Reaction time at Net (Doubles)

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by kenshireen, May 22, 2006.

  1. kenshireen

    kenshireen Professional

    Aug 25, 2004
    When I am at the net (partner is serving) I tend to freeze on returns. I know there are returns that I should cut off but I don't make the move.. I feel like my feet are stuck to the ground.

    I would really appreciate any instructions as to how I can react quicker. In general my reflexes are pretty good.

    Thanks, Ken
  2. DRtenniS1112

    DRtenniS1112 Semi-Pro

    Dec 29, 2005
    Keep them moving at all times. Do not do this in a way that it distracts your opponent but after you hear that serve hit or even slightly before start shifting your weight back and forth.
  3. tennis_nerd22

    tennis_nerd22 Hall of Fame

    Sep 7, 2005
    lol thats kinda weird cuz i have a problem of trying to intercept too many volleys :)
  4. simi

    simi Hall of Fame

    Feb 23, 2004
    One thing that helps me is to always assume the return shot will come to me, or be within my reach. That way, I'm always ready. If I go for a shot close to the middle, and realize that I can't make a clean hit, I'll just withdraw my racket and let my partner get it. (Don't forget to split-step. And, gotta play on the balls of your feet too. Being flat-footed will slow you down considerable.)
  5. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    Get this package


    You have to drill to get better at what you are talking about. The Micheal Chang drill is perfect to build up your reaction speed and quickness.

    Here is the link to buy:
  6. AngeloDS

    AngeloDS Hall of Fame

    Apr 1, 2005
    You really need to communicate to your partner as to what you're going to do (move, stay, fake etc.), get in a ready position and focus.

    Poaching is difficult because your partner needs to setup the serve to allow you to poach. Such as in the duece side serving to their backhand if they're right handed and to their forehand on the ad side to cut them off from producing the angle or forcing them to make the difficult angles.
  7. TennisParent

    TennisParent Rookie

    Dec 26, 2005
    Where are you positioned? I find that when I am too close to the net when my partner is serving, I feel like you have described. Try positioning yourself just in front of the service line and move forwrd when you anticipate a volley or hold your position in case they lob.
  8. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

    Feb 19, 2004
    Hey! OW is still out to lunch! By the way, you should get the video above. It is outstanding and covers where you should stand along with lots of drillz's. It also teaches a player how to move like the pro's move. ;)
  9. TennisParent

    TennisParent Rookie

    Dec 26, 2005
    I think you took his lunch, LOL. I think I will get that and TennisMastery as well.
  10. safin_protege

    safin_protege Semi-Pro

    May 8, 2005
    As mentioned, always split step before every point. Also, keep your racquet precisely in the center of your body and slightly higher than if you were at the baseline. If one isn't paying attention it is easy to let the racquet shift to ones left and down (assuming right-handedness) which would lead to a slower reaction time.
  11. cjm2k8

    cjm2k8 New User

    Apr 28, 2006
    same here i always screw my parner up:rolleyes:
  12. vinouspleasure

    vinouspleasure Rookie

    Mar 6, 2004
    here`s what I do when my partner serve:
    - I position myself in the middle of box.
    - After the serve is struck, I make sure my position mirrors the receiver. If the serve is down the middle and the receiver moves to the middle, I move *forward* and toward the middle. Out wide is *forward* and towards the alley.
    - Don`t wait for the ball to land before determining which direction to move. Watch the returner movement. He`ll move before the ball lands.

    Alright, your partner served down the middle, you`re moving forward and towards the middle. At some point, you may have to decide whether to cross the net strap onto your partners side of the court. Key thoughts: has the ball been struck too hard or too low to handle. If the answer is yes, let the ball go through. If the answer is no, go for it! However, you must do more damage than your partner could have done.

    If you let the ball go by, your next move is back to the neutral position, to try to cut off a volley in case your partners return gets poached. Once the ball gets past the net person, its time to start mirroring and moving forward.
  13. qwerty66

    qwerty66 Semi-Pro

    May 18, 2006
    never stand FLAT FOOTED

    either always keep your feet moving

    or stand on our tippy toe
  14. BigbangerNYC

    BigbangerNYC Rookie

    May 6, 2005
    I agree with Vinous Pleasure, with some differing thoughts.

    But first, this:

    Believe it or not, it's much easier to "read" high-level players' returns than those of intermediate players (say 3.5-4.5) because the former always prepare the same way for every stroke they hit (with some exceptions of course), and hit with a high degree of accuracy. Conversely, intermediate players often intent to hit the ball in one direction and it ends up in another, thus, making it tougher to read. But in general, as a netter, the following is things you should keep in mind when compete in doubles (I might have some overlapping points here, but just bear with me) .....

    Fist and foremost: as a net player, you job is to:

    1. End each and every point (in your favor of course :)) as quickly as possible.

    2. To keep the opponents guessing and hence putting pressure on them.

    3. To minimize the burden of your partner having to catch the first volley (assuming he approaches the net after service --which he should), which is usually tough for him because the ball is either very low or fast.

    That said, now the fun stuff:

    A. always tell or ask your serving partner where he is going to serve (If he does not have this habit of telling you already) either by verbal or signal communication. I and the Brians Bros. use open hand for poach; index finger down for Fake and Stay; Closed hand (fist) for Stay; Pinky for service wide from deuce court, and for down-the-T serve from ad court. Middle finger (the birdie) :) for body serve in both ad and deuce courts; thumb for down the T on ad court, and pinky for wide.

    B. while waiting for the serve, be on your toes or do little bounces, keeping your racquet up and out in front of your body. Keep in mind, protect the allay on your side, but also be ready to pounce/poach.

    C. While doing B (above), keep your eyes on the returner.

    D. When you see the ball hit the service box, don't focus on the ball just yet (you will see where it's landing and going from the corner of your eye, trust me), but pay attention to the body preparation of the returner. If his stance is 45 degree --or thereabout-- in relation to the net post, chances are he will be hitting the forehand return cross court (which he should be doing most of the times). If it is more of a close stance, then down the line (to you!), his backhand returns will be the opposite.

    E. do not make a move until his stroke is on the downswing (or you will get burned because good players can change direction in midstroke).

    F. upon reading his return, depending on his body preparation and upon his downswing, you decide either to poach or not. If you decide to poach, do not poach laterally (as I have seen this wrong move too often). Rather, poach diagonally from the IVP (ideal Volleying Position --which is at the center of the service box in which you should stand).

    Other Rules to consider:

    If and when your partner decide to serve wide, protect your alley, but be prepare for floaters because when you hit at an angle, you also create angle for the opponent to hit back at you. The pros alnmost never poach on a wide serve, unless the return is a sitting duck. Use the wide serves now and then only to surprise the opponent.

    Almost always serve to the body or down the T (this will cut down the angle of the returns, making the poaching much easier and minizing the opponent's opportunity to hit sharp-angled returns that is well out of your reach and your partner has to catch after serving).

    Changing the direction of the ball is extremely difficult, especially those of heavy topspin and/or with lots of velocity (e.g. heavy balls, such as a one from a good and powerful server), so do not "HUG" the alley too much, every now and then your opponents will be able to sneak one by you (the netter), but that is such a very ratre occassion and at a very small percentage. And even if they can do so, it will not be too often, plus, they deserve that point. So don't worry too much about it and not taking a chance and poaching.

    If the ball comes at you (the netter) low, when possile, keep the volley low and down the line (as opposed to cross--again to rob your opponent(s) of the opportunity to volley an angled shot) when both opponents are also at the net so as to force the opponent to pop it up, giving you a second chance at putting it away. If the ball comes back high, think ANGLE (OVER POWER).

    When all players are playing net, both you and your partner must protect the middle more than the respective alleys. The percentage of most points won or lost in this situation --and around this said middle area-- is very high.

    You and your partner always want to position yourselves according to where the ball lands in your opponents' court. Be the vertex in relation to the ball and the width of your side of the court to rteduce court gaps. Rule of thumb is: Follow the ball!

    When out of position, don't be a magician. Just keep the volley nice and simple, preparing for the second chance. Don't overkill the ball when you are not in the right position to do so.

    It's late in NY, so there might be typos. If so, pardon me, but I am too tired to edit.

    My 2 cents......
  15. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

    Dec 11, 2005
    Great advice for doubles. You've obviously hit a couple of balls. :)

  16. travlerajm

    travlerajm Legend

    Mar 14, 2006
    Most 3.0 to 4.5 level players stand too close to the alley when their partners are serving. You need to remember that your job as the net person is not to guard the alley - rather, your job is to guard the middle.

    You should be standing halfway between the singles sideline and the centerline. This means that if your opponent hits a DTL return within 3 feet of the doubles sideline, you won't be able to reach it. The novice player thinks that this is a problem, but the advanced player knows that it's important to make the returner think he has a chance to hit a down-the-line winner.

    If you guard the alley, your opponent will never pass you down-the-line, but you are leaving them the easiest shot - the ball over the middle of the net. If you leave your opponent enough room to try the down-the-line return, he will try it. But when your opponent tries to go down the line on the return, it's a difficult low-percentage shot. The net is higher, the court is shorter, and it's hard to hit a 3-ft-wide target on a return of serve. The harder your partner serves, the harder it is to go down the line on the return. So that means that you should stand even closer to the middle if your partner has a good serve.

    Standing closer to the middle is called "cheating toward the middle". It means that you'll get passed down the line every once in a while. But for every time you get passed, your opponent will miss 3 or 4 times trying the low percentage shot. And more importantly, it will make it much more difficult for your opponent to get the ball by you with the cross court return. You'll find that when you "cheat toward the middle", it will be much easier to poach because you only need to take one step in most cases. Once you try it, you will rediscover your aggressive poaching instincts! In mixed doubles, poaching from this strategy sometimes is so easy it feels like cheating.
  17. BigbangerNYC

    BigbangerNYC Rookie

    May 6, 2005

    I totally concur with your statements. As an added note thereto:

    standing in the IVP position will also narrow down the gap b/w you and your serving partner, which forces your returning opponent to hit the return with more precision (if he wants to --what we call in doubles-- split the ball in the middle)
  18. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

    Jun 16, 2004
    Don't stand too close to the net, if you're playing 2 up (and I hope you are), you can't afford to get passed so give yourself enough room to react. Standing too close to the net can be deadly when you play 2 up (and I hope you do) in doubles.
  19. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

    Feb 20, 2004
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I am rather slow at net too and find that bending lower helps me to get a better start as well as rocking side to side and keeping on my toes. But keeping a low center of balance is probably the best thing for getting a quick start.
  20. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Jul 22, 2005
    For me it greatly helps to lower my center of gravity a little. When I get caught standing too far upright I am much slower to react. It also helps me a ton to not watch the ball bounce at all- just focus entirely on the strings of the opponent's racket. NO need to watch the ball bounce because you know that eventually the ball will end up on the strings. It just gives me so much more time to react when I focus that specifically.
  21. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Jun 2, 2006
    The Great NW
    You are obviously not signalling poaches at the current time. The advice to start signalling will work to get you moving, but by jumping into signalled poaches you will be responsible for all of the crosscourt returns, not just the easy ones. If your game is up for that great. However it would be the unusual person who goes from rarely poaching to successfully poaching great returns.

    I would advise staying with your spontaneous poach strategy, that way you can make the poaching move and back off and let it through if the ball is hit too well and still feast on the weak returns. Contrary to other posts, I would bet that the problem is not in your legs and feet but rather in your mindset. That first step is where you acknowledge to yourself that you are taking a chance and taking the responsibility for the point's outcome onto yourself. That is a big mental hurdle. But once crossed, you are all set to become the poacher you want to be, and should be.

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