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    Default front-back formation in level doubles

    hi i have a question that has been bothering me for some time. during mens doubles my partner is playing a attacking shot and i have always been coached to be standing on the T ready to attack/kill any net shot however a new coach is telling me that i should be standing 2/3 steps further back.

    so which is correct for a attacking situation

    a) standing on the T ready to attack anything at the net OR
    b) standing 2/3 steps back off the T

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    When the shuttle goes behind you and you are at the T, when your partner is about to play a (most likely) smash, you would take probably 2 steps back so that you have time to reach any fast blocks, you would then step forward again when the shuttle is back below tape height on your opponents side ready to kill any net replies.

    I think that is what your coach is telling you.

    Darren

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    Regular Member DinkAlot's Avatar
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    I have worked hard on the correct rotation and formation these past few months. Here are my recommendations:

    The answer you're looking for depends on a few things:

    1) First, where is the attack directed? Left, center or right side? If to the left, you need to be one to two steps to the left of the T. If center, at the T. If right, one to two steps to the right of the T.

    2) Now that we have the direction of the stance taken care of, the stance depth is dependent on a few things:

    ...a) How fast, how good is your reaction and net play?
    ...b) How good are your opponents at defending?
    ...c) How good is your partner's attack?

    If your partner is stronger than you, my recommendation would be you stay one-step in front of the T. Why? This way anything that's not directly in front of you, you let go by and let him take it. If you're stronger and he's weaker, then you should be at the T or 2/3rds back depending on the strength of the defenders.

    If your partner's attack is stronger than the opponents' defense, then I would tend to stay at the T or one step back because the return will be weak and you should be able to finish off the return. However, if the opponents have strong defense and your partner cannot finish easily, I suggest staying one-step in front of the T. This way, it will force the defenders to continue to lift to your partner. If you stay back more, they may try to cross-court or bait (fish) you with a short 1/2 court lift.

    If the above is confusing, as a general rule, this is what I do:

    1) Direction: take one step away from the T towards the direction of the attack. If center, of course, stay center.

    2) Depth: stay at the T and see how it goes. If you are having problems, move up. This way, you don't get in the way of your partner.

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    The correct position is (b) standing 2/3 steps back off the T.

    Quote Originally Posted by DinkAlot
    If your partner is stronger than you, my recommendation would be you stay one-step in front of the T. Why? This way anything that's not directly in front of you, you let go by and let him take it.

    .....if the opponents have strong defense and your partner cannot finish easily, I suggest staying one-step in front of the T. This way, it will force the defenders to continue to lift to your partner. If you stay back more, they may try to cross-court or bait (fish) you with a short 1/2 court lift.
    I don't think that is a good position.

    If you stand at the T, you are only able to reach shots that come straight at you. You are not covering the court well: you are leaving empty spaces that the opponents can exploit to regain the attack (crosscourt drive returns will be their weapon of choice).

    One step in front of the T is crazy You will be completely out of the game. I see the weakest ladies do this in mixed doubles, and it drives me nuts.

    Your coach is right. You should stand at least a metre back from the T. This is better for several reasons:
    • When your partner smashes, you can attack drive returns. If you stand at the T, a crosscourt drive return will pass you, forcing your partner to lift (losing the attack).
    • If your partner smashes, you can still cover the net returns. Returns to the net are slower, so you have more time to move. Drive returns are faster.
    • You can move forwards into the net returns, rather than sideways. You will take the shuttle more in front of you (better), rather than at the side of you (worse).
    • You have a wider view of the court; you can see better, so you can respond better.
    • If your partner plays a dropshot, you will see it earlier and move in to the correct side.
    • If your partner plays a clear, you can step back much quicker into a defensive position.
    • If your partner is in trouble in a rearcourt corner, you can cover the other rearcourt corner for him. If the opponents lift to that corner after he smashes, then you will go there to continue the attack.
    The T is a court marking that applies to service only. It is not a mark that tells you where the net player should stand!

    Your position as the net player is not static. When your partner goes back to the rearcourt, you should come back away from the T. When he plays a dropshot, you follow it in and threaten the net reply. If the opponents lift from the net, you come back out again. Sometimes you even need to cover all three corners for your partner (he only covers his current rearcourt corner)!

    You may worry about the net returns to your partner's smashes. But remember: the closer the return is to the net, the slower it has to be. The crosscourt return might seem particularly troublesome, but it's easy if you are mentally ready for it. The crosscourt net return is the slowest to pass the net, so you have time to step in and attack it.

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    Regular Member DinkAlot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum
    (b) standing 2/3 steps back off the T is the correct position.
    Sorry have to disagree in general, unless I'm the stronger/faster player which usually isn't the case when playing an advanced match. If the return is past the T, my partner has a half court smash, why should I even bother fishing or driving and/or dropping the shuttle back?

    I think this is very dependent on the competition. If I play against "C" level or lower players, I may stay back more (1-2 steps behind the T).

    Like you said, the whole idea of standing up closer up is so that your partner can take the shot.

    Mike: I figure your recommendations are based on players of similar levels. Mine are not, in general; or one side or person being (markedly) stronger than the other.

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    Olle: regardless of what anyone has said here, best if you try yourself and see what works. I guess, listen to your new coach first and see how it goes and adjust accordingly.

    For me, during advanced matches, I used to stay back (2-3 steps behind the T) and my partner and I faired OK but since I'm taller, I would sometimes take his shot. Then my partner suggested I stand at the T and we played far better and have been doing much better ever since. So much so, many other teams who used to want to play us, don't bother anymore because they know they can't beat us.

    It's all relative.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DinkAlot
    If the return is past the T, my partner has a half court smash, why should I even bother fishing or driving and/or dropping the shuttle back?
    Not if the return is a drive. Say your partner is in your left rearcourt and smashes straight. You are standing at or in front of the T.

    I know what return I would choose I would choose a crosscourt drive to your right midcourt (not a lift). It is impossible for your partner to smash a drive. It's too flat to smash.

    He will also have to cover a long diagonal from the left rearcourt to the right midcourt, by which time the shuttle will have dropped well below net height. I regain the attack in one shot

    On the other hand, if you are standing farther back then you have a good chance of intercepting my crosscourt drive. This puts much more pressure on me because I now have no easy places to put the shuttle. Everywhere is covered.

    Like you said, the whole idea of standing up closer up is so that your partner can take the shot.
    Er, I never said that

    If your partner gets a half-court lift, then you simply step out the way (to the side) and allow him to come forwards. You then rotate around to become the rearcourt player. This way, he can commit fully to his attack and follow up for the kill.

    Mike: I figure your recommendations are based on players of similar levels. Mine are not, in general; or one side or person being (markedly) stronger than the other.
    No, my recommendations are based on a logical way to cover your opponents replies, especially to the smash. For example, when I play mixed doubles, I am markedly stronger than the lady. Yet I much prefer to play with a lady who comes back from the T, because she protects me against drive returns to my smashes. Ladies who stand on the T are annoying as hell, because every time I smash my opponents drive it crosscourt and I have to lift (or even just lose immediately).

    The only circumstance in which standing at the T is okay is if your opponents can't play a drive return off your partner's smash.

    You must cover the drive return. The only way to cover it is to step back.
    Last edited by Gollum; 10-07-2006 at 07:56 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DinkAlot
    For me, during advanced matches, I used to stay back (2-3 steps behind the T) and my partner and I faired OK but since I'm taller, I would sometimes take his shot.
    That's because you haven't yet learned an important type of doubles rotation. You get stuck too far forwards because you are afraid of interfering with your partner's follow-up smash to a half-court lift.

    I guess that you often end up crouching at the net. That means that you are completely out of the rally, and might even get in your partner's way.

    Stepping forwards is not a good idea, because it creates a space at the back of the court (now that your partner has come forwards). Instead, you start in the middle, but step to the side as soon as you see the lift is half-court. You get out the way of your partner, who comes forwards to play the smash and thereafter takes the net role. You rotate around the back of your partner as he smashes from the midcourt, so that you now have the rearcourt role.

    If you have a regular partner then you are in the ideal situation to learn good doubles rotation. It's much harder when you keep playing with different people.
    Last edited by Gollum; 10-07-2006 at 08:05 AM.

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    Update: I just realized, I normally stand at or one step behind the T. The T is the closest I get to the net, not one step in front, sorry about that.

    Mike: you do what you feel is best (and I'm sure has been working), and I'll do what I feel is best (and has been working).

    If in the future my game stays stagnant or starts to deteriorate, I'll take your suggestions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum
    I guess that you often end up crouching at the net. That means that you are completely out of the rally, and might even get in your partner's way.
    No, this never happens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DinkAlot
    Update: I just realized, I normally stand at or one step behind the T. The T is the closest I get to the net, not one step in front, sorry about that.
    Well, that's quite a big difference. One step back from the T is a very good position; one step forwards is a terrible position.

    Mike: you do what you feel is best (and I'm sure has been working), and I'll do what I feel is best (and has been working).

    If in the future my game stays stagnant or starts to deteriorate, I'll take your suggestions.
    Of course; there are no obligations here, only suggestions.

    But I don't like to give coaching advice based purely on "what works for me". I say "stand back from the T" not because it works for me (though it does), but because it is the position consistently taught by good coaches and in the coaching manuals.

    Generally I prefer to avoid "this works for me" advice, and rely on "this works for international players" and "this is in the coaching book". This advice is generally better for a player's development (you shouldn't foist your weaknesses on other players!).

    Nonetheless, it can be helpful to adjust the theory to your own playing style. As you say, use whatever works for you Factors such as radical differences in playing standards can affect your tactics and positioning.

    Here's a good video on IBBS about doubles positioning (shame you have to pay...):

    http://www.ibbs.tv/IBBS/secure/videodetails.aspx?VID=15

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    I am very slow now, so only 1 step back..but the alley has becomes weaker. I am not able to cover all the way to the sideline on my forhand even with 2 steps back due to leg injuiries.
    Where you stand much depends on your speed, court-sense and skills, 1 or 2 steps back is generally the norm.

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    i've read all the various comments and its seems to be very unclear ie everyone has there own style no deffinant answer.

    because i am quite an advanced player the level of people i play against is of a good standard as is my doubles partner.

    i'm tending to lead towards standing in and around the T for the simple reason of this is what i have always been taught to do. and the purpose of this discussion was to see if there was a universal answer to my question (which there is'nt)

    my justification for standing at the T is

    my ability at the net is very good and in the position that i stand usually anything at the net is killed

    my and my partners ability is around the same so there is no issue of stronger/weaker players

    you are right in there are weaknesses of this strategy ie a drive return but i'm of the opinion that if a correct drop shot is played then it's hard to drive return that and also the fact that mine and my partners smash are farely powerful so its very rare for a drive return to come about from one of our smashes

    and finally if i or my partner are in trouble for whatever reason and a clear is played then of coarse i would drop back to a side by side position

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    Quote Originally Posted by olle_whitehead
    i've read all the various comments and its seems to be very unclear ie everyone has there own style no deffinant answer.
    Sorry, I know I sound tedious and dogmatic saying this, but: there is a definite answer. Watch what the professionals do: that is the most efficient way to play against strong opponents.

    But, like you say, if your partner's smash is much better than your opponents' defense, then you can stand at the T. Just be aware that you can only do this because your opponents have a weakness.

    If you meet opponents who are skilful at turning defense into attack, then they will start using drive returns against you.

    Of course, while this tactic continues to work against your opponents, you should continue to use it After all, it's good to exploit your opponents' weaknesses!
    Last edited by Gollum; 10-07-2006 at 12:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum
    Generally I prefer to avoid "this works for me" advice, and rely on "this works for international players" and "this is in the coaching book". This advice is generally better for a player's development (you shouldn't foist your weaknesses on other players!).
    The one problem with what works for international players is that we cannot play nor move like them. That's something to keep in mind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DinkAlot
    The one problem with what works for international players is that we cannot play nor move like them. That's something to keep in mind.
    True, and clearly coaches must adapt their teaching to the abilities of the student. Also, we must be careful not to make false conclusions from the study of professional players (for example, looking at static photos of their grip is often misleading).

    In this case, I suggest that players stand closer to the T if they are somewhat slow (or very short). If they are fast, they can stand farther back.

    Wherever possible, however, I believe in bringing the techniques and tactics used at the top level of the game down to the lower levels. Often a coach can stunt the development of a player by failing to teach him more advanced skills.

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    Regular Member DinkAlot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum
    True, and clearly coaches must adapt their teaching to the abilities of the student. Also, we must be careful not to make false conclusions from the study of professional players (for example, looking at static photos of their grip is often misleading).

    In this case, I suggest that players stand closer to the T if they are somewhat slow (or very short). If they are fast, they can stand farther back.

    Wherever possible, however, I believe in bringing the techniques and tactics used at the top level of the game down to the lower levels. Often a coach can stunt the development of a player by failing to teach him more advanced skills.
    Excellent post. I guess I should have been more precise with my previous posts but it was 4-6am and I had no sleep, so...

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