Real Doubles Strategy for Real Doubles Players: The Look
From day one on a tennis court,
players of all ages and skill level are prodded, cajoled, reminded, and
watch the ball or keep your eye on the ball.† Although this is good advice, up to a point, it can lead to a serious and
sometimes dangerous bad habit.† Being human, we are a very visual species; we like to see things; we need to see things.
This is obviously very useful on court.† So what is the problem?†
The problem is the length of time we spend watching the ball when our partner is the one hitting it.† Allow me to explain
in greater detail.
Two of the most common reasons
players give for watching their partner hit the ball are 1) So I know where they
hitting it and 2) so I can make a line call.† Both are understandable, wrong, but understandable.† You gain very little if
any information as to where your partnerís shot is going by watching them hit.† In fact you would get more information
as to where the ball is going to be hit by watching your opponents.† Whichever player that prepares to hit the ball first
is probably a good sign that that is where the next shot is going.† With regards to line calls, you are most likely not in any
better position to make a line call than your opponents.† The player hitting the ball is always in the best position to make
Are they always going to be able to make a correct call? No; however, the correctness of their call is irrelevant to them
being in the best position to actually make the call.† It boils down to this, how best can you help your team win points
and matches?† The answer is by being an active player and stop being a spectator.
Now itís time to be real.†
Are you going to stop watching your partner hit the ball? No.†
Like stated earlier, we are very
visual; even the proís watch their partners hit, incidentally, this doesnít make it right.† So then what can be done?† Well,
as a good doubles partner, we need to get proactive on court rather than being simply reactive.† So letís get proactive!†
We are going to keep watching our partners hit, yes?† Yes.† So working on the following two areas will make you more
proactive and give your team a better chance of winning.† The first area is time.† The second area is movement.† Letís
break these down now, yes?
Yes, time.† Again
the main problem with watching your partner hit a ball is that it takes time;
time that could be better
spent on getting yourself into a better position or protecting yourself.† Most doubles playersí head are positioned on a
swivel and they spend the entire match just turning their head, following the ball as it sails past them both ways.† This is
completely and totally wrong.† Ideally in a perfect tennis world, one would never look back at their partner.† Unfortunately
we do not live in a perfect tennis world, even the professionals turn and watch their partner hit.† So here is the real doubles
strategy to curtail this bad habit.† Only look long enough to see your partner start their swing towards the ball.† This gives
you plenty of time to see the ball bounce, so you can call it.† Now you will have more time to refocus on your opponents and gauge which one of them is about to pounce.† This ties in directly with the second component, movement.
It is a long standing tenet that if
you are stationary during a doubles match, you are dead.†
Plain and simple, if you are
standing still you are about as worrisome as warm summerís breeze.† Movement is the key to good doubles.† So even if
you get caught in the look you can still at the very least get into a proper position for the next shot.† The rule of thumb
here, whether or not you are hooked to the look, is at least one and a half steps in the direction of the ball.† For example,
you team is serving and you are at the net.† The return goes past you crosscourt; your move would be at least one and a
half steps diagonally back to where the ball would be in your back court.† Once your partner hits the return, hopefully
deep crosscourt, you would again follow the ball with at least one and a half steps.† Remember, movement is good.† You
are in the match to be a participant not a spectator.
Summarizing, the look is pervasive in
tennis and it not only makes players lazy it can also make them
bruised.† The look
takes precious time away from the looker and it leads to a lack of movement as well.† Both are ingredients to losing points,
getting hit with balls, and ultimately losing matches.
Shorten your look time limiting it to when the ball bounces up to right before your partner hits it and keep moving at least
one and a half steps in the same direction as the ball.† Simply adding these two keys to your doubles game will undoubtedly
lead to more success and less bandages for your body and ego.
Clint's new website address is:† http://itstennis.us†