Am I Wrong About Switching?

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I need you all to tell me if I'm wrong about something. Here's the situation.

Typical doubles formation: Partner is at the baseline in the ad court. She hits a ball crosscourt to opponent at the baseline. Opponent throws up what I will call a "center lob". By that I mean, it is not over my FH and thus a clear candidate for switching, but I don't know where it is going to bounce. Let's assume it bounced within a foot of the center hash (I don't know, as I wasn't looking back when it bounce, but that is what my partner said later). Anyway, I know I can't reach it, so I yell, "Switch!" and switch over to now be in the ad court. I am expecting my partner to cross behind me into the deuce court and either play a groundstroke or a volley.

As I switched, my partner yelled, "No, Stay!" I ignored this and kept moving over to the ad side. My partner played the ball, the point continued.

After the point ended, my partner said I shouldn't have switched because the lob landed near the middle.

I disagree, for three reasons. First, when the lob goes up, I cannot be certain where it will land, and if I wait to decide on a switch until I am sure where it will land, I will be late.

Second, if I remain on my original side, both of us are potentially on the same side, with half the court undefended.

Third, if I do not switch, I am blocking several of her shot options. She shouldn't hit to the opposing net player from a deep position, so her choices are to thread the needle between me and the opposing net player, or to lob. If I cross, she can play her groundstroke or approach volley DTL to the deep player, with no risk of hitting me or getting poached. And if the player who hits the lob follows it in, the last thing partner should do is lob.

My partner was emphatic about this, and she says her pro says you should not switch in that situation. I would like to talk this over with her and get on the same page. Part of this is because when our roles are reversed and I'm the deep player and she doesn't cross, I feel very boxed in trying to figure out where to hit my approach shot. Best case is I find myself having to hit around her and then scoot from the middle back over to my original side.

So. Serious question. Am I wrong about this? What am I missing?
 

loosegroove

Hall of Fame
Personally I hate it when people switch on "center lobs". It's easier to hit the ball without someone streaking in front of me. And if you stay put, I have a better sense of the court geometry and where is a good place to return the ball. I prefer you duck which still gives me the whole court to work with.
 
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Mike Y

Rookie
I think you were right to switch. As you said, it is unclear what side the ball will land on. A switch allows you to cover more court. If you stay, and your partner is more behind you and they hit the ball to the net person, then a large part of the court is open, where it wouldn't be if you switched. Plus in this situation, if you are right handed, it puts you on the ad side at the net, with your forehand/overhead in the middle of the court.

Though, I personally hate it when someone yells switch. It should be obvious to the person at the baseline what you are doing.
 

esgee48

Legend
Depends on where you were when you determined you could or could not hit the lob with an OH. If you decide to let it go, yell 'YOURS' and move back, but keep low so your partner has the entire court to hit to. If you decide to hit the OH, hit a sharp angle to the AD side, then move back towards the T and your side unless your partner says 'SWITCH.'
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
I think this is where the quick peek is good .... if it is a center lob I find that it is best to drop low and stay , perhaps shade to the middle but easy to crouch nearly below the net.

I also hate it when my net player crosses on a middle ball .... it absolutely messes me up ... particularly as I am not a lobber.

If it is basically in the center only a couple feet one way or the other it is easy for the baseliner to recover either to deuce or ad ... plenty of time to do it.
 

kylebarendrick

Professional
You could also have taken a few steps to your right to give your partner an open view for their shot. Once they hit you shift back to your normal position at the net. Your partner will have plenty of time to shift back, even if the ball does carry a little onto your side of the court.

It's a judgement call. I try to avoid switching so I tend to do the above when it is close. Not all partners agree and I adjust.

The Art of Doubles, if I recall correctly, discourages trying to play out of the switch position.

Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
 

Vox Rationis

Semi-Pro
Respectfully I think you were wrong to continue switching once your partner said to stay. In moments of confusion like that the person at the back should have the final say because they are aware of both your positioning whereas the net person isn't.

Also she probably knows her game well enough to know whether you being slightly in front of her would bother her shot. If it was a problem she likely would have let you continue switching.

For what it's worth, I agree with the teaching pro. A switch doesn't make sense here. She didn't have to cross over to get the ball, nor did her momentum take her on to your side. Even if you don't know where the lob is going right away, your partner would be able to tell and knows if it will make her switch.
 

am1899

Hall of Fame
I don’t like a switch in that scenario. If I’m the baseliner there...id want you to retreat to the service line and duck...but don’t switch.

Another point within this scenario - my partner is deep and about the hit a ground stroke and right then he says to me, “stay!” Me being up at the net, I can’t see what my partner can see. Also, I don’t know what shot my partner is going to hit, nor will I see it until it is crossing the net. So, in that scenario, I’m inclined to follow my partner’s command to stay put (and duck, if it makes sense to do so). IMO being up at the net and disobeying my partner’s request to stay (under the given circumstances) could be a disaster.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
My pro would also say you should stay on this. I can see your side of things too but the conventional wisdom is that if it's up the middle you wouldn't switch as your partner can make the play and still get back to her position. It's a lob it's not like she has to make a mad dash to get to it that would cause her momentum to carry her into the deuce side. Also shouldn't the player playing at the baseline call the switch since they can actually see the entire court and everyone's positions?
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
First, when the lob goes up, I cannot be certain where it will land, and if I wait to decide on a switch until I am sure where it will land, I will be late.
So much of this will come down to how individual people play, as opposed to being hard and fast rules. Until I see someone setting us up to lose points, I'll go with whatever the back player wants.

Second, if I remain on my original side, both of us are potentially on the same side, with half the court undefended.
They should have plenty of time to remedy that, but they probably already recognized it wouldn't be an issue with their better vantage point.

Third, if I do not switch, I am blocking several of her shot options. She shouldn't hit to the opposing net player from a deep position, so her choices are to thread the needle between me and the opposing net player, or to lob. If I cross, she can play her groundstroke or approach volley DTL to the deep player, with no risk of hitting me or getting poached. And if the player who hits the lob follows it in, the last thing partner should do is lob.
On the very first point, I have two distinct thoughts. The first is that people aren't really in the way as much as they think. You have to be on the net and dead center of your box to be blocking any realistic target areas. If you just got lobbed, having your nose on the net would be the wrong position anyway, but in the worst case I'd shade right a bit. It'll put you in position to cover the alley for an out wide ball hit by your partner. The only weakness here is they go soft up the middle for the opposing net player to finish.

The second thought is that your switch is less helpful than you might think, but this is more down to individuals. If I get a lob hit in the middle of the court, I'm definitely thinking about drilling it low to the net player. They won't have a lot of time to react, and with some topspin I'll keep them from doing much besides pop it up. If you slide over in front of them, they'll have to actually worry about going around you*, but more importantly a quick hands deflection by the net person may be on you too fast to handle. So, you're actually taking that whole side of the court away from them when you switch. If I was playing your team as the opposing net player, when I see you switch I'm going to come right near the center line taking away more shots for your partner.

*One of my favorite forehand shots is when my partner is lobbed, but stays on the deuce court. I come in and pop the ball right DTL. It's tough to track because of the person in between, and people often seem surprised when I go for it. I definitely wouldn't consider myself to be a player with pinpoint accuracy, but it's pretty easy to avoid hitting someone when the ball is a lob.

TLDR - if your partner wants you to stay then I'd stay, right up until the point that their position preference is costing you points. I think you have valid ideas on why you want to move, but you've overthinking the situation.
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
I think what might have been handled differently in this play is the net player not calling the play. The play, IMHO, should be called by the baseline player, since she has the incoming ball, more of the court and dynamic situation in view.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Some reactions:

1. After I switched, I could see my partner playing that ball from the deuce court. She wasn't in the alley, but she was definitely in the deuce court hitting a FH. I cannot tell you what happened after the bounce (angle, wind, spin), but she wasn't behind me when she was hit.

2. Yes, it would be a good play if my partner could put a solid swing volley (or really any shot) at the feet of the net player from behind the baseline. That's really above our level, honestly. In this case, my partner bounced the ball and returned it from behind the baseline.

3. I think it is a mistake to have the deep player responsible for deciding whether the net player hits her OH or switches (or, I guess, ducks). Thankfully, this partner and I call balls over our heads. Absent an emergency, I can't understand how the net player, having just called a switch and moved to the other side, can be expected to get all the way back to her original side (in the alley, apparently) and duck down. My instincts told me not to run in front of my partner while she was hitting as that *would* be distracting.

4. I agree that the quick peek at the partner in a lob situation is appropriate, but the quick peek is no help in this situation. The switch call needs to be made when the lob is first struck, not upon the bounce. And a quick peek as the lob went up wouldn't have told me much about where the ball was going to bounce. My quick peek happened after I decided I couldn't play the lob and after I switched. That's when I looked to see if my partner was in trouble with that ball, and if so I would have retreated farther, to the baseline.

5. I am glad I asked this question. I hate hate hate it when my partner ducks down rather than switching when she has the opportunity. By ducking, she has essentially become a potted plant -- completely stationary and bent over at the waist and not nearly as low as she thinks she is. Meanwhile, I have to run, play the ball from the same side of the court, and then hustle back to my original side. I would rather have the whole deuce side open for whatever shot feels right, secure in the knowledge that if there is a poach we have some court coverage.

But hey, switching is way more work than squatting, so I'll do some squatting and we'll see how it goes. If my partner misses the shot or the opponents hit into the side I would have switched to, oh well.

Stay tuned . . . .
 

Vox Rationis

Semi-Pro
3. I think it is a mistake to have the deep player responsible for deciding whether the net player hits her OH or switches (or, I guess, ducks).

4. ....The switch call needs to be made when the lob is first struck, not upon the bounce.
Just wanted to clear up this misunderstanding. No one is saying the baseline players decides if you hit an overhead or not. That is never the case. It's after you both realize you (the net person) can't hit the overhead that she should call the switch/stay. Sometimes that's right as the ball is struck when you know it's too good of a lob. Sometimes that's after an initial attempt at an overhead by the net person. There's a lot more time to switch than I think you realize. The only reason there wouldn't be enough time is if your partners are unprepared to get any lobs over your heads unless you verbally tell them to switch, but they shouldn't be standing around expecting you to reach everything anyways.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
You were wrong about switching.
Once a moonball went over your head, you entered a defensive situation. You should have allowed your partner to play whatever shot she wanted, while backing up into defensive position ready to play a shot from the opposing net player on case your partner doesn’t get a pass or lob by her. Once your partner’s shot clears the net player, then you can get yourself ready to pounce forward on offensive again.
 

chatt_town

Hall of Fame
I need you all to tell me if I'm wrong about something. Here's the situation.

Typical doubles formation: Partner is at the baseline in the ad court. She hits a ball crosscourt to opponent at the baseline. Opponent throws up what I will call a "center lob". By that I mean, it is not over my FH and thus a clear candidate for switching, but I don't know where it is going to bounce. Let's assume it bounced within a foot of the center hash (I don't know, as I wasn't looking back when it bounce, but that is what my partner said later). Anyway, I know I can't reach it, so I yell, "Switch!" and switch over to now be in the ad court. I am expecting my partner to cross behind me into the deuce court and either play a groundstroke or a volley.

As I switched, my partner yelled, "No, Stay!" I ignored this and kept moving over to the ad side. My partner played the ball, the point continued.

After the point ended, my partner said I shouldn't have switched because the lob landed near the middle.

I disagree, for three reasons. First, when the lob goes up, I cannot be certain where it will land, and if I wait to decide on a switch until I am sure where it will land, I will be late.

Second, if I remain on my original side, both of us are potentially on the same side, with half the court undefended.

Third, if I do not switch, I am blocking several of her shot options. She shouldn't hit to the opposing net player from a deep position, so her choices are to thread the needle between me and the opposing net player, or to lob. If I cross, she can play her groundstroke or approach volley DTL to the deep player, with no risk of hitting me or getting poached. And if the player who hits the lob follows it in, the last thing partner should do is lob.

My partner was emphatic about this, and she says her pro says you should not switch in that situation. I would like to talk this over with her and get on the same page. Part of this is because when our roles are reversed and I'm the deep player and she doesn't cross, I feel very boxed in trying to figure out where to hit my approach shot. Best case is I find myself having to hit around her and then scoot from the middle back over to my original side.

So. Serious question. Am I wrong about this? What am I missing?
I play it a little differently especially in mixed. My wife and I have a simple understanding that we move together. That one up and one back doesn't work for either of us at this point. So when a lob goes up we both go back....depending on how deep...and where they other team is we hit another approach shot and we come right back in. i've never understood the switching. If you don't know where the ball is landing or what kind of ball is being hit back...you are defenseless at that point if both of them ever came in. You are a sitting duck at that point. If you must play that way I think you should not switch. The reason is if they lob a ball over what is your backhand side...it should in theory be a ball she can hit back with her forehand if it's landing in the middle of the court near the center hash mark...it's a forehand(assuming she is right handed) no matter which side of the hash it falls. Then I guess you have to figure out from match to match who is playing back on the other side and hit the approach shot to them and not at the net person because again, you can't pick up where the ball is until it gets back in front of you until it's too late(whaam over head to the chest). I think from what you stated..you are right. I think you should try dropping back some while you are switching or hit a short approach shot instead of just playing another lob or a deep ground stroke. those shots only encourage more lobs. It's much harder to hit a lob from the service line than from the baseline. People that only want to lob most of the time try to lob the same ball from service line that they lob from the baseline and it will go out or get cranked up as an overhead as it has to hang in the air longer from the service line. I think you need to put yourself in a better position to know where the ball is landing by getting even with her.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
If both players are prepared, reading the ball, and fit enough to be properly mobile, there are rarely questions about these sort of occasions.

Too often, in my experience, in the world of middle-aged rec dubs, one or the other partner is asleep at the wheel and/or too gassed/lazy/slow to actually cover. Usually though it's not really that the person is too tired/slow, but rather that they're not paying attention, because almost all but the least fit, slowest people can react and move laterally to cover a lob as long as they're fully engaged in the point and recovering properly.

With that said, I have played with a number of partners who say things like "if you're playing one-up, one-back, as soon as the ball goes over the net person's head, you both should switch... these people are parroting simplistic instructions they got from coaches that were maling it in, and the players themselves just don't think about the game dynamically enough to see that such "rules" are not applicable in every conceivable situation.

The middle lob is a perfect example of why such rules can't be applied in every situation... if I'm back and have to come towards the middle to cover a lob and my net partner is switching while I'm covering that shot, chances are that the partner is going to be taking away most angles for me to put the shot back, thereby forcing me to lob or risk hitting that partner. I believe that the reason the people I encounter play this way is that they're used to being and playing against lob queens...

I have buzzed a few ground strokes just past partners that I didn't expect to be switching and it has worked out well due to the effective "screen" my switching partner created, which made it hard for the opposing team to see where my shot was going until the last second, but those really were happy accidents.

I think the best policy is to not get burned by the "middle lob" unless it really is a super high moonball, in which case, both partners on the receiving team should have plenty of time to position themselves to cover the ball and get back any shot they intend to and can execute.

If you're getting burned by a lob that bounces more than 3 feet inside the baseline, there's a good chance you're playing too close to the net.

If I am up at the net and a lob goes DIRECTLY over my head or to the outside of me, I will instantly yell "switching" and hustle on over to the opposite side, expecting my partner to cover the lob... but on a middle lob, if I'm up, I'm usually going to chase it down for an overhead, or if it's really a good lob, I'll position myself so as to give my partner the largest number of options - sometimes that means shading back and towards the close alley, sometimes that means switching...

Finally, with all of that said, there are a ton of variables which make any sort of "rule" on this situation hard to apply universally... so many situations are judgement calls.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Some reactions:

1. After I switched, I could see my partner playing that ball from the deuce court. She wasn't in the alley, but she was definitely in the deuce court hitting a FH. I cannot tell you what happened after the bounce (angle, wind, spin), but she wasn't behind me when she was hit.

2. Yes, it would be a good play if my partner could put a solid swing volley (or really any shot) at the feet of the net player from behind the baseline. That's really above our level, honestly. In this case, my partner bounced the ball and returned it from behind the baseline.

3. I think it is a mistake to have the deep player responsible for deciding whether the net player hits her OH or switches (or, I guess, ducks). Thankfully, this partner and I call balls over our heads. Absent an emergency, I can't understand how the net player, having just called a switch and moved to the other side, can be expected to get all the way back to her original side (in the alley, apparently) and duck down. My instincts told me not to run in front of my partner while she was hitting as that *would* be distracting.

4. I agree that the quick peek at the partner in a lob situation is appropriate, but the quick peek is no help in this situation. The switch call needs to be made when the lob is first struck, not upon the bounce. And a quick peek as the lob went up wouldn't have told me much about where the ball was going to bounce. My quick peek happened after I decided I couldn't play the lob and after I switched. That's when I looked to see if my partner was in trouble with that ball, and if so I would have retreated farther, to the baseline.

5. I am glad I asked this question. I hate hate hate it when my partner ducks down rather than switching when she has the opportunity. By ducking, she has essentially become a potted plant -- completely stationary and bent over at the waist and not nearly as low as she thinks she is. Meanwhile, I have to run, play the ball from the same side of the court, and then hustle back to my original side. I would rather have the whole deuce side open for whatever shot feels right, secure in the knowledge that if there is a poach we have some court coverage.

But hey, switching is way more work than squatting, so I'll do some squatting and we'll see how it goes. If my partner misses the shot or the opponents hit into the side I would have switched to, oh well.

Stay tuned . . . .
Okay well

1. Of course she was on deuce side after she hit ... because you switched she didn't have a choice .... had it been a center ball and you had stayed she likely would have been on Ad

2. I must be missing the reference point on this one. Yes, it would be best if she could take that ball (really any ball) out of the air but don't think that has anything to do with switching or not

3. Why is it a mistake to have the baseliner calling the shots? They have a full view of the court in a way that the net player absolutely does not. I think the problem of going to ad and back is alleviated by not switching unless the back partner calls switch (or in this case listening when the back player called "stay")

4. I just got off the court of a nice win in 4.0 ladies. There were center lobs ... I knew they were over me, called yours .... quick peek and basic court sense told me basically center .... I stayed unless my partner called for the switch .... which she rarely did ...life was good.

5. I understand your thinking .... but I think most of us are talking not about bending from waist but knees and quite low .... and you said CENTER LOB .... that means as baseliner you are not really crossing over into the other court unless you want to

I think though if a partnership has an understanding between BOTH partners then its all good whichever way you choose to (switch or no switch) .... but if the partners disagree then it could cause problems.
 
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kylebarendrick

Professional
3. Why is it a mistake to have the baseliner calling the shots? They have a full view of the court in a way that the net player absolutely does not. I think the problem of going to ad and back is alleviated by not switching unless the back partner calls switch (or in this case listening when the back player called "stay")
I think this is the issue. When someone lobs over my head and I can't get to it, I yell "you". That simply means I can't get there so either you get it or we will lose the point.

Whether or not we switch is a different decision altogether. Most of the time it doesn't require verbalizing - if my partner has to run across the court I know I need to switch. If not (like a center ball), I generally wont. But this requires being in sync with your partner. My wife prefers that I switch more often than is my natural inclination - so I'll switch. If the back player calls "switch" then I'll go. If they call "stay" then I'll stay. It usually works fine.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Unless the ball goes right over your head, retreat back and duck.

1) Don't be a distraction unless you have to be (ie. ball right over your head)
2) Give your partner as many shot options as possible (hence the duck)
3) Be aware that the opposing net person might get a sitter to attack (hence the retreat)
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Cindy: Asks "Was I wrong about switching?"

Also Cindy: Proceeds to explain why she wasn't wrong about switching, after everyone tells her she was wrong about switching.
Now, you know I wasn't going to go quietly, right?

Seriously, there are two themes in the responses that suggest I have confused some of you. Those are:

1. I was not standing close to the net after I switched. That would be a positioning error. When my partner is dealing with a lob I chose not to hit, I move back to the service line, and I would have retreated more had I seen that my partner was in trouble.

2. I had already switched to the ad side by the time my partner said "stay." So had I interpreted "stay" as "go back over to the deuce court while partner is hitting her FH in the middle of the baseline," well . . . no. That's insane.
 
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Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Regarding who makes the call on lobs . . .

This is a big difference between how lobs are handled at 2.5/3.0 and 3.5+.

If you have the deep person making the call, they will call their partner off of balls their partner could smash and would smash were it not for the deep person calling her off. Who better to know whether she can or cannot hit an overhead than the person hitting it? When the deep person calls a switch and the ball bounces (which it frequently will if the net player doesn't hit it), you lose control of the net. This is bad.

I think the best strategy for higher level rec doubles is each player is responsible for balls going over her head. She can hit it, or she can call for help. The non-lobbed person doesn't "back her up" -- this will result in the non-lobbed player being out of position should the net player hit the overhead because half the court will be undefended. The job of the non-lobbed player is to listen for the call -- "Got it" means come to the same plane as your partner (next to her but out of the way), and then you advance together after the smash if that is appropriate. "You," "Help," "Switch," or "Can't" just means the non-lobbed player needs to play that ball or the point is lost, and she needs to decide quickly. For this reason, I try to remember to make an audible call for every lob over my head -- my partner should cue off of what I say rather than try to read my body language or mind about whether I'm capable of hitting the smash.

That said, there are a lot of people in the world who do not play this way. It would be better if they did, IMHO, but they do not. So I may call my partner off of a ball or back her up or do all sorts of sub-optimal things to compensate for our poor communication. I would much prefer, however, to have the lobbed player decide, and I think I play more seamlessly with ladies who work with the pros who teach it this way.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Regarding who makes the call on lobs . . .

This is a big difference between how lobs are handled at 2.5/3.0 and 3.5+.

If you have the deep person making the call, they will call their partner off of balls their partner could smash and would smash were it not for the deep person calling her off. Who better to know whether she can or cannot hit an overhead than the person hitting it? When the deep person calls a switch and the ball bounces (which it frequently will if the net player doesn't hit it), you lose control of the net. This is bad.

I think the best strategy for higher level rec doubles is each player is responsible for balls going over her head. She can hit it, or she can call for help. The non-lobbed person doesn't "back her up" -- this will result in the non-lobbed player being out of position should the net player hit the overhead because half the court will be undefended. The job of the non-lobbed player is to listen for the call -- "Got it" means come to the same plane as your partner (next to her but out of the way), and then you advance together after the smash if that is appropriate. "You," "Help," "Switch," or "Can't" just means the non-lobbed player needs to play that ball or the point is lost, and she needs to decide quickly. For this reason, I try to remember to make an audible call for every lob over my head -- my partner should cue off of what I say rather than try to read my body language or mind about whether I'm capable of hitting the smash.

That said, there are a lot of people in the world who do not play this way. It would be better if they did, IMHO, but they do not. So I may call my partner off of a ball or back her up or do all sorts of sub-optimal things to compensate for our poor communication. I would much prefer, however, to have the lobbed player decide, and I think I play more seamlessly with ladies who work with the pros who teach it this way.
I don't think anyone is saying that the baseliner should be dictating whether or not the net player can or will take the overhead .... in fact that player SHOULD take the OH if they can ..... only about the baseliner dictating the switch after the net player has said "over me" "yours" "help" whatever.

On the first point : net player dictates whether or not they can take the OH .... I think everyone agrees with you there was no argument to the contrary
Second point: whether the net player dictates a switch or not on a center ball .... I for one and most others say that is baseliner's call.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I don't think anyone is saying that the baseliner should be dictating whether or not the net player can or will take the overhead .... in fact that player SHOULD take the OH if they can ..... only about the baseliner dictating the switch after the net player has said "over me" "yours" "help" whatever.

On the first point : net player dictates whether or not they can take the OH .... I think everyone agrees with you there was no argument to the contrary
Second point: whether the net player dictates a switch or not on a center ball .... I for one and most others say that is baseliner's call.
Oh, I see. I misunderstood you.

Yes, of course any time I am playing a ball from behind my partner and I need her to move, I will tell her to move. Must she wait for me to tell her to move because the decision is mine?

Honestly, I wish she wouldn't. I'm dealing with quite a lot here. I have to get in position to play the ball, I have to pick a shot, I have to be aware of what my opponents are doing. I wish my partner had the court sense to get of my way, and I would prefer she do that without my having to say anything.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Oh, I see. I misunderstood you.

Yes, of course any time I am playing a ball from behind my partner and I need her to move, I will tell her to move. Must she wait for me to tell her to move because the decision is mine?

Honestly, I wish she wouldn't. I'm dealing with quite a lot here. I have to get in position to play the ball, I have to pick a shot, I have to be aware of what my opponents are doing. I wish my partner had the court sense to get of my way, and I would prefer she do that without my having to say anything.
I get what you are saying .... but the original premise was that this was a center lob. If there is a lob directly over my head that will be landing behind me ... I am moving without waiting for anything after calling "yours" clear and no thinking needed

.... it is the center lob that is less straight forward and needs some communication from the baseline player.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
As I switched, my partner yelled, "No, Stay!" I ignored this and kept moving over to the ad side. My partner played the ball, the point continued.
2. I had already switched to the ad side by the time my partner said "stay." So had I interpreted "stay" as "go back over to the deuce court while partner is hitting her FH in the middle of the baseline," well . . . no. That's insane.
So wait, as you were switching after calling "switch", your partner says "no, stay", and you interpreted that as meaning you should stay on the side you were switching to? That's clearly not what your partner wanted. You should have listened to her.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
2. I had already switched to the ad side by the time my partner said "stay." So had I interpreted "stay" as "go back over to the deuce court while partner is hitting her FH in the middle of the baseline," well . . . no. That's insane.
I agree that moving back to your previous position would have been stupid. Of course, having your partner over-rule you mid point is kind of stupid as well. It's like when someone calls "mine". Even if you have a better shot you don't add confusion to the point by saying "No, mine". First "mine" takes it.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
That only works in the "wall at the service" line doubles formation. In one up one back or California staggered, the deeper player is responsible for all lobs to allow the net person to be aggressive.
This. Even at the pro level, most high level teams play a stagger. The poacher is tight on the net and pinching the center in order to be more of a threat, while the deeper player has lob responsibility. Works especially well in rec level mixed.
 

CNButts

New User
Am I the only one that thinks that what the player up front dictates the positioning? If I cross to go after a poach I expect my partner to react. I realize that the ball is already over your head here Cindy, but I think that the person at the net shouldn't be turning around and the player at the baseline sees where their partner is and should act accordingly.

So much of this will come down to how individual people play, as opposed to being hard and fast rules. Until I see someone setting us up to lose points, I'll go with whatever the back player wants.


They should have plenty of time to remedy that, but they probably already recognized it wouldn't be an issue with their better vantage point.


On the very first point, I have two distinct thoughts. The first is that people aren't really in the way as much as they think. You have to be on the net and dead center of your box to be blocking any realistic target areas. If you just got lobbed, having your nose on the net would be the wrong position anyway, but in the worst case I'd shade right a bit. It'll put you in position to cover the alley for an out wide ball hit by your partner. The only weakness here is they go soft up the middle for the opposing net player to finish.

The second thought is that your switch is less helpful than you might think, but this is more down to individuals. If I get a lob hit in the middle of the court, I'm definitely thinking about drilling it low to the net player. They won't have a lot of time to react, and with some topspin I'll keep them from doing much besides pop it up. If you slide over in front of them, they'll have to actually worry about going around you*, but more importantly a quick hands deflection by the net person may be on you too fast to handle. So, you're actually taking that whole side of the court away from them when you switch. If I was playing your team as the opposing net player, when I see you switch I'm going to come right near the center line taking away more shots for your partner.

*One of my favorite forehand shots is when my partner is lobbed, but stays on the deuce court. I come in and pop the ball right DTL. It's tough to track because of the person in between, and people often seem surprised when I go for it. I definitely wouldn't consider myself to be a player with pinpoint accuracy, but it's pretty easy to avoid hitting someone when the ball is a lob.

TLDR - if your partner wants you to stay then I'd stay, right up until the point that their position preference is costing you points. I think you have valid ideas on why you want to move, but you've overthinking the situation.
 

JW10S

Hall of Fame
You're wrong.
1. A ball landing within a foot of the center hash is NOT a reason to switch. The baseline player can easily cover that ball and recover for the next one. You won't be on the 'same side' long enough to matter unless your partner hits then just stands there, which I hope she wouldn't do. For most recreational teams switching disrupts their play, if all I have to do to disrupt you is lob near the center I will do it all match long.
2. While you may not know 'exactly' where a lob will bounce a player with any kind of playing experience should have some idea of the general vicinity where a lob will bounce and not just reflexively switch every time a lob goes up. It's basic court sense.
3. When a ball gets past the net player and is near the center of the court the net player, whether it's a lob or not, should duck down so as to not block any of the baseline player's shot options, this is very common with competitive players. If a lob lands near the center stay on your side, duck down, and your partner will have more options for their shot than if you had switched and didn't duck.
4. I coach my players to do a 'double switch', that is when a lob goes up and the opposing team switches I have my players quickly switch sides too, it changes everything and reduces the opponent's obvious return options. So in my scenario, after you've switched, the baseline player instead of hitting to the opposing baseline player will be hitting to the opposing volleyer and by your scenario, after you've switched, you will be 'blocking' them from hitting to the baseline player.
5. Finally, opposing teams will lob a lot less if players learn to hit effective overheads. Switching every time a lob goes up will just encourage the opposing team to do it more.
 
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5. Finally, opposing teams will lob a lot less if players learn to hit effective overheads. Switching every time a lob goes up will just encourage the opposing team to do it more.
It's fun to lob them corner to corner, like a Chinese fire drill, until their tongues hang out from exhaustion and they get vertigo.
 
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Vox Rationis

Semi-Pro
I think the best strategy for higher level rec doubles is each player is responsible for balls going over her head. She can hit it, or she can call for help. The non-lobbed person doesn't "back her up" -- this will result in the non-lobbed player being out of position should the net player hit the overhead because half the court will be undefended. The job of the non-lobbed player is to listen for the call -- "Got it" means come to the same plane as your partner (next to her but out of the way), and then you advance together after the smash if that is appropriate. "You," "Help," "Switch," or "Can't" just means the non-lobbed player needs to play that ball or the point is lost, and she needs to decide quickly. For this reason, I try to remember to make an audible call for every lob over my head -- my partner should cue off of what I say rather than try to read my body language or mind about whether I'm capable of hitting the smash.
For what it's worth, at 4.5 we frequently make plays based on reading our partner's, and our opponent's, body language and predicting their behavior (aka "reading their minds").


If you have the deep person making the call, they will call their partner off of balls their partner could smash and would smash were it not for the deep person calling her off. Who better to know whether she can or cannot hit an overhead than the person hitting it? When the deep person calls a switch and the ball bounces (which it frequently will if the net player doesn't hit it), you lose control of the net. This is bad.
You seem to think a call to switch or stay must be made before the net person even has a chance to attempt an overhead, and in calling switch the deep person essentially calls the net person off of an overhead. This is not the case. Just to reiterate what OnTheLine just clarified, the first decision is made by the net person on whether or not they are capable of hitting the overhead. When they decide they can't reach it they make some kind of call out ("You!" "Help!") and THEN the deep person can call out switch or stay. Again the deep person makes the decision to switch or stay because they can see the entire court and have more information to go on to make the smart play. And of course for any obvious switches where it's clearly going to bring your partner deep onto your side you don't need to wait for them to call it, you just go.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
Am I the only one that thinks that what the player up front dictates the positioning? If I cross to go after a poach I expect my partner to react. I realize that the ball is already over your head here Cindy, but I think that the person at the net shouldn't be turning around and the player at the baseline sees where their partner is and should act accordingly.
No. The player playing the shot should dictate the positioning. On a poach, that is the front player so in that situation, you are correct. On a lob over the net player, it should be the person at the baseline who is playing the shot. S/he knows where the ball is landing and what shot they are going to hit, so therefore, knows what the best positioning is for the team.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
As has been stated no one here is saying the baseliner should decide who is going to take the center lob. The net player should actually decide that. We're talking about the baseliner should be responsible for the switch.

In this instance the overwhelming majority side with Becky.
 

time_fly

Hall of Fame
My understanding is that when poaching, the net player initiates the switch by crossing. Once the ball gets past the net player and the baseline player is taking it, the baseline player is in control and should call the switch (or not).

On a slight tangent: when playing in a lefty-righty pairing, I try to initiate the switch if at all possible whenever the opponents start lobbing and the backhands are in the middle; otherwise I try to hold my side.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
Not sure what I would do in real time, but in general I defer to the back person who is hitting the ball. I don’t want to be switching and get tagged in the back of the head with a huge forehand or overhead.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
OK, to clarify . . .

Lob goes up. Net player decides she will not play that ball. She can say "You" or "Help," but she cannot say "Switch" and then just switch?

So *both* players have to yell something out for every ball that goes over the net player's head? Or are you guys saying there is a different rule for middle lobs? And if so, who is deciding what is middle enough to be a middle lob?

Sorry, I've never heard that, and it seems needlessly complicated. I also wonder how well it would work outside of well-honed doubles partnerships. I say that because some people are *very* slow to switch. I cannot imagine how many balls would go unplayed if I just yelled "You!" and stood there, waiting to see if the partner would tell me what to do next.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
OK, to clarify . . .

Lob goes up. Net player decides she will not play that ball. She can say "You" or "Help," but she cannot say "Switch" and then just switch?

So *both* players have to yell something out for every ball that goes over the net player's head? Or are you guys saying there is a different rule for middle lobs? And if so, who is deciding what is middle enough to be a middle lob?

Sorry, I've never heard that, and it seems needlessly complicated. I also wonder how well it would work outside of well-honed doubles partnerships. I say that because some people are *very* slow to switch. I cannot imagine how many balls would go unplayed if I just yelled "You!" and stood there, waiting to see if the partner would tell me what to do next.
It’s not that complicated.

You’re at net on deuce. Partner at baseline ad. Lob goes over your head to middle of court. If it looks like you can almost reach it but can’t, then you can yell ‘you.’ But you should rarely even have to do that.

Once your partner is playing the ball, just back up and get in defense mode on your side, getting out of partner’s way. Switching across just means you have less time to get into optimal D position, and distracts your partner.

If it’s not really a middle lob, but your partner needs to cross to deuce side to play it? Then simply switch and back up into D mode in the ad side. Your partner is at baseline so she can see where you went. No need to tell her.
 

kylebarendrick

Professional
^
This

Call "you" and go to the correct position (either staying if it is close to the center or switching if it isn't). Done.

Sometimes it is hard to tell what the right move is. Make your best judgement at the time and discuss with your partner afterwards (should I have switched there?). This isn't a question of right or wrong, it is a question of being where your partner wants/expects you to be. I acknowledge fully that this can all be messy at 3.5 and lower when people rarely think to switch - even on lobs that land in the doubles alley. In that case it doesn't matter what you call, they won't do it anyway (switch switch SWITCH! never mind, I'll run back and get that one too).
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I wind up saying a lot of things I feel I shouldn't have to say because -- and I don't know why -- folks just don't react to things.

Take coming in, for example. I now have a habit of saying quietly, "I'm in" when I transition to net. Should this be necessary? Shouldn't my partner feel the ground shake, hear my snorting and panting? Nope. A lob will go unplayed and my partner, who is used to years of one-up-one-back, will say, "Oh. I thought you were back there and would get that."

Another one I say often is, "Come back with me!" That's for situations where a lob is going over my partner and I am going to be challenged to reach it and hit a decent shot, and my partner stays tight to the net.

Anyway, it does help to say things like switch. At least when the ball goes unplayed as we are in an I-formation on the other side of the court, my partner will at least know her mistake without my having to, you know, rub her nose in it.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Sorry, I've never heard that, and it seems needlessly complicated. I also wonder how well it would work outside of well-honed doubles partnerships. I say that because some people are *very* slow to switch. I cannot imagine how many balls would go unplayed if I just yelled "You!" and stood there, waiting to see if the partner would tell me what to do next.
Played with a new partner yesterday .... had never even seen each other play. Played line 2 at 4.0 with she a 4.0 and me the 3.5 playing up. This was a non issue .... I automatically switched on a ball over my head and behind me ... on middle balls I stayed ... kept low and slightly to the alley then moved back into a stronger position. On one occasion she called for a switch. When she was up ... exact same thing ... I called for her to stay once on a middle ball where it looked like she was about to switch .... so nothing about being a well-honed partnership.

I think if I were playing with people who are pretty lousy in terms of general positioning then I would talk more (or be talked at) but yeah:
if you are in, I already know it no need to waste energy telling me...
I don't need nor want to be told to go back because I am not so stupid that if my partner is scrambling at the baseline I am staying tight on net ... of course I am fading back into good defensive position

And yes, it is the original premise of the center lob that this whole discussion of switch no switch is all about.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
If I had time and could think of it, I would actually talk more during points. Like, I'm going to pick off a middle ball, I take off, cross, stay on that side, partner doesn't move a muscle, reflex volley or desperate stab lands for a winner on the side I vacated.

I would love to shout, "Mine, switch!", but I count myself lucky if I get "Mine" out.

OnTheLine, it doesn't surprise me that a 4.0 knows how to position. It also doesn't surprise me that you know how to position. But there are many women (in my time zone, anyway) who have not taken any instruction or read a book on positioning and do none of the things you correctly describe. And they're not all women -- I seem to see a lot of wonky positioning with the men in mixed, many of whom prefer singles. I would say one of the biggest things I see my male partners do is stay way too close to net when I'm running down a lob.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
And they're not all women -- I seem to see a lot of wonky positioning with the men in mixed, many of whom prefer singles. I would say one of the biggest things I see my male partners do is stay way too close to net when I'm running down a lob.
LOL on some men .... why exactly are you running back from the net to chase down this lob that I am getting? Why are we suddenly in a Dot formation? And when I called the OH at the T, why are you fading back to stand next to me from the deuce court? Did you want to hold hands or something or did you think your high backhand OH was going to help? Sheesh.

You and I may have the chance to play together in your time zone in the coming months .... 3 of the colleges daughter is applying to are in the DC area ... may be out for a visit depending on how things go. As long as we are on the same side of the net, I bet we will be just fine ... few words needed :)
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I'd love to meet you!

College visits are wonderful opportunities to bond. In a way, it is one of the last times you get to spend huge amounts of one-on-one time with your kid before they launch.
 
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