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  1. #1
    Regular Member StefanDO's Avatar
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    Default Most crucial beginners' mistakes in doubles

    Hi!

    What do you think are the most crucial beginners' mistakes in doubles (and what to do against them)? I created a list from my observations, with the first points maybe easiest to practice, whereas the last ones maybe rather come by time and experience.

    1) Weak serve
    Problem: Either low serves are too high (allowing opponents to kill immediately) or hit the net or are short, or high serves are out or too low (again allowing opponents to kill immediately)
    Solution: Practice serving in this case, it is so important in doubles! Focus on backhand low serve, later practice backhand flick (high) serve.

    2) Weak return of serve
    Problem: Usually a clear, maybe not even to the backhand of the opponent who is closer to baseline, inviting for opponents' attack
    Solution: Practice low return of serve, for beginners preferably to the net corners or close to the outer lines around the midcourt area (creating hesitation on opponents' side as they are not sure who of them has to return the shuttle); also practice high return to the backhand side of the opponent covering the backcourt - in case the opponent can only return with a weak backhand, giving you the chance to attack or maybe even perform a netkill.

    3) Weak returns after return of serve
    (Main) Problem: Low returns to the midcourt and/or short clears, allowing opponents to smash from midcourt or return with a drive
    Solution: Practice both height and length of clears, and practice to get behind the shuttle early enough to hit it downwards (which is usually better than a clear).

    4) Weak creation of opportunities to attack
    Problem(s): Clears when smashes were possible, dropshots in wrong situations
    Solution: Smashes should generally be the first choice, even if a smash is weak, the shuttle at least goes downwards, forcing an opponent to lift it (and then you may get a chance for a better smash) - only go for an easier clear if you know your opponents' play from baseline is weak (like weak or no smashes or short clears). Regarding dropshots: Avoid them from backcourt when an opponent is close to the net (otherwise the return will be a netshot, forcing you to lift and allow your opponents to smash, or an opponent may even be able to perform a netkill). Better use dropshots from middle court (blocks in this case) or net area (netshots) when the opponent is in middle or back area of his/her court - forcing a lift from the opponent.

    5) Lack of variation, sense of where to guide the shuttle
    Problem(s): Getting involved in e.g. drive battles, returning the shuttle straight to opponents
    Solution: When involved in e.g. a drive battle, better suddenly guide the shuttle elsewhere or perform a block (the earlier the better) - otherwise especially beginners would rather lose that battle, and the partner is in "idle mode" for too long, making it difficult for him/her to be ready in case it's suddenly him/her who has to return the shuttle (if the opponent is the first to apply some variation). Also watch out for uncovered areas - resist the temptation to perform a (maybe even weak) smash at your opponents if e.g. one half of their court is totally uncovered - unless they are really quick on court and unless their return of smashes is really weak, you better hit the shuttle to the open area of your opponents' court.

    There are surely more points of importance, but I guess it may be good to focus on these 5 points first.

  2. #2
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    I would like to add 'court coverage coordination w/ their partners'. Should learn to cover the court 'TOGETHER' w/ their partners, not just concerned w/ their own shots/positions.

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    Basic positioning- even intermediate /advanced players sometimes can't tell you what defines attack/defence!

  4. #4
    Regular Member Timz :]'s Avatar
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    It bothers me when they lift and just stay at front court. Also when I smash at rearcourt and they expect me to get the block replies to the net. Crazy...

  5. #5
    Regular Member craigandy's Avatar
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    Yeah basic doubles is pretty easy in theory force a lift keep hitting it down, have somebody in front of you to finish off weak/short returns. The different ways that surround not achieving this or executing it sums up all the crucial mistakes made by beginners/intermediates

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    I would agree with the others that "court coverage and position" is the mistake. There is little skill involved in moving to a different position based on the last shot made. I can't fault the beginner on a mid court lift, I'm more pissed when I smash from the back and there is nobody in the front to cover the drop/weak return. After some brief discussion it should be almost automatic on where to go on the court after a shot.

    The 5 original points I would classify as less "mistakes" than shot selection and skill that we should all work on. My 2 cents.


    Quote Originally Posted by StefanDO View Post
    Hi!

    What do you think are the most crucial beginners' mistakes in doubles (and what to do against them)? I created a list from my observations, with the first points maybe easiest to practice, whereas the last ones maybe rather come by time and experience.

    1) Weak serve
    Problem: Either low serves are too high (allowing opponents to kill immediately) or hit the net or are short, or high serves are out or too low (again allowing opponents to kill immediately)
    Solution: Practice serving in this case, it is so important in doubles! Focus on backhand low serve, later practice backhand flick (high) serve.

    2) Weak return of serve
    Problem: Usually a clear, maybe not even to the backhand of the opponent who is closer to baseline, inviting for opponents' attack
    Solution: Practice low return of serve, for beginners preferably to the net corners or close to the outer lines around the midcourt area (creating hesitation on opponents' side as they are not sure who of them has to return the shuttle); also practice high return to the backhand side of the opponent covering the backcourt - in case the opponent can only return with a weak backhand, giving you the chance to attack or maybe even perform a netkill.

    3) Weak returns after return of serve
    (Main) Problem: Low returns to the midcourt and/or short clears, allowing opponents to smash from midcourt or return with a drive
    Solution: Practice both height and length of clears, and practice to get behind the shuttle early enough to hit it downwards (which is usually better than a clear).

    4) Weak creation of opportunities to attack
    Problem(s): Clears when smashes were possible, dropshots in wrong situations
    Solution: Smashes should generally be the first choice, even if a smash is weak, the shuttle at least goes downwards, forcing an opponent to lift it (and then you may get a chance for a better smash) - only go for an easier clear if you know your opponents' play from baseline is weak (like weak or no smashes or short clears). Regarding dropshots: Avoid them from backcourt when an opponent is close to the net (otherwise the return will be a netshot, forcing you to lift and allow your opponents to smash, or an opponent may even be able to perform a netkill). Better use dropshots from middle court (blocks in this case) or net area (netshots) when the opponent is in middle or back area of his/her court - forcing a lift from the opponent.

    5) Lack of variation, sense of where to guide the shuttle
    Problem(s): Getting involved in e.g. drive battles, returning the shuttle straight to opponents
    Solution: When involved in e.g. a drive battle, better suddenly guide the shuttle elsewhere or perform a block (the earlier the better) - otherwise especially beginners would rather lose that battle, and the partner is in "idle mode" for too long, making it difficult for him/her to be ready in case it's suddenly him/her who has to return the shuttle (if the opponent is the first to apply some variation). Also watch out for uncovered areas - resist the temptation to perform a (maybe even weak) smash at your opponents if e.g. one half of their court is totally uncovered - unless they are really quick on court and unless their return of smashes is really weak, you better hit the shuttle to the open area of your opponents' court.

    There are surely more points of importance, but I guess it may be good to focus on these 5 points first.

  7. #7
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    Most beginners and a good number of club intermediate players wait until the partner to hit before moving to the position. The player who is hitting the shuttle recovers based on the partner's old position. This situation creates holes that can easily be exploited by the opponents.

  8. #8
    Regular Member StefanDO's Avatar
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    Of course I agree that court coverage / coordination between players is so important in doubles. However, my initial motivation for this posting was to point out usual beginners' mistakes which (I believe) can be corrected within a very short time, especially when it's about serve and return of serve. When I see a beginner making such mistakes (and he/she is willing to change), it usually takes only about an hour or so to improve serving a *lot*. Return of serve takes a bit longer, as there is more variation in the strokes. Anyway, it pays off in a short time. With a weak serve / return of serve, the rallye often ends to your disadvantage only 1 or 2 strokes later. An experienced player can't do much about it when the opponents get an invitation for a smash from front or mid-court.

    Regarding court coverage and coordination, I find it important to explain this to beginners right away. However, I wouldn't expect them to improve a lot on this within short time - it pretty much comes with experience. Fortunately (as long as the beginner's strokes are not too bad / no invitation to smash), an experienced partner can compensate a bit if a beginner lacks coordination / court coverage.
    When I tell beginners about doubles basics, I always try to keep it simple. As already stated by Timz :], most beginners stay in front court after one of the players was forced to a clear. To avoid this, I tell beginners one thing: "If you feel fear, diagonally move backwards." Reason: Even if they don't know anything about court coverage, beginners may realize that opponents can smash a shuttle which is directed upwards, and this would lead to fear not to be able to return the shuttle. So the basic feeling of fear should be present in the right situations (maybe even without conscious knowledge), and if beginners diagonally move backwards then, i.e. to the backcourt of one side of the court, that's just what you want in the end. Once this works, you can go deeper into the matter of court coverage and coordination.

  9. #9
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    In general:
    Easily become spectators standing around within the court themselves. It is not uncommon to see them standing straight with racket down, watching the other 2 or 3 players rallying, instead of getting ready, knees bent, back crouching with racket up and in front, constantly adjusting their positions, hunting down shuttles.

    When their side is receiving serves, the receiver's partner is standing in the middle on the other side. From the outset they're ready to play side-by-side. Instead, the receiver's partner should stand much closer to the center line, and be ready to take on a front-back attacking formation, regardless of whether a low or a flick serve is played.

    The receiver partner is not ready to rotate to the front immediately when the receiver is flick served. This leaves a huge gap at the net. If the receiver smashes, all the opponent needs to do is to block to the front court in front of the smasher, and the receiving pair is already in deep trouble.

    Playing too many cross-court shots from the back.

    Play too many backhand when they practically have no backhands - resulting in direct mishit, or weak replies that can be exploited.

    Not exploiting opponent's weak replies, esp. those from habitual shots (e.g. tendency to play backhand.

    Playing too many side-by-side. It's also interesting to hear at the start of the game from time to time the question -" Do we play side-side, or front-back?"

    No idea of who the weaker/stronger opponent is.

    Rear player:
    Not returning to center after each shot, esp. drop shots - After hitting, they stay in the same spot, leaving the other side of the rear court an easy target. Instead, they should hop forward one step forward and toward the center line immediately after each shot.

    Standing too far (e.g. on the 1st back line) to the back when partner is serving, leaving a huge gap between him and his partner. This gap can be exploited by mid-court pushes. The rear court player can possibly stand 1-2 feet forward from their previous positions to narrow the gap. This might not be too deadly at this level, as opponents likely don't have the mid-court pushes.

    Front player:
    Standing too close to the net (e.g. at or just behind the service line), and stay there - this easily takes them completely out of the game, even though the speed of the rallies at this level couldn't be too fast. Instead, they should probably stand at least 1 foot (maybe even deeper, as opponents might not be able to play tight net shots) behind the service line, and learn to move forward/backward.

    Not following the shuttle -
    Always stay at the T/center, waiting for the shots to get to them. Opponents' replies just pass them left and right. Instead they should learn to anticipate the straight replies from opponents as percentage shots. Also, learn to use block to cut off cross-court flat drives.

    Too much back swing with their strokes -
    This easily leads to mis-timed shots, i.e. errors missing opponent's reply altogether, or hit long, hit into the net. They should learn to reduce the back swing, and use more compact wrist/finger based strokes to hit down.

    Playing too many net shots that are not of good qualities. They need to take the shuttle earlier and higher, and with racket perhaps more vertical to play more "neutral" net shots. At least, they should learn to control the shots to not let them pop up, and better still learn to hit the shot to mid court position.

  10. #10
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    I have to agree with court coverage. Every player I've played with (except for my ex-county friends) has either just stood there and relied on me to run around everywhere and get probably about 90+% of the shots. Occasionally, the partner will chase the shuttle rather than anticipate it, which leaves BIG gaps in our play and my reactions are good, but my defence isn't great so while they're recovering from chasing a one shot, I'm left in the middle trying to cover the court as best as I singly can before I get smashed at ;A;

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