Net clearance

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Latest issue of Inside Tennis has an article about doubles coaching by none other than Mark Knowles. He says doubles requires a different kind of short making, and low net clearance compared to what is taught in singles.

So, in other words. we are taught high net clearance when the opposite is what is required for what the majority of the rec players play (doubles).

Great.
 

user92626

Legend
Nope, the majority of the rec players just need to move more and get the ball over the net. That's what it takes to have a good rec dub game.

Over the weekend I had the unfortune of teaming up with a weakest guy. This guy misjudged the intensity, the style of the match and the ebbs and flows of the game.

While his opponents played intensely and aiming to win (at one point even aiming squarely at his body), this guy (my partner) was joking around and overestimating his skill, eg instead of making a simple shot to have a big lead, he laughed and shank it in the net. After that we struggled to fight back but eventually lost! Idiot. :cry:o_O:)
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
In doubles, you need to have very little net clearance or very high (lob). It is totally different from the singles game.

Return of serve is usually CC. In singles, DTL is a good strategy.

Basically, whatever you have been taught in singles is wrong for doubles.
 

Kevo

Legend
I think anyone who plays doubles regularly, even at 3.5 or 4.0 knows what kinds of shots they want to hit. They might have trouble actually doing it, but they know the basics. You get lots of balls aimed at shoelaces, lobs, body shots, down the middle shots, etc. It's not a mystery. All those things are done at the pro level as well, but they just have to do it faster, under more pressure, and be more precise about it.
 

thehustler

Semi-Pro
I think it depends on the type of doubles being played. If you have a bunch of doubles only players who are very very good at doubles, know when to poach, stay, how to volley, etc, then yes. But if you have a meetup group (like I've been a part of) that has people all over the spectrum (I'm singles player mainly, but doubles if desperate, or others who just aren't good at what I mentioned earlier) then you can get away with high net clearance. Yes most returns go CC, but I will use DTL as well to test the net man. Most people aren't comfortable at poaching as they don't want to screw up a point, especially if they're not the best at volleys. Since most people at the rec level struggle to poach I've found a good net clearance, with some good topspin to get the ball up on the opponent and pin them deep is very helpful. That can setup my partner for an overhead or a volley to end the point.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I think anyone who plays doubles regularly, even at 3.5 or 4.0 knows what kinds of shots they want to hit. They might have trouble actually doing it, but they know the basics. You get lots of balls aimed at shoelaces, lobs, body shots, down the middle shots, etc. It's not a mystery. All those things are done at the pro level as well, but they just have to do it faster, under more pressure, and be more precise about it.
Exactly. But is was shocking seeing it put in writing by Mark Knowles who presumably knowles a lot about this LOL

He also advocates chip and charge return for doubles.
 

Kevo

Legend
He also advocates chip and charge return for doubles.
Yes, that's a classic. My former doubles partner used that one a ton. I generally liked to come in on the second ball if the return was good, but he was really good at the chip return.
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
Nope, the majority of the rec players just need to move more and get the ball over the net. That's what it takes to have a good rec dub game.

Over the weekend I had the unfortune of teaming up with a weakest guy. This guy misjudged the intensity, the style of the match and the ebbs and flows of the game.

While his opponents played intensely and aiming to win (at one point even aiming squarely at his body), this guy (my partner) was joking around and overestimating his skill, eg instead of making a simple shot to have a big lead, he laughed and shank it in the net. After that we struggled to fight back but eventually lost! Idiot. :cry:o_O:)
That’s pretty funny and agrees with my doubles experience.

1. Attack the weak player relentlessly.

2. It won’t take long to find the weak player. You can identify him before the match sometimes. He will act just like you describe. Talking about how good he is and giving out unsolicited advice all through warm ups.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I think I do tend to hit flatter/down more on balls to try to get opponnet to cough up a sitter.
It happens subconsciously for me after all these years.

All these years, I have been following Vic Braden's advice of hit low to high with topspin in singles, and doing quite the opposite in doubles - keeping it low or lobbying, even on the service return, CC on returns most of the time, paying more attention to the smaller number of empty spaces, etc., without actually being taught all this.

Knowles says doubles pros are better off with doubles-specialist coaches, though of course there might be some self-interest in that.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
It happens subconsciously for me after all these years.

All these years, I have been following Vic Braden's advice of hit low to high with topspin in singles, and doing quite the opposite in doubles - keeping it low or lobbying, even on the service return, CC on returns most of the time, paying more attention to the smaller number of empty spaces, etc., without actually being taught all this.
I think for me the driving mentally for dubs has always been hit to the feet. While that is supposed to be for volleys, I find hitting flat, low, or dipping works about the same as any player is coming in. If it is a one up, one back situation normal rally rules apply with net clearance for me, until someone moves.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Yes, that's a classic. My former doubles partner used that one a ton. I generally liked to come in on the second ball if the return was good, but he was really good at the chip return.
As a modern singles power baseline player, that is very difficult for me to accept. I always think of most doubles play as not being suitable for "real men." That is a mental barrier for me because I think doubles is for old farts or failed singles pros, and it is holding me back against the shameless doubles players out there.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I think for me the driving mentally for dubs has always been hit to the feet. While that is supposed to be for volleys, I find hitting flat, low, or dipping works about the same as any player is coming in. If it is a one up, one back situation normal rally rules apply with net clearance for me, until someone moves.
It is insane how many points I have won by just lobbing over the netman's head.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
I think I do tend to hit flatter/down more on balls to try to get opponnet to cough up a sitter.
Good point. In double, you also have less time to react in general. I find myself hitting closer to continental grip, while in single, i have time to move, get in position, prepare, and hit more topspin shots.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
It is insane how many points I have won by just lobbing over the netman's head.

I get a fair share of that in the 40+ league, but 18's people move rather well still, so if it isn't hit with some lob-dip-spin, it has a chance to come back.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
That’s pretty funny and agrees with my doubles experience.

1. Attack the weak player relentlessly.
LOL on Saturday we played doubles at 1 pm in the sun and the opposing team was going to my partner all the time. It sometimes make you complacent and then you miss the next one that comes your way.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
Good point. In double, you also have less time to react in general. I find myself hitting closer to continental grip, while in single, i have time to move, get in position, prepare, and hit more topspin shots.

Yeah, and many times with little or no back swing, almost like a baseline or mid court volley or such.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Good point. In double, you also have less time to react in general. I find myself hitting closer to continental grip, while in single, i have time to move, get in position, prepare, and hit more topspin shots.
in other words, even the preparation advice seems to be different for doubles LOL. Reflex and court sense dominate over formal time-consuming prep. Is it even the same game LOL.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Has anybody found doubles serving to more painful than singles? Not only is there added pressure of not letting down your partner with weak serves or DFs, there is just more irritation on the court with more people and their fidgeting causing narrower views.

There is a reason pilots sit at the cockpit and not in the middle of the passengers.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
in other words, even the preparation advice seems to be different for doubles LOL. Reflex and court sense dominate over formal time-consuming prep. Is it even the same game LOL.
Its different, but not all that different, except for old guys that are not too mobile.
I used to think there's a big difference between single and double players in rec tennis. Now as i get better at double, i think the 2 games actually complement each other.
Imagine a baseliner with some extra weapons like chip and charge, overhead, volley. Awesome combo.
 

user92626

Legend
That’s pretty funny and agrees with my doubles experience.

1. Attack the weak player relentlessly.

2. It won’t take long to find the weak player. You can identify him before the match sometimes. He will act just like you describe. Talking about how good he is and giving out unsolicited advice all through warm ups.
Pretty much! Frankly I haven't found a "honorable" good player who avoids a weak opponent and instead challenges the stronger partner. Not a single time. On this I'm proud that I have done it once, in a mixed dub. I consistently hit all my controllable shots to the strong guy. Afterward, even the opposing woman admitted as much.

Onto identifying the weakest link, I walked into the empty court. He happened to immediately join my side. The guy at the other side, who always wants to best me, asked that we played a set where he would team up with another semi strong guy. I kinda laughed and said it would be a boring, lopsided game because my partner wouldn't be able to hold up. They insisted that my partner was decent.

That's another thing that I often find at rec parks -- lots of people are sadists. They prefer easy, lopsided games where they can torture some weaklings! Again, I hate that. No honor. With weaklings I prefer to give handicaps so I can face challenges. Half of the time I lose!
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Pretty much! Frankly I haven't found a "honorable" good player who avoids a weak opponent and instead challenges the stronger partner. Not a single time. On this I'm proud that I have done it once, in a mixed dub. I consistently hit all my controllable shots to the strong guy. Afterward, even the opposing woman admitted as much.

Onto identifying the weakest link, I walked into the empty court. He happened to immediately join my side. The guy at the other side, who always wants to best me, asked that we played a set where he would team up with another semi strong guy. I kinda laughed and said it would be a boring, lopsided game because my partner wouldn't be able to hold up. They insisted that my partner was decent.

That's another thing that I often find at rec parks -- lots of people are sadists. They prefer easy, lopsided games where they can torture some weaklings! Again, I hate that. No honor. With weaklings I prefer to give handicaps so I can face challenges. Half of the time I lose!
In MXD, I have often had women urging me to go for the other woman, but I would deliberately go for the guy to spite them (I don't like any communication during doubles). I find some of the codes amusing. This weekend, the commentators in Cincy were focusing on the signs made by doubles players and it was very funny to see guys with their hands behind them sticking out a finger down their butt!
 

Kevo

Legend
As a modern singles power baseline player, that is very difficult for me to accept. I always think of most doubles play as not being suitable for "real men." That is a mental barrier for me because I think doubles is for old farts or failed singles pros, and it is holding me back against the shameless doubles players out there.
Well, there are a lot of doubles players that play doubles simply because they can't play singles, but doubles can be way more exciting and fun than singles if you are playing at the higher rec levels. Way more stuff can happen and the bing bang pinball type points up at net are a ton of fun.
 

Kevo

Legend
LOL on Saturday we played doubles at 1 pm in the sun and the opposing team was going to my partner all the time. It sometimes make you complacent and then you miss the next one that comes your way.
Readiness and focus are priority number one in doubles. There is usually no working your way into a point. :)
 

user92626

Legend
In MXD, I have often had women urging me to go for the other woman, but I would deliberately go for the guy to spite them (I don't like any communication during doubles). I find some of the codes amusing. This weekend, the commentators in Cincy were focusing on the signs made by doubles players and it was very funny to see guys with their hands behind them sticking out a finger down their butt!
Some communication is ok. Some women I played with couldn't handle talking while playing so I cut it out. I have insisted that my woman partner go for the other woman and avoid challenging the guy but I haven't had a woman partner insist that I play in a particular way. :)

Mixed dubs is fun when it's even, and it doesn't have to be high skills. Even is the keyword. 3 shot consistency vs 3 shot consistency. weak serve vs weak serve. that kind of things.

There's still a lot for the guys to do if they are capable.
 

Kevo

Legend
Has anybody found doubles serving to more painful than singles? Not only is there added pressure of not letting down your partner with weak serves or DFs, there is just more irritation on the court with more people and their fidgeting causing narrower views.

There is a reason pilots sit at the cockpit and not in the middle of the passengers.
You're thinking about it wrong. Serving in doubles is awesome. Get together with your partner and figure out the signals. Learn to pick plays based on who's returning and hit your spots on your serve. If you do it right, you and your netman will be happy with easy put aways and quick holds.
 

Kevo

Legend
In case you are partnered with the "weak link" (depending on how weak he really is), you should just accept the probability you'll lose, so you don't get all stressed out. He probably felt bad about the sitch, as well. On a positive note, being partnered with the weak link is the perfect time to step up as the stronger player and help strategize and plan points to better highlight both of your strengths while protecting weaknesses:

  1. Find out your partner’s strengths before the match and use your court smarts and skills to create points that will best utilize them (for an example, if your partner can consistently lob deep, use that to help push the opponents back to the baseline, and then wait for the opportunity to poach and put the ball away);
  2. Figure out your opponents' weaknesses early on and then you and your partner pick on them mercilessly;
  3. You should play the “ad side” because you are better equipped, both mentally and skillfully to handle the important pressure points (40-0, 0-40, 40-30, 30-40)
  4. Lob the opponents when they come in to the net and keep them back near the baseline, allowing your partner more time to prepare for an incoming ball and you more opportunities to poach on a short ball;
  5. Have your partner serve up the middle and then use your mad poaching skills to put the ball away at net;
  6. Play the ball up the middle often (especially when you serve) as this will more than likely keep the ball from being returned right at your partner or up his/her alley;
  7. If the opponents still manage to peg your partner at net, have him/her stand further away from the net on your serve (maybe even close to the baseline,) and take away your opponent’s “target”. This will allow your partner more time to prepare for any returns that might come his/her way.
Super LIKE!

Being good at doubles also means being a good partner. That includes doing your best to help your partner do the best they can with the skills they have. It also means believing there is a way to win and you just have to find it. I've won some doubles matches as the weaker team just by constantly boosting my partner and making sure they had a plan to execute on every serve and every return.
 

user92626

Legend
In case you are partnered with the "weak link" (depending on how weak he really is), you should just accept the probability you'll lose, so you don't get all stressed out.
If I accept a high probability of losing, I will lose all the will to play. If I play, it has to be at least semi-intense for me to perform. The more intense the better. Hence, I like stake-games, ie. lunches, etc.

However, you're right that I shouldn't have managed it better and it was my fault for walking into a lousy situation. I even admitted to a friend that it was not his fault to play badly or that style. The whole frustration was probably over the one guy on the other side who kept taunting our team. :) Again, a lot of cruel, sadistic people at public parks. :)

Your suggestion of what to do is nice but not realistic. We team up almost randomly, at least I do, though there's plenty of people who cherry pick. We don't know people well enough to get indepth over strategies.
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
LOL on Saturday we played doubles at 1 pm in the sun and the opposing team was going to my partner all the time. It sometimes make you complacent and then you miss the next one that comes your way.
I think we’ve all been in both situations. I’ve certainly been the target plenty of times.
 

user92626

Legend
Super LIKE!

Being good at doubles also means being a good partner. That includes doing your best to help your partner do the best they can with the skills they have. It also means believing there is a way to win and you just have to find it. I've won some doubles matches as the weaker team just by constantly boosting my partner and making sure they had a plan to execute on every serve and every return.
You missed the part where he advocates to accept the probability you'll lose". Completely opposite of what you said.

But, there's more than two ways to this though. Sometimes I play just to warm up for later better games, or I play just try a couple things, or for exercise, disregarding win or lose.
 

Kevo

Legend
You missed the part where he advocates to accept the probability you'll lose". Completely opposite of what you said.
To me that's a given with any game you play as the weaker/less experienced player. Even an advanced player has to accept the possibility. It doesn't mean that you don't try your best and be a good sport. Been trying to teach that to my kid for almost a year now. I comfort him sometimes when he doesn't catch on to something fairly quickly that a lot of adults still haven't figured it out either. Just think how far ahead you'll be when you have this all figured out by second grade. :)
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Actually, the REAL measure of a strong doubles player is how he fares with a weak partner. A high-level doubles player will win points with his serve, poach aggressively, and cover ground to make up for his partner. To the other team, he will appear to be everywhere. I have played with such people, including a couple from this forum, and come away wondering how we won when I did almost nothing.
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
Do you go with your usual 135 mph serve or do you tone it down for doubles?
There’s rarely a reason to serve big in doubles. In most matches it’s pretty easy to serve to spots that get a weak reply your net man can put away.

What I’ll normally do is hit big on the first few serves. This usually gets my opponents to hold a continental grip and just prepare to block the return back. Then I switch to a slower serve, targeting the backhand generally. The slower pace gives them nothing to redirect. So the result is an easy put away for my net man. At worst what happens is they lob over him.

I tell my net guy to aggressively poach everything and I’ll back him up.
 
Nope, the majority of the rec players just need to move more and get the ball over the net. That's what it takes to have a good rec dub game.

Over the weekend I had the unfortune of teaming up with a weakest guy. This guy misjudged the intensity, the style of the match and the ebbs and flows of the game.

While his opponents played intensely and aiming to win (at one point even aiming squarely at his body), this guy (my partner) was joking around and overestimating his skill, eg instead of making a simple shot to have a big lead, he laughed and shank it in the net. After that we struggled to fight back but eventually lost! Idiot. :cry:o_O:)
I agree. 4.0+ Low passing shots matter but at the lowest level even in doubles "getting it over" is more important.

Most 3.5 and lower players just don't have the consistency to hit low passing shots without making a ton of net errors and thus it is better for them to hit a reasonably firm shot with 2-3 feet of net clearance because the opponents aren't great at volleys and positioning either.

Now if you play good 4.0 and especially 4.5 and above doubles that becomes different of course as they will handle the normal "singles rally ball" at the net and thus lower shots are needed. But for the majority of rec players this isn't a concern, they just need to hit the ball over the net with reasonable pace and depth.
 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
Latest issue of Inside Tennis has an article about doubles coaching by none other than Mark Knowles. He says doubles requires a different kind of short making, and low net clearance compared to what is taught in singles.

So, in other words. we are taught high net clearance when the opposite is what is required for what the majority of the rec players play (doubles).

Great.
Wow! What an insight!
 

graycrait

Hall of Fame
And if you actually used your expertise to help elevate your partner's game, there is even a possibility you could win.
98% of rec players I run into have little desire to teach/train/encourage. Most rec players have delusional egos with regards to tennis thinking a win against anyone is a check in their box, a step up in the eyes of their idols, etc. No telling how many times I have heard, "Why do you spend time practicing with so and so?" If we don't pay it forward how do we grow the sport in communities with a narrow enthusiast base? If I don't spend time with the youngsters who will I hit with when all my peers are dead or infirm? As it is I am fortunate to have teens, 20-30 somethings who were in junior development call me up for occasional hits even though I passed 60 some years ago. It is often more fun to hit with smack talking fast moving hard hitting "youngsters" than smack talking slow moving bunting seniors:) If I am not laughing I am not playing. This is a kids game, most folks could stand to enjoy "playing" more regardless of age/skill/ego. When I "play" tennis with a lower level player I work on being a better role model, try to encourage any success and tamp down negativity.
 

user92626

Legend
Most rec players cannot even carry themselves the way they want, let alone teaching others. However, all in all I find that MORE people are eager to teach, share with others than people wanting to learn.

You don't hear people complain about lack of advises, tips. You often hear people b!tch about getting unsolicited advises. Haha.

Tips and instructions in rec level are abundant. Only shortage is people's desire to learn. Rec players are lazy. Like graycrait said above, they just want to play and laugh.
 

tonylg

Semi-Pro
As a modern singles power baseline player, that is very difficult for me to accept. I always think of most doubles play as not being suitable for "real men." That is a mental barrier for me because I think doubles is for old farts or failed singles pros, and it is holding me back against the shameless doubles players out there.
I played against a couple of young guys like that last night. One of them got hit three times

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
 

chetrbox

Rookie
98% of rec players I run into have little desire to teach/train/encourage. Most rec players have delusional egos with regards to tennis thinking a win against anyone is a check in their box, a step up in the eyes of their idols, etc. No telling how many times I have heard, "Why do you spend time practicing with so and so?" If we don't pay it forward how do we grow the sport in communities with a narrow enthusiast base? If I don't spend time with the youngsters who will I hit with when all my peers are dead or infirm? As it is I am fortunate to have teens, 20-30 somethings who were in junior development call me up for occasional hits even though I passed 60 some years ago. It is often more fun to hit with smack talking fast moving hard hitting "youngsters" than smack talking slow moving bunting seniors:) If I am not laughing I am not playing. This is a kids game, most folks could stand to enjoy "playing" more regardless of age/skill/ego. When I "play" tennis with a lower level player I work on being a better role model, try to encourage any success and tamp down negativity.
Interesting. I've never considered 'paying it forward'. Last week the second of the first two people who hit with me when I bought a $20 racket and went to the courts 10 years ago died. Without them, I'd probably have given up on the sport within the first few months. Thanks for highlighting this. Henceforth, I will make it a point to hit with beginners on occasion.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
98% of rec players I run into have little desire to teach/train/encourage. Most rec players have delusional egos with regards to tennis thinking a win against anyone is a check in their box, a step up in the eyes of their idols, etc. No telling how many times I have heard, "Why do you spend time practicing with so and so?" If we don't pay it forward how do we grow the sport in communities with a narrow enthusiast base? If I don't spend time with the youngsters who will I hit with when all my peers are dead or infirm? As it is I am fortunate to have teens, 20-30 somethings who were in junior development call me up for occasional hits even though I passed 60 some years ago. It is often more fun to hit with smack talking fast moving hard hitting "youngsters" than smack talking slow moving bunting seniors:) If I am not laughing I am not playing. This is a kids game, most folks could stand to enjoy "playing" more regardless of age/skill/ego. When I "play" tennis with a lower level player I work on being a better role model, try to encourage any success and tamp down negativity.
Good point. I remember everyone who spent time practicing with me. Now when i play with younger or just starting out players, i try to tell them as much of the " i wish i have done this.." as i can. Given they want to hear it. :)
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
:)(y)


Your suggestions on how the stronger player could mentally handle playing with a weak link are great. However, I'd like to clarify that the "probability you'll lose", does not mean "definitely you'll lose". If you go out onto the court with nothing to lose, you will play better than if you were frustrated and disappointed. And if you actually used your expertise to help elevate your partner's game, there is even a possibility you could win.

And btw... I'm a "she", not a "he" :)
So @Tennis Life Magazine what is your connection with the magazine?
 

user92626

Legend
Actually, the REAL measure of a strong doubles player is how he fares with a weak partner. A high-level doubles player will win points with his serve, poach aggressively, and cover ground to make up for his partner. To the other team, he will appear to be everywhere. I have played with such people, including a couple from this forum, and come away wondering how we won when I did almost nothing.
Maybe.

Or maybe he's also a real duecebag who wants to hog everything, win at all cost. Is that how rec games should be conducted?



I've been in so many dubs with weak partners that we'd lose easily if playing together BUT if the partners left the court for me for play 1 vs 2 (even with the same dubs court vs dub court) I'd beat the same opponent teams handily. My opponents also know this.
 
Top