# Doubles both players at net positioning

#### gallen1999

##### Rookie
Let's say the server comes in after the serve and hits the transition volley back to the returner. How should the server position himself in relation to the partner?

I was taught that the person cross court from the ball (in this case, the server) should not close in as far in case the pair gets lobbed.

Is this correct? Or should both partners position themselves side by side?

#### user92626

##### G.O.A.T.
I love a chance to run up to the net to have two up, but lots of my dub partners for some stupid tend to back pedal to the baseline immediately when they see "two up". I dunno why.

In my understanding it's not very complicated with positioning. If your shot is deep, move forward a little; if shallow, back up a few steps, especially enough that YOU can see the ball to volley. Each person's capability is different. I'm often amazed at how far my partners back up -- their defense is they can't see and they're afraid!

If your shot move to the left, you and your partner move to the left, ultimately leaving the right-most side open which should be a low % area for them to make; likewise with shot on the right side.

##### Talk Tennis Guru
I love a chance to run up to the net to have two up, but lots of my dub partners for some stupid tend to back pedal to the baseline immediately when they see "two up". I dunno why.
I had a partner who apparently believed there was another law of motion or thermodynamics that postulated that the sum of distances between player and net per team must be constant: as soon as I moved in to the net, he started backing up, therefore maintaining the cosmic balance. While I was playing S&V, he was playing R&B [retreat and block].

It was not the most successful partnership.

##### Talk Tennis Guru
Let's say the server comes in after the serve and hits the transition volley back to the returner. How should the server position himself in relation to the partner?

I was taught that the person cross court from the ball (in this case, the server) should not close in as far in case the pair gets lobbed.

Is this correct? Or should both partners position themselves side by side?
What you're describing is called "staggering", I think.

I don't know if it's a matter of "correct" as opposed to personal preference. I prefer playing the way you outlined and it seems to work well when covering the lob. The added bonus is both of you can lunge for a ball in the middle without worrying about running into the partner, something that holds many players back when playing equidistant from the net from moving and the ball sails down the middle untouched.

My clinic guy, who has a Div I national championship under his belt, says not to stagger. I still stagger.

#### user92626

##### G.O.A.T.
I had a partner who apparently believed there was another law of motion or thermodynamics that postulated that the sum of distances between player and net per team must be constant: as soon as I moved in to the net, he started backing up, therefore maintaining the cosmic balance. While I was playing S&V, he was playing R&B [retreat and block].

It was not the most successful partnership.
Isn't that weird how this breed of players actually exists?

I don't know what goes in their mind. Somehow they seem afraid of leaving the baseline unattended. This consistent, obsessed behavior that I encounter borderlines on insanity.

Having two players up is really good stuff in doubles. Several of my frequent dub partners have to be "instructed" that dtl shot is yours, xcourt shot is mine!!! Don't be afraid to move in 8 directions to follow the ball. You got legs, you can move. Close in when you see the hitting opponent needs to reach or take several steps to hit the ball, or off balanced or pushed several feet behind the baseline. All of these things are already "ingrained" in my mind. In other words I'm prepared. Why wouldn't I?

##### Talk Tennis Guru
Isn't that weird how this breed of players actually exists?
No; it's all about comfort zone taking precedence over instruction: they've been told that doubles is won at the net but when push comes to shove, they get out of the hot seat and go back to their comfort zone.

I don't know what goes in their mind. Somehow they seem afraid of leaving the baseline unattended. This consistent, obsessed behavior that I encounter borderlines on insanity.
One could argue that my consistent, obsessed behavior in attacking the net also borders on insanity. But to each his own.

Having two players up is really good stuff in doubles. Several of my frequent dub partners have to be "instructed" that dtl shot is yours, xcourt shot is mine!!! Don't be afraid to move in 8 directions to follow the ball. You got legs, you can move. Close in when you see the hitting opponent needs to reach or take several steps to hit the ball, or off balanced or pushed several feet behind the baseline. All of these things are already "ingrained" in my mind. In other words I'm prepared. Why wouldn't I?
We'd probably mesh well as a team.

#### user92626

##### G.O.A.T.
"consistent, obsessed behavior in attacking the net also borders on insanity. But to each his own."

Not sure if we're talking about the same thing. I don't have problem with behaviors that produce good results. Good reward is reinforcement, hence it makes sense and not insane. Attacking the net in doubles is usually a good move.

It's insane for this lady that I play with who starts out at the net and as soon as the ball rolls, she immediately jogs back to the baseline. 10 out 10 times. If you gonna move back immediately, why not start at the baseline!!!?
I showed that behavior of hers to other people in the group and they also thought it weird.

Another woman in a different session, as soon as I move up, she retreats while poorly volleying / blocking the ball coming at her. Naturally she botches the ball way way more than succeeds. My guess is she thinks that with me up, opponents will have no choice but aim 100% at her which is over her limit.

Or, she cannot "volley" battle.

With me at the baseline, she counts on my hard ground stroke as a better set up for her to poach/volley. Or, it's just a very familiar scenario for her. A comfort setting.

It's acceptable to me if these players are new, like only a couple years under the belt. No, they have been playing for over 5, 10 years with more or less the same group. It drives me nut with the same stupid failing behavior.

##### Talk Tennis Guru
It's acceptable to me if these players are new, like only a couple years under the belt. No, they have been playing for over 5, 10 years with more or less the same group. It drives me nut with the same stupid failing behavior.
If it drives you nuts, why play with those people? Do you have no choice? Why not play with people that have a similar understanding of the game as you?

#### Bender

##### G.O.A.T.
It's acceptable to me if these players are new, like only a couple years under the belt. No, they have been playing for over 5, 10 years with more or less the same group. It drives me nut with the same stupid failing behavior.
It's quite simple really.

They may have played tennis for five to ten years, but really all they have been doing is practising incorrect tennis. Age and experience are nothing if they are not relevant.

I have a hard time arguing that point in my private life though--my culture is very much Confucian, so age means automatic respect and adherence.

#### user92626

##### G.O.A.T.
If it drives you nuts, why play with those people? Do you have no choice? Why not play with people that have a similar understanding of the game as you?
I don't have a choice, given my schedule and the place.
While it drives me nut with their particular behavior, all in all they are still ok. Also, after a while I have learned to tolerate and go on about my business. LOL. I know that you really can't change most (average) people.

#### user92626

##### G.O.A.T.
It's quite simple really.

They may have played tennis for five to ten years, but really all they have been doing is practising incorrect tennis. Age and experience are nothing if they are not relevant.

I have a hard time arguing that point in my private life though--my culture is very much Confucian, so age means automatic respect and adherence.
Don't people (you) know if something is ineffective? Would you continue something so blatantly ineffective for years? That's the side that's fascinating to me.

Honestly, I really wish that I consistently played with some really good, well above my level, players who are willing to give me pointers. Had access to much better players (without having to hire them ) with similar background as mine so I could learn and pick up my level. I wouldn't mind taking them to lunch to show my appreciation.

I think I am playing with some of the laziest rec players mentally and physically. I can't motivate them to raise their levels. )

##### Talk Tennis Guru
Don't people (you) know if something is ineffective?
Would you continue something so blatantly ineffective for years? That's the side that's fascinating to me.
Ineffective relative to what?

If their technique allows them to play reasonably well within their group, no matter how atrocious it is, isn't that "effective"?

Relative to you it's not effective, perhaps. But that's not relevant to them.

I'll use myself as an example: I bounce around between 4.2 and 4.4 on TR. Does that mean my technique is effective? It depends against whom I'm being measured. At one drill session I can make great shots because the competition level is not quite at my level. At a different session, I get regularly pummeled.

If I only played at the former, my technique would be considered effective.
If I only played at the latter, my technique would be considered ineffective.

Which is correct?

I'd argue they both are. You approach it from an either/or standpoint.

#### user92626

##### G.O.A.T.
Ineffective relative to what?

If their technique allows them to play reasonably well within their group, no matter how atrocious it is, isn't that "effective"?
Ineffective as in they play very badly, have a very high loss percentage, within their own group.

##### Talk Tennis Guru
Ineffective as in they play very badly, have a very high loss percentage, within their own group.
Maybe winning is not high on their priority list?

Maybe they used to be more competitive but age and injury have taken their toll?

#### Off The Wall

##### Semi-Pro
... if shallow, back up a few steps, especially enough that YOU can see the ball to volley.
Do you mean backup so that you can visually track and return a hard hit ball?

#### user92626

##### G.O.A.T.
Do you mean backup so that you can visually track and return a hard hit ball?
Yep. We all have a (different) distance where we can see the ball adequately and safely react to it. Too close it becomes dangerous and prone to fail but too far it's not effective.

#### Dartagnan64

##### G.O.A.T.
The staggered 2 up approach is preferable for the ladies and 40+ crew because that positioning allows coverage of the lob. It also removes the debate about who covers lobs (CC player), who takes middle ball (person closer to net).

Young guys can play 2 up even positioning because they are agile enough to cover lobs from that position.

##### Legend
If I'm hitting from the baseline, and my partner is at the net, while both players on the opposing team are at the net, that puts a lot of pressure on me. Where do I hit it? How do I keep my partner from getting pegged?

So clearly two up beat one up. But the hard part is getting there. That means the server might have to do a half volley approach shot. That's a risk, (maybe), but one that I think is worth taking. At any rate, when the server and returner just rally cross court, with their partners doing nothing, that's not really doubles. That's singles/doubles. And anything is better than that.

##### Talk Tennis Guru
If I'm hitting from the baseline, and my partner is at the net, while both players on the opposing team are at the net, that puts a lot of pressure on me. Where do I hit it? How do I keep my partner from getting pegged?
Assuming your opponents are perfect positioned, a low TS dipper down the middle is a great first try.

Hitting it right at one of them, at their dominant hip.

Lob.

if your opponents are not perfectly positioned, find out where their flaw is and exploit it.

So clearly two up beat one up. But the hard part is getting there. That means the server might have to do a half volley approach shot. That's a risk, (maybe), but one that I think is worth taking.
Agreed. Having to HV is not the end of the world. It's all part of the transition through No Man's Land to the net.

At any rate, when the server and returner just rally cross court, with their partners doing nothing, that's not really doubles. That's singles/doubles. And anything is better than that.
Top Womens doubles is just that [although I wouldn't call them absolutely hammering the ball "just rallying"] but the partners are not doing nothing: they are actively looking for an opportunity to poach and end the point.

#### user92626

##### G.O.A.T.

My approach is to a hard low topspin to the middle between them. If that's not possible (usually due to the angle), then simply a very hard shot directly at the closest guy. Lob also works but the higher level you go, the less effective lob becomes. Look at pro doubles, they hardly do lobs when facing two guys up. They tend to continuously pound hard ground strokes.

When it comes to doubles, almost any sincere net playing is better than most baseline playing. One of my friends doesn't know how to volley correctly, but he can stay close to the net and do one FH-grip slam-away. It's good enough for me.

##### Legend

My approach is to a hard low topspin to the middle between them. If that's not possible (usually due to the angle), then simply a very hard shot directly at the closest guy. Lob also works but the higher level you go, the less effective lob becomes. Look at pro doubles, they hardly do lobs when facing two guys up. They tend to continuously pound hard ground strokes.

When it comes to doubles, almost any sincere net playing is better than most baseline playing. One of my friends doesn't know how to volley correctly, but he can stay close to the net and do one FH-grip slam-away. It's good enough for me.
If I can do it, I love to lob. If nothing else, it makes them have to move. When I watch ATP doubles, I'll see 3 or 4 dipping topspin drives, and then comes a lob. Probably with topspin. But the pros use lobs. When else would those 'tweeners' show up that the media loves so much? While the group I'm playing with lately doesn't lob. I'm the only guy in the group who has ever lobbed.

#### Off The Wall

##### Semi-Pro
If I'm hitting from the baseline, and my partner is at the net, while both players on the opposing team are at the net, that puts a lot of pressure on me. Where do I hit it? How do I keep my partner from getting pegged?
.
There is: on the baseline, behind the baseline, and inside the baseline.

Behind the baseline = lob. There is too much distance/time to the net to bother a decent volleyer. Your team will be leaving too much court open.

On the baseline = lob, unless you have something going for you. Is the ball a sitter? Are the opponents giving you an opening? Is one a weak volleyer? (Remember this: the harder you hit the ball, the more time it takes to recover. I have seen many, many a backcourt player try to over power a net person, who is just able to put their racquet on the ball. Their weak volley lands short for a winner.)

Inside the baseline = go for a forehand forcing shot. Sometimes forcing = hard. But, not so hard you don't give yourself enough time to recover. (You are not expecting them to miss, you are expecting them to hit a short ball that you can attack.) Sometimes it is a slow shot that affords you time to close. Either way, be ready to pounce forward. Do not back up.

#### darkhorse

##### Semi-Pro
Growing up, I was always taught that in doubles the goal was to get to the net as the serving team, as it puts the pressure on returners. You expect to get lobbed or passed sometimes, but the thought was it would be too difficult for your opponent to consistently do that (and if they can, it just means they're better). When I'm playing with the same partners I'll serve and volley and be successful. Lately though I've been playing doubles less consistently and with different people, and I can tell they don't like it when I S&V, and some will drop back instinctively. If I see that, I no longer S&V on every first serve because my partner kind of defeats the purpose of doing it. I don't like it, I'm a much better doubles player when I can be very aggressive on serve, but you have to adapt.

#### Dartagnan64

##### G.O.A.T.
Growing up, I was always taught that in doubles the goal was to get to the net as the serving team, as it puts the pressure on returners. You expect to get lobbed or passed sometimes, but the thought was it would be too difficult for your opponent to consistently do that (and if they can, it just means they're better). When I'm playing with the same partners I'll serve and volley and be successful. Lately though I've been playing doubles less consistently and with different people, and I can tell they don't like it when I S&V, and some will drop back instinctively. If I see that, I no longer S&V on every first serve because my partner kind of defeats the purpose of doing it. I don't like it, I'm a much better doubles player when I can be very aggressive on serve, but you have to adapt.
I have this problem too. I've played with guys that as soon as I get in, they start heading back. It's like, "Thank goodness your coming in so I don't have to be here." I don't like playing with those people. They get into mindless CC and lob battles taking the net player totally out of the game unless he gambles and tries for a ball he probably shouldn't.

If you have both at the net there is no easy out to hit to the baseline player and wait for an error. If you are a singles player that's interested in playing doubles, learn to volley and be comfortable at the net.

##### Talk Tennis Guru
There is: on the baseline, behind the baseline, and inside the baseline.

Behind the baseline = lob. There is too much distance/time to the net to bother a decent volleyer. Your team will be leaving too much court open.

On the baseline = lob, unless you have something going for you. Is the ball a sitter? Are the opponents giving you an opening? Is one a weak volleyer? (Remember this: the harder you hit the ball, the more time it takes to recover. I have seen many, many a backcourt player try to over power a net person, who is just able to put their racquet on the ball. Their weak volley lands short for a winner.)

Inside the baseline = go for a forehand forcing shot. Sometimes forcing = hard. But, not so hard you don't give yourself enough time to recover. (You are not expecting them to miss, you are expecting them to hit a short ball that you can attack.) Sometimes it is a slow shot that affords you time to close. Either way, be ready to pounce forward. Do not back up.
If I recognize that's my opponents' mindset, I will take advantage of it by moving back on deep balls and forward on short ones. I try to be a bit unpredictable when I'm the one on the BL.

#### Off The Wall

##### Semi-Pro
If I recognize that's my opponents' mindset, I will take advantage of it by moving back on deep balls and forward on short ones. I try to be a bit unpredictable when I'm the one on the BL.
YES! Those are the correct adjustments. Good thinking. It then becomes a matter of execution.

#### Sardines

##### Hall of Fame
The age old wisdom of doubles is to cover the middle and give up at least half the alleys of the non-serving side in 2 up formation. As usual, while there's a general suggested SOP, there aren't any golden rules. I once partnered a D1 baseline basher, who could rip groundies and set me up at net. But our opponents figured that out and to counter, they started returning high enough I couldn't reach and deep to keep him on the back foot. So I asked him to drive volley a few at the net guy.
2 up, staggered or not, depends on 3 things:
1. How "good" your volley is in depth, speed and height,
2. how good your opponent's groundies are
3. how fast you are at running for a lob.