Did you manage to read part 11 last week? We looked at improving you impact on the game from the servers partners perspective. I had some great feedback from that blog post. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to have a read. In the part we are going to look at the hot seat, you are in the hot seat when you are the returners partner. I have coached so many people who almost seem like they feel this is a position they can have a little rest as they don’t really get to see much of the ball. In this blog I am going to give you a few simple tips that I promise will make a huge difference to you. Here is the scene, your tennis partner is ready to return serve. You are correctly in the hot seat, but where are you standing? Who are you facing? Boom, while you were thinking your opposition fires their volley past you down the middle of the court. I am guessing we have all felt this at one time or another. I am going to answer these questions and if you go out and put these answers in to practise you will notice an immediate improvement in your doubles:
- Where are you standing when you are the returners partner? You should be on the service line next to the T, almost in the centre of the court. The reason for this is that you are plugging the gap that the “Danger Player” (we discussed this in the previous blog) wants to hit in to, this is the easiest place for them to hit their volley. You stand here to give yourself half a chance of scraping that ball back but also to put them off a little, give them something else to think about.
- Where are you facing? You should have your hips, shoulders and eyes facing the “danger player” that player is your primary concern. Turn your body to face them, whatever you do, do not turn and look at your partner as they hit their return (this is hospital tennis).
- When you start in this position you are in a defensive position and this is where most recreational level players stay. I see very little movement from this position. As soon as the return is hit, one of two things are going to happen. Ether your partner hots a good return and fires it back to the server or its a bad return and the volleyer intercepts. As you are now standing in the correct position if the worst case happens and the “danger player” intercepts they can either volley it at you or go for the angle (good luck with the angle, that’s a 3 out of 10 shot). If your partner hits a good return back to the server this is when you need to move forward and become the “danger player”. The “danger player” position switches throughout the entire rally – so sorry there is no rest for you net players.