Suggestions for getting your teammate out of a funk

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by damazing, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. damazing

    damazing Rookie

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    I'm playing mostly doubles in USTA and it has almost become routine now that one of my partners gets into a funk. Whether its because their serve is not on, or their groundstrokes are flying long or even if they are muffing easy put aways.

    What motivational/instructional/or other comments have worked for you to get your partners head back into the game?
     
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  2. jc4.0

    jc4.0 Professional

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    Be supportive always

    This is a tricky one. First - you must stay positive. Some partners benefit by genuine supportive comments like "no worries, you had the right idea" or "we're still in this, let's go!" And other players would rather you just shut up and say nothing. In any case, DO NOT CRITICIZE OR COACH THEM. Everyone's game has ebbs and flows, everyone's focus goes in and out during a match. I'm sure you have experienced that sometimes, you're "on" and play great for a whole match, and other days you can't seem to keep the ball in the court. Usually, it's because you've got stuff on your mind and can't mentally focus. Be patient and understanding, as you'd want your partner to treat you if you were having a bad day on the court.
     
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  3. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    What JC said...though, I have to admit, this is one of the reasons I switched to singles!!!
     
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  4. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, this is tough. I mean, we all have rough patches, and it takes a certain brand of confidence to work through it during a match.

    Some people can be very stubborn. If their first serve is normally strong but isn't working that day, they will keep trying to hit it rather than just hitting two second serves. Why, though? Why not just play with whatever strokes showed up that day?

    Anyway, I tend to say nothing at all when my partner is having a tough day. At most, I will just ask them questions, like "What would you like me to do?" Or I will make a strategic suggestion designed to take their mind off of it, like "She's floating her returns. I'm going to try to poach this next return, so maybe put your serve up the middle if you can."

    Like Topaz says, whatever you do, don't coach them. Unless they specifically ask you. I had a recent match in which my partner, who had previously told me she is strong from the baseline, couldn't hit a groundstroke. After we had dropped the first set, she said something like, "I don't know what's wrong with me today. I just can't hit my groundstrokes." Now, I hadn't actually seen her hit her groundstrokes, and even if I had, I wouldn't know what was wrong. So I said, "I dunno. But I work with this pro, and he told me once that if you are missing your shots, it's one of three things: footwork, footwork, or footwork." She played much better in the second set. But we still lost, because I started screwing up! :)
     
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  5. netman

    netman Hall of Fame

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    Spot on.

    We rec players have real lives outside the court lines and that can lead to serious baggage when we step on the court. Just remember we are not getting paid to do this, so in the scheme of things, a rec tennis match falls way outside life's top ten. Be positive and supportive throughout the match and have fun. Sometimes the simple act of having fun can turn a match around.
     
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  6. Redflea

    Redflea Hall of Fame

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    This is one of those where there is no "right" answer other than the "no coach" rule.

    I have a partner who falls in to funks...

    What's best for us is for me to pretty much ignore his behavior - don't get chatty/happy, don't get quiet and ignore him, just play like things are normal - talk about strategy, be positive, trash-talk the other team loudly (if they are friends of ours) or quietly (if not), and give him a little time to work it out.

    I have another friend who is a well known racquet thrower. We play together once in a while, and he requires a more direct approach - I actually tell him politely to cool it, and don't let him bubble away on his own, because I've found that in his case, he doesn't come out of it on his own. This only works because we respect each other and have a good relationship on-court. Not something you should try with just anybody...
     
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  7. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    A partner can get tight when he/she feels like they're on the hook for making errors and I believe that it's my responsibility to keep them motivated and "on board" in our match. If they miss a routine shot, I'll just say something like "hey no sweat, you've got that ball", or if they take some initiative and poach, but miss the put-away, I'll tell him/her that they made a good move and to keep flying around. That way, I'm letting them know that I know that they can do it right. Otherwise it becomes more of a three-on-one scenario.

    If a partner is sort of withdrawn, a great thing to do is to suggest a tactic, etc. and ask what they think, even if it isn't a significant change in your plan. That brings them into the process instead of letting them get into a state of isolation. Doing something as simple as that can make a partner feel more like they're in the driver's seat.

    Keeping a partner loose can also mean just keeping things on the lighter side. Even in the pros, I often see better doubles teams making occasional goofy remarks to each other in between points. It seems to work. If someone gets so po'ed that they air mail their racquet, they've pretty much checked out and will have to find their own way back to sanity. If the thrower is a friend though, you might be able to lighten them up with a new nickname... Chuck!
     
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  8. AR15

    AR15 Professional

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    Kick 'em in their arse.:twisted:
     
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  9. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    I was having a hard time with my serves the other day playing doubles and my doubles partner who is a very calm and collected type of player; just came back to me and said "take a little off, just hit your serve like you're practicing" and that calm statement was enough to get me to quit obsessing about it and my serves got better, not great, but better. Later in the game, my partner hit a few double faults real close together and I just grinned real big and told "just get it in the box!" And, she did!

    Some of my partners and especially myself, respond well to a statement like "just play the ball, one ball at a time". This keeps you focused on your game and not on getting intimidated by what is happening on the other side of the court; seems to work for me.
     
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  10. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Spoke, I hear ya, but the advice to take a little off or just get it in makes steam come out of my ears. :)

    If I am missing my serves, the culprit is usually slowing the racket head. "Taking a little off" will convert serves that were going into the net into serves that are bouncing in my own service box. The fix is to, um, grow a pair and swing the racket already.

    As for "just play the ball," that's what I was doing!! :)

    Seriously, I know I am hypersensitive to criticism/suggestions when I am struggling in a match. I feel a bit more receptive when the speaker is playing well and I am dragging us down; hey, if I can't play better, the least I can do is be a good listener. Usually, though, the speaker has just dumped her last three volleys into the net but is far more concerned about the last three errors I made. So I don't take it well. Their remarks become Yet Another Distraction I have to work to tune out.

    YMMV, of course.
     
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  11. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    Ah, you have the opposite problem with your serve than I do; Mine rarely go into the net; but when they are off, they go long!

    So, a comment like take a little off and just get it in the box works for me; it takes pressure off of me that I should put it someplace in the opposite box, i.e. to the back hand or down the middle; and I just hit the serve better when I'm not worrying about those things.

    Everyone reacts differently. If you don't like comments from your partner, just tell them prior to the game. Communication never hurts. If I was playing with you and I knew this about you, I would just tell you good things and hit hands no matter whether the ball is good or bad; it just helps boost your confidence.

    spoke.
     
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  12. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Spoke,

    Yeah, I gotta do better with this. Last night, my partner was missing her serves like mad. I said generally positive things and all and made a few jokes, but I think a few hand slaps and suchlike would have been a good idea.
     
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