Please help - doubles partner

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by galain, Feb 26, 2004.

  1. galain

    galain Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    Hi all

    Once upon a time I used to be a reasonably skilled singles player. Never played a lot of doubles because I was too focussed on my singles game.

    Now that I'm a recreational hack, i find myself playing a lot more doubles and I'm having fun. So are my knees which don't have to carry me as far as they do when I play singles.

    I joined a doubles comp last year and my doubles partner is easily one of the best players I have been on court with. So far, we're undefeated. While he is a very good player, he is also a VERY competitive player. And bossy. Me - I'm happy go lucky. If I'm hitting the ball well, I'm happy, win or lose. My partner does not have lose in his vocabulary.

    The past two rounds we have wound up fighting (discussing heatedly?) in the middle of a match. For every mistake I make, for every shot I miss, there's a coaching lesson being yelled at me from behind. Last season I ignored it and got on with it, but it's really starting to bug me. What's worse, he's so loud that the opposition just listen and then play to whatever weakness he's just identified. I tried telling him last night that the more he tells me what I'm doing badly, the more likely I am to worry about things instead of hitting out. I don't want to be "thinking" and worrying about whether I'm doing the right thing.

    But he won't listen. I go to speak and he tells me not to interrupt. He finishes the lecture and then wanders back to his part of the court.

    I'm committed to the team for the rest of the season and the other guys are great fun to play with. But what do I do about my main partner? We can't swap because we're both too good to play number 3/4. I'm not a confrontational person, but I swear, if I hear this voice behind me yell "Watch the T" one more time I'm going to lose the plot.

    Can anyone offer some advice?[/u][/b]
  2. kreative

    kreative Professional

    Feb 18, 2004
    man, that sux. if i were you, i'd ask to mix up partners w/ next doubles team, play each other, and see who plays at doubles #1. only caveat is, perhaps the other 2 wouldn't want to play w/ him either :shock:

    i believe that doubles, especially competitive doubles is all about chemistry. it's much more enjoyable that way and you can encourage each other. you'll feel more confident also. some people are amazing players, yet in doubles will lose to those w/ better teamwork. that's what it's all about.
  3. @wright

    @wright Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    I would just confront him in a non-confrontational way, and tell him that he is messing up your concentration with the lectures and that it is actually making you play worse in the matches. Tell him if he has tips for you to tell you in practice so you won't have to think so much in the match. If all else fails, tell him you really are not enjoying playing due to this and tell him you're thinking about quitting, that should open his eyes to what he is doing. Make sure you stroke his ego a little while you're doing this, so he knows you respect his knowledge, that way he'll feel like he's in control of the situation. I'm no therapist or tennis instructor, but that's what I'd do. Good luck.
  4. galain

    galain Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    @wright - here's a rundown of what happened last night

    Him - "Man, you gotta be more ready than that. You're not moving your feet! And watch the damn T. I keep telling you - 'Watch the T'. You should have gone behind the other guy with volley....blah blah blah....

    Me - Yes, oookay. Sorry about that. Just relax! Lets have some fun. These guys are fun!

    we play a couple of points

    Him - (aggressive and fed up) - you keep missing that volley because you're not getting your feet in position. That's the third time this set you've missed a put away. And stop turning your racquet when you hit an overhead - that's why you keep missing your smashes.

    Me - hey - I keep missing my smashes because all I can think about is you breathing down my neck and hearing you yelling at me to get into position. If you keep telling me what I'm doing wrong, what do you think I'm going to focus on? I can tell you now I'm not going to be focussing on what I'm doing well!

    Him - super bossy and pi$$ed off now - Don't give me that attitude! Seriously - if you're going to drop your head like that you might as well not play. It's not worth it.

    Me - (also getting pi$$ed off) - So...what? You want me to default us? Shall we do that now?

    Him - I don't get you man. I'm just all I'm doing. Jeez - if your partner can't give you some advice...sheesh! (walks away...)

    While all this is going on, the opponents are watching and going "Hmm - okay - hit to the T, throw up a few lobs...."

    It's like the freaking Jerry Springer show.
  5. Cypo

    Cypo Rookie

    Feb 11, 2004
    Hi Galain,

    First let me say from that snippet, I'd take you as a doubles partner any day.

    Since this guy is obsessed with winning, I wonder if he misinterprets your "relax and have fun" as less than 100 % commitment on you part. If you're like me, you can get too wound up and the 'relax and fun' attitude is necessary to play 100 %. I doubt though that you'll ever get him to understand this, so my suggestion would be to keep it to yourself and give him the signals that you're giving 100 % in ways he understands it.

    I also play mixed with a similar character, and to be honest, he's not my first choice in partners. But our playing styles match well and that team only plays together for one match a year. More than that, I don't think I could take.
  6. peter

    peter Professional

    Feb 20, 2004
    Linköping, Sweden
    You should have answered him something along the line:

    > Correct. You can't give me advice while in a competitive match.
    > If you have something to say - do it afterwards. You're giving away
    > important information to the opponents.

    I probably wouldn't have been able to keep calm though and would
    probably have told him to shut the f-k up - or perhaps turned around and
    hit one of the smashes right at him. Not the right thing to do but...

    I had a similar experience (but not so severe) - I played a practice doubles
    match recently with three "oldtimers2 (I'm 36, they were 45-65). My partner
    (around 65) kept commenting on my strokes *all* the time. Ok, I'm not
    that good, but it gets really irritating when they treat you like you're a small
    kid... Especially as he wasn't any better (rather the opposite).

    No big deal that time though, since it just was a practice match - and any
    hints he might have given the opponents (so that they would try to take
    advantage of against me) was just giving me more practice of things
    I wasn't as good at - something I love. It only makes me better :)

    - Peter
  7. ma2t

    ma2t Rookie

    Feb 20, 2004
    My only suggestion is to tell your partner something like this:
    "I have heard that it's much better to put on a calm unemotional face (ala Borg, Sampras, Chang, and many others) during the match no matter what WE are thinking. That way, OUR opponents won't know when they have the momentum. The way WE play now gives away when WE feel like WE are not playing our best."
  8. Hyperstate

    Hyperstate Rookie

    Feb 19, 2004
    Sounds like the doubles partner from hell! Yikes!

    And yes, instead of encouragement like, good try or whatever, he's definitely bossing you around, fueled by his competitive streak. If you don't think he's gonna change, and you're sure not gonna enjoy playing tennis, move on when all else fails.
  9. Stinkdyr

    Stinkdyr Professional

    Feb 20, 2004
    seriously, dump him. you won't be able to re-trix that ole dog. :roll:
  10. lendl lives

    lendl lives Semi-Pro

    Feb 23, 2004

    everyone has to deal with this at some time. i know some people like this (they haven't directed it toward me though) its actually helped me a little becuase hating to loose has helped me play hadder. Still if you feel like he's being abusive you can do the following: 1)communicate how you feel to him in civil way -ma2t has a good suggestion 2)improve you game to a point were he would feel awkward giving you advice ....the latter is my favorite
  11. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    All of your comments are very very good. Good doubles players UNDERSTAND each other and PUT UP with each other. They can jump on each others butts, but in a way that is productive for the team.

    I am going to take this a different way.

    It sounds like to me that BOTH of you have a singles playing mentality playing doubles. I do my thing and you do yours.

    If your partner is not playing his best or is distracted by your "relaxed" play then you are not helping him/her be his/her best. This is also vice versa, if he/she is thinking I should be here and YOU should be there, and your not, then gets on you harshly, then he/she will not allow you to be your best.

    Believe it or not, this is fixable. I did get some laughter out of your post though I must admit, as I have played with the exact same type of player and still do when we round robin.

    You won't change his competitiveness and it will be hard to change your "relaxed" approach as well. However, if your relaxed apporach is causing your brain to be not as focused and as a result out of position, then that is a different issue all together.

    But as you may see these as weaknesses, I see them as strengths. Below, I may say some things that may offend you. I dont mean them as offensive but as a challenge to you as you have pointed he might be the better player in doubles.

    Who is the Captain or Leader? This does nto mean the Captain can pick apart your game in the middle of a match - but it does mean his approach to the game is making him more keen and maybe more focused in sensing when things are going right.

    If you have not played doubles then you must surrender your "views" of the game of doubles to him and listen to what he is saying. If he thinks your out of position, well that is the game of doubles. Balls up the middle are KEY! I always have said that the game of doubles is not played side to side as singles but UP, DOWN, and THROUGH the middle. You must protect the middle and if it is you that needs to - do it!

    Do you really understand the game of doubles? If I asked you a question - if the ball is hit crosscourt do you know who has the middle? We can get into advanced doubles stuff but for now this is basic to doubles. So I like to boil it down to simple things - WHO HAS THE MIDDLE WHEN THE BALL LANDS ON YOUR OPPONENTS COURT DIAGONAL FROM YOU? You do. Where are you when this happens? Is the middle to you a foot from the center of the service box? Two feet? On the line? Where is your partner? Are you late picking up balls that should be yours? Are you aggresive at the net?

    The other thing I got from this is - he/she doesn't respect your game in doubles. So take it as a challenge. I would suggest getting the book the Art of Doubles. Learning a little about doubles positioning. It is very easy reading, and can be used at all levels of play. It is simple and can be practiced. Later as you get better and find your ultimate partner, I can suggest a video to help you doubles game evolve more.

    Maybe it is not your strokes he is so upset about but your court positioning. Learn from it, ask him why does he get so upset during a match when your trying to play - you might learn soemthing from it. You might not work out but at least you can see certain tendencies you might have that should improve.
  12. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

    Feb 20, 2004
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Tell him to shut the [bleep] up. That is what I would do and then find another partner if he doesn't. You need to communicate with each other but if you aren't learning from all his wisdom, then he needs to shut up and just let you play your own style win or lose.
  13. tennisplayer

    tennisplayer Rookie

    Feb 18, 2004
    Good post, Bungalo Bill. When I was at the Siebel tournament, I was sitting next to a tennis instructor from a local school. I learned a new term from her - "dingles" - which is a game where each member of a doubles team plays with singles mentality. :D
  14. ramside

    ramside Guest

    Being new to the game I can't offer any technical advice.

    However, that's not really the problem is it? You're doing great in your comp, you enjoy doubles play. It seems to me that you have the potential to be a very strong team, your partners experience at doubles could be a great asset to your progress at doubles.

    Peter's quote pointed to the key to fixing your problem. Your partner wants to be leader but his stroppy response to criticism shows he is lacking in this department. Yet, he is keen to direct you to improve your tactics. The answer must be to practice together, occasionally on opposite teams. Plan the elements you would like to develop as a team, by showing your willingness to improve (especially as your already a winning combo) you will have the opportunity to guide your partner as to how to get the best from your game. That is, keep off your case during matches, it's achieving nothing when you're trying to win.

    I think it's worth sticking with for a while, try to do most of your talking off court where you both can be more objective.
  15. galain

    galain Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    Thank you all for your wonderful comments (and the mental pats on the back).

    Just to touch on a few of your suggestions...

    It is entirely possible that my "relaxedness" is being interpreted as lack of committment. I never thought of that. However, I like to have a laugh. It is a very friendly comp (apart from one outrageous cheat who even I will try and drill at the net occasionally!) and I think - this is my night to wind down. It's Thursday night - tomorrow's the end of the week (yippee), it's a good mental start to letting the accumulated crap of the past week go.

    I'm a very instinctive player. The more I think, the less well I play. If I'm relaxed, I will ALWAYS hit better than if I'm mentally processing things. Thinking on court usually makes me lose focus. Hitting myself into the zone, which is easy enough to do when I'm having fun, increases focus for me dramatically.

    I am the number one player in the team. I was given this spot based on my singles play and what people saw me doing during a grading (when I was relaxed). Is there jealousy? I don't think so - number one in dubs doesn't mean that much because we all play together anyway. I've offered to swap (happily) but then that's seen as cheating by the other teams (because I'm a lot better than most of the number 2 players in the other teams). However, I am not the Captain. The Captain is our number 3 - a lovely but rather anaemic fellow who organised company sponsorship for us.

    Yes indeed Bungalow Bill - I am a singles player with little doubles experience. My partner - I'd be mad not to acknowledge their history and experience playing doubles. And I do try and listen. And I do try and execute to the best of my ability. My trouble is that I then start processing too much, instead of just letting my body hit the ball. When I "switch off" I've got the whole damn court covered without even thinking about it. Middle? Yep - I'm there. Alleys? Yep - got it. When I'm standing there going...

    "**** - where should I be now?" ....that's when the problems arise.

    I have tried speaking off court about this with my partner, but he's the sort of person who is a very high achiever in his professional life, the sort of person who rarely apologizes or admits to being wrong (probably because he is rarely wrong), the sort of person who won't try things he thinks he won't be good at, because he wont be good at them! He just cant accept the fact that his good advice (and it is) and good intentions (and they are, I think), can be contributing to my bad play. It's "my problem", not his, if I can't deal with it.

    I've played singles against him, no problems. He's too busy giving himself advice to bug me. We've played opposite each other in doubles with our other team-mates - and he's too busy instructing whoever he's partnered with. Winning is everything.

    The sad thing is I genuinely like him. I enjoy his company off court. We play in a high level comp and have a 20 something match winning streak, so there must be something right happening. I'll just keep emphasizing this, and keep trying to learn my way around a doubles court. I'm thinking of paying a local pro for an hour or so workout just to become more familiar with the angles I need to keep in mind.

    And I'll keep thinking about joining another comp at the end of the season.

    Thanks again everyone - I appreciate it.
  16. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    I know the type your talking about. On my off time I happened to touch on a personality profiling that is interesting. have you heard of Myers Briggs?

    If you havent I will try to dig up some research for you and others to try and understand what brain type they are and what doubles partner is "theoretically" fitting.

    Keep in mind that it isnt an exact science but it is deinfetly better then nothing at all. My guess is this person is a J and you are a P. I am a P. I get really irritated when J's get really tense about one thing and cant get past it. So I understand your frustration completely.
  17. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004

    I wasnt thinking you were lazy on strokes or positioning. It is just that some times a "happy go lucky" personality is very irritating to a "driver" like personality.

    I think the best thing you can do since you seem like your going to play more doubles is get that book and get some knowledge about how the game is played. You will improve just from reading the book.
  18. galain

    galain Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    Hey Bill

    Believe it or not, I used to teach the MBTI at college a few years ago. You're dead right - the INFP (me)on court with a fiesty ENTJ. Interesting huh?

    What's that expression?

    Oh yeah - "Physician, heal thyself!"

    Many thanks again.
  19. K!ck5w3rvE

    K!ck5w3rvE Hall of Fame

    Feb 19, 2004
    1,619're lucky. Someone i play with is very similar to what you have said, but mine is serious cheat. Dead set, i correct 1 in 5 of their calls. its crazy, then they get all worked up cause it was out and ........ you get the jist.
  20. joebedford

    joebedford Rookie

    Mar 27, 2004
    I know this doesn't help your situation, but I absolutely refuse to play tennis with anyone like this guy. Regardless of which side of the net he's on. Life is too short.

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