Did Vic Braden Contradict Himself?

#1
Yes, I taught myself tennis out of Braden's book. He liked to have funny photos in the book. One was of a man stretching his arm like plastic man, so he could take his female partner's volley. The caption was, "Ball hog ruins a good doubles team."

Later on he explains that the player closer to the net has priority. If your partner keeps cutting in front of you to play shots, the partner should be the one to complain, not you. He might say, "Get in the game, I'm getting tired of this." In reality, no one "steals" your shots.

I especially remember that last line. 'No one "steals" your shots. It's like a 2nd baseman complaining that the shortstop cut in front, and 'stole' his grounder. Well, you're not supposed to wait for the ball to come to you. You should move forward. If another player, can run farther, yet get there sooner, what's your excuse?

But what I don't understand is how can there be ball hogs, when he says, no one steals your shot?
 
#6
I'm starting to think they're wrong.
Who is wrong? Who is "they"?

There is a difference between a "ball hog" and "poaching". Likewise, there is a difference between being a hog and being the the player who has the best options on a given ball. And I don't mean the player has the best overhead or the best volley.

Yes, if one player is quite a bit closer to the next than their partner, it is often okay to make a play on the ball that is on your partner side. This is not to say that you should be taking all balls on their side simply because you are closer to the.

Also note that being closer to the net does not apply to net huggers. Some net players stay too tight to the net -- such that they cannot move forward to play the ball -- they can only move left or right. Typically, a net player should not be setting up (ready position) any closer than 2 m (7 feet) away from the net. 3 meters is often a better position -- or deeper if you are in a defensive position.
 
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#8
Who is wrong? Who is "they"?

There is a difference between a "ball hog" and "poaching". Likewise, there is a difference between being a hog and being the the player who has the best options on a given ball. And I don't mean the player has the best overhead or the best volley.

Yes, if one player is quite a bit closer to the next than their partner, it is often okay to make a play on the ball that is on your partner side. This is not to say that you should be taking all balls on their side simply because you are closer to the.
Twice I covered short balls that I thought no one would get to. Now I see that they feel I got on "their side".

Long ago I decided never to instruct during doubles. I don't care if my partner holds the racquet at the wrong end. I say nothing. So I've got people who believe that the court is cut in two, and that neither player should ever get on the other side? Somehow, people can play tennis for a decade and not know this is incorrect. Some people play chess and don't know about castling. I won't argue with them. Never argue with someone who is wrong.
 
#9
Yes, I taught myself tennis out of Braden's book. He liked to have funny photos in the book. One was of a man stretching his arm like plastic man, so he could take his female partner's volley. The caption was, "Ball hog ruins a good doubles team."

Later on he explains that the player closer to the net has priority. If your partner keeps cutting in front of you to play shots, the partner should be the one to complain, not you. He might say, "Get in the game, I'm getting tired of this." In reality, no one "steals" your shots.

I especially remember that last line. 'No one "steals" your shots. It's like a 2nd baseman complaining that the shortstop cut in front, and 'stole' his grounder. Well, you're not supposed to wait for the ball to come to you. You should move forward. If another player, can run farther, yet get there sooner, what's your excuse?

But what I don't understand is how can there be ball hogs, when he says, no one steals your shot?
if i have position - ie i'm closer to the ball... if i'm actively attacking the contact, there's no way someone further away is gonna "steal" the ball from me.
but if i'm lazily just waiting to figure out where the ball is going, after the ball has been hit, flat footed, and waiting for the ball to come to me, then i deserved to get the ball "stolen"

ideally you should have happy feet so you're not caught flat footed, watching the opponents ball contact to anticipate the direction better... and be split stepping and moving forward, on the opponents contact.
 
#10
Try this the next you play mixed.

Bring a small stool and small bag of popcorn and put it near the back fence.

After your partner hits her serve and after she hits a service return, instruct her to go sit at the back fence.
 
#12
Twice I covered short balls that I thought no one would get to. Now I see that they feel I got on "their side".

Long ago I decided never to instruct during doubles. I don't care if my partner holds the racquet at the wrong end. I say nothing. So I've got people who believe that the court is cut in two, and that neither player should ever get on the other side? Somehow, people can play tennis for a decade and not know this is incorrect.
It's not incorrect: it's just not optimal. If your partner is open to enlightenment, go for it. If not, keep mum.

Some people play chess and don't know about castling. I won't argue with them. Never argue with someone who is wrong.
There are plenty of official chess rules the average player doesn't know: en passant, you can't castle through check or out of check, once you touch a piece you must move it unless the move is illegal, automatic draw after 50 moves with no pawn pushed or piece captured, etc. But yeah, people will think you're making up rules if you bring them up.

The simple solution:
- attempt to instruct if they are open
- keep quiet
- find better doubles players
 
#13
Someone is ignorant. Then they decide to speak up about their ignorance. Maybe they have good tips on how to treat such a partner?
Still not clear on who "they" are.


Twice I covered short balls that I thought no one would get to. Now I see that they feel I got on "their side".

Long ago I decided never to instruct during doubles. I don't care if my partner holds the racquet at the wrong end. I say nothing. So I've got people who believe that the court is cut in two, and that neither player should ever get on the other side? Somehow, people can play tennis for a decade and not know this is incorrect. Some people play chess and don't know about castling. I won't argue with them. Never argue with someone who is wrong.
Or how about the slightly obscure "en passant" capture in chess?

I've come across that "my side, your side" mentality with many 3.5 players. But not many 4.0 players. It's a novice or low intermediate way of thinking/playing.

Yeah, best to discuss this sort of thing before or after a set or match rather than during play. You may find that some of your partners are not ready or just not capable a more "advanced"way of playing that includes poaching and similar moves. They are not necessarily wrong -- they might just never developed their game to that level. They might not be accustomed to covering the other side when you have cut across to "their" side. That does not come automatically to some ppl. It could take a fair amt of practice or drilling to get the concept down.
 
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#14
Yes, I taught myself tennis out of Braden's book. He liked to have funny photos in the book. One was of a man stretching his arm like plastic man, so he could take his female partner's volley. The caption was, "Ball hog ruins a good doubles team."

Later on he explains that the player closer to the net has priority. If your partner keeps cutting in front of you to play shots, the partner should be the one to complain, not you. He might say, "Get in the game, I'm getting tired of this." In reality, no one "steals" your shots.

I especially remember that last line. 'No one "steals" your shots. It's like a 2nd baseman complaining that the shortstop cut in front, and 'stole' his grounder. Well, you're not supposed to wait for the ball to come to you. You should move forward. If another player, can run farther, yet get there sooner, what's your excuse?

But what I don't understand is how can there be ball hogs, when he says, no one steals your shot?

The player closer to the net is often in a poorer position. I often see the closer player trying to get a hard-hit low ball, and failing miserably. First of all, a low ball is difficult enough. Trying to volley it is almost impossible, for several reasons. First of all, being very close to the net gives you very little time to react. The deeper player has more time to react and make a good shot, after letting the ball bounce. The 'deeper' player should be fairly close, around the service line, not behind the baseline.
 
#15
It's not incorrect: it's just not optimal. If your partner is open to enlightenment, go for it. If not, keep mum.



There are plenty of official chess rules the average player doesn't know: en passant, you can't castle through check or out of check, once you touch a piece you must move it unless the move is illegal, automatic draw after 50 moves with no pawn pushed or piece captured, etc. But yeah, people will think you're making up rules if you bring them up.

The simple solution:
- attempt to instruct if they are open
- keep quiet
- find better doubles players
I capture en passant and after the rule gets explained, I hear, "Well, I never heard of that rule before!" It's their responsibility to know the rules.

One lady who'd played 50 years had a grip that was worn to the wood. I suggested a replacement. She didn't know that grips could be replaced!

I've found some guys who like to hit. Actually, I like to work on certain shots, and improve. Don't really want to play matches much.
 
#16
The player closer to the net is often in a poorer position. I often see the closer player trying to get a hard-hit low ball, and failing miserably. First of all, a low ball is difficult enough. Trying to volley it is almost impossible, for several reasons. First of all, being very close to the net gives you very little time to react. The deeper player has more time to react and make a good shot, after letting the ball bounce. The 'deeper' player should be fairly close, around the service line, not behind the baseline.
Fail
 
#17
Still not clear on who "they" are.




Or how about the slightly obscure "en passant" capture in chess?

I've come across that "my side, your side" mentality with many 3.5 players. But not many 4.0 players. It's a novice or low intermediate way of thinking/playing.

Yeah, best to discuss this sort of thing before or after a set or match rather than during play. You may find that some of your partners are not ready or just not capable a more "advanced"way of playing that includes poaching and similar moves. They are not necessarily wrong -- they might just never developed their game to that level. They might not be accustomed to covering the other side when you have cut across to "their" side. That does not come automatically to s one ppl. It could take a fair amt of practice or drilling to get the concept down.
Sorry, but sometimes people are wrong. A quick consultation on the webb or ANY book on doubles explains these ideas. They're not MY ideas. They have wide acceptance. Also, when I get pulled wide by an alley shot, I run off the court to retrieve it, and the ball comes right back to the space I vacated. I see my partner smiling, and she says, "Nice get." Well how about you cover where I vacated? Oh yeah, but that would be getting on "my side".
 
#18
I capture en passant and after the rule gets explained, I hear, "Well, I never heard of that rule before!" It's their responsibility to know the rules.
How many chess players read the rule book? How many tennis players read the rule book?

While you may be correct about responsibility, you will find a lot of people who disagree.
 
#19
Sorry, but sometimes people are wrong. A quick consultation on the webb or ANY book on doubles explains these ideas. They're not MY ideas.
And what if they don't consult any source but just play the way they've always played?

They have wide acceptance...
...among people who are aware doubles players. Obviously, the people in your scenarios are not aware of these principles and can't figure them out in real time.
 
#20
Sorry, but sometimes people are wrong. A quick consultation on the webb or ANY book on doubles explains these ideas. They're not MY ideas. They have wide acceptance. Also, when I get pulled wide by an alley shot, I run off the court to retrieve it, and the ball comes right back to the space I vacated. I see my partner smiling, and she says, "Nice get." Well how about you cover where I vacated? Oh yeah, but that would be getting on "my side".
Did you completely miss the point I was making? It is not wrong if lower level players have not yet adopted more advanced patterns of play. A low intermediate player has other concerns with their strokes and game and might not be ready to embrace concepts that are still beyond them. More advanced patterns or concepts are learned when the student is ready.It is not just enough to read or be aware of these patterns/concepts, most players must practice it for them to become a habit.

Do you employ mogul move footwork when you get pulled wide? Have you learned the Wardlaw Directionals when playing singles? Can you hit a twist serve or a tweener shot? If the answer if YES, then good for you. But if you have not learned all these things, that does not mean that you are wrong. It can simply mean that you are not yet at that stage of development.

As for your last scenario, there is a potential flaw, a significant flaw, there. If you get pulled wide and your partner covers the area that you just vacated, then she has just left another part of the court open. She can easily get burned unless you hit your shot such that she does not have to pay the consequences. One school of thought says that a double team moves together. Player A moves left, Player B moves left. Player A moves right, Player B moves right. This usually works very well when the ball is on the other side of the net. But it doesn't necessarily work when the ball is on your own side of the net.

Another school of thought says that when you are pulled wide in doubles, it is up to you to play the proper shot (or the best shot under the circumstances) and then get back to cover the proper area rather than expecting your partner to cover both your side and her side at the same time.
 
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#21
Did you completely miss the point I was making? It is not wrong if lower level players have not yet adopted more advanced patterns of play. A low intermediate player has other concerns with their strokes and game and might not be ready to embrace concepts that are still beyond them. More advanced patterns or concepts are learned when the student is ready.It is not just enough to read or be aware of these patterns/concepts, most players must practice it for them to become a habit.

Do you employ mogul move footwork when you get pulled wide? Have you learned the Wardlaw Directionals when playing singles? Can you hit a twist serve or a tweener shot? If the answer if YES, then good for you. But if you have not learned all these things, that does not mean that you are wrong. It can simply mean that you are not yet at that stage of development.

As for your last scenario, there is a potential flaw, a significant flaw, there. If you get pulled wide and your partner covers the area that you just vacated, then she has just left another part of the court open. She can easily get burned unless you hit your shot such that she does not have to pay the consequences. One school of thought says that a double team moves together. Player A moves left, Player B moves left. Player A moves right, Player B moves right. This usually works very well when the ball is on the other side of the net. But it doesn't necessarily work when the ball is on your own side of the net.

Another school of thought says that when you are pulled wide in doubles, it is up to you to play the proper shot (or the best shot under the circumstances) and then get back to cover the proper area rather than expecting your partner to cover both your side and her side at the same time.
But if one person can cover the singles court, it's not much different to cover a doubles court. It's just the additional alleys. At least don't leave half the court entirely open. I believe this is due to the idea that doubles is a zone defense. Each player covers the right half or left half. There's only a few exceptions, and they can be listed. When your partner covers a lob behind you, then you cross to the other side. If your serve forces a floater and your partner crosses to put it away, is another. Also, if you put up a very short lob and the opponent smashes it at your partner, don't blame your partner for allowing a ball to get by on his side. You messed up with the short lob. I know a lot of people who don't get that concept.

But strokes take a long time to develop. These ideas could be learned in a few minutes. Couldn't they?
 
#22
IMO, doubles is a collaborative, team effort. Sure, there are rules and guidelines, but it is between you and your partner to decide how to play together as a team and also how to communicate before, during, and after the point.

I prefer going to the net and poaching, but others may not. There are also times where I think it is better for my partner and I to both stay at the baseline to start the point when returning serve. (and then try to work our way to the net).

I've played with guys who prefer just staying back at the baseline, guys who try to "poach" almost every single point and miss most of the time, guys who just like lobbing all the time, net chargers. There is no one way to play and you can't force your preference on them.

Figure out what what your partner is willing to do and would they prefer and then have a discussion to see how that might gel with your preferences and strengths.

OR

bring a chair and some popcorn.
 
#23
For example, unless my partner has an absolute cream puff of a serve, I usually like to stand in the middle of the service box when he/she is serving. Others may not like standing so close and feel they can't react in time to the incoming groundstrokes. Yet others may stand even closer.
 
#24
But if one person can cover the singles court, it's not much different to cover a doubles court. It's just the additional alleys. At least don't leave half the court entirely open. I believe this is due to the idea that doubles is a zone defense. Each player covers the right half or left half. There's only a few exceptions, and they can be listed. When your partner covers a lob behind you, then you cross to the other side. If your serve forces a floater and your partner crosses to put it away, is another. Also, if you put up a very short lob and the opponent smashes it at your partner, don't blame your partner for allowing a ball to get by on his side. You messed up with the short lob. I know a lot of people who don't get that concept.

But strokes take a long time to develop. These ideas could be learned in a few minutes. Couldn't they?
Absolutely not. If you believe that, you might still have a lot to learn about playing decent tennis doubles. Proper tennis doubles positioning & strategy cannot simply just be listed and learned in just a few minutes. Even if you were able to simply list the differences between singles and doubles coverage, it takes most people years to master the basics and then the details & nuances. There is more to it than just more real estate. There are a lot more angles possible in doubles. And two minds trying to function as one to cover a doubles court is not a simple matter either. Every shot that you execute has an effect, not just on you, but on your partner as well. Your shot selection and shot placement can make your partner look like a hero or it can put them in a very bad position or situation.

Whole books (and DVD sets) have been written on tennis doubles. Take a look at these two sources sources that many have suggested on TT.

The Art of Doubles (first edition) by Pat Blaskower. Quite a few TT posters have indicated the 2nd edition is significantly inferior to the 1st.
Doubles Tennis Tactics by Louis Cayer (ITF) Amazon.com/Doubles-Tennis-Tactics-Louis-Cayer/dp/0736040048
 
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#25
Note that Federer and Nadal are currently the top ATP single players and both know a lot about playing doubles. In fact, both Roger and Rafa have doubles titles to their name. Despite their considerable knowledge of doubles, the Bryan brothers (or any top ATP doubles teams) could probably easily beat Federer & Nadal in a doubles match -- even tho' the Bryans are now 40 years old.
 
#26
Note that Federer and Nadal are currently the top ATP single players and both know a lot about playing doubles. In fact, both Roger and Rafa have doubles titles to their name. Despite their considerable knowledge of doubles, the Bryan brothers (or any top ATP doubles teams) could probably easily beat Federer & Nadal in a doubles match -- even tho' the Bryans are now 40 years old.
would be great if every tourney featured a end-of-tourney doubles match... singles finalists, vs the doubles champ
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
#27
Yes, I taught myself tennis out of Braden's book. He liked to have funny photos in the book. One was of a man stretching his arm like plastic man, so he could take his female partner's volley. The caption was, "Ball hog ruins a good doubles team."

Later on he explains that the player closer to the net has priority. If your partner keeps cutting in front of you to play shots, the partner should be the one to complain, not you. He might say, "Get in the game, I'm getting tired of this." In reality, no one "steals" your shots.

I especially remember that last line. 'No one "steals" your shots. It's like a 2nd baseman complaining that the shortstop cut in front, and 'stole' his grounder. Well, you're not supposed to wait for the ball to come to you. You should move forward. If another player, can run farther, yet get there sooner, what's your excuse?

But what I don't understand is how can there be ball hogs, when he says, no one steals your shot?
I don't think Vic Braden should be taken so seriously. Over a long period of time, coaches like him have said so many things and it would be surprising if they were all consistent.
 
#28
But strokes take a long time to develop. These ideas could be learned in a few minutes. Couldn't they?
Perhaps. But knowledge must then be put into practice. How long would it take for someone to master just positioning and shading? Way longer than just a few minutes. IMO, you have an unrealistic expectation of your partners. As @SystemicAnomaly pointed out, it can take years to master these ideas.
 
#29
Did you completely miss the point I was making? It is not wrong if lower level players have not yet adopted more advanced patterns of play. A low intermediate player has other concerns with their strokes and game and might not be ready to embrace concepts that are still beyond them. More advanced patterns or concepts are learned when the student is ready.It is not just enough to read or be aware of these patterns/concepts, most players must practice it for them to become a habit.

Do you employ mogul move footwork when you get pulled wide? Have you learned the Wardlaw Directionals when playing singles? Can you hit a twist serve or a tweener shot? If the answer if YES, then good for you. But if you have not learned all these things, that does not mean that you are wrong. It can simply mean that you are not yet at that stage of development.

As for your last scenario, there is a potential flaw, a significant flaw, there. If you get pulled wide and your partner covers the area that you just vacated, then she has just left another part of the court open. She can easily get burned unless you hit your shot such that she does not have to pay the consequences. One school of thought says that a double team moves together. Player A moves left, Player B moves left. Player A moves right, Player B moves right. This usually works very well when the ball is on the other side of the net. But it doesn't necessarily work when the ball is on your own side of the net.

Another school of thought says that when you are pulled wide in doubles, it is up to you to play the proper shot (or the best shot under the circumstances) and then get back to cover the proper area rather than expecting your partner to cover both your side and her side at the same time.
I agree with @Steady Eddy on this one: when my partner is out of the equation, I assume for that one play, I will have to cover the entire court. If I'm right, I'm prepared. If I'm wrong and he makes it back in or hits a great lob, then I haven't lost anything. True, I've just given up maybe half of what I was covering but I don't control the scenario; I'm just reacting as best as I know how.
 
#30
I agree with @Steady Eddy on this one: when my partner is out of the equation, I assume for that one play, I will have to cover the entire court. If I'm right, I'm prepared. If I'm wrong and he makes it back in or hits a great lob, then I haven't lost anything. True, I've just given up maybe half of what I was covering but I don't control the scenario; I'm just reacting as best as I know how.
Actually, it sounds like you and @Steady Eddy are not saying exactly the same thing. You imply that Player B would take something close to a central position when Player A has been pulled wide (off the court). What SE had said sounds like Player B assumes the position that Player A has just vacated. However, I suspect that Eddy might have meant that Player B covers both sides of the courts, not just Player A's side of the court. Perhaps he could clarify his intent.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, there are (at least) 2 schools of thought on this situation. Some 40+ years ago, I learned something similar to the action that you suggested. I played that way for a long time (15 yrs or more). The drawback with this is that your opponents can easily take advantage your positioning unless your partner places his response in such a manner that makes it difficult for the opponents to capitalize on your sub-optimal positioning. All too often, however, Player B gets burned because the opponents can easily pass them (B) down the other alley or the opponents can easily angle a response that is difficult, if not impossible, to return.

When Player A is pulled wide (off court) to play the ball, they have a fair idea of what they will (attempt to) do with the ball. However, unless Player B is psychic, they have very little idea of what to expect and are at the mercy of their partner (and the opponents) if they take up a central position. But, if this is a well-established team who has played together a lot, Player B might have a fair idea what Player A might try to do in such a situation.

More than 25 yrs ago, I came across a college coach (former 6.0/6.5 player) who had a different philosophy on this situation. He felt that it was the duty of Player A to play a suitable shot (if possible) and get back a proper position so that Player B does not have to cover the whole court. This is the similar what you would do when playing singles -- you play a suitable shot and then get back to an optimal position (if possible) to cover the court for the next shot. Using this philosophy, Player B might make a small shift in position but they are not moving over to cover the whole court. I've had a lot more success with this school of thought rather than the way I had learned back in the 1970s.

Players still adjust their position according to where their own shots have gone (on the opponents side). Follow your (own) shots. However, when the ball comes to your own side, BOTH players do not necessarily shift their position according to the ball direction & placement.
 
#31
Yes, I taught myself tennis out of Braden's book. He liked to have funny photos in the book. One was of a man stretching his arm like plastic man, so he could take his female partner's volley. The caption was, "Ball hog ruins a good doubles team."

Later on he explains that the player closer to the net has priority. If your partner keeps cutting in front of you to play shots, the partner should be the one to complain, not you. He might say, "Get in the game, I'm getting tired of this." In reality, no one "steals" your shots.

I especially remember that last line. 'No one "steals" your shots. It's like a 2nd baseman complaining that the shortstop cut in front, and 'stole' his grounder. Well, you're not supposed to wait for the ball to come to you. You should move forward. If another player, can run farther, yet get there sooner, what's your excuse?

But what I don't understand is how can there be ball hogs, when he says, no one steals your shot?
If you cut across and put away shots, only a bad partner will complain. Imo a ball hog is someone who crosses and often misses or lets them hit behind him.

THat said, this is tennis and different than baseball in that closer is not always better. Some Stagger in position is good and usually very needed. Each player has a role. The key is to be aggressive, make your shots, and don't open up your own court!
 
#32
Actually, it sounds like you and @Steady Eddy are not saying exactly the same thing. You imply that Player B would take something close to a central position when Player A has been pulled wide (off the court). What SE had said sounds like Player B assumes the position that Player A has just vacated. However, I suspect that Eddy might have meant that Player B covers both sides of the courts, not just Player A's side of the court. Perhaps he could clarify his intent.
Aah, OK; I didn't interpret SE's comment that way.

More than 25 yrs ago, I came across a college coach (former 6.0/6.5 player) who had a different philosophy on this situation. He felt that it was the duty of Player A to play a suitable shot (if possible) and get back a proper position so that Player B does not have to cover the whole court. This is the similar what you would do when playing singles -- you play a suitable shot and then get back to an optimal position (if possible) to cover the court for the next shot. Using this philosophy, Player B might make a small shift in position but they are not moving over to cover the whole court. I've had a lot more success with this school of thought rather than the way I had learned back in the 1970s.
The problem is that it's predicated on A) your partner hitting a good enough shot that the other team can't take advantage of the situation; and B) him getting back into the court.

I agree that if my partner can do both, your approach is better.

I approach things from a "worst case scenario" standpoint and I assume that A and B are false and I have to do everything myself for that one play. If I'm wrong and either or both A&B are true, so much the better; I'll adjust dynamically.

As an example, one of the best defensive plays I've ever made involved reading the net man's volley before he contacted the ball, going way off court [almost into the next court], barely scraping the ball off the ground, lobbing deep and avoiding the net man...and I still couldn't get back into court in time to help my partner who wisely positioned himself as if he was playing singles.
 
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