Originally Posted by Cindysphinx
I think the extent to which one partner can "help" the other partner who is struggling is overblown. (For sake of simplicity, I'll call the struggling partner the Bad Partner and will call the other one the Good Partner.)
Yes, of course if the Good Partner has an idea about strategy she should share it. Like, last night. I was the Bad Partner in a mixed match. We could not hold my serve because I was making too many groundstroke errors. My Good Partner said nothing about my constant barrage of errors. He just kept playng.
When I was serving for the first set, I asked my Good Partner what we could do for me to hold. He suggested playing Aussie against the woman, and it worked.
Most Good Partners don't have suggestions about strategy, IME. No, they have suggestions about stroke mechanics. They make requests the Bad Partner cannot execute ("You need to S&V!"). Or they say things that actually make matters worse ("Just get your serve in!" or "We really need this game.").
If you and I are partners and you are stinking it up, I am not going to say anything to you about it, most likely. If you DF, I will hand you two balls, that's it. If you keep hitting the net, I won't tell you to hit the ball over the net. If I see something *we* can do (e.g. Aussie), I will suggest it.
Beyond that, I figure my partner knows how to play tennis and is making her own internal adjustments to play better. For instance, if I hit two DFs in a row, some partners will come back and make suggestions, like "Can you server to her BH?" That is *so* not helpful. Now I need to do my own internal diagnostics to fix the problem, and I also have a new responsibility to place the serve too. If I hit two DFs in a row, my plan is to hit whatever serve is most high-percentage for me, and it might not be the serve my partner has declared I should try.
A couple of things:
I agree with your first bolded statement, though as a caveat I would add (thus my original advice) that the ability for the Good partner to make the Bad partner play worse
cannot be overblown, it is so common that it is almost the rule.
Your experience in your 2nd and 3rd paragraphs is an excellent example of my point #2. Thanks for that.
Your second bolded statement is a great avoidance of the errors both of us cite are so common, though we all know there are personality types, perhaps not yours nor mine, that will be bouyed up with either a "don't worry about it" or a "it was a good miss" type of thing.