Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Match Play Guide

Finishing a book is like having a baby. Correction: It's like being past your due date.

The dog thinks I'm grumpy.

Just a few more days . . . .

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Will the Real Politician Please Stand Up?

About James Blake (To the Los Angeles Times):

I think he could be a politician one day. He says all the right things.

Kinda like a foil for you, eh, Serena?

Why the hit against his sincerity? You're the one who talks bull.

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More on the Up-and-Back Formation of Tennis Doubles

A bit more on the Up-and-Back Formation.

Poaching, of course, makes sense only if your team is in the Up-and-Back Formation. So, if you avoid the Up-and-Back Formation, remove poaching from your list of ways to score.

Poaching wins many points in doubles. You set up your team with but one net player. You put him or her on the right side or the left side of your court.

Any opposing back-player must keep the ball away from your net player.

Easy? Not when your net player can poach.

I could give more examples, like the Switch Trick Play. It's an Up-and-Back Formation play.

Yes, doubles becomes so simple you can be brain-dead while you play it if you never use the Up-and-Back Formation. That's because you're either both-up banging angle-volleys at the alleys all the time . . . or both-back scrambling to keep pushing the ball back into play.

You have no other options, no other things to try. Your banging/pushing either works or it doesn't.

Which is why it's ironic to hear people say that playing the Up-and-Back Formation marks you as ignorant. For, saying that is what marks a person as ignorant.

The strategically ideal formation is the Both-Up. Most teams have the weapons to play it at least occasionally and should. The last resort is the Both-Back Formation. Bt no formation (or any of its variations) is "bad." They all have their place in the game.

As I showed in two earlier posts on this subject, those who cry out against the Up-and-Back Formation are losing so many points because they don't know how to play it. (1) They look back to watch their partner hit the ball. (2) They switch for lobs over their net player. (3) They park in one spot instead of moving to give their baseline partner a wide enough hitting lane. Yes, anyone who makes these blunders is going to lose a ton of points to volleys through the gap between partners.

Just as you'll lose a ton of points if you play both-up without preventing good lobs.

Therefore, don't condemn a formation. Just learn how to play them all, and you will get satisfaction and fun out of your game. There's more to the Up-and-Back Formation than the other two, so you might have to exercise a brain cell or two to learn that one.

But if you're not too intellectually lazy to do that, so what?

A huge part of the fun in doubles comes through the mental battle of trying to outfox your opponents. It's a blast.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Player Profile: James Blake

James Blake is fast becoming my favorite player on the Pro Tour, so it is a pleasure to do a profile on him.

What I find most interesting about him is that he never intended to become a pro tennis player.

He’s 27 years old, born December 28, 1979 -- in Yonkers, New York (but we won’t hold that against him ;-)

He grew up in Connecticut. Though he began playing tennis at the age of five, his future in the game didn’t seem auspicious. He wasn’t the product of a tennis academy, though he did take lessons and took part in the Harlem Tennis Project every Sunday.

It’s hard to believe that the man we see now could have ever been a terror, but he admits it: "I was, so when I was on the tennis court, you could really see it. Throwing rackets, whining, temper tantrums." He adds, laughing, that he had a "not-so-great example" in John McEnroe to look up to and use as an excuse.

We saw Andre Agassi mature, but James Blake did it at a much younger age. In an interview with 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace in 2005, Blake said that when he was 17, his mother asked him what the second of two trophies he received was for and thought he was kidding when he told her it was for sportsmanship.

What happened to create this change in him with such blinding speed that even his mother was surprised?

My guess is that adversity combated built strong character in him. What do I mean by that?

Well, if character were a thing you could see, a weak character would be a fuzzy, metamorphic, vague, and artistically impressionistic one that you can barely make out any outlines of shape in. Like a puffy, swirly, shape-shifting cloud.

Strong character is like a diamond and is made the way a diamond is made – by withstanding crushing adversity. A strong character is one with bold, smooth outlines of a definite shape. You can see that person’s character emerge in everything they say and do. It has integrity. It isn’t what just anyone would say or do. It’s from the soul.

People with strong character have a distinct, strong personality. They don’t need to express it at maximum volume to feel noticed. They don’t need to play stupid mind games to prop up their egos.

I give you, James Blake.

As a teenager, he suffered his first great adversity from severe scoliosis. He had to wear a body brace 18 hours a day for 5 years. Like a normal kid, he played for his high school team. During his junior year, his height spurted 9 inches. His game did too. During his last two years of high school he didn’t lose a match for his team.

Then he went to Harvard, where he surprisingly became the No. 1 18-and-under and No. 1 collegiate player in the country. That attracted the attention of professional people managers, whose appearance on the scene suddenly made the prospect of a pro tennis career enter James’ head.

In 1999, during his sophomore year, he left Harvard to turn pro.

That amazes me. How many thousands of kids dream of becoming professional tennis players and work hard to make that dream come true? But get nowhere?

Yet every once in a while, someone like this comes along. Someone who wasn’t even thinking of a tennis career. Out of nowhere he or she comes and starts winning. Suddenly, they’re a professional tennis player.

I saw this happen one other time too. Tom Gullickson and his late twin brother Tim were from my area. They were average kids who played on their small Wisconsin high school tennis team. Nobody saw anything special in them.

The next thing you knew, they were winning serious professional doubles matches together and had become the darlings of TV because they were good-looking, right-and-left-handed twins from a mythical place in America where there is nothing worth noting = Flyover Land, specifically, the boondocks of cheeseheadland on the Mississippi River.

The next thing you know, their life plans had changed and they were on tour doing well in singles too. The people in their hometown were stunned.

Obviously, the confidence instilled by fortunate wins at key moments has something to do with this phenomenon. Suddenly these guys find themselves out-hitting the big guys and that’s a stunning revelation.

One that gives them an idea: I could play pro tennis!

There are thousands of players with the technique (if only they all knew it), but only dozens of them gain the confidence and then apply the focus and willpower to reach the top of the game.

In fact, a British player (whose name, unfortunately, I don’t recall) recently said that her time at Nick Bollettieri’s Academy was a great advantage her that most other British players don’t have. Why? Mainly because at the Academy she met and played people with awe-inspiring world ranking numbers.

But they inspire no awe in her, because she knows them in the flesh, and they are just people to her. Hitting the ball back to them is no big deal for her. She is confident that she can do that, because she has done it many times. In fact, she wins rallies and points from them all the time. And games. And if you can win points and games, you can win matches.

After that, it’s mainly a matter of getting used to the more pressing and faster ball play at the pro level.

That’s where James Blake found himself in 1999 – realizing that he could play pro tennis.

Bruce Schoenfeld of the Washington Post writes in a review of Blake's book

Before long, he was tucked into the same cocoon as the tennis lifers, partying with Giorgio Armani, meeting the pope, accepting as his due the perks of his profession. "Life out on the tour," he admits early in Breaking Back, his chronicle of a 2004 season filled with distress, injury, illness and - ultimately - insight, "is often one long dream." Four years into his professional career, he'd won only a single ATP Tour event. He routinely stayed up all night after each loss, distracting himself with hours of video poker. Yet as he shamefully realized, as of December 2003, his biggest decision was whether to shave off the dreadlocks that had become his signature look and risk losing endorsement dollars in the process.

Then disaster struck.

To be continued…

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

In social doubles shouldn't a net player volley away from the opposing net player?

Hmmm. First I must ask what is this innovation called "social doubles?" I don't see it mentioned as a special game in the rules. Even women's doubles, men's doubles, and mixed doubles get no special status in the rules. Doubles is just doubles.

OK, in social doubles there is no title at stake, so winning isn't important. But that doesn't mean that playing to win isn't important. Indeed, there is no other fair and honest way to play a game.

Ironically, however, the term "social doubles" is often just euphemism for "It's evil to try to win."

Now why would any TENNIS player think that? It makes no sense. If you don't like the idea of competition, of there being a winner and a loser, then tennis is not the game for you.

There are plenty of other things you can do that are not games. Games are about winning and losing. That's what makes them exciting.

This mental virus - that you can play "just for fun" and not want to win - forces much related thinking off logical track, too.

There is no rule about where you must stand. The rules say only that your shots must land with the opposition's lines. Indeed, the rules don't say that you must hit around an opponent who decides to stand right in the best spot for you to volley the ball (through the Hole). To the contrary, the rules rule out any means of hindering a player's shot. They also say that if you get hit, it's your fault, and YOU therefore are the one who loses the point.

You don't have to position at the net. So, if you don't like shots coming near you, go back to the baseline.

Or I should stand inside the service box to make it immoral for my opponent to hit a serve in, right?

Who needs a racket? Just go out there and stand in the way of your opponent's shots. Get real close to the net so they can hardly hit around you without blowing their shot.

How sporting.

Now, if you are at net and see the opposing net player about to slam the ball, and if you concede the point by doing the Move toward your alley ... and get hit, then you do have reason to gripe. That opponent was aiming at you, not the Hole, so he or she did something wrong.

But otherwise, they were within the rules and their moral rights.

Just don't look back to watch your partner hit the ball: watch that opposing net player instead so that you're facing the right direction when the ball comes. And learn the Move to concede the point. Then you won't have any problems.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Tennis Fashion Statement

Yes, it is way out of character for me to give a whit about the tennis fashion scene. But I really do get a kick out of this blog.

I agree! He looks very good in red and white!

But wearing an outfit that IS your national flag makes no good impression on me either.

Note that it isn’t an American. It never is.

And yet, the patriotism of Americans is always confused with nationalism by those who wish to portray Americans as nationalistic. Result? Pot calling the china teacup black.

Patriotism isn’t nationalism. And nationalism can be as anti- a nation or group as pro a nation or group. For an explanation that clearly shows the difference, see George Orwell’s essay Notes on Nationalism.

Patriotism is just a form of fidelity, in this case fidelity to your country = your fellow citizens. It's like fidelity to a friend, a spouse, a family member, a teammate. Not a bad thing. You know - no "sunshine patriot" (as Patrick Henry called the greasy-handed) who go AWOL when "The British are coming! The British are coming!" Then all of a sudden, the betrayors don't like their country, aren't on its side, and loudly condemn it to make sure enemies don't consider them part of it = they wash their hands of their country. The moment it stops just giving them benefits while requiring little or nothing in return, they seperate themselves from it. Anyone with a nose knows what that is.

And, as Orwell points out, strong feelings of patriotism emerge only in DEFENSE (as after 9/11 or Pearl Harbor), never offense like strong feelings of nationalism do.

Nationalism is essentially a statement that "Our kind are better than your kind." A whole different thing than patriotism.

There is too much nationalism in international sports.

There I went and spoiled it by getting serious.

In the end, though, it doesn’t matter how you cut the gruyère — there’s no question that this guy can put together an outfit.

He sure can. Read the rest.

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Where's the Match Play Guide?

It's there. It's coming.

Most of the hard part is done - what I call the "shaping" of the material collected for the book. Subject matter is often gooey, amorphous stuff, you know. (The material in the Strategy Guide, by its very nature, fell into an organizational framework.)

It's a companion volume to The Strategy Guide, though smaller. That covered strategy, and The Match Play Guide covers everything but.

Cosmetic and book design improvements have been made for the regular edition and need only be translated to the International Edition template. As usual though, I am taxing my brain (and limited artistic skills) for a cover.

The artwork is mostly finished or needs only a few finishing touches.

A detailed index and extensive hyperlinking increases value though, and that is taking some time, along with polishing the writing.

Within a week I'd say. The regular (US) edition will probably come out a few days before the International Edition. And, yes, I am planning some kind of introductory offer.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Operation Doubles Connection - September Issue

This month's issue of The Operation Doubles Connection, the free monthly newsletter of is now online.

· What's New at Operation Doubles
· Featured Tennis Website of the Month
· This Month's Tennis Quiz
· This Month's Q & A
· This Month's Shot-Making Tip

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Monday, September 17, 2007

More on Quality of Wilson Rackets Made in China

Here's a follow-up on my earlier post about the quality control of Wilson rackets made in China. I referred to an article by Nawin Singh at the Regentville Tennis Blog, and he has since had a reply from Wilson.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Up-and-Formation of Tennis Doubles

In answer to some questions I've received showing that I failed to make a point clear in my earlier post about the Up-and-Back Formation. So I'll try to make the point more clear.

Via the Web and forums, it is fast becoming a cliche that the Up-and-Back Formation is "bad." The parrots saying that those who play whole points in the Up-and-Back Formation are ignorant are themselves the ignorant ones.

How can you tell?

Because they are bemoaning many volleys through the gap between partners in the Up-and-Back Formation, which shows that they don't know how to play it properly.

Presumably, they are getting beat by many volleys through the gap because:

  • At net they are looking back to watch their partner hit the ball and don't see those volleys to the gap coming in time to back off and defend the gap.
  • They are switching for lobs and getting their returns of lobs switch-poached.
  • Their net player parks in one spot instead of manuevering to widen their baseline partner's hitting lane, so that their partner has a hard time keeping the ball away from the opposing net player.
Yes, if you make these errors, your opponents will have a heyday volleying shots through the gap on you.

So, don't blame the Up-and-Back Formation, when the real problem is that many players just don't know how to play it.

Every formation has a vulnerable area, and you need to know how to play that formation so as to minimize the risk of a shot to that vulnerable area.

The gap in the Up-and-Back Formation is targetble only by an opposing net player kitty-cornered from your net player. But how often does an opposing net player kitty-cornered from your net player get a whack at the ball? Compare with the rear in the Both-Up Formation. It is targetable by either opponent from anywhere on every shot.

So, which formation is really more vulnerable?

Just as you need to play both-up so as to prevent good lobs, you need to play up-and-back so as to prevent volleys through the gap.

What you CAN say about the Up-and-Back Formation is that is more complex than the other formations and requires more knowledge to play properly, but that doesn't make it a "bad" formation.

Unfortunately, everyone needs to learn how to play Up-and-Back properly, because it's unavoidable. It's the formation beginners use. It's the formation virtually every point, at every level, begins in - with both teams in the Up-and-Back Formation.

So, learn how to play it properly or suffer.

Do NOT avoid the Up-and-Back Formation. When it's called for, it's necessary. For example, wnd what if you're both-up and one of you goes back to chase a lob? What? Must both of you retreat to avoid the Up-and-Back Formation? Similarly, what if you're both-back and one of you can advance while the other hits? What? Must you wait till you both can advance on an approach shot, just to avoid the Up-and-Back Formation?

Ridiculous. The good thing about the Up-and-Back Formation is its versatility. It has an offensive mode and a defensive mode, and it enables you transition smoothly into either of the other formations.

Avoiding the Up-and-Back Formation makes no more sense than avoiding either of the other two would. They all have their use in the game.

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Be Brave

Are you one of many tennis players for whom tennis is an exercise in moving and swinging properly? Players whose thoughts are 95% about technique? Who think about their form while they're playing matches? Who remind themselves to "watch the ball" or "bend your knees" before every serve or service return? Who turn their backs on a shot of theirs that is going out before it even lands and taking a little practice swing to demonstrate to themselves what flaw in their form to blame for that error? Players infatuated with the fine points of technique and totally disinterested in strategy and tactics? Players who think they know strategy and tactics by knowing a handful of rote rules like "Get your first serve in"?

if so, the next time you are playing a match, ask yourself why you take this attitude. It's a distraction, isn't it? A distraction from the game itself. Which is a bit scary, because you might lose.

Be brave. Get your mind on the game. Get INTO the game. Instead of thinking about bending your knees before you return serve, think about the score. Think about how you can mess with that server's mind. Think about what he or she has done in this situation before. Think about.... Well, I could give a couple dozen things to think about during that moment and none of them would have anything to do with how to swing the racket.

The game's the thing. That's where the fun is.

You have worked hard to develop the strokes that enable you to play at your level. So, don't cheat yourself out of the payback for all that work. Those strokes are just your weapons. In match play, it's time to use them. As they are.

This is the voice of experience. I used to obsess about form. And I never realized how much fun and how intriguing tennis can be till I cut it out.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Match Play Guide

The second volume of Operation Doubles, The Operation Doubles Match Play Guide, will be available soon, within a week or two.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

US Open: Afterword

Well, it’s history: Justine Henin and Roger Federer. No surprise.

Henin has been here before, in 2004, at the point where she clearly emerges as the dominant player on the women’s circuit. Since she succumbed then to the psyche job of challenger hype, we’ll have to see if she learned her lesson.

My guess is that she has. I’m no fan of hers. But I am a player, and I agree with Steve Tignor, she is a player’s player. Just a pleasure to watch.

I’ll tell you what I like about both Roger Federer and Justine Henin. It’s their professional attitude. Like past legends who dominated for years, their games do continue to improve. Think of Pete Sampras, Steffi Graff, Chris Evert, Rod Laver…. They all were rather “boring,” weren’t they?

Their kind always show up ready to play their best.

People say that athletes are superstitious. Since luck does have a role in the outcome of sporting events, that’s a temptation. But you have players out there nowadays who seem to think that champions are born, not made. That winners are winners because they are somehow special, inherently superior beings who can do things beyond the powers of mere mortals.

They don't speak of these abilities as ordinary powers they have developed or that anyone might develop through practice: everything they say betrays an underlying belief in these powers being inherent in a superior nature.

Listen, you can hear the undertones of that ridiculous belief in nearly everything certain players say.

It’s hard to tell what’s going on in the mind to support this kind of thinking, but it seems to suggest that there’s a kind of magic involved. Unfortunately, the flip side is that, on a day when their stars aren’t in perfect alignment, despite how special they are, Serena or Lleyton just aren’t going to win, sorry.

That’s the poisoned fruit of so-called "positive thinking." Which is really negative thinking because it negates reality. These players are just doing the same thing in reverse that other players do when they convince themselves that they are losers. Delusion is delusion, whether the delusion is aggrandizing or devaluing.

You never get that from Roger or Justine. You never got it from Pete or Steffi, either.

If you think you win by believing that you’re just the greatest and can do anything, make any shot, then why practice? Note that such players are always those least dedicated to working hard on their game. They are a flash in the pan on the tennis scene, because when their psyche job has them psyched up they’re hot, when it doesn’t they’re not. Then whaling away with reckless abandon just makes their shots go out.

"Look I always say sometimes you need a bit of luck," Federer said. "It's obvious like in card games or something you hope it falls your way, but you can force the issue, too, pus it your way, more than just to rely on pure luck. I think especially over five sets, it's more of how good you are really. Sometimes it comes down to the crunch."

"I was just feeling dizzy, a little sick to the stomach. I was having some energy problems," Williams said. "I'm not really sure what's wrong with me. But you know credit her [Henin] for playing well."

How, Venus, when you just took all the credit away from her with that remark? Would it cost you anything to give credit where credit is due? An arm or a leg or something? Why is that so hard for you? One should think an ounce of credit were a million dollars.

This psychological stunt protects the belief that nobody can beat grand you, doesn’t it? Yes, you are that transparent. Because you do it every single time; people do catch on.

Try thinking straight, instead, and you’ll see that it won’t kill you to give credit where credit is due. Then go out and do something about that awkward, sloppy footwork of yours and try to develop a better game than Justine’s. See how that works instead.

So, here’s to Justine Henin and Roger Federer for sparing us this kind of nonsense.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Justine Henin Wins the US Open

Justine Henin has just defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-3 in the women's singles final.

The surprise there is the seven double faults. How do you double-fault 7 times in 8 service games and win? I just don't get that.

This is Justine's second US Open Championship, and she won it without dropping a set.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Aspelin and Knowle win the doubles championship

Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Julian Knowle of Austria came up big on their returns in the men's doubles final and won their first Grand Slam title over the Czech duo of Lukas Dlouhy and Pavel Vizner, 7-5, 6-4.

Dlouhy and Vizner played the I-Formation, targeting the strong service-retrun game of Aspelin and Knowle. The latter sensed which way the poach was going often enough, which meant they could pick on the net-rushing server with their strong returns.

Which goes to show how the I-Formation helps bring your server to net safely - provided that your opponents don't figure out how to tell which way you are going to poach.

None of the four players in this match qualified for the singles. Dlouhy is the highest ranked at 133 and lost out in the 2rd round of qualifying.

That's a controlling fact of a certain matter. And it means what it means, not whatever one can wish or twist into not exactly meaning. Of course the best singles players aren't always the best doubles players. But come on, not any in the top 100?

Far more tennis players play doubles than singles, so the disinterest isn't in the game itself.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tennis Rage at the US Open

What's your clue that this is a tennis player?

The wide-open-mouthed rage, right?

I am getting awfully sick of seeing this. It's such a cliche. And, psst, it isn't working, either.

Who'd'a thunk it?

Is this the way we picture heroes? Wouldn't we normally see a photo like that of someone and think they're crazy? Or bad? I thought anger was supposed to be sin nowadays. We're not supposed to get like that, are we? You look at that photo and you think, "Wow, what a grand person. I wanna be just like that. I wanna look just like that when I grow up."

Not. So, what makes anyone think this stupid cliche will sell tennis?

It sells newspapers and magazines, but not tennis.

Why put on a rage face? The players must have to practice it before a mirror to resemble murderous rage so well.

Of course champions are fiercely competitive in this quiet sport. THAT'S the mystique of tennis. But this depiction is off base. If you saw the picture not knowing what it was about, you'd think that guy had blown a gasket. This is supposed to make tennis "seem" exciting.

Well, I'm sorry, dudes, but it doesn't have to seem exciting, because it IS exciting. Everything that is exciting doesn't have to scream like a kid on a high-caffein and sugar drink.

And it does no good to try to make tennis out to be something it ain't.

You can see how the face was made to look red by tweaking the lighting level when you look at this version with the lighting adjusted...

Jeez, why not curve the lighting to get even more hype like this...

He did that for one second during the match. Of the hundreds of photos taken, this is the one that get put on the front page of the US Open website.

The players know this. That's why they're all doing it. Even the Fed.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tennis Doubles Q & A: The Weakest Doubles Formation

Believe it or not, there is life outside of tennis, and I enjoyed a little of it last week :)

But it's getting interesting now, so I promise to pay attention.

For now though, I thought I'd answer here a question about doubles that I hear a lot.

It goes something like this: Isn't the Up-and-Back Formation bad to be in?

I never quite know where to grab hold of that thing. "Bad?" As in, "Don't do that or the guys will think you're not a real tennis player."

The Plague (tennis ego) strikes again. Of all the reasons not to do something, that has got to be the silliest. It isn't a moral issue.

The weakness in the Up-and-Back Formation has been exaggerated, as if there's no way to keep your opponents from volleying through the angular gap between partners in the Up-and-Back Formation.

And the weaknesses in the other two formations are never even mentioned, let alone compared. Indeed, some will gasp "Heresy!" if you point out the weakness in the Both-Up Formation.

The rear in the Both-Up Formation is targetable by either opponent on every shot. The wings in the Both-Back Formation are targetable by any opposing net player on every shot. The angular gap in the Up-and-Back Formation is targetable only by an opposing volleyer kitty-cornered from your net player and only when he or she gets a whack at the ball, which should be seldom.

The leading candidate for "weakest" formation is the Both-Back Formation. No vantage points or angles. And it covers less territory than either of the other formations.

But even the Both-Back Formation isn't "bad." Sometimes it's the "right" formation to be in. Nonetheless, this is the one formation you should try to avoid having to get into.

NEVER get into it unless you have to.

If your partner is getting you blasted at the net because of his wimpy shots, don't go back to the baseline: threaten your wimpy partner with worse than whatever he's afraid of if he doesn't quit hitting those wimpy shots. Works like a charm ;-)

All three of these basic formations are good for what they're good for. Not one of them is "bad." In fact, it takes much more knowledge to play Up-and-Back correctly than to play the other formations, which are simple by comparison.

When two teams face each other in the Up-and-Back Formation, all kinds of variations can occur. You need to know what you're doing out there.

And virtually every point, at every level, starts just that way - with two teams facing each other in the Up-and-Back Formation.

When your net player takes root, thus remaining in their baseline partner's way - WHACK - a volley through the gap. But whose fault is that? The Up-and-Back Formation's? Or the rooted net player on your team?

When your net player doesn't watch the opposing net player during your baseline player's shot - WHACK - again, because your net player never saw the cut-off volley coming and was out of position to close and defend the gap. Again, whose fault is that? The Up-and-Back Formation's? Or a net player with a head-turning habit on your team?

And then there's the switching - WHACK - again. But whose fault is that? The Up-and-Back Formation's? Or the doubles players who don't know the Switch Trick and how to handle switching situations?

These situations just don't arise in the other formations. So, it would be fair to say that the Up-and-Back Formation is the hardest to play. You need to know a lot more to play it well. Playing Both-Up or Both-Back is simple by comparison.

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