What’s The Right Shot? Episode #43 – The Answer

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Here’s the “Answer” segment to this week’s episode of our “What’s The Right Shot?”.

We had lots of solid comments over at our Question segment.  And you now what, I’m cool with at least 3 of those choices.

However, what I want to teach this morning is why this particular shot choice works based on the opponent’s court position.

After watching this video, let me know what you think in the Comments section below.  Thanks in advance …

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  1. Brent,
    That is the problem with that return so far over into the alley, it opens the court up. The returners partner has to cover the alley which opens the middle. Even if the returner moves over, that opens up the cross court alley. Cut down on the angles and make the court smaller that they have to hit to. HAVE A GREAT DAY.

    • That’s absolutely right Robert.

      The best return of serve in doubles is to have it land directly at the feet of the incoming server.

      Everything then gets much tougher for the server – footwork to get out of the way to execute a decent 1st or 1/2 volley) plus it allows the returner’s partner to really get involved with either a fake or an actual poach.


  2. A hard shot down the middle seems like a high percentage play almost always.

  3. Hey all ways enjoy these makes me think about options. The middle is always my fail safe and in this case I think it is the right shot one of the opponents is moving to the ally and is deep for a net player and the returner is in no mans land High percentage shot for you and tuff for them. I see this chip return often and I think it puts the receiving team in trouble more often then not if it do’s not stay down it gives the server to many options. It gives the serving team the net easily. The returners partner certainly needs to be much more aggressive in fact I think a third ball poach call would be good. Force the server to hit the down the line lower percentage shot.
    A lot of time this all comes down to what sots a player has in his bag the right shot for me might not be the right shot for every one.
    Any Way Thanks

    • Morning Doug.

      I like the ‘chip’ return directly at the incoming server’s feet, but in this case you’re right, it sits up in the alley that forced the returner’s partner to have to cover his alley.

      That forces the returning team to have to cover way too much court.

      If you take your shots out into an opponents’ alley, you’d better make sure the chances are good that it’s not coming back …


  4. the netman stepped too much ro the sideline

    • Hi Andy.

      The return of serve forced his partner to have to at least ‘show’ that the alley was covered …


  5. Anonymous says:

    For what ever reason I am not getting the videos. It is just an open space where the videos should appear. I was getting them before.

    • Not sure why Anon.

      You might have a security setting that is not allowing the videos to be shown.

      Maybe try a different browser.


  6. Usual great video, and killer music! Sounds like old Little Feat.

    • Morning Mike!

      Come on man, that’s the great Van Morrison doing “Cleaning Windows”, one of my all time favorite song.



  7. The servers partner moved to cover the alley and then had to hit an off balance shot going the other direction. My question is should he have moved to cut off the middle and left the alley open since that is a low percentge shot?

    • Morning Larry.

      The return of serve that sat up in the alley got the returning team in troubles from the start.

      If I’m the returner’s partner in this situation, I’ll try to show a big fake poach as that return is sitting up in hopes that I can visually distract the server and maybe, certainly not a guarantee, but just maybe create an unforced error.

      You never know …


  8. I meant the receivers partner on the previous post

  9. Major Dan says:

    It seems to me that the server was pretty much ‘playing’ the opposing net man- when the netman drifted to the sideline, the shot to the middle wrong-footed him. I can only wonder: if the net man had held his position, would the shot have gone down the line ?
    I agree with the above comments that the chip return to the alley put the receiving team at a disadvantage – in effect isolating the net man. And the server took advantage.
    If the net man had charged forward – would the server have gone straight at him and handcuffed him?

    • Major Dan.

      Doubles is pretty much a guessing game.

      Every time you are about to play a shot, you have to guess if an opponent is going to move and what court space might be the opening.

      Conversely, as your opponent is about to play their shot, you have to do a reverse guessing game and anticipate (or force) where your opponent is going to play their shot.

      The better doubles players are better at guessing …


      • Major Dan says:

        I ‘guess’ you are right 🙂
        playing doubles the past few days, I’ve noticed that on returns wide to the forehand side, going down the line is NOT an easy shot – looks easy on the stop-action video here – but in real life, it has to be a pretty easy ball. It’s a bit different if the server stays back and the return is deeper, but that style just raises other problems…
        I think maybe next time I am in the receiver’s partner’s position as in this video, I’ll fake to the alley early, then cover the center, as that seems to be the best percentage play and most likely shot – unless previous point history creates another of those ‘guessing’ situations 🙂

        • That’s exactly what I like to do MD.

          Fake to the alley early, meaning, make the server think that’s what your covering, and then as they’re about to play their shot, move back to your right and look for something you can pick off …


          • Major Dan says:

            OMG – I must be learning something !!! 🙂
            I really appreciate the forum here. Little by little, some of doubles is making more sense to me… thanks so much.

  10. Brent, excellent analysis and discussion. As a returner, I’ve always thought that a good chip or topspin to the service box corner or alley was the perfect return. But this video shows that it can be countered if the returner’s partner doesn’t close or return more quickly to the middle. It made me think that an extreme angle can be a great shot if both players play it right. As an older senior, it is easy as a returner’s partner to hang out at the service line, cover the wide serve by moving to the alley and not moving sufficiently forward or to the middle as the server is hitting the ball. This was enlightening. It made me think not only about returner’ s partner responsibilities but also the risks of returning too wide, if the responsibilities are not carried out.

    • Hi Dick.

      When you play shots into their alley, and your shot doesn’t force them to have tough stroke mechanics, you’ve essentially stretched out the amount of court that you and your partner now have to cover.

      Chip all day long, but make sure that chip consistently lands at your opponent’s feet …


  11. Mike Sakmar says:

    I agree with the up the middle response, but in my opinion, the server “got away” with one here. I like the 2nd level question of the returner’s partner positioning. As Brett suggested, if he took a few steps forward, the low return being popped up is a sitter for an aggressive net man, and the likely outcome would have been a winner volley back down the middle, not a pop up that goes long.

    • Hey Mike.

      I’ll agree that the server might have gotten away with one here, but still, read my response to @MajorDan above.


  12. In my view, the net man misses a makeable volley. Perhaps the returner would have been in an even better position for that ball too. So the play exposes technical ability as well as lack of communication in the returning team. I am not saying it would have been an easy volley, but it’s a shot I want to be able to make. In my view, the net returner splits too late – his feet touch the ground when the ball already crosses the net. He then does not even try to move to the volley, instead he reaches out for it, which opens up the racquet in a way that even if he keeps the ball in, it’s going to be a sitter. If he splits a little earlier, he gains time to take a step to the ball and finish the point with a better volley. So, what’s the right shot? It’s the shot that exposes your opponent’s limitations – in that sense perfect. Is it the right shot regardless the opponent? I doubt it.

    • Hey Fred.

      It’s a make-able volley only IF he’s looking for the server to play his shot there.

      I think that Bob was covering up the alley, trying to get prepared for it to his left, and then all of a sudden it’s on him to his right.

      Very tough shot by the server …


  13. Hi:

    We actually had a clinic today where the emphasis was on what to do when the ball is stright ahead like that. Move forward in the box and split on contact. That way you ready to move in a V in either direction. The returner’s partner had an easy volley if he had moved up, but instead made a hard volley for himself. So that bears repeating, even for good players such as those in the video.

    And the server in the alley didn’t have much of an alley shot, by his positioning unless he lofted it, as he didn’t really run around it at all.

    That is actually my weakness, not stepping in, so it’s a good reminder.

    Thanks Brent,


  14. thanks 🙂

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