Bryan Bros Doubles Playbook

Will Hamilton of FuzzyYellowBalls, TennisNinja, and other tennis instructional products, has frankly outdone himself this time.

This little guy is outworking me right now and THAT pisses me off ;-)

Just kidding.  But seriously, Will’s teamed up with Bob and Mike Bryan, uh huh, the all time #1 doubles team, and they’ve put together a tennis instructional series titled “The Bryan Bros Doubles Playbook”.

The 1st video in a series of free videos has just been published.

Here’s what I want you to do…

1- Get on over there by following this link.

2 – After watching the video, come back here, and leave me feedback on what you thought of the video.  Right below in the Comments area.

Thanks in advance…

Brent

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Comments

  1. Hi Brent,

    The first video is huge on promise (after all, it’s the Bryan Bros!), but VERY SHORT on delivery. The majority of the video talks about what NOT to do, and while the instruction is solid, there is nothing new. And Will’s erase board explanations are redundant. Fuzzy Yellow Balls videos are the best-produced of all the videos on the web, but the downside is that you have to put up with Will’s know-it-all style. I understand that he is branding himself, but when you have access to the Bryans, ask simply questions, and let the Bryans speak.

    The best part of the video is at the very end, where the Bryans show their split-step footwork drill.

    I have not recommended this first video to any of my friends, but I still have very high hopes for the ones to come, with the expectation that we will learn how the Bryans think and execute.

  2. Hi John. Appreciate your candid feedback.

    Right, there’s nothing hugely new, but is fascinating to have the Bryan Bros possibly spilling a few nuggets.

    Let’s wait and see in the upcoming vids.

    Brent

  3. Hello Brent,

    I have to agree with John. I had hoped Will Hamilton
    was beginning to see the light by letting the Bryan brothers
    actually do the bulk of the video. However, I was not
    surprised when Will started with his rambling and “paralysis by analysis”.

    Now I remember why a lot of friends and I unsubscribed from FYB. The “subscription” to FYB was not without a price. His explanations put us to sleep and we had gotten spammed with tons of emails from him for days and months.
    Is it that he has forgotten all of his PTR training? The better pros know to “talk less and teach more”.
    Let’s hope the Bryans are allowed to SHOW and tell in the next videos. Maybe a better host?

    • Joe – me too.
      Will over promised and under delivered with FYB. Vary wary of anything he offers now. Once bitten…

    • Hi Joe – I am as well concerned that the new marketing philosophy has gone towards long and longer sales pages &/or videos.

      I agree. Let’s get to the point right away and deliver valuable instruction.

      Brent

  4. Ricky Mason says:

    Brent…I liked the video very much…

    I liked the combination of chalk talk and on court explanation…the footwork drill show and tell…and I thought Will does a good job of speaking…all in all I thought the video was well crafted…

    Yeh there was not much new in this first video…but it was free…what’s to be expected…on the other hand…if you have some 3.5 and 4.0 dubs partners who continually ignore your advice to attack the net and prefer to play losing dubs from the baseline…then this first video with the BB’s talking about the secret sauce might be worth sharing…before you go out and find some new partners…I know many whom I intend to share this video…

    Thanks for the heads up regarding this video…I hope Will chooses to show the next one video for free…I like the price…

    Aloha, Ricky

    • Aloha Ricky…

      The ‘Secret Sauce’ is NOT new as you point out. However, you’re right, there are way too many players out there finding reasons to hang back on the baseline and not move in to join their partner.

      Some of it’s not their fault, especially if you watch the pros play.

      Check out this video I did for one of our fellow WebTennis subscribers…

      Brent

  5. Rodger Schuester says:

    I enjoyed the video – so thanks Will!

    I have never signed up for any of Will’s stuff because of the above comments, including his represented numbers of website hits. YET and HOWEVER,

    I thought bringing in the Bros was a brilliant catch for him despite the the secret sauce comment that taking control of the net is a secret. I enjoyed the ending and I think that footwork drill will be a good idea for me, not only for doubles, but for return of serve footwork.

    Note: The young guys can get overworked on the salesmanship and hype, but that doesn’t mean they have nothing to offer. Obviously, the competition for web presence is heating up quickly as players are opening up to the idea they don’t have to have a coach physically holding their hands to make significant improvements and the cost/value proposition can be pretty incredible for both the players and the coach.

    I did take notes and will enjoy in subsequent videos, as I did in the first video, seeing the plays used to solve the fearless/passive problems. Not all problems need to be solved with stroke improvements.

    I did have some concern about skimming over the concept of transition shots, because for us older guys, it is more of a 1-2-3 than a 1-2 going forward issue and one reason for the commonality of the one up one back is the failure to make the transition whether by shot making or using your judgment when to move forward and how far, and not moving around when you get to the net – same with the baseline – to stay, move back a bit, or move forward a bit.

    I know I’m being a bit more patient and careful these days for the first 2 or 3 games, until I start seeing the opportunities and can anticipate a bit of what they can do to me and I do to them, rather than just busting forward like a bull in a china shop.

    However, since judgment is part of the issue, it makes sense that not only looking at it from a defense/neutral/offense based on quality of shots, but also setting up some plays is worth delving into.

    I liked the discussion of how they pay attention to the court positioning of the net man to assess potential weaknesses they can work on against him.

    I try to remember that a lot of fun can be had at my level just by being creative as there is so much done wrong by all of us at my level. The Bros might love lobs, but a lot of my fellow players hate them, are not used to seeing many of them, and it wrecks their rhythm – hence a strategy useful at one level that is not useful at another level.

    I think Will is here to stay, as well as many of the other young coaches. With experience and age “they” will produce some great stuff, and some are already doing so, and this video does show some positive personal growth for him.

    • Good positive comments RS. Thanks.

      Look, it’s easy for me to sit back, cross my arms, and after 40 years of teaching this game, be critical.

      The young online teaching pros have to find a way to balance their love for teaching and marketing.

      My concern at times is when I see too much effort put into selling and not enough into learning more about their passion for teaching.

      I have faith that Will, Ian, and hopefully Jeff S will continue to grow in that area…

      Brent

  6. The “Fearful Fred” position is what most pros teach as the starting position for the up man on return of serve. Then if the return man hits a good crosscourt return, Fred moves up in the box. If the next shot gets past Fred, then he moves back in the box, etc. Are we saying that this is too old school? In other words, just start up in the box and stay there? I do understand that you don’t want to just park on the service line with your head on a swivel and watch the ball go by. I love the energy of the Bryans. They still love the game after all these years.

    • Rodger Schuester says:

      Hi David,
      I don’t know anything about old school, but as I see it at my level, most net players just stand around in the middle of the box waiting for the ball to come conveniently close to them and things like fake poaching are unknown.

      I think the term fearful applies to players who just stand around, whose feet are stuck in concrete. To get out of the concrete, it’s not just a matter of improving ones skills, but also studying court positioning, fake poaching, etc.

      I have a good friend who is a great 4.0/4.5 singles player, with great shot making skills both in the backcourt and at the net. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, he just never studied doubles as a game and makes a lot of court positioning mistakes that really hurts his overall game. He also has a tendency under pressure to become a weed wacker.

      A few times I mentioned some things, and he seemed to listen, but he returned back to form as if he had a hole in his head – yet, he is always positive and encourages me to improve. Something about players who rely on shot making skills that prevents them from seeing the court positioning issues.

    • Hi David – All things being equal at each skill level, the returner of serve in doubles should be able to play cross court returns and/or lob if really jammed.

      Relatively speaking for each skill level, the returners should be as good returning as the servers at that same level are serving.

      That said, I see way too many return partners camped out on the service line anticipating a weak return of serve to the server’s partner.

      When their return does go cross court, rarely will the returner’s partner scoot up inside the service box and try to take charge.

      Then, if the returner does the right thing by following their return up to net, the middle of the court on the returning team is now like a HUGE vacuum when the returner’s partner stays there on the service line.

      It drives me nuts. It’s like the partner telling the returner, dude, I’ve got no faith in you.

      OK sure, from time to time we face a player with a big boomer 1st serve (come on, how often does that serve REALLY go in…?), and in that case, right, the returner has a much tougher time getting their return back cross court.

      So, you go for the lob…

      But the key here is for that returner’s partner to start up a couple of feet inside that service line and show the serving team that they mean frickin business.

      A lot of doubles is showing attitude – not in a punk bratty way, but more with court positioning.

      Fake poach, poach, fake and then go, and on and on…

      Brent

      • Brent,

        Just to make sure I’m getting your point, are you saying that as the returner’s partner you are not starting at the service line even as the serve is being hit? Most lessons I have had seem to promote this as the starting position and only after the returner successfully hits crosscourt past the net man does the returner’s partner move up in the box. Thanks.

        • Hi David – I used to teach that strategy for the returner’s partner, but I’ve changed it in my teaching AND when I play.

          The reality is this – when the returner’s partner starts at the service line and the return goes cross court, rarely do I see the returner’s partner move up into an agressive court position to disrupt the server’s next shot.

          Most of the time (and I see this at the 5.0 level sometimes), that partner hangs back either on their service line or just slightly inside it, and then the middle of the court for that returning team is an enormous vacuum just sucking balls into it. Bad deal…

          The other reason I don’t teach that starting position anymore is that if the return does go to the server’s partner and/or that player poaches, the chances of defending aren’t all that good anyway.

          And a 3rd bonus reason is that it makes the returner feel as if you don’t trust they can handle the serve. If the server has that tough a serve, then on that first serve both players ought to be back on the baseline. If the server’s 2nd serve is also too tough to handle, then you guys are playing out of your skill level.

          I’d rather see the returner’s partner start 2 feet inside the service line, really be ready to take care of business when that return goes cross court. It also shows the serving team that you mean business. Puts a little pressure on them. I like that…

          We’re going to spend some time on this issue.

          Brent

          • Phil Cormier says:

            Hi Brent,

            In your opinion, should the returner’s partner have anything to do with helping decide (calling) weather the incoming serve is in or out? I know we do that at the club level. Do more experienced teams just let the returner make the call?
            In my mind, this issue loosely relates to where I want to stand as the returner’s partner.

            thanks, Phil

  7. The best part of the Bryan Brothers’ video was at the end with the split step drill and Brent’s analysis of the lob return and how the various players reacted. I see A LOT of guys back off the net at the most inopportune times. It would be great to get a series of what not to do as well as what to do in specific situations.

    Knowles should have made that shot since he is a pro, but a regular club player may have been better advised to hit a lob back to the baseliner, don’t you think?

    Best,
    Dave

    • Hey Dave – that video clip I analyzed was really telling.

      This stuff happens at ALL levels!

      Right, Knowles probably makes that shot 9 out of 10 times, but who knows why he missed that one.

      He jammed himself by crowding the ball. The match may have been well in hand at that point and maybe he got a little sloppy – who knows?

      And yes, at the rec level, probably better to hit a deep lob there as an approach shot, and that’s right, get in…!

      Brent

  8. Rickmartin says:

    Hi Brent
    I think it was very useful, I being a weekend player strugle to play at net close enough to net and in a position to poach risking being passed down the alley, and definitelly a lot of weekend players ar more afraid of being passed or lobbied, than positiva on hitting high balls close to the net doing a lot of damage.
    I definitelly go for the damage, nothing like putting it away!!!

    • Hi Rick – you named it, fear…

      That is the one emotion, the one response that absolutely kills our potential for playing at a higher level.

      So what if you get passed or miss or whatever?

      This isn’t a life or death deal out there.

      McEnroe once said that he got passed at net more than anyone else.

      Which is probably true. The more you’re up there, the chances go slightly up that you’ll get passed more, but who cares if you’re winning most of the points…?

      Get passed and learn…

      Brent

  9. Sam Bussey says:

    Hi Brent,

    I appreciate very much your efforts to bring useful fresh content to us from other teaching pro’s. I had to laugh at the Bryans saying that they love lobs. At 64, I hate lobs. Running back to get them from a close position at the net is far more painful than stopping at the service line and hitting a half-volley before coming all the way in, thereby getting more time to take control of the point.

    I have to second the above comments about FYB. It is very difficult to listen to such long, drawn-out, overly-analytical explanations of concepts that are largely self-evident if you have been a participant here in this forum for any length of time. I have learned far more watching you demonstrate tactics yourself in actual points or observing your forehand volley stroke, etc. It’s a little hard to translate an “X” on a whiteboard to an actual stroke on the court with so many variables to take into account in producing that stroke.

    • Hi Sam – I do agree that we learn in short bites of info.

      The one thing that’s taken me a long time to learn as a teaching pro is that my job is to simplify what you do, not complicate what you do.

      My job is to take away those layers of stuff that get in the way of you playing your best tennis.

      And it’s tough at times to state what’s simple and then just shut up and let you digest it.

      When I was younger, I over taught. I didn’t get the results then that I do now. That learning experience for me was all about how to convince you that the fundamentals of the stokes and the strategies are all you have to learn and practice.

      All of the superficial stuff just gets in the way of you becoming a better player.

      Over teaching might make feel like I’m really delivering the goods, BUT, the reality is I’m not helping you improve…

      Brent

  10. Rodger Schuester says:

    Hey Sam,
    One thing about getting older is WE can have more fun at the expense of our stabilized/non-learning fellow opponents and move up a level. I’m keep getting better at what I call playing disruptive tennis as a “style.”

    The more I master drop shots, lobs, moving forward, transition shots, keeping my emotions cool, staying relaxed, and hitting smooth complete swings using a constant natural tempo for all my shots means having a heck of a lot of fun playing tennis at the expense of my opponents, even if it doesn’t look like what we see on tv.

    And underneath that is a good fitness program to regain some strength, mobility, and stamina AND new friends.

  11. Diana Cook says:

    I don’t have much time to watch videos so I really want to get as many ideas as possible. I was disappointed in the video. I didn’t learn very much. The best doubles video I ever watched was Successful Doubles by Pete Collins. That video clearly defined the responsibilities of each player and emphasized the split step by video taping players trying to reach balls with and without split steps. It also showed how to position yourself to avoid missing balls. And it showed how to hit diagonally through 2 opponents who were playing one up and one back. I have not seen any doubles videos that are better. The Bryan brothers video is more beautiful and clearer with the camera work, and Bob and Mike are awesome when they demo the skills. But the presentation seems a little slow paced to me. I didn’t like “wasting” a minute watching Mike and Bob play music to show how rhythm is important in tennis. Entertaining but irrelevant to me. Also, the ideas seem to be disjointed. I prefer your own series where you start out by showing the positions and responsibilities of each player for each stage of the point. That said, I think the split step drill is quite good and useful. The drill of approaching the net as you split step and volley is also quite good. I have done this drill at doubles workshops. But this series lacks an overall structure to build an understanding of the game from the ground up.

    • Hi Diana – thanks for your honest feedback.

      You’re right, this isn’t supposed to be a beauty contest. You’re looking for content that is direct, to the point, doesn’t beat around the bush, and helps improve your tennis…

      Brent

  12. Rodger Schuester says:

    I really enjoyed the 2nd video – even better than the first. Some useful insights on movement, defense/offense, and footwork that complement what Brent teaches in his doubles videos.

    If I could get my upcoming combo partner to do that split step dance with me in front of the opposing team, that ought to mess big time with their minds.

  13. Rodger Schuester says:

    One of the things I liked in video #2 was Will on the chalkboard where he made a good point of showing that constant reset from ball to ball by the netman, and use of the drill to move to the ball if it comes to the netman.

    Brent, you talk about the need for constant movement by the netman, but it really takes a lot of focused practice to make that happen, so again, addressing that once more in the video helps adds extra emphasis for me now that I’m in the fitness program. I mean, it is so easy to move a bit, then forget and not move enough.

  14. Rodger Schuester says:

    So unfortunate, after two great videos. The fourth video is a total toss in the trash. The pricing $397 is typical FYB ridiculous and the 3 of them acted liked a bunch of dufuses about it. IMHO, the program could be and probably is excellent, but don’t tell me I’m gonna play like the Bryan Bros.

    Smarter IMHO would be to break their program into a 4 part series, with the first part around $57 and the next 3 parts $125 each. That would get you exposed, seeing the value, and wanting more. But throwing out a worthless quick hash and marketing blah for the 4th video……..went too far…Bryan’s really could have picked a better guy to work with.

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