Will playing down hurt your game??

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Centryx, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. Centryx

    Centryx Semi-Pro

    Aug 23, 2010

    I was thinking about playing on 2 combo teams this coming season. (6.5 and 7.5) but I am unsure if playing down @ 6.5 will be worth it, or will I just end up being disinterested in it and not focused in the match at hand. anyone out there that has done this before as a strong 3.5 almost 4.0??

    thanks in advance
  2. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

    Mar 24, 2010
    We do not have combo here but I have played 7.0 mixed as a 4.0 so it seems a little similiar to your situation.

    I use these matches as a chance to work on stuff so I find it beneficial.
  3. tennis tom

    tennis tom Hall of Fame

    Jun 15, 2007
    Playing weaker players will not hurt your game but may hurt your mind. If someone is relatively new to the game or a lifelong 3.0 they probably don't know the rules, the code, the unwritten rules, etc., etc., etc., a lot of the stuff you see argued about here.

    Playing a weaker player can be good for your game because you are not under mental pressure and can attempt to employ proper technique, tactics and strategy. To get better at tennis you should play better players than you approximately 30% of the time, worse than you 30% of the time and about the same as you 40% of the time. It's a fallacy that you only improve by playing better players.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
  4. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Aug 31, 2006
    OP, good question.

    I am a strong 3.5, but I no longer play 6.5 combo. Interestingly, I notice that some of my strong 3.5 peers do continue to play it, and they don't always win their 6.5 matches. Hmmm.

    I found it tricky to continue at 6.5. After the first two points, the matches became an exercise in Xtreme Keep-Away. This was OK, but it was a great lot of work for me. The main reason I stopped, though, was that there was no drama. I felt like some of the fun was gone if I knew going in there was little chance I would lose.

    I also think that playing down too much can make you a little lazy. Hey, why come to the net if you can win by just hitting rally balls crosscourt? But then if I played all out, it sometimes looked a little abusive, you know? Like, the opponent would send some meatball over the net, and I would poach it right at the feet of the net player. They would look so startled and upset that I felt hesitant doing it.

    So. Play 6.5 combo if there is something you really want to work on that you don't normally do (like, coming to net on every point). Otherwise, it might not be a lot of fun for you, depending on your playing style.
  5. Centryx

    Centryx Semi-Pro

    Aug 23, 2010
    thanks Cindy that was a very well thought out post, like you I think it will be getting a little abusive out there with the way I prefer to play. I mainly joined the 6.5 team because I wanted to lose that nervous feeling that I get when I play up. I figured just getting more matches in this year would help me out since most of my upper matches go like this terrible first set since I am nervous amazing second set and third set tb...
  6. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

    Aug 16, 2005
    Make TT better, use the Ignore List!
    I am playing both 6.5 and 7.5 combo this season and my experience is that I, as the 3.5 player, have different responsibilities depending on which type match I'm playing.

    Last week at 6.5, my partner was something of a pusher from the baseline but was able to put away some net balls. As a result, both our opponents hit it to him at every opportunity and I bet he hit 75% of our shots. What I had to do therefore was to be much more aggressive about poaching and moving around on the court, particularly at the net, to try and create confusion. I also had to go for more outright winners than I usually attempt because in many cases if I didn't hit a winner, we likely weren't winning the point.

    In my 7.5 matches I know I'm the one on our side who is likely to be focused on so I try to be play steadier and only go for winners when I think I have a very high likelihood of success. I don't want to give away our match by hitting a bunch of UEs and essentially taking the ball out of my partner's hands.
  7. Lefty5

    Lefty5 Hall of Fame

    Sep 25, 2007
    it will be boring....but you will win, which is pretty fun. If you lose, you'll feel much worse than normal.
  8. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

    Nov 16, 2006
    Northern California
    Playing as the 3.5 in 6.5 combo isn't playing down - and you won't necessarily win since your opponents also should have a 3.5 on their side. I think there is a lot of value in playing both combo up (7.5 in your case) and down (6.5) since you get different things out of each league. I believe beernutz has it about right. In 6.5 you will practice being the stronger player, trying to protect your partner and staying involved in points. You will also get practice balancing those goals against trying to play beyond your abilities and making too many mistakes.
  9. dcdoorknob

    dcdoorknob Hall of Fame

    Mar 14, 2010
    This was my first thought too. Pretty sure the overall winning % of all the 3.5s in 6.5 combo is still darn close to 50%, if you're winning most of your matches its really just because you are at the top of your level, in which case you should have some good success at 7.5 as well (depending some on partners obv).

    Similar to others, I'd view the 6.5 matches as an opportunity to work on really asserting your will on a match with aggression and smart decisions while still keeping the UEs down. Maybe you already have that down, but if you're like most 3.5s I know, myself included, probably not entirely.
  10. Coach Carter

    Coach Carter Rookie

    Jan 3, 2006
    West Point, GA
    I'm doing the same thing. I find it nearly relaxing...I can work on stuff...though when everyone else seems weak on the court if can be a "beating".

    I force my self to run harder and "work" to exercise...hit more backhands, etc.
  11. Delano

    Delano Rookie

    Jan 7, 2010
    Nothing like facing a potentially embarrassing loss to a substantially lower ranked player to learn to control those nerves.

    I wouldn't want to make a regular habit of playing way down, but it's important to do this every now and then, because it helps you learn to deal with the pressure of being the player with something to lose.
  12. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    I play down in a mixed competition every week. I love it. My partner is rubbish and I play nowhere near as seriously as I usually do so we lose regularly, but it's always a ton of fun. We laugh and joke and it's way more relaxed than the men's competition I play on another night (let alone the singles challenge ladder on weekends).

    I always think that the people who can enjoy playing down - even without winning - are the ones who truly like tennis (as opposed to just liking competing and winning).
  13. ATP100

    ATP100 Professional

    Nov 19, 2010
    Easy Answer: NO

    Only you can do that.
  14. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

    Jan 21, 2005
    I hate to say it, but I do think it hurts your game--particularly in doubles. Better players put pressure on your return, they poach and cross more, they don't give you errors on routine shots. All of this can lead to passive play if you are playing down, which just won't cut it when you try to play back up to level.

    For some reason, I find singles to be different in that playing down doesn't hurt your game as much. I can go easy on someone in singles without altering my tactics. Playing lower level doubles is dangerous because it encourages tactical changes--at least for me.
  15. Caesar

    Caesar Banned

    Jul 1, 2011
    Playing down tempts you to get lazy. Whether you do so or not is up to you.

    I know plenty of people playing down who just belt winners point after point, and use their raw pace to overpower their opponents to force errors. That doesn't cut it at a higher level.

    On the other hand, I know guys who take all the pace out of their game and still force themselves to beat their opponents with angles and placement and consistency. They get good practice out of the match.

    Obviously you can't beat better players the same way you beat inferior players, but you can approach matches with inferior players in a way that you're still improving your skills.
  16. archman

    archman Rookie

    Oct 2, 2010
    Playing down will not hurt you as long as you are playing at your level and above at times, too. When you play down, you can work on things that you usually can't work on when it's a very tough match. Once you master those aspects while playing down, you can then incorporate it into your true level.
  17. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

    Jun 24, 2009
    At Large
    playing down will not hurt your game. you need to learn how to secure a win against someone if they are clearly below you, or implement tactics that you otherwise would not feel comfortable using in a match. on the other hand, you need to learn how to challenge players who are better than you.
  18. Chelsie1

    Chelsie1 Rookie

    Sep 27, 2011
    When I was rated 4.0, playing 7.5 combo was one of the best moves I had ever made. I was used to playing 4.0 doubles and feeling confident in my partners abilities. Playing 7.5 forced me out of my comfort zone. I had to make some moves! I had to be on the lookout for any opportunity to win the point or else watch my partner get pounded. I had to step into the middle of the court. I had to play smarter. I had to reduce my errors, because my partner was making plenty. I carried that with me into my next 4.0 season and now I'm playing 4.5 and have won a National Championship. Playing 7.5 helped. It's the attitude you take while you're doing it.
  19. NoQuarter

    NoQuarter Rookie

    Jun 20, 2011
    North Carolina
    I think that it hurts your timing....not necessarily your game. For example, I decided to devote the summer to helping my Wife and her 2.5 team to get better. So I hit with them all summer and rarely played against my level guys (4.0). So when I started the combo league this fall, I found myself miss-timing a lot of shots. First 3 weeks, I was just "off"...all timing issues. Now I am fine....but it took the 3 weeks to get back the timing.
  20. g4driver

    g4driver Hall of Fame

    Sep 24, 2009
    My 6.5 and 7.5 Combo experience.

    My take is this: in doubles, the weaker player will see more action. Stronger players will hit to the weaker player when they have a choice.

    Played two 6.5 matches as the 3.5. Lost both in straight sets. Miserable experience as the stronger player. 6 to 8 UEs per game was the norm. Frustrating to the point it was painful to watch. I made myself unavailable fo the rest of the season after those two matches.

    During the same period, I played seven 7.5 matches as the 3.5. Went 4-1 in the regular season, and 1-1 in the playoffs. In the last match of the regular season, opponents were in first place with a 9-0 record, with us in 2nd place at 8-1. We went on the court with nothing to lose, as they had crushed all their opponents. We beat them 2-1, and beat their team to get to 9-1. We both went to the local playoffs, and our team beat this team again. We lost to two other teams. The team we beat twice in three week is going to state. We aren't. Our own fault. We needed to win the final playoff match and we didn't. Some will say I enjoyed 7.5 more because we were winning. You're right! I also enjoyed hitting against guys who could hit more than two shots in sequence and who didn't have five (yes five) DFs in one service game. :roll:

    So for me, I would much rather be the weaker player on a stronger team and hit against people who hit about a quarter of the UEs. I prefer to hit against 4.0s and 4.5s as opposed to 3.0s. The 4.0s and 4.5s hit pace, spin, angles, and vary their game. They force you to adapt. There are plenty of 3.0 and 3.5 pushers who hit with zero pace, but are consistent. They might go up on you, and win a set, but they don't enhance your game once you make adjustments. My experience is I simply have to adjust to their game and be patience. I don't find these matches enjoyable. I have more fun at the 4.0 level and get pushed harder, unless I'm playing self-rated or 'B' rated 3.5 players who hit like 4.0s.

    The biggest reason to playing people below you IMO is to develop patience, which is a great tool at any level.
  21. rjw

    rjw Professional

    Jul 19, 2011
    No question that constant playing down will hurt your game, imo.

    I do it with close friends, to try and get them up to snuff...I lay way more aggressively than I would otherwise, in order to get the workout that I need, so in the end its a win/win, but it doesn't help my game.

    I find myself hitting the ball back to OTHER opponents...lol

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