What can I do to pick up my singles game

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by gameboy, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    The other thread got me started, I might as well get deeper into this...

    My singles game is in the toilet, and I have no idea how to get it better.

    I do play mostly doubles these days and I am playing pretty good doubles. I have no problem hanging with 4.0 players and confidence is sky high.

    But when I play singles, I can barely beat 3.0 players. I don't know what it is, but I just cannot hit the ball with decent pace or placement. During the warm and practice my pace is just fine and I hit really heavy balls. But during a singles match I can barely hit balls over the net even though I feel like I am swinging hard. This is not a problem during a doubles match.

    I am not sure what the heck I am doing wrong. It just makes me want to play less and less singles. I used to be a strict singles player growing up, but those days seem so far away now...

    What can I do to pick things up in singles?
     
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  2. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    Don't make a conscious switch in your game. It's still about serving well and hitting CC until you get a chance to attack. So do that.

    Sure, there are tactical options you don't have in doubles, but just don't worry about that for now, go out and serve well, return deep and rally like you do in doubles..

    Get fancy once your confidence is up..

    Oh, and serve from closer to the centre! :)
     
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  3. jussumman

    jussumman Semi-Pro

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    Are you not getting to the ball and have much less time to hit it compared to your doubles matches? losing a step? If so, you should incorporate a once a week regiment workout to help you develop quick and strong legs (or at least I'm telling you what works for me). Going to the gym once and doing some leg workouts (squats, presses, lifts, etc) or if that's not possible, I recommend a bleecher workout in which you can sprint up and down in short bursts. I like to do this with a 10lb weight vest. I'm able to keep my quickness and have all the time to the hit the ball. If you hit in doubles solid there would be no reason why singles would be different other than you don't get to the ball in time.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
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  4. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Damn, guilty as charged!

    But I find I double fault more from the middle...
     
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  5. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Definitely, I have lost a step or two, but that is not my main problem. I just cannot hit my normal shots during singles. They are spinny without velocity, just no authority. I just don't get what I am doing differently.
     
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  6. Tonyr1967

    Tonyr1967 Rookie

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    Hit with more net clearance. In doubles you are often forced to hit low, high spinning shots ( that give the net man problems). In singles, they don't work, they just end up short, sitters.
     
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  7. jussumman

    jussumman Semi-Pro

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    Experiment with lead on your racquet? Add 4-8 grams (lot of people have different setups) and that will give you some authority!
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
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  8. chatt_town

    chatt_town Hall of Fame

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    What's up bro Timbo? I agree with this totally. Once he masters that he can begin to get into the other parts of singles. :) I've been checking my email to see when you were landing in chatt or atl...for a good match.lol I know you are way over in Australia or somewhere.lol


     
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  9. anubis

    anubis Hall of Fame

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    So what is your NTRP, and how long have you been at that level?
     
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  10. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I know *exactly* what you are talking about.

    A few years ago, I decided to focus on singles. I learned many things. Mostly, I learned my singles game is 1.5 NTRP levels below my doubles game. I stood no chance against singles specialist of my level, and I struggled against people rated below me.

    There were many problems rooted in my doubles background.

    1. Shot tolerance. This was the key that caused me to lose against people my level. In doubles, you don't hang around the baseline rallying and expect to win matches. And if you do stay back, your opponents will come in so you need dipping passing shots. In singles, I tried to go for too much too soon from a bad position.

    2. Angles. In doubles, the best shots are angles. In singles, depth is prized. I tended to try for impossible angles in singles, which got me in a lot of trouble. I would either miss outright with my shot landing in the doubles alley, or my spinny short angle would sit up and my opponent would scoot up and hit a winner.

    3. Recovery. I wasn't used to covering the whole court, so I tended to hit my shot and stand wherever I happened to be rather than recovering immediately.

    4. Defense. I was not used to playing defense because doubles rewards offense. Well, playing defense is about 50% of playing singles, and I had no idea how to work myself out of trouble in singles.

    5. Attitude. I found 3.5-4.0 singles kind of boring. Ten-shot rallies up the middle, just to win one point? No thank you.

    6. Arrogance. I found it annoying when my singles opponent would handle a shot that would be awesome in doubles. Take the serve, for instance. If I hit a good serve in doubles, the returner is in trouble. The net player will attack a floater, and I can S&V to apply additional pressure. In singles, all the opponent has to do is block it deep, no directional control is required.

    I did get better, but I ultimately decided that singles wasn't for me so I stopped. The exercise helped my doubles play a lot, however, so that was the silver lining.

    For you, maybe the thing to do is get with a practice partner and practice sustaining loooooooong rallies where you just keep the ball in play. You can get a feel for how much to go for on a rally ball or an angle, and you can practice recovering.

    Good luck!
     
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  11. emilyhex

    emilyhex Rookie

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    1. Increase your fitness level. Singles takes more out of you so you get tired sooner. Maybe do some cardio and/or increase your core strength outside of tennis.

    2. At your level, I've found consistency will win you more matches than hitting the ball hard. Keep the ball in play and let your opponent make the errors. Don't worry so much about putting crazy spin on the ball or hitting uncontested winners. Just hit it back.

    3. Relax, sounds like you have some performance anxiety. All matches are "practice", just go have fun. This is something you need to work out for yourself.
     
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  12. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Stop playing matches...

    ...get in better shape, clean up your strokes, train more...
     
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  13. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    To me, the biggest difference to think about it this. In doubles, you're looking to hit a winner, in singles it's mostly about forcing an error from your opponent.

    Consistency trumps everything in singles. Your focus should be how do you put yourself in position to be solid and consistent. The answer is usually pretty clear.
     
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  14. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    If you think that you just have problem translating your best shots to singles then I'd suggest a hybrid game. We have one that we call 21 that we play a lot rather than playing pickup singles. You just drop feed cross court to your opponent and the ball needs to be a "nice" feed. I'd return the ball cross court to you. After that the point is just played out normally.

    The game is played to 21 points. We play that getting to the net counts for 2 but that is because we want to work on our net game. You may want to play that clean winners count for 2 to encourage people to play aggressive. We play the first game to 21 feeding to the forehand side. Next game would be starting the feed to the backhand.

    The main idea is that when we take out the serves we get a LOT more points in. Transitioning this way to having license to hit hard while also keeping score might be a good way for you to help your singles game.
     
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  15. Bdarb

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    Fitness. You have to move more, plus you're serving twice as much (and from your previous post it sounds like from the wrong place). I have this problem but backwards as I'm just starting to play more doubles and with people who have been doing it for years.

    Ill get to just about any ball, to the point where players often get discouraged trying to over place it. This forces them to take a lot of shots they wouldnt usually and gets me sitters i can put away. Find out what your weapon is and figure out how to set yourself up for that shot because you don't have a partner to split the leg work with anymore.

    If your serve is weak it's going to be exposed twice as much, and if you aren't standing near the middle and can't get offensive shots out of it, it's going to hurt you. Remember, the person returning is no longer concerned with avoiding the net person which doesn't only open up where they can hit, but how hard they will. People are generally more tentative while avoiding someone either because they don't want to hurt them or they tighten up.

    Even though the court is smaller, remember they have much more open space to hit at.
     
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  16. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Maybe this is level- or gender-dependent.

    When I played singles at 3.5 up to low 4.0, people couldn't do much damage off of even a weak serve.

    Also, I think players return much harder in doubles than singles precisely because of the threat of the net person. Most singles returners just want to start the point by getting the return deep.
     
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  17. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Doubles skills don't translate well to singles (not talking about pro levels here). Doubles requires covering a much smaller part of the court. I can play singles for only 1 hour before getting physically and mentally exhausted, while I can play doubles for 4 hours. Doubles allows you to blame your partner. Weak serves can still work if your partner is solid at the net. There is much more scope for hitting lobs and winning points rather than hitting good ground strokes. The mental 1-on-1 is absent. Singles amplifies technical and stamina problems.

    To improve in singles, play singles as much as possible and keep doubles as a last resort only when the choice is not playing at all.
     
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  18. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    Your problem is your mindset about tennis. It ain't gonna' be fixed at an internet message board. You need to open your wallet up and hook up with a coach who knows tennis. Clinics will do you no good, only empty your wallet faster, work up a little sweat and it's back to your same old game.

    You think hitting "heavy balls" during a warm-up means something. Warming up is not about hitting hard, it's about the opposite. Hanging with 4.0's may be good for your ego, but 4.0 "players" are not players. They are the big men on campus who run-up the big bar tabs and manage their "buddies" trust funds, like the 3.5 women run the club social scene.

    The fact that you state you don't know what the problem is, is the problem. You need to be working on a multitude of techniques, strategies and tactics. Meaningless ball bashing against singles specialists is not going to win you matches.
     
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  19. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Cindy, I agree most everything you said. I am suffering from similar problems.

    The only difference is that I am trying to play more "safe" and high percentage tennis by concentrating on returning balls, but I am getting pushed around when I do it.

    Regarding serves, they are pretty effective weapon for me at my level (3.5). I have a decent kicker, which is great in doubles since I get my share of weak returns which my partner can put away. In singles, it is not buying much advantage for me (high floating returns) and one of my best weapon is neutralized.

    Suresh, you are correct that they are completely different games. I am feeling lost. I was thinking about playing some singles for the upcoming 40+ league, but now I am not sure (I am one of the best doubles player on 18+ team).
     
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  20. Bdarb

    Bdarb Hall of Fame

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    Why wouldn't you sign up for a singles league? Can you think of another way to improve than more practice??

    It sounds like you were top I your level and are looking to play with better people, and aren't used to being bottom rung. It's like working out, you need to keep at it and do it alot, most meaningful changes in your game will be incremental.

    I'm with Tom on this one, there is no magic post that you can read because the fact of te matter is there are people willin to put in the work or people who are just more gifted than you. If you can't dominate based on athletic ability alone, it's time to put in some work
     
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  21. Bdarb

    Bdarb Hall of Fame

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    Must be, even a low Ish 4.0 should be able to pick on a weak serve. Though granted 4.0 women and man are quite different which I'm learning more now.

    Personally, I have to place the ball more when playing doubles off the return. This causes me not to hit as hard unless I'm going after the net person which I would just hit it near them as hard as I can. Either way, the server isn't seeing the initial ball he will see if the net person wasn't there.
     
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  22. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    I'm not sure I entirely agree. At 3.5 singles, I can kick butt or win by attrition. At 4.0, the story is different. I need a better serve; and they will punish me if I am just consistently deep. I need better deep shots, more pace, more spin, not just consistency. I need to be able to deal with those kinds of shots in return and I really need to learn to put the point away when I get a chance to do so. The players I play against do put those shots away; and I do not, I just sit around trying to be consistent instead of taking advantage and being confident to put those shots away. It is a recipe to get my rear kicked at 4.0
     
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  23. jussumman

    jussumman Semi-Pro

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    When I play singles I'm in serious mode. But the rare times I play doubles I play mostly with a jovial attitude to have fun. I think doubles is fun and can be a good way to develop more net game. I guess it's all about where you are in your tennis game. I'm in my 30s and hope to play as much singles matches and reserving the doubles for later in life when I can't cover the entire court like I can now.
     
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  24. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    That's an interesting point actually..

    I have never really taken doubles seriously, I always just played it for fun pretty much

    However.

    Just in the last couple of years I have been playing some pretty high level interclub (what you guys call 'league') tennis in a really cool format.

    3 man teams, everybody plays a singles and 2 doubles. (you can see how it works)

    And, because I'm a pretty competitive person, I have started working on my doubles a bit. (well, I want to win, obviously)

    Anyway, the flow on effect of all this is I now actually enter the doubles as well in tournaments, even to the extent of having a 'regular partner'.

    And I like it!

    And, as the poster above implies, it will hopefully see me playing competitive tennis at a higher level for longer as my legs start to fade. (which will happen at some point, even though I have been lucky so far)

    I dunno how this incoherent ramble is meant to help gameboy with his singles, but I just felt like having a bit of a waffle.

    carry on :)
     
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  25. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, I remembering this being a problem for me as well. Basically, my opponent could take my safe, perfectly reasonable rally ball and get me in trouble, little by little.

    I actually did work with a pro, and he had two suggestions to address this.

    First, he pointed out that the opponent's shots that got me in trouble weren't all that spectacular. The reason I was in trouble was because of my poor recovery/footwork/split step, not anything my opponent was doing to me. When I focused on hitting my shot and then recovering as fast as possible and then splitting when the opponent hit, I was in less trouble. The recovery after the shot should take as much effort as the shot itself, he explained.

    Second, I had to keep my ball out of "the circle." If you draw a large circle around the T, I had to keep my ball out of it. The balls my opponents were using to get me in trouble were my shots that landed in the T. Conversely, any of my opponents balls that landed in the T were shots I should attack -- not with a screaming winner but just a slightly more aggressive ball.

    But it was the recovery/split step that really helped me stay out of trouble more than anything.

    Gotta serve and volley now and then to keep them honest. Don't let 'em get away with those soft, high floating returns. You're a doubles player -- place that approach volley in the corner and do your thing at net.

    I am so so so glad I spent that year trying to learn singles. I failed, in that I lost all the time and abandoned the effort.

    But my groundstrokes got so so so much better. Now, I play 4.0 doubles and my favorite type of opponent is someone who doesn't come to net. This is because I can often win points by simply hitting good groundstrokes until I create an opportunity for my partner or sneak in. In the past, it felt like I was often the person who missed first in a baseline exchange.
     
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  26. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Cindy, those are some GREAT pointers. I am going to try to work on that.
     
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  27. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    What can I say? I had a great pro.
     
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  28. RetroSpin

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    >>But when I play singles, I can barely beat 3.0 players. I don't know what it is, but I just cannot hit the ball with decent pace or placement. During the warm and practice my pace is just fine and I hit really heavy balls. But during a singles match I can barely hit balls over the net even though I feel like I am swinging hard. This is not a problem during a doubles match.<<

    gameboy,

    I see two possible issues here. One you highlighted in the quote above. To me this sounds like a technique or focus issue. The ball doesn't know if you're warming up or playing a crucial point, but you do. So you must be doing somethng differently. My guess is you are anxious and looking up before contact, but that is obviously only a guess. The idea is to hit the ball exactly the same in point play as you do in practice. That means you need to duplicate match conditions in practice.

    The other issue is the idea that you gradually get put on the defensive in rallies. That sounds to me like you are either being too cautious or, as noted above, you are producing poor quality shots. Play a match and tell yourself beforehand that you don't care about the result. Your goal is to hit quality, forcing shots and not be overly concerned about the result.
     
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  29. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Good post. Pretty much laid out all the point except Cindy (intentionally?) neglected probably the most important point which is fitness. Fitness and sport is like wetness to rain. Singles exposes your fitness level and if your fitness isn't there, you will inevitably bring problems into your technique no matter how perfect it is. The first thing anyone who first plays singles realizes is how tiring (and sometimes right down physically painful) it is.

    IMO, most players preferring doubles over singles is because they can't tolerate the physical endurance. Otherwise, I don't get their reasons. We play to get to play alot, no? Doubles is less in every department.

    gameboy, to see whether your issue is fitness or not, play against some old folks who hit slow shots. I bet you could get to them all and hit like Federer!! :)
     
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  30. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Gameboy,

    First of all, I respect that you actually made your post and looked to others for suggestions -

    I had kind of the opposite problem when trying to become a better doubles player a few years back. Since I played singles nearly always, I didn't really understand the difference in doubles and singles or how to best use my strengths and the strengths of my partner in doubles. I was frustrated, so I did something very brash, I played no singles league matches for a year. I captained a team and only played Doubles. Spring and fall, I read the Art of Doubles ( great read ) .

    I am not suggesting you get that radical, but for me, I needed the practice at doubles.

    There are pluses and minuses in both games

    Singles-
    - you can get away with shots that you can't in doubles ( loopy topspin to the deep middle of the court - that most likely gets poached in doubles ) - I played 14 3.5 singles matches this year, 5 at State, and then played six more 4.0 singles matches - only one guy (a 3.5) was a S&V specialist - options on the ROS: hit at their feet , or topspin lob to the backhand side ( I use this on the Ad side against righties) or you pass DTL or wide XC- S&V's are too easily neutralized by poly strings- it is easier to beat a S&V today than 20 years ago.

    - you have no coach or partner so read Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert three times - it really makes a difference

    - being fit and fast pays more here than in doubles - I've had guys tell me, that they thought I got stronger and faster in the 3rd sets- I think I was simply in better shape and they were getting tired-

    - learn to punish a short ball- this pays in doubles as well, but when you get a short ball in singles, the point should end. This is where patience plays a big role. Set up the points and wait for the short ball-

    - when you are in a defensive position, simply try to "reset the point" - Rather than try to hit winners while on the defense, try to reset the point by hitting deep to the baseline toward the Service | ( the mark that divides the service for deuce & Ad serves) - even use a defensive lob if needed - then use the hang time to move back to a better court position - it's the best defensive move I have discovered in singles -

    - be patience and set up points ( ad corner to Deuce corner, then as your opponent moves back to the middle use his momentum against him, and hit the Deuce corner again- you don't have to kill that second deuce corner shot, just get it deep as he is moving toward the middle - your point :) you can use this also to go Duece Corner, then Ad corner twice in a row -

    - play in a singles ladder, and try to play pushers, lobbers, fast guys, big hitters and guys that slice you to death - singles players come in a lot of different styles, and the more you play, the better you get - one 4.0 drops shots and lobs me to exhaustion - we spilt matches 2-2, but his drop shot is deadly- the fact that he has a big forehand and the best drop shot I have ever faced, keeps me guessing - stand too far back, and he drops me and runs me-very effective - especially in June/July /Aug in South Carolina

    - each year I try to work on three shots for the year- (this year one of the shots for me was a one handed backhand slice ( I use a 2HBH anytime a ball is in my wheelhouse, but the one hand slice is easier for low balls, or very high ball) - another shot that works well if you can hit deep groundstrokes with pace is a drop shot- the deep penetrating groundstrokes will keep the opponent behind the baseline, while the ability to hit a dropshot from the baseline can be a weapon if your opponent is too far back- this has been used against me by 4.0s

    - vs big guys , don't hit four feet to the side of them, hit directly at their feet instead - they are big, so body shot them and make them move to one side or the other - this works great against guys 6'4 and up - jam them

    - vs fast guys, don't hit extremely angles on them, unless you are going for a winner, because if they get to the ball, they will use the angle against you- brad gilbert says "don't let a runner run" - hit up the middle on fast players, so they don't get extreme angles on you -

    - find one shot that becomes a flat out weapon- for me it's my forehand and my ROS - my backhand occasionally scores a winner, but it is steady - I can slice a backhand or hit a 2HBH- but I hurt players with my forehand - others players hurt me with other shots including lobs, drop shots, slices - bottom line is you will have an easier time at singles if you find a shot that allows you to hurt your opponents over and over again.

    - I don't have a big serve , but I generally find a weak spot if a guy as one . and hit to it 75% of the time. If you have a big serve, congrats - use it and take some free points -

    In doubles, I try to get to the net a lot - I come in behind deep shots and try to volley as much as possible - but in singles, I am very very stingy with my net game- you have to figure out what works best for you - I have enough control with my backhand to place the ball, but I have a forehand that my 5.0 partner in 8.5, calls "ridiculous" - it is the most natural shot I have - cross court, inside out , flat and driving, or loopy topspin as a lob softly to a corner - find a shot that is your go to shot - Jim Courier made a living running around his backhand and crushing his forehand - Stan Warinka's backhand is deadly- we aren't making money as amateur hacks, but most players I know have a favorite shot-

    A 4.5 friend of mine, as a backhand that is his weapon, he simply drives a low flat slice deep and if I get to it, he is at the net to finish it.

    A 4.0 friend used a loopy topspin shot, nothing hard, but crazy spin to keep me pinned to the baseline. Only partial solution for this was to take his balls on the rise- but he is 23 less than half my age and faster -

    Find a weapon and use it-

    Hope my tips help-
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
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  31. Sparta-cus

    Sparta-cus New User

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    Singles is not for everyone. If you want to improve it.

    1. Proper mechanics in your serve.
    2. Proper mechanics in your forehand.
    3. Proper mechanics in your backhand slice/ BH.
    4. Proper mechanics in your volley............

    If you lay a good foundation slowly step by step in that order it will automatically improve your fitness with less stress on your body. Also makes you mentally tougher in matches as you gain confidence and maturity in your game. Good question to ask is how to improve those steps that way you can get better results. It takes time and work to improve singles game and there is no shortcuts.

    Doubles is easy to win than singles. Get a good partner to cover your weakness :))
     
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  32. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

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    Pretty much anything minus, a ball hit with an extreme angle inside the service line, should be a point ending shot- a strong 4.5 friend says "if I get a short ball, the point ends- either my winner or my UE, but the point shall end" -

    If you get a ball wide to the ad or deuce side, but inside the service line, learn to punish these gifts-

    If your opponent, is wide to one side of the court , go opposite him, or use a sharp angle, but DONT put short balls back in play if you can finish the point - this ability will give you confidence and take that of your opponents -
     
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  33. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Some really good posts. I appreciate it.
     
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  34. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    How about:
    - First strike tennis?
    - With a weapon of yours that you need to develop (some other poster indicated FH and ROS and those are mine as well)?

    Disclaimer: I tend to over do it.
     
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  35. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Of course :()
     
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  36. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Nice pointers Cindy!
     
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  37. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    To play singles, you have to be fit enough to play singles.

    Fitness alone, however, won't mean you will be successful in singles. I mean, part of what led me to think I could stroll onto a singles court and start beating people was that folks were constantly saying, "You're fast/in great shape. You'd be great at singles!"

    So I launched my little experiment where I tried to morph into a singles player. I was literally in the best physical shape of my life. I could get to any ball. But nothing was smooth or effortless. I ran around like my hair was on fire for two hours.

    Despite being fit, I didn't know how to translate that fitness into efficient, effective play. The reasons were the ones I outlined above -- failure to appreciate the importance of recovery and split step, and my inability to capitalize on my opponent's weak shots.
     
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  38. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    I agree and that's how I end up improving my fitness as well (by practicing or playing, practically daily and progresivelly with more intensity).
     
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  39. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Well, as I'm not as fit as you, I also try to take the innitiative first and hone my weapons(mainly FH and ROS, now the serve as well) to hurt my opponent.
     
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  40. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    I have been working on making my forehand a weapon this year - I've hit more forehands than the law allows!

    I also have been trying to optimize my serve so hopefully, next year, I will be a little more aggressive. Another problem is that I really need more match experience. The ladies in my area just refuse to play singles so it is really hard to get the experience that I need.
     
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  41. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Hmm...there's no such thing as "proper mechanics". But, there's effective mechanic or not in the context of your needs. You may have a mechanic that works for 3.5 but not 4.0 and so on. All top atp guys' mechanics are visibly different but it can't be said that one is proper and the others are not.

    I observe a few guys at the park I play. Many have horrid machanics, but it'll be a cold day in June if you could beat them. The way I understand this is...their bad stroke techniques put a definitive ceiling on their shot's power and certain aspects, however, they really do not need them. That's the key. Their fitness, other skills, match experience more than make up for those limitation.
     
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  42. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    OK I see what you mean. It makes sense when you explain it.

    Maybe because I always play doubles like I play singles, for example, staying at the baseline and grind until I win, so the only thing I see standing out the most when transferring from singles to double is fitness.

    Yeah, i"m like you. Pretty fit also. I feel I have a big game, ie bigger strokes with more power and no holding back mentally, etc. but I kinda dread playing a near fit guy who's singles savvy and doesn't necessarily hit with the same power and aggressiveness.

    On the other hand I also play regularly with a friend who's trained at the gym twice a week and hit the court two other days. He's my age and lighter and by all that strength training probably is much fitter than me. Great work ethic to boost. Luckily for me, like you said, he doesn't know how to translate all those assets to better playing for him. He gets exhausted before I do and he uses a much lighter racket, too. Where it stands right now I'm up 3:1 win/lose ratio against him. :)
     
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  43. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Would you like to know what your partner (a doubles specialist) is thinking during the match? :)

    He's thinking, "Good lord, man! Learn to come to net already! Put some weight on those volleys, you're killing me up here! And Jesus, Joseph and Mary, I beg of you, please, *position properly!" :)

    I was intrigued by Gut4Tennis' post above. He said he took an entire year off from singles to devote himself to playing doubles AND he put in the effort to learn and read about proper tactics. I think I speak for doubles specialists everywhere when I say that is how to do the thing properly.

    Singles players are wonderful people deserving of admiration and respect, but they often don't know just how out of position they are during the point. It makes my soul hurt.
     
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  44. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    I would suggest you're misdiagnosing your self. When you say:

    "I just cannot hit the ball with decent pace or placement"

    "I can barely hit balls over the net even though I feel like I am swinging hard"

    "It just makes me want to play less and less singles"

    ...it sounds to me that you're playing way too tight. Probably because you're overemphasizing the result (winning the match), and not actually trying to honor any game plan other than hitting the ball hard.

    If I were you I'd figure out a reasonable game plan, and go play a match doing nothing but trying to honor that game plan. Winning or losing points/sets/matches doesn't matter - all you're trying to do is get that plan into your bones. If you can't execute that day or someone is just a bad matchup, that's fine - you still got another chance to practice your game plan.

    Now, the issue is what's your game plan? Most people are really bad at math, and wind up picking game plans that are incredibly fragile and closer to gambling than anything else. Flip the script - be the casino, not the gambler.

    Try to simplify your plan to one small advantage (hit exclusively to their weaker side, or one more ball back, or never allow them a stroke without making them cover ground first, etc.) and do only that for an entire match. Doesn't matter if you win or lose - but if you pick a plan with enough built-in advantage, over the course of lots of points, that small advantage will yield you games, then sets, then matches. Note that you need to be able to consistently make your opponent suffer that small disadvantage. If you can't consistently hit a heavy ball, then you need to find another way to get on top of the other guy until that tool is firmly in your pocket.

    There's a reason it's called grinding - in both gambling and in tennis. You want small advantages over many turns, not one big score.
     
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  45. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    You probably play in some sort of "formal" club or group that people treasure correct playing and wins. Unfortunately I play pickup doubles and there's never any sense of partnership and mutual understanding. To win, one just needs to utilize his best feature, avoid or cover his weakness, and be a bit match-savvy. :)
     
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  46. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    My game plans have been quite simple, hit cross court shots until you get a short ball and go down the line with it. Just high percentage tennis.
     
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  47. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    You know, I just realized that the Bryan Bros also frequently play two back. That's what they did in the WT Final championship game. It's a valid play if the other team are two strong hitters and decent volley-ers.
     
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  48. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

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    It's a desperation strategy, and they LOST. In doubles the team who takes over the net wins.
     
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  49. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

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    You've gotten some really good pointers here...from Cindy and g4....but you've gotta expand that 'game plan.'

    That will not cut it at anything above 3.5+ (which is where I think you...and I...are at).

    For the first time, in a long time, I'm playing almost as much singles as doubles and the games are dramatically different -- angles, pace, fitness...and, of course, strategy. Doubles is much more complex when it comes to strategy as you've got yourself, your partner (who you may or may not know very well) as well as two opponents. In singles, it's much more cut-n-dry.

    In doubles, I tend to focus on what WE can do to win be it through better cooperation and "team" play or outright skill. In singles, though, I find myself trying to figure out, early on, what my individual opponent's strengths and weaknesses are. At first, I'll try to attack those weaknesses...assuming that I can. If that doesn't work, I'll sometimes switch up and hit into a known strength. Why? Because the resulting shot is invariably known and predictable. Remember, your opponents have patterns of play they love, and until someone breaks it down, they'll keep going to the til.

    As long as you've tried to exploit their weakness first, don't be afraid to switch it up. And remember, the court is as much about side-to-side as it is front-to-back. Two of my biggest "singles" nemeses are folks who hit short droppers to my FH (no less!), then loft an easy lob to the now very open BH side. Neither shot has to be perfect, but the combination seems deadly.

    So much so, that now, I will often try to entice a 'baseliner' in...only to pop a soft lob up over their head. It's not like some awesomely stroked angle or deep corner shot so not a particularly satisfying combination. But it's a winning one.

    I'll buck the "consistency" trendy and advise you to look for some other 2- and 3-shot combinations...and don't be afraid to "go for it!"
     
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  50. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    At 3.5, 4.0, you do not have 2, 3-shot combos. What you have is 2, 3 shots and then an UE! Or push the ball back and forth until one is exhausted and makes an UE! :)

    Also, strategies at these low levels are overrated. Sure, occasionally you get someone so bad and so nervous that they literally can't hit a particular shot at all, like a bh shot or deal with a low sliced shot, and you do all you can to pick on it. But most of the time it's about the basics of hitting back and forth and fitness and the will not to lose. A great "strategy" to use is to glue your eyes on the ball and run down every shot and put it back whatever way you can. It's very successful.
     
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