singles with better groundstrokes, movement and power. But in advanced doubles, 2 good volleyers > 2 good baseliners. If they come in ALL the time, I suggest you guys lob the old guys more since their movement probably isn't that great.
     
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  4. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    The dipping passes worked best actually. I tried to keep my returns as low as possible and when I was able to do that I saw some success. Just couldn't do it consistently enough, and neither could my partner. I think developing an offensive lob is something we need to do, because the times when we could keep these guys back (it was rare occurrence but still) we won those points with ease. I guess it all comes to execution in the end, so we need more practice. They were a very good team, I was impressed and it was a pretty humbling match.

    And you're right about more power being beneficial to the net guy. These guys would take the power we gave them and put the ball wherever they want.






    I agree with both of you about the offensive lob. We need to have that shot in our repertoire. And yeah after the match the 2 guys we played told us "Thank god we didn't play you two in singles". And yeah I think you're right about the team who controls the net will usually win the point. Power doesn't do you much good in doubles it seems. I'm starting to learn that the hard way.
     
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  5. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    +1 on that. That's why hard hitting singles baseliners typically dont make good doubles play.
     
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  6. Chyeaah

    Chyeaah Professional

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    Baseline only works if you winner them before they get to net.
     
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  7. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I would say that the S&V, along with chip and charge should be the standard, but
    you have to take into account how the matchup works out. Sometimes the returners are onto your serve so well that it's not the best way that day.
    Important that your partner can volley as well, because they will go at him if
    you are both at net and he is weak.
     
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  8. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I don't want to paint with too broad of a brush, but the troubles you're describing here sound really familiar. I quoted that portion of your post just to point out that you're onto your own solutions. While better doubles is very much about aggressive positioning, it's also about denying your opponents overly offensive shots while you establish your strong setup - usually at the net.

    You can keep your opponents from controlling you by keeping lots of your shots down low like you did with your returns. Even if the other guys are at net, they can't drive the ball into open space if the ball isn't up around chest or head height. A smart general approach to most doubles contests is to constantly force your opponents to hit up - even if they respond with a low shot of their own, they can't hurt you so much with that ball, especially if you're looking for it.

    I coach high school teams and many young guns have to learn to become doubles players after they've learned to be singles hitters, but the different settings demand different styles of hitting. A successful singles player will usually hit with plenty of net clearance along with some power in trying to keep an opponent pinned deep in their end, but those sorts of shots are a free lunch for any competent doubles teams. With twice as many opponents covering the width of the court and only nine extra feet of width in a doubles format (the alleys are 4 1/2 feet wide), hitting around opponents in doubles with ground strokes isn't a smart plan.

    The big angles are up at the net, so good doubles teams will try to control that area and keep opponents under control while trying to get there... yup, by hitting low. Easier said than done, since it takes a cool head to deliver those low shots under fire while charging right at the other guys, but that mentality will help you to control the action more often. It should help you to avoid serving up free munchies for the other guys, too.
     
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  9. Salar

    Salar New User

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    hi
    so sad that you lost that match to those old guys,did you know what young lions do to the old lion?
    they give him food and say plz leave females to us :D?no
    they kill it :twisted:
    if you and they are at net hit with all of your power to their faces or chests,2-3 160-170 km/h ball and they will leave the net or mb match.
    after it just figure(show them fake) that you want hit hard and they will turn back and you just put the ball away easy :twisted:
    if they cheap you will no more charge after it.
    other wise if you are some nice kids that too far from being lion(and there is no fire in your eyes),or you care about respect the old ppl,so dont serve them eny flat high speed ball,you sayed you are 4.5 then you must be able to do good top spin serves(which kind of court you play?)
    so do topspin serves and your mate stay 2 meter inside the court and you go for 1 meter in after serves they can return the balls but their ball will have high bounce you can reach the cheaps easy and drive them hard to their feet or open court.
    when they are serving just make crosscourt lobs dont worry,no need to be aggressive in lobs just do it with 8 meter high and it will work best,with 30 min practice you will master it.
    iam 4.5 and i lob every 1 who come to the net and i'm always success.
    last thing:all youngs like to hit with power but you must know that the tennis is start with control,its the control game,low your power against them when they are at net,take more care about placement of your shots they will passed very easy,even you cant think how easy it can be.
    just hit like you want teach tennis to some 1 and you want to teach him running at baseline send normal balls to sides with 2-3 meter hight that some 1 at base line reach them easy but you will see that they will passed, and struggling so hard to return those balls in :twisted:
    their returns will set for your rushes,angles,lobs and lob vollys
     
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  10. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    S&V is not a silver bullet...


    ...but then again, nothing in tennis is. To look at another example, you could kind of look at today's ATP as no more than "Big serve, big returns, big groundies, that is all you need to know." That's an exaggeration, I know, but something like that strategy usually works...if you have the strokes to back it up. So I can go "Wow...guess I'll just depend on my serve and groundstrokes" but if your serve is a helium balls and your groundstrokes don't get much past the service line, then all the wishing and hoping in the world won't make much difference.

    Same story with the situation you describe. S&V worked for these folks because they know how to do it, they've got the strokes to go with it, and they've had a lot of time to make it bullet proof. You and your partner haven't been S&Ving or chipping and charging to this level, so if you start doing so tomorrow, the chances that this strategy is immediately going to work are pretty low. S&V, like anything else, isn't a guarantee. Because it's an aggressive strategy, the downside is that you can get passed, or miss volleys, or start double faulting, or any other of a number of things.

    But as a long term way of looking at doing things, a more S&V strategy can work...if you have the strokes to back it up, you understand the strategy of S&V...and, most important, you're willing to work on it long enough to see the results you want.
     
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  11. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    My partner is better than I am and can volley, but he didn't get many chances to poach. They did a really good job of getting everything cross court to the server. I've never played people who chip and charge so much. And man, I had no idea it puts that much pressure on the server. First couple times they did it I felt pressured to hit some spectacular shot and missed. I kind of want to try it in singles, seems like it could work on second serves

    Yeah they really did show us the big angles are at net. I'm a pretty fast guy, but a lot of times the angle they hit was too great for me to chase down. And yeah I think keeping the ball was pretty key. We did manage to pressure them sometimes on their service games when we did that. Low shots and an offensive lob seem to be things we need to work on.

    And you're right about singles players hitting with net clearance, that really killed us. Like really, really killed us. The second we started giving them lower balls we saw some success and tried to keep at it in the second set, but they turned out to be too good for us that day.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
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  12. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    skiracer55, you make some good points. I tried to S&V some points in the match and I lost most of them because it felt unnatural to me. It's just not my style, and I tried to beat them at their own game which didn't work. I think S&V is something good to work on though, as I have a feeling the better teams play alot of it.
     
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  13. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

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    100% S&V in my doubles play, and with every partner I've ever chosen to play with. On a few rare occasions I've been paired (at a social event, or by a team captain, whatever) and I get some young college kid who is a die-hard baseliner, then they'll often serve and stay back - and leave me hanging up at the net. I hate that, and try to never play with those people.

    Chip and Charge - probably 2/3 of my returns are chip and charge, and the other 1/3 are drive return with approach to the net. Depends on quality of server I'm up against.

    I rarely think of going for outright passes on my returns, unless I'm going behind the net guy who is poaching. I want low returns so the next shot is lofted up... so then I can hit down or my partner can hit down on them from a privileged net position.

    In 4.5+doubles (where I'm at) the placement is far more important than taking a big cut, because decent to good volleyers won't have problems with poorly placed big cuts at the ball. The aim is to first keep the return away from the net man, and second to make sure the server has to hit up on his first volley (or ideally a half-volley).

    At 4.5+ for reasonably competitive doubles, if you can't S&V then honestly you don't belong on court. You should stick with singles where you depend so much on those groundstrokes to be at the 4.5+ level overall.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
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  14. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

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    Agree with this.

    I'd add that there's often a careless slip between saying or being, for example, a 4.5 singles rated player and then saying you're 4.5 doubles. The two are NOT the same once you're at this level and up. Many singles players out there could easily own a couple of guys on the singles courts, but lose horribly to them in doubles because of playstyle differences between singles & doubles. The skillset in the two areas does not overlap anywhere near as well for baseliners, especially those lacking good volleying skills and overall net skills (movement, positioning, etc.).
     
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  15. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    You're kind of mixing apples and oranges...


    ...there's a difference between defending against constant S&Vers and being able to do S&V yourself. There's a whole book on both subjects, but see what yemenmocha says in post #13 about both topics, because it's a good starter.

    What happens, I think, with a lot of NTRPers is that they spend a lot of time trying to deal with winning at the level they're currently at, or maybe doing what they think is a good idea to get bumped up, but they don't take a longer view of things. This is why I think NTRP is often self-limiting, see what I have to say on that and related subjects in this thread:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=375284

    Additionally, doubles, as you know, is a team sport, and the most important thing is how you and your partner work together...and it's usually different for specific teams. So if you and your partner want to S&V more, what does that mean? For example, if your partner has a huge serve that produces lots of winners, aces, and weak, floating returns, then your strategy ought to be that you poach all the time, every time. If, on the other hand, your serve is reasonably strong but you don't have a lot of variety in terms of spin and placement, then you two, as a team, are going to have to work harder to figure out how to win using S&V on your serve.

    So we just talked about the serve aspect of S&V, and talked about how, beyond strategy, the stroke itself ought to contribute to the strategy. Same is true of the volley. If you don't have a technically sound volley, better figure that one out before you commit to a ton of S&Ving S&V is also a movement pattern. I've been doing it for a bazillion years, and the footwork is something I can do in my sleep. If it isn't instinctive, then you need to practice making the right moves...under pressure...

    Those kind of things are what you need to think about...
     
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  16. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

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    I like these points.

    I wanted to add that for the level of play mentioned so far in this thread, a poor volleyer will stick out and the opponents WILL pick on that player as much as possible. I start this strategy when my opponents step onto the court & during the warmup. Someone young with a Babolat raquet and sleeveless shirt - oh I can't wait to see his volleys in the warmup, especially if he chooses to hit few volleys in the warmup. So many young whipper-snappers out there with a Nadal-wannabe game, yet never learned to volley properly. My partner and I will hit at him on the returns of serve in the first game or two to see how he is. If the person's volleying skills are dubious, we want to rub it in his face and play to him on most shots. This is where the mental side of the game comes into play too, because if someone has an exploitable weakness it can really get them down when it is on display like this.
     
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  17. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Absolutely...

    ...we were probably thinking exactly the same thing, see my post #15. There is yet another subtle aspect of NTRP in the discussion we're having. Which is that the descriptions of the skills 'n strategies I quoted are merely a guide to what logically brings success at a given level. The facts are that from the USTA's point of view, wins and losses are what count, and if you can beat everybody at the 4.0 level using a broom, you're going to get moved up to 4.5...

    ...or not. I have no idea how the USTA figures out how players get bumped up, bumped down, stay at their current level, or whatever, and it doesn't seem to follow any predictable pattern. There ought to be objective criteria...wins versus losses, whatever...but to my knowledge there is no criteria, objective or otherwise.

    Having said all that good stuff, I think you and i are kind of on the same page. Which is that a lot of players kind of make it through the 3.0 and 3.5 levels just because they're good athletes or good competitors. But maybe they never really learned to play tennis. If you don't have the fundamentals, that suddenly becomes a strong inhibitor when you want to make the jump to 4.0 and beyond. Two summers ago, I coached a 4.0/4.5 group, and a separate 3.0/3.5 group. Invariably, 95% of the 3.0/3.5s I coached were serving with a SW forehand grip. I'd point it out to them, tell them and demonstrate why the Conti made much more sense in terms of developing a serve with consistency, power, spin and placement. They'd nod their heads and to back to serving with an SW grip.

    To get to another "95%" statistic, I taught skiing for a living. And what I found was two things:

    - Most athletes think they'll do fine improving on what they have. Unfortunately, most of the time, what they're doing is flawed, see above FW grip on the serve example. "Practice makes perfect" only works if what you're already doing is somewhere in the ball park. If what you're doing is biomechanically wrong, if you're using the tool incorrectly, more practice is just going to ingrain faulty technique.

    In many cases, especially with adult athletes, if you really want to get better you need to have a fireside conversation with yourself, own up to what you're currently doing, and if it's really wanting, throw it out and start over. And that's really tough for most people, because 95% of adults can't change, see above example again.

    A couple of years back, I was lucky enough to have a really good Men's Div 1 college coach as my tennis coach. We discovered that I'd drifted into what amounted to a Conti forehand grip and stroke, exclusively, hit from a closed stance. And while that might work okay, in the overall scheme of what I could do on the court, it was a severe limiting factor in the long run.

    So I had to totally lose my old forehand and commit to whatever it took to come up with a solid SW, loop, open forehand. Took two summers, and it was no fun, but it was worth it.

    At 4.0/4.5 and above, even if you've got the basics down, getting better is exponentially more difficult. At 4.0, for example, you can "occasionally force errors when serving", but at 4.5, ""You can hit first serves with power and accuracy and place the second serve." And that, I submit, is a pretty big change if you've got a solid serve to start with. If not...then it's time to go back to square one and change, big time...
     
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  18. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Skiracer, if I remember correctly, you are from Colorado ? I wouldn't mind taking a skii lesson from you, I need it haha:)

    And I think you touched on something really important with the part I bolded. A lot of people don't want to go outside their comfort zone and learn the correct way of hitting a serve (for example) and try to make the best out of their flawed stroke. I hit with a 1hbh for 2 years which was a liability for me but I thought I could improve and be a 5.0 if I keep working on my flawed stroke. I switched to a 2hbh in the end,and while it is frustrating to start over and learn a new stroke, this change is what allowed me to really compete at the 4.5 level (in singles).

    You make good points on defending against S&V as well. There are a lot of strategies you can implement in doubles and my partner and I will work on them. Also, what books are you referring to about S&V ? Do you recommend any good books? I'd definitely like to check them out

    yemenmocha , you're point about a 4.5 singles player not being a 4.5 doubles player is pretty spot on. It's a completely different game. That being said though, I never thought doubles could be so much fun. I really enjoy it, and even though we lost the other day, it makes me want to improve and get better. I like the different strategies that go into doubles like poaching, chip and charge, lobbing, S&V ect.. We play matches every Tuesday, and we're playing a very good team this week. I will try and get my dad to video a set and I'll try to put it on here. Should be an eye opener for me
     
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  19. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    I definitively agree that as you get better, doubles is all about pinpoint placement. You need to dip the ball back as low as possible to minimize any offensive shots, so hard ground strokes (since they are coming in above the net) really set up the opponents for an offensive response.

    By the way, if your opponent is chipping every return, you need to poach more because those shots are coming back pretty slow. Even if you are losing a lot of points when poaching, you need to control the ball on your service games, or you chances of winning really go down. I would guess that you will lose 75% of points if your opponents are set up at the net and you are left trying to pass from the baseline.
     
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  20. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I'm in Colorado..

    ...dunno where you're at. I mostly coach ski racing, but I also teach skiing...kind of the same thing, If you're here in the winter, look me up.

    I wasn't talking about a specific book, although there are a ton of them, also DVDs...somebody more knowledgeable than I can point you to them. If you really like doubles, that's a huge start. I'd also say watch some ATP level doubles on TV. You'll note that doubles is rarely televised, any more, but when it is, especially if it involves the Bryans, it's pretty instructive.

    I'd also go watch some high level doubles in your area...like Open doubles, or college level play. It's all good...
     
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  21. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    ^^^^^ this is a good assessment of the differences in good doubles players and singles players trying to play doubles. I have taken a lot of team/group lesson and one coach said the difference in singles and doubles is like checkers and chess.

    To the OP: at 4.5 level, you need the ability to S&V so you should work on it and start to use it in matches. Chip & Charge weak 2nd serves. Using offensive and defensive lobs also helps. Keeping the ball low is more effective than trying to blast thru 2 net players unless you get a short ball. To me, doubles requires more variety and touch while singles is more of a power game. Modern doubles is more power based than years ago with players teeing off on 2nd serves instead of C&C and serving big 1st serves instead of serving for percentage. But, even with today's players, net play dominates doubles. Bob and Mike Bryan beat many guys that have more consistency and power on a singles court simply because they S&V and volley much better. The volley is much more important in doubles than it is in singles.

    Do you know the best doubles team in the world? John McEnroe and any partner. That was a popular adage about Mc in his prime and there's a lot of truth in it. He had such great placement, feel, and variety; he beat many more powerful players. I saw Mc and Peter Fleming beat Vilas/Clerc in Davis Cup doubles. Mc's return was incredible. His return was the slowest on the court by far. But, it was like clockwork in that every return was soft, low and at the server's feet. You could see the frustration on the Argentine's faces.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
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  22. LuckyR

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    I would not take the loss too hard. If you guys were serving out of your minds and they were able to chip and charge against them, then you were destined to lose, they are a better doubles team than you. As you imply, to beat them you guys will need something extra. As you said developing a great offensive lob would work... in theory. My guess is, you and your partner are not lobbing "types", and the likelihood that you will 1) practice that shot a lot, then 2) use it in matchplay routinely to groove it, is low. True, I don't know you guys, but I am getting that vibe.

    You could take the 2 at net vs 1 at net disadvantage away by rushing the net yourselves. My guess is they were not serving all that great (such that you could not C&C if you chose to do so). Seems for a lot of folks a better fit.
     
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  23. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    You're right actually, we are not the lobbing types. I just figured it was worth trying out and it's probably better in the long run to have that shot in our arsenal. They were a better team than us, and I'm just trying to learn from it so we can do better next time.

    We didn't really try any chip and charge, one of us would always stay back, but we payed for that in the end as you can tell. There are a lot of things/strategies for us to try out, so this will take some time. My partner did a bit of "blast and charge" on second serves where he would hit a hard forehand and come in and it worked the few times he did it.

    Now that I think about it, adjusting during the course of the match was something we didn't do very well. Hopefully that will come with more experience though..
     
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  24. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    If both team members have exceptional baseline groundstrokes, there are a few ways to go when their are two opponents at the net. Presumably the ball is being hit to the baseliner where (you) the baseliner will hit

    • down alleys (low percentage but fun)
    • the center of court (they mistake whose ball or hit back to your middle of court)
    • AT one of the opponents (right hip especially cause surprise and screw up volley)

    If you don't have exceptional baseline skills, you HAVE to add lobbing to your arsenal. Hit lobs deep and they'll get tired of running back to get them. In the third set they will be feeling all the running to net, lob, run back, hit overhead, repeat 5-8 times per game. It will keep them a few feet off the net at least.

    I'm a net guy and, if I get lobbed all day, I won't go too much past the service line on S&V just to make sure they won't make me run more than I need to. If I don't get lobbed I come in as far as I can.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2012
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  25. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    Glad to hear that I was reading between the lines correctly. Something to consider: the need to adjust and come up with a Plan B, is at least twice as important in doubles since you've got at least twice the chance that someone is going to have part of their Plan A game being "off".
     
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  26. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Here's a post...

    ...I wrote in another thread some time ago:

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

    - Serve and volley on both serves.

    - 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. 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 deuce 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. 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 65% 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 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. In doubles, it’s really important to get lots of returns back, even if you have to give up some pace. There are two guys on the other side of the net, and they're supposed to win their serves). On the return, 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 deuce 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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  27. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    As a new 4.0, I feel your pain. What to do when the opponents take the net relentlessly and can volley when they get there?

    Option 1: lob. Hard to do off of a hot serve or low slice. But if you can lob early, they can't drape themselves on the net.

    Option 2: take the ball early. If you stand way back, the volleyers can get in closer and hurt you. Move forward on the return and keep coming. This will slow down the server and she might stop coming in entirely. Receiving as close to the service line as you dare opens up angles, and they can't volley what the cant touch.

    Option 3: win the race to the net. Come in. Hit serves with more spin to give yourself more time to come in. You know you will lose from the baseline -- might as well come on in too.

    Option 4: take off pace. It is easier to volley when you don't have to generate your own pace. Put you energy into placement and spin production.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
    #27
  28. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    skiracer55, that was exactly the type of post I needed.

    Today I played a league match against a righty and a lefty. First set, lefty took the duece side and the righty took the ad side. I tend to stand very wide when I serve, so serving to these guys' backhands was very easy. Second set, the righty and lefty switched sides,and hitting to their backhands was almost impossible. Luckily, I realized my mistake late in the second set, but I never once thought of the problems serving from such a wide position could cause me.

    I think I am starting to realize that you really dont need that much power for doubles too. My partner today was a veteran 4.5 doubles player, and he told me to just hit my kick serve to the opponents backhand and come in. And it worked beautifully for the most part. My partner was able to poach a lot of balls and I got very makeable volleys. he also told me to take the pace of my return and get it in at all costs. He told me dont worry if its a little slow, just get it in. Again, never thought that hitting fluff balls cross court could do any damage but it did. It gave me time to come in to the net and I was able to make it work

    I think the biggest thing I need to work on is cross court returns and keeping them low. Returning is huge in doubles and its tough when you have someone standing at the net ready to poach.

    Again, thanks. That was a really informative post
     
    #28
  29. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Winning the race to the net has worked for me pretty well. Lobbing, while it seems/looks easy, is a really hard shot to pull of all the time. Or at least it is for me
     
    #29
  30. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    I stand 5 feet inside the baseline to return serves precisely for those reasons. Yet if a guy has a cannon for a serve and hits at my body I have little choice but to get behind the baseline (which is seldom). I've tried standing 5 feet behind the baseline and it's just too easy for the net man to poach because of the long distance for the return. By taking the ball really early that net man has a much harder time of stealing points. If that server comes in he'll be seeing the ball much quicker too simply from me standing in much further. And he'll see me much sooner, too. :shock:
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2012
    #30
  31. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Yep. Of all the adjustments I listed, the very first one I try is moving closer to the service line. Just bunting the ball back from this position means there is absolutely no way the server can get to the service line before I do. Fortunately, most women do not have serves strong enough to blast me back.

    What do I do when the server is a 4.0/4.5 man who follows his serve to net and can volley?

    I lose, that's what I do. :)
     
    #31
  32. Korso

    Korso Semi-Pro

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    When I am playing doubles against constant net rushers I lob a lot over the back hand side of either player. Without a lob in the shot selection you are going to be constantly under pressure of making difficult angles on your groundies. The lob will change the dynamic of the point and open up some angles and bring the net playing team out of their comfort zone. High, deep, and looping ground strokes will give these teams some issues as well. Standing back and trying to blast balls at them is playing into their hands. Good net players love line drive groundies.
    You guys should be trying to take the net often as well against teams like this. Keep the ball low and you will see some put aways. Work on communicating where you and your partner are going to serve and return. This will allow easier and smarter poaching. Look for patterns early in the match that your opponents are setting you up for. Find out which side is their weakest volley. I doubt at that level of play that they hit everything like a pro. Capitalize on the weakness. Make them adjust their game.
     
    #32
  33. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Thanks...

    ...I had played a bunch of doubles but I never really thought much about how you best team up to win until my coach did a 2 hour clinic for a bunch of us where he did a bunch of drills to get us used to these concepts, then we played some sets using the stuff we had learned. It was a huge revelation.

    One thing I forgot to mention that we also worked on is having the net person line up in I-formation when the partner serves. I've had a hard time getting the right terminology for this, but where your partner is serving to the deuce court, you, as the net person, line up just to the left of the center service line, and crouch way down so your partner can serve over your head. This has to be a play you call ahead of time, because after the serve crosses the net, you're going to come up and move one way or the other to poach. The server has to know which way you're going to move, obviously, to cover the open court. Yes, it's taking a bold chance, in some ways, but it works amazingly well, and it really shakes up the opposing team, most of the time, especially if they've never seen I-formation.

    The Bryans play what's called "power doubles". That is, they hammer the ball heavy, as much as possible, on both the serve and return, usually through the middle of the court, then move in and knock off an angled volley. As you note, for the rest of us, the better idea is to use variety, angles, and stuff opponents don't like, like slices or dinks, to open up the court and provide the angles from the beginning. A simple design like "kick serve to the backhand and move in" works amazingly well, even done over and over. The opposing team can see what's going on, but, as you note, it takes a hell of a return to put a dent in your strategy.

    There's a couple of corollaries to the above discussion, which I'll get into in the next post...
     
    #33
  34. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    And here's the follow up post...

    The corollaries.

    First, a lot of players assume that if you're going to play S&V, the server is always the one who hits the first volley. The optimum strategy, and the ultimate S&V, is for your partner to serve and for you, at the net, to hit the first volley. You're closer, you have more open court and angles to work with, as opposed to your partner, who has to thread a first volley into the right spot, hitting it, usually from the service line. So poaching, or faking the poach, is key. Dave Hodge told me that his college partner at Baylor was so quick and aggressive, and they worked the poach or fake on every point, that Dave usually only had to hit 2 or 3 first volleys per match.

    Take this back a step, and you're the server. Your job is to hit a serve that will elicit a return to where your partner is, or is moving. To take your above example, in the ad court, I serve a kicker wide to the righty's backhand and move in. Early on in the match, maybe you only want to fake the poach. But after you've served one game, look for patterns in the return off this serve. You'll usually see one of several types of returns, and you can adjust your strategy accordingly:

    - Returner sees the wide serve, hits a heavy topspin ball that's going to go in...but will clear the net by a couple of feet. Ball usually goes cross-court. Your strategy: Definitely poach. A heavy ball up around the shoulders is a perfect putaway opportunity for the net person who poaches. It will, however, dip down lower at the service line, making a difficult first volley for the server.

    - Returner sees the wide serve, hits a smart, low, sliced, angled fluff ball cross court. Also poach. This is a tough return for anyone to handle, but because the net person is closer, he's likely to catch the ball higher in the air and can get more of an angle or otherwise find the open court. This return is going to land on the server's shoelaces...don't make the server hit this one.

    - Returner sees the wide serve, tries to beat it with a heavy DTL shot. Definitely stay. The returner has decided to go with a low percentage, winner or nothing approach, just hold your ground, and be prepared to knock off the return.

    That's the simple case. We're beginning to talk 4.5 and above, where savvy doubles returners can come up with all three of the above returns. Now what? Well, you've now got to vary your serves somewhat to find something else that produces the return you want, for example:

    - Wide slice serve to the forehand. In the deuce court, this is kind of the mirror image of a wide kick in the ad court. Some returners eat this one alive, but a surprising number, including those who think they have a huge forehand, get beat with this serve. As in, I have a huge return as long as somebody gives me one down the pipe. If it's wide, sliced, and moving away, I tend to golf it up...to the net man. Or, my response is to whale the ball down the line...which, again, usually goes to the net man. Or, I'm smart enough to roll the ball, with heavy topspin, cross-court. Another opportunity to poach, because it's going to cross the net relatively high. In general, any time you see a team that insists on heavy, topspin returns, that's a signal that it's time to poach.

    - The slice down the T in the ad court can also work surprisingly well. For example, if you've set the returner up with a series of kick serves out wide, the slice down the T is a surprise, an can produce an ace, a service winner, or a weak floater up the middle...another great poaching opportunity.

    - Often, however, the best option against a good returner is a heavy serve right at the body. It's a difficult ball to deal with at all, and it's not easy to do something useful with a body serve. A lot of the time, it'll produce a floater...yet another opportunity to poach.

    So on to corollary number 2. The above discussions are all about how to hold serve easily in doubles. That's the building block. If you and your partner are holding serve at love or 15 every game, you've already done all the heavy lifting. Now all you need is one break a set to win the match. When you're in the driver's seat like this, I think your returning strategy ought to be as follows:

    - On the first two points of the game, make sure you get the return back, even if you have to fluff it over the net, and make the other team play. Make them work for it, even if they win the game, don't hand them easy winners off their serve.

    - Learn as you go. In other words, early on in the set, focus on holding your service games, making the other team play on your return games, and find out what kind of returns help you set up and win points. It's kind of the reverse of the above discussion. As in "Okay, they're going to kick wide to the backhand and poach, I need to keep the return down, look for the next ball, and lob over their heads. Let's get 'em off the net, and take it ourselves."

    - Back to the two first points discussion. If you get to 0-30, take some chances and try to force the issue. As in, I've been returning wide and low, the net man sees that, I'm going to belt one right at him and see what happens. If you get to 0-40, take some big chances. You have the momentum, if you see a serve you like, hammer the return cross court. If you lose the point, they're still under the gun at 15-40, and you can drop back to a more conservative return. Same deal at 15-30. Go back to a tried and true return, get it back, make them play, and try to claw your way to 15-40, where you can take chances and try for a quick break.

    So those are some thoughts about where to go from the stuff you're learning...sound good?
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2012
    #34
  35. larry10s

    larry10s Hall of Fame

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    i havent read the thread
    but have you ever seen the bryan bros serve and stay back???

    does 1 up and 1 back ever win against 2 up??

    thats the answer to your question
    jmho
    icbw
     
    #35
  36. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Good advice again Skiracer. I usually kick it to the backhand every time but the kick to the body is a serve that can really hurt the returner. I also feel like the slice down the T works much better than the slice out wide because it really catches returners off guard after hitting to their backhands, but I'll give the slice out wide another try sometime.

    My partner and I can poach pretty well and holding serve is pretty easy for us, so the returning strategies should help me out a ton. If we can just find ways to break and get some points on our opponents' serve...we can really do some damage.

    The S&V tip where the net man makes the first volley is a good tip that I never thought of before. Me being 6"3 and my partner a natural S&Ver, I think I can help him out in that department.

    Again thanks everyone. Glad I made this thread, I've learned alot
     
    #36
  37. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Since I'm a S&V net guy I know how to beat guys like me and wonder why more people don't do it. When (s)he serves hit your return right toward them. Why? They have to move out of the way to hit it or the half-volley underhand. I hate it when returns go to my feet and would much rather hit a ball that is within 3' of either side of me.

    Hit the return very wide or down the middle is also very uncomfortable for me but is also very risky for the returner. The net man will poach down the middle and a very wide return often goes wide (but I sure do hate those when they land in).

    If you cannot find a way to hit your return to pass via chip, slice, bash either DTL or DTM -- the final alternative to upset the rhythm of the opposing team is to lob. It will take one of them off the net, expend much more energy, and give you time to get up to the net before they hit the ball. Not pretty...but effective.
     
    #37

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