Four Tactics for Setting Up Your Net Player
Doubles is all about partnership, and being a baseline player requires a certain kind of mentality to best support your partner from the back. These four strategies will help you ramp up your baseline game by granting your net partner the best set-ups.
- Hitting good deep cross court shots
One of the fundamental rules of being baseline in doubles can be summed up in four words: Don’t be a hero. Baseline players will usually set up and also lose points, but points are almost never won from back there. Hitting deep, cross court shots grants you much greater strength in your returns than hitting down-the-line, since it does not require that you redirect what are often the hardest shots you’ll encounter in doubles and allows you a more natural shot. This also gives you a chance to get in a rally and significantly minimize the number of free points you’re giving your opponents. As an added bonus, hitting cross court also means you’re hitting over the lowest part of the net.
- Lobbing over opponent net player’s head
Effective lobbing (hitting the ball in a high arc) is somewhat an art form, and an acquired skill–but definitely one much worth acquiring. Hardly an amateur maneuver, even the best professional doubles players will use lobs for strategic advantage. Winning matches in a doubles game is all about controlling the net. With accurate lobbing, your team can achieve this by forcing the other team to back off the net. Lobbing over the net player’s head creates confusion by placing the ball right between the back and front players and opens up space in the front of the court, enabling you to place the ball there and win the point.
- Driving ball through the middle
You can create delicious chaos across the net by driving the ball through the middle of the court, confusing the opposing team as to who will take the ball. It also dramatically decreases the angle the opponent has to return the ball and grants you the best percentage chance to make the shot. Additionally, you create holes for you to attack come the next ball. Once you have brought both opponents to the middle, you can then utilize the wings to put away volleys or create more pressure.
- Short chip shot – side T
Chip shots–or short-distance shots with a slight backspin–can help set up your net player beautifully by forcing the opponent away from the net and the back player up toward the net, giving your team the upper hand in a return and taking away the opponent’s time to set up the shot. You also leave the back court undefended, giving your net player the perfect opportunity to take the point.
Enjoy building up your baseline skills with these strategies to becoming the ultimate support from back-of-court. Your net player will be thanking you!