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Improving placement sense in doubles
We play doubles every day generally. Sometimes the other players come late or do not turn up at all with the result that I either practice with a ballboy or the marker. Though my shots are good(I hit a proper top spin double handed backhand), my placement sense is poor. I am slowing down my shots to improve placement and consistency.
Somebody advised to play crosscourt singles(with serve)to improve my placement in doubles. Can someone suggest something else to improve placement sense in doubles or are there speical drills for this purpose. ? The best thing seems to be to play as many doubles sets as possible but if there is something else one can do to improve when playing sets is not possible, please let me know.
Serves you go where you get a slower return generally.
Volleys safest LOW up the middle, but CC'd, so if netman poaches, you hit to his feet.
Return of serve sharp short CC's, with one in 5 DTL hard and low to keep the netman honest.
Overheads generally up the middle until they crowd the middle.
Poach's generally low and between the opposition. Always hit it deeper than the service line, better 3' from the baseline, but low.
Angle is more important than depth in doubles.
Lob DTL once in a while to keep netman honest, but to test their footskills.
Good stuff here. Doubles can be sooo much fun!
Originally Posted by LeeD
In order to really make strides in your game, you will need to do specific hitting drills. The repetition will imbed itself in your mind and you will be able to be more automatic with your strokes. I recommend you not put yourself in competitive situations while you do this because you will not be able to concentrate fully on developing your strokes. Have a teaching pro or friend feed you balls and play the ball crosscourt and low down the middle. You will need to hit a lot of balls and use good form when doing this. Once you start feeling good about what you are doing, start playing live consistency drills with a playing partner. What I would do with doubles is you hit ten balls back and forth crosscourt and after ball #10 play the point out. Try to do the same with twenty balls. Another one that I used to do is to play the same drill, but on ball #11 (or your ball of choice) attack down the line. Obviously that ends the drill, but you need to practice attacking down the line as well to keep your opponent honest. It keeps them from sliding over into the crosscourt lane and going after your shots. Hitting lots and lots of balls is really the only way.
Originally Posted by Hiren
Thanks, everybody. This is useful advice. I was wondering whether there are other complex drills. LeeD has suggested one DTL after five crosscourts. It could also be a DTL lob. I understand that thereffter, it would depend upon where the opposition is standing and where the ball comes to you but if there are any complex thinkng patterns like in chess where some players think several moves in advance, do let me know.
In the crosscourt drill, apart from the low crosscourt which is a gerneral rule in doubles, one could hit an angular shot if the ball is shot or a deep shot sometimes. What I mean is that even in the crosscourt shots one can hit different angles like deep on the opponent's backhand. Any drills on that?
Thanks once again.
Last edited by Hiren; 12-06-2009 at 08:30 AM.
Avoiding netman is a consideration.
When pulled wide, best alternatives are sharp angled CC's, CC lobs, or DTL lobs if they clear the netman. You can go straight to the netman's backhand volley, if you can hit it fast.
The one in five DTL is a preset pattern, like advance moves in chess.
Also, as in any tennis, you serve to your opponent's slower return if you're S/V'ing. If you stay back, you can afford to serve to his stronger, faster, return, hoping for some mistakes for free points.
Netman is always looking to get involved, so your plan has to include him.
CC, you need the regular drive deep into the doubles alley as the normal target. Then service line deep sharp angled CC's plus drop CC's for opponent's who like to baseline bash.
The best thing is to get out there with a partner and hit lots of balls crosscourt, even if the ball is out, run it down and hit it. Don't worry about playing points at first, just hit lots of balls so you can get the feel. Another thing is do not always choose a certain number ball to hit down the line. If you do, you will start looking to end the point by the fifth ball (or whatever number) and you may not be able to do so. If the rally goes longer than that, you begin worrying and pressing and, inevitably, making mistakes trying to go for too much when you can't. The best one is to put tape down about 6-8 feet inside of the baseline and if the ball lands between the tape and the net, attack it. Your choice of where you want it to go. Tape or rope or whatever goes all the way across the court. I recommend the tape as it won't make the ball have a bad bounce if it hits it and you won't trip over it. Eventually move the tape out of the way and play the points as you see fit. Another is to play tons of doubles with people who do show up on time and want to work on their games and not just play competitive tennis. It's hard to work on things when your main task is to beat the other team.
Originally Posted by Hiren
Thanks again. I would like to clarify this:-
"The best one is to put tape down about 6-8 feet inside of the baseline and if the ball lands between the tape and the net, attack it. " I am not certain I understand this. This would obviously imply my base line. Is it 6-8 feet or something else? While we are at it, How does one return deep shots- I suppose there is no alternative but to lob. Basically, I enjoy the basic shots of Tennis (forehand and backhand) the most and I like to do as much rallying as possible though from winning point of view, both players being at the net is what is advised apart from lobs or whtever maybe the situational shot. I am trying to combine enjoyment with placement in rallying crosscourt to the extent possible. Unfortunately, we cannot play singles much as we have only two courts.
LeeD, You have very good thumb rules. Can you please explain this:-
"Also, as in any tennis, you serve to your opponent's slower return if you're S/V'ing. If you stay back, you can afford to serve to his stronger, faster, return, hoping for some mistakes for free points."
Serving to slower return would imply serving on his backhand if that is weak? Is that what you mean? When one stays back and gives a faster return, does it not give more opportunity to opposition's netman to poach even if it is a low return?
The purpose of serving on S/V to the slower return side is to allow yourself a chance to hit a deep penetrating volley. If you serve to the hard hitting side, you will face HIS winner occasionally, and you will face a tough ball that you might miss, or hit a short setup for the other team.
It's not always the backhand side that returns slower. Most tournament players have a more consistent backhand, but some can hit faster balls with return of serve on the backhand side..ie.. two handers. You probe this during warmups, talk to your partner too.
Remember, you cannot possibly volley deep and penetrating, 10 out of 10. So account for your miss, their miss, and try to limit their winners.
If you stay back, you want to serve to their harder shots more often, as you have time to return it. You don't ever want to groove them on your serve placements.
Opponent's who really pound their forehand returns, or backhands, you have to mix up your spin and placements, bounce and depth, to keep them off guard. Twists, tops, kickers, slices can be used for first and second serves. Throw in the occasional into the body shots on important points, and you have the variety to keep the returner off balance.
Thanks a lot LeeD. I was just wondering that this suggestion of playing five crosscourt short before a DTL shot applies to backhand also. If you are practicing backhand crosscourt maybe a three shot before a DTL would be a better combination because when the ball comes to the backhand, the opponent net player gets ambitious and is proactive in poaching.
I got to play singles after a long time and tried to focus more on placements rather than hitting hard. Are there any touch tennis drills for doubles?
Embrace the concept that netman poaches when you have to hit a backhand!
You can.... slice lob CC OVER the netman's head.
You can.... slice lob DTL OVER the netman's head.
You can.... short angle CC
You can.... slice or flat one DTL to see if the netman can recover from a poach attempt.
And most fun, if you have a hard fast mover backhand, is play the ball just center side of netman's body, hard and hip high, knowing his first volley should be aimed up the middle for more of your choices.
Yes, the tape or rope or whatever you place on the court is let's say 8 feet inside of your baseline. Many use the service line as a reference, but in doubles, you need to be moving in on anything that is remotely short if you are not already serving and volleying or chipping and charging. Getting to the net in doubles is important, and the transition to the net needs to be practiced as much as possible. Use the service line as your reference point if you don't like the idea of the tape and attack anything that lands inside of it. As for deep shots, either A) take them on the rise or B)already be moving in and volley them. Backing up and trying to rally in doubles is not recommended. Your shots will get poached and you will lose confidence. Defend the baseline and move in and apply pressure as early as possible.
Originally Posted by Hiren
When you say "And most fun, if you have a hard fast mover backhand, is play the ball just center side of netman's body, hard and hip high, knowing his first volley should be aimed up the middle for more of your choices"
This would imply at the body I suppose. I normally try to aim at his backhand. At the body as you suggested would make the backhand volley more difficult I suppose.
Tennisking1 has suggested very correctly for the deep shots. Our senior players advise playing top spin from the baseline when the need arises. When you play topspin, your shot becomes vulnerable for poaching as it tends to stay high. I find it easier to hit a low top spin when the ball is short(one can hit an angular shot in the sideline gallery as well). The point is that rallies are enjoyable and how to combine enjoyment with winning. Can you please suggest something about hitting low topspin from the baseline. Thanks.
Last edited by Hiren; 12-16-2009 at 03:55 AM.
Seems to me, to hit low level topspin from the baseline, you have two options.
Use the one that works for you from practice and matches.
You can slow your stroke down, so the depth is less, the spin is less, and the ball goes lower.
OR, you can increase swing speed, but add only more spin, not drive, so the ball dips harder and more quickly, so the netman doesn't get a high shot to poach.
Problem with the second one is that you might mishit more, so the netman gets the high ball sitter.....
There is no certain way to tell you to hit the low topspin. You have to keep your swing speed up or you will end up guiding the ball. Guiding the ball will make you not finish your swing and then you begin second guessing yourself. Stand in there and hit the ball with some authority. I hit very heavy topspin off of both sides (one handed backhand as well) and I never have an issue with someone poaching unless I stand back and don't hit my shot with authority. If you look like you are hitting the ball with confidence, the netman will notice that and be less likely to try and pick off your shots. However, if you sit there and let the ball come to you and not hit your shots with some purpose and pace, they will pick up on this as well and probably start looking to pick off your shots. I used to start a doubles match out when I was playing on tour with a few hard hit shots at the net player and I would add some lobs in there to keep them guessing. That usually kept the crosscourt lane open for a bit. Usually, going for a few down the line shots early will keep your opponent at net from getting too aggressive and moving into the crosscourt lane. Hit those shots every once in awhile to keep your opponents guessing. As for the topspin, just practice hitting solid topspin shots. As you get better, you will be able to vary the pace and spin, but right now, it sounds like you need to have one solid, consistent topspin stroke that you can rely on. Practice being agressive with it, but keep your body under control. Pace is no good if there is no accuracy to it.