Smash along the tramlines

Discussion in 'Techniques / Training' started by Zohar, Oct 7, 2019.

  1. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

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    I partnered with someone yesterday, and we had the following case.

    Opponent lifted to my right corner. I smashed (straight) along the tramlines, and my partner was dutifully in the front. The right opponent blocked (dropped) straight on the tramlines, and the partner couldn't make it.

    He told me that I wasn't doing him any favors with such a shot, and unless I can cover the tramlines (I couldn't, I was too far back), I should hit more to the left (instead of a "key" shot?). I told him that I'm always smashing straight so he can bias and stand a bit more to my side. He told me that still it's better to go for the 1/5-1/4 of the court (horizontally).

    What do you think?
    Whether the partner should have made it to the shot or not, in terms of optional angles for the opponent, is it good to push him to his backhand corner, or should I go for about the middle (horizontally) of the right opponent's half? What's better for my partner?
     
  2. Budi

    Budi Regular Member

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    Common problem when we play with new player. We know nothing for their skill or habit & some miss comunication will happen sometimes in the games.

    Cant blame him to take the fault or blame you for the mistake.
    I guest 1 thing i put on my mind. How would you ask to change other when you unable to change yourself. So i would try to adapt to my partner style taking my partner advice (whatever it is, regardless his skill with open minded) while also giving advice to my partner.
     
  3. SimonCarter

    SimonCarter Regular Member

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    The usual tactic is usually to play straight along the line. Your partner should not only be at the front but also should be one or two step closer to the side you are hitting from. Front player should always tend to move to the side the back player is hitting from.
    The reason being that straight shot are always faster because there is less distance to go through.

    However if you hit a smash from which you cannot recover fast enough to get the reply your safe bet is to go for the plain middle of the court. This has two benefits, reducing the angles which cannot be intercepted by your partner and destabilizing the defense by playing between the two opponents.

    To me a drop is clearly on your partner to get and he should be expecting it. A tight drop should not be possible if you smash however.
     
    #3 SimonCarter, Oct 7, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019
  4. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    Not knowing much about your respective abilities, I agree with the partner.

    You are not playing for the partner. Doubles is a partnership.

    Your choice of shot may be a good one for you personally, but not for the partnership.
     
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  5. R20190

    R20190 Regular Member

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    It really depends at what ability level you are playing at. But assuming high intermediate-advance level, I see no reason why your partner should be blaming you for smashing down the line, except if your smash is very weak. But if this is the case, you will struggle with positioning your smash anywhere.

    If your opponent is able to block (drop) back your smash to the tramlines close to the net/service line, this is generally your partner's responsibility as the front court person. Either your partner is not fast enough to anticipate such a shot or has not positioned themselves well enough.

    So if I have understood you correctly, I'm inclined to agree with you more. However if your partner is a lot weaker in ability and just cannot get to these shots, then yes playing these shots may expose their weaknesses. So you should try to play to your partner's strengths rather than expose their weaknesses.
     
  6. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    Not fast enough means the partner has some limitations - would it be wise for the smasher to expose those limitations?

    Not well positioned - should a player look backwards to see the rear player’s choice of shot first?
     
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  7. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    Could you put up a diagram of your respective positions including opponent at the time of your smash? Probably would help clarify the situation.
     
  8. SnowWhite

    SnowWhite Regular Member

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    If I was in front of you and an opponent lifted to either corner and you were in position and underneath the shuttle, then the shot I would most expect you to play is a straight smash. The way I would most commonly expect the opponent to return the shuttle is some sort of lift, but since those lifts are generally not my problem(because you're attacking from the rear court behind me) the shot I would be looking for is the straight block. Since I'm expecting it, not only would I get the shot, I would probably get it quite early as well. It doesn't take an extraordinary level of fitness to play these shots either, especially since you have the advantageous position and a block doesn't tend to create much pressure on the front court player.

    So, you play the shot I would most commonly expect and the opponent returns it the way I would most commonly expect. I don't see why your partner would be out of position after these 2 utterly unsurprising choices of shot.

    With proper footwork even the most out of shape players should get these shots.
    If this is due to poor footwork, then it could be something he could work on, and in the meantime you need to take this limitation into account and play some (for him) safer angles. If it is simply poor positioning, then the problem is easily solved by adjusting his base when you're attacking from the rear court. If he doesn't want to do that for some reason or another then you can either adjust your play or find a different partner.

    If however, the block return goes past the service line into the midcourt, then it's more of a question whose shot it is to take. And in those situations as much as it can be frustrating, it is the front player that decides if he is in a position to play it and if he decides he can't play a good shot and leaves it, then it's your job to play the shot. Since the rear court player can see the front court player (and not the other way around), it's the front court player who usually decides who takes which shot by taking it or clearly leaving it. As a rear court player your base should be far enough forward that you can play all the shots that go past your partner, if even slightly. Of course you can't be expected to pick up shots directly beside him (in the situation you describe at least).
     
  9. R20190

    R20190 Regular Member

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    So, with not being fast enough, as mentioned in my post, we should try not to expose our partner's weaknesses. So yes, I agree there. But that is not to say that we shouldn't expose our opponents weaknesses either - which could be smashes down the line. I always advocate smashing to different positions and not continually smashing to the same place time after time. Sure, the front player may not have the ability to move quickly enough, but positioning themselves better and learning to expect a straight return is something anyone can do and this will go some way to help with the speed deficit.

    In terms of not well positioned and looking back - perhaps you are being a bit facetious, we all know we should not turn around to see our partners choice of shot. I am not suggesting that. When the shuttle is lifted to one corner, the front court player should immediately know which side their partner will be hitting the shuttle from. And normally, you would position yourself slightly to that side of the centre (as most smashes/drops will be straight shots) to cover the straight return.
     
  10. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    This is why I have asked the OP for a diagram showing the respective position of players at time of smash.

    What is the purpose of the smash? Is it for a winning shot or to force a potentially weak reply?
     
  11. DarkHiatus

    DarkHiatus Regular Member

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    As always with tactics, the answer is that it depends. However, the most important aspect of doubles tactics is that your partnership is CONSISTENT and that how you play should reflect in your gameplay.

    In this specific example, I would side with your partner because you can see him whereas he cannot see you, therefore you should know that a sideline smash is beyond his capability to reach at the instant you decide to play that stroke. As fan extreme example, if you saw your partner on the floor having just dived to the left before you got a lift you are not helping your partner by playing a straight smash down the right tramline.

    However, let's say that you are confident that your straight smashes prompt a weak reply and you're getting frustrated that your partner can't apply pressure. You must then tell him as such, and he can try to position to shut down the straight. If the crosscourt drive/block defence comes and both you and your partner cannot cover the return (quite likely if your partner is covering the straight tramline), then you both take 50/50 responsibility for losing the rally, just as you should - but at least you were working together consistently! Then you are now working constructively and can try different tactics.

    It is up to the front player normally to decide whether he thinks their rearcourt partner is able to play an attacking stroke strong enough to prevent the opponent playing a decent crosscourt return. As soon as this happens, then he should move both forwards and sideways in the direction of the opponent as the most likely weaker replies become straight. If your partner never moves straight even for a short lift, then it could be useful for him to starting learning to when he senses a lift is short. If the lift was a good lift, then I don't blame him for staying more central and if so, it is your mistake to play a tramline smash. A better choice is a smash to the middle, 1/3-1/2 court, or drop shot to middle with varying power until the opponent lifts it short, then you can choose the tramline smash (assuming your front player partner has picked up on the weakness).
     
    #11 DarkHiatus, Oct 8, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
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  12. Zohar

    Zohar Regular Member

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    [​IMG]

    This is a schematic of the position. I'm smashing from Z to B along the tramlines, my partner is J in the front.

    It's a social club, we pair up rather randomly, and it's not about polishing tactics for a division game.

    It seems that most of you confirmed most of my rules:
    1. Once the opponent lifted, we are going into attack formation: partner goes to cover the front and should bias a step or two to my side. The partner knows where the side is because he knows where the shuttle goes.
    2. My options are:
    a. Smash straight (you don't cross smash), or smash between the two opponents.
    b. Drop anywhere.
    c. Clear (attack or defense). If it's defense, then we are going into sides formation afterwards.​
    3. Afterwards, I'm recovering to the back center, covering the back court, and my partner covers the front. He doesn't need to look back, and he can either expect (a) or has enough time to respond to (b-c).
    If I can't recover in time due to being out of position or my smash isn't effective enough and I can't get to the opponent's back cross response (my partner is responsible to a cross drop), then I shouldn't smash.

    Some may argue that my partner (for that game) J _might_ play doubles (singles he doesn't stand a chance) better than me -- yeah, I know, ridiculous :)
    The block shot from B wasn't tight, it was just too far from J to the right on the tramlines. My impression was that J was underestimating B (I was surprised he even replied to my smash), responded late, and for some reason was covering the whole front evenly, even ready for me cross smashing.
    Normally, people, including J, get easily enough to the block shot.

    Therefore, here, it was just a careless slip up, and I'm not asking whose fault it was. I'm wondering in general about J's comment. Even if he can cover the block shot, would it have been better for me to smash to the 1/4 of the court instead of the tramlines, limiting the opponent return angles.
    Thinking about it some more, I still think the answer is no. Pushing the opponent to the corner is a good play (especially to the backhand). If he blocks straight, my partner should be there to kill it. Any cross shot would necessarily be longer (requiring to travel more distance), which gives us the advantage.
     
    #12 Zohar, Oct 10, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  13. DarkHiatus

    DarkHiatus Regular Member

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    Re-read the above replies to you more carefully. Try to read it as if you are not involved personally in the situation, because I feel you are emotionally invested in the tramline ash being correct. It is not in this instance because your partner is on the centreline.

    What is the best response your partner can do from the centreline position if the opponent plays a good block into the tramlines indicated by your blue circle? He can play a net shot (killed by their front player if he's half awake), or a lift (bye-bye attack). There is a near zero chance he can kill is because he is just too far away. If you see your partner on the centreline, do NOT smash it down the tramline unless you feel you can take the straight net.

    As for options 2a, smashing between opponents is far more effective here than the tramline smash, because your partner doesn't have to move to follow up the attack.

    To re-iterate, if you cannot reach the cross lift or the straight block, you should not tramline smash. Yes - as the rear player you must cover 3 corners. Your partner positioned on the centreline will be looking to protect you from crosscourt counter-drives and crosscourt drops, but his main focus will be to get his racquet up for the drive battle and/or kill. Why make your front player start thinking defensively and prepare to have to lift a block to the tramlines? From the centreline with his racquet held high, he will not have a good driving/killing position to the tramline block...if he is lucky he might manage a lift/net with a hard lunge or dive.

    As a side note for Option 2b, do not "drop anywhere". Tactically playing a drop shot to anywhere other than the middle in doubles is generally a mistake, and even more so for the crosscourt drop. Your partner has to move further than a defender to reach the return, which just means you cut your partner out of the game. This is such so common for rear players to blame their front player for 'not covering their amazing crosscourt drop that they could have killed', but it take a defender 1 easy step/lunge to reach quickly on the longest distance (crosscourt diagonal), and your partner is probably a hard lunge away. A straight drop is ok for variety, a drop to the middle is best - furthest for the defenders to reach and your front player partner is already there so the defenders are MUCH more likely to lift again than play a net shot.

    It's interesting you mention you're better at singles, because your tactics show it abundantly. Your tactics don't just show you don't play for your partner, but cut him out and you'll effectively be playing 1v2 with all the counter-attacking angles you're giving your opponents. When you are front/back formation, the best place to place your smash/drop is directly over your partner. Anything else is a defender's dream come true (or something to allow you to rotate to the front if your partner is aware of rotation patterns to move back)

    Just in case you're wondering if it's ever correct to tramline smash - yes, 1) if your partner biases himself to the straight direction rather than the centreline before you smash as discussed before, and 2) in singles the tramline smash is tactically sound because singles is all about moving your opponent and making him twist and turn. Doubles is all about challenging their reflexes and overwhelming them with SPEED. Watch pro doubles and notice how many points are won by hitting into spaces that are further than a racquet length away from a player, and then do the same with a pro singles match. You'll quickly realise pro doubles players are almost ALWAYS within reach, yet they still lose points because they aren't fast enough to play a good return. Where's in singles, they're often still moving/diving to the shuttle or it gets killed into a clear space on court.
     
    #13 DarkHiatus, Oct 10, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  14. ralphz

    ralphz Regular Member

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    I see his point. I have heard this point made by good players before.

    And he said you should hit more to the left.
    So, in somewhat, widthways from the tramline rather than (i.e. would be preferable to), completely in the tramline

    He still would be(standing biasing that side able to reach the tramline easily) but you would be helping him by smashing somewhat left of the sideline rather than straight down it. Because then any block from them even if blocked toward the tramline, is much easier for him to retrieve as it gives him more time and he may even intercept it before they can block to the tramline. And perhaps they are less likely to block to the tramline.

    A smash down the tramline blocked straight down the tramline happens super fast for them at the 'front' to react and reach it.

    How far in I am not sure. But that is the principle as far as I can recall. That a straight smash down the sideline is not good as it is not making use of your partner and is cutting him out of the game.
     
    #14 ralphz, Oct 10, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  15. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    The diagram is a good clarification of the situation.

    I'm going to say, if you are that far back in the court, a tramline smash is not a good choice of shot. There's no tramline space to exploit and the shuttle will have lost a lot of speed. That gives the opponent a chance to play a high quality shot.

    Consider playing a neutral shot instead and waiting for a better opportunity to smash.
     
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  16. llrr

    llrr Regular Member

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    This is a great diagram! Personally if my partner or I hit a good length lift, I love it when my opponent smashes right at the tramlines. Even at a professional level, smashing from all the way back of the court is not very potent, let alone at grade level. With those smashes I feel like there's so much time to take the front court player out with my response. On the contrary, anyone smashing at my racquet hip, racquet elbow height, down the middle, or drop to the middle, is by far harder to play against. If the lift is short, then I do get tramline smashes but they're usually winners. The thing is, they're most likely winners even if it's smashed anywhere else because it's the speed that's too fast, not the placement.
     
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  17. Hbmao

    Hbmao Regular Member

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    I’m not sure about this. OP already said the opponent returned with a drop shot, which is not a bad choice but also not put you on the ropes right away. Another point is that OP’s partner wanted a smash more to the middle, which can’t be a better choice as it would only open up more angles for the opponent. It seems to me that OP’s partner just hoped the return to be closer to him to do a simple tap down, while he should have, as some has already pointed out, focused more on the right side and if he does that, he should have no problem retrieve the drop (may not got a winner but should at least maintain a neutral scenario).

    the actual problem I end up having in this scenario is focusing too much on a drop/weak return and if the return goes slightly deeper, say half court, I would miss it and sometimes my partner couldn’t continue with another smash and our initiative is lost.
     
  18. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    This point. Absolutely not. A smash towards the middle to the forehand of the opponent narrows down the angles.

    That makes it easier for the partner.

    But a full smash to tramline is still a poor choice of shot in back corner.
     
    #18 Cheung, Oct 10, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  19. simplejoys

    simplejoys Regular Member

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    Was that me in the crosscourt defending? :eek:
    Someone has mentioned playing with your partner's strengths and not exposing his weaknesses.
    I'd rather smash in the middle (between the 2 opponents) or drop in the middle. In other words more setting up required.
     
  20. Hbmao

    Hbmao Regular Member

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    That could be true. But my main point is that result of OP’s smash is a straight drop/soft block. This to me means OP’s smash was not a bad smash. It’s not too much of an ask to the partner to maintain the advantage, let alone to ask him just retrieve the shot.

    If the opponent blocks it to the opposite corner, or bounce it back to the baseline, then it’s more than fair to criticize the choice to smash.

    Anyway, most of this is speculation as a lot of the context is missing.
     

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