Mental transitions from Singles to Doubles (and visa versa) [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Mental transitions from Singles to Doubles (and visa versa)

Angle Queen
06-22-2007, 07:27 PM
Anyone else struggle with this issue? Since I'm just on the road back to competitive tennis (after taking off time to have a baby), I've mostly played doubles. I love doubles -- the teamwork, the strategy, the aggressive play.

But now, I'm being pressed back into singles duty. I've worked hard to get my fitness back up to snuff...but find myself struggling with the mental aspects.
How to visually "shrink" the court -- in doubles, I LOVE the alleys. And being tight at the net, I have lots more angles. It's hard (and dangerous) to get in that close in singles.
How to receive serve on both sides -- with so many more (apparent) options because there is no "net" person, I find myself changing my mind mid-swing, and that usually spells disaster.
How/when/if to chip-n-charge or s/v -- After being a "baseliner" early in my career (with much, much younger legs), I started playing much more aggressively as I played more doubles. In doubles, I'm coming in. No doubt about it. But in singles, without a decent approach shot, that's disastrous.
Patience -- Again, I'm so aggressive in doubles, the points are usually short and the "rhythm" I need to develop is in my "touch" (on the volleys). Now, having to find that for my groundstrokes...eh...I'm struggling.

Any thoughts, comments or ideas (but please, no bashing of the doubles "game")...

BgStallion
06-22-2007, 07:35 PM
I don't think that the court size is that much trouble. To me playing doubles seems easier on the mental side ,because you and your partner are a team and you share the burden. So it's alot easier that way. Don't get me wrong - playing doubles has alot of other requirments ,but to me that's the main diffrence. Playing doubles can also improve your net game :) Perhaps you've noticed how well doubles players know when to go out to the net. In my opinion the most intelligent player on the tour is Fabrice Santoro. He knows exactly when to s&v ,when to c&c and when to take the initiative and go out to the net in a longer rally.

Angle Queen
06-22-2007, 07:42 PM
Thanks, BG. I agree that many of the mental aspects are easier in doubles (if the coordination with your partner is good...otherwise, it's a horrid experience). I knew how to improve my fitness (both on- and off-court) but the mental practice seems harder to obtain...short of playing singles more. As a new mommy, court time is rare indeed so I try to make the most of it.

I'm also a huge Santoro fan and have a tremendous amount of respect for him since he plays both with success (as do Bjorkman and Mirnyi). When I'm down in the dumps (and in my tennis slumps ;) ) I'll pop in his USO match against Fed. Even though he lost...it goes down as one of my all-time favorites.

BgStallion
06-22-2007, 07:59 PM
I had the same match ,but unfortunately my hard drive got corrupted and I lost it :( Anyway I'll try and find it again - it was a great match. But I don't think that Santoro could be compared to Bjorkman and Mirnyi. They are constant s&v-ers and they'll go to the net at every opportunity ,whereas Fabrice would do it at the appropriate time. He plays a very smart game ,which is mixed with offence and defence - never letting the opponent get into in any sort of pace or rhythm. Unfortunately his physical lack of power didn't allow him to go as far as he should have ,but that's life.
Anyway it's great to hear that you're getting back in shape :) As for the mental training - I used to be a choker to be honest. But I found a way to deal with it. Everytime before the start of a match my heart would start beating fast and I'd feel it. Then my hands would go stiff and I'd go from playing my usual agressive game to simply pushing the ball. I realised that if I wanted to get better I shouldn't let that continue. So everytime I saw a player I liked(or simply a player on tv) and he was in a bad situation I tried to put my self in his shoes and I began feeling the same way ,but that helped me overcome it. Second I started training my mind to block all negative emotions not only on court ,but off court as well - you'd be surprised how much these things have in common. Meditation could help. For eg. I admired Borgs mentality and I wanted to be similar on court and in life ,but that's something I haven't been able to achieve. I'm calmer than before ,but I still have some outbursts of joy or anger. The other way to look at things is like guys like Hewitt or Connors - the will to win simply fuels them. Also Brad Gilbert showed some pretty good ideas in his book "Winning Ugly". Thinking alot before a match doesn't only help you strategically ,but it also helps you mentally. Setting your mental compass always helps. So after going through this tough road I don't feel so much preasure before playing a match,I don't feel any stiff and I don't get that feeling in my chest and I'm free to play my game. I hope that I was of some help :) You're probably way more experienced than me ,but this is the road that I had to go through get mentally tougher.
BTW - on what kind of level do you play?

Angle Queen
06-22-2007, 09:40 PM
I had the same match ,but unfortunately my hard drive got corrupted and I lost it :(*sigh* Mine's on a bad VCR tape that I'm babying along so I know that day will come for me too...when it's gone.

But I don't think that Santoro could be compared to Bjorkman and Mirnyi. They are constant s&v-ers and they'll go to the net at every opportunity ,whereas Fabrice would do it at the appropriate time. He plays a very smart game ,which is mixed with offence and defence - never letting the opponent get into in any sort of pace or rhythm.So true. But I still admire all three for their ability to move back and forth between the two "games."

I admired Borgs mentality and I wanted to be similar on court and in life ,but that's something I haven't been able to achieve. I'm calmer than before ,but I still have some outbursts of joy or anger. The other way to look at things is like guys like Hewitt or Connors - the will to win simply fuels them. Also Brad Gilbert showed some pretty good ideas in his book "Winning Ugly".Also a Borg fan. He was/seemed so cool, calm and collected. Some thought that made him boring. But I loved to watch his game. Since his skill set (and that of all pros, for that matter) seems so far out of my realm that it's difficult to put myself in their shoes. If I had to equate myself mentally to one of them...it'd be Hewitt. Off-court, I'm a thin, ultra-nerd who can't stand the thought of crushing a spider (they get carefully carted outside :) ). But on-court, look out. I'm polite to speak to, even to play against -- give calls and give the benefit of the doubt. But my goal...is to beat you down. Love and love is always the aspiration (if not always the realistic expectation). And my general philosophy is that it ain't over until someone calls, "game, set and match." I fight as hard down Love-40 as a do up at 40-Love.

"Winning Ugly"... is by the bedside. ;)

btw...I did have a string two years ago of nine straight sets (over 5 matches in 5 weeks) of Oh and Ohs. :)


Thinking alot before a match doesn't only help you strategically ,but it also helps you mentally. Setting your mental compass always helps.Guess this is where I need to put some effort. I generally prepare for a match by watching a favorite one on tape -- trying to pick one where at least one of the players either plays like my upcoming opponent...or the way I'd like to play. I'm thinking of a Nole IW or Miami match for my upcoming endeavor. Not that I have anywhere near his arsenal...just that I liked his mix of play.

I hope that I was of some help :) You're probably way more experienced than me ,but this is the road that I had to go through get mentally tougher.Always. An intelligent conversation is like the pearl in the oyster and I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

BTW - on what kind of level do you play?Probably gotcha on the "life" experience...but not in tennis. At 40+, I've seen plenty. Don't regret a damn bit of it...and am always looking forward to my next decade. As for the tennis, I'm a lowly 3.5 with no real aspirations to go up to 4.0. Just want to play well, enjoy myself and stay fit.

Thanks again!

BgStallion
06-25-2007, 10:07 AM
Hey - I'm sorry about the next question. It's a bit offtopic. But what do you think makes Fabs backhand so great. That's a question I've been asking myself and I can't answer. I'm not even sure what kind of grips he uses ,but I've noticed that he keeps his racquet head parallel to ground ,but the follow through is a mystery to me. Maybe it's continental on his right and semiwestern on his left? Also the thing about his bh is his variety - he can hit it with incredible amounts of topspin for good crosscourt angles & incredible topspin lobs and at the same time bash a flat one down the line.
I think that one of the reasons he is able to hit it so well is because he has a very well developed left hand - I've even seen him resort only to his left hand when he's stretched. Also the fact that he plays his forehand with 2 hands (even though he let's go with the right after the time of impact when he's slicing the ball - so it's like a lefty bh slice) should have an influence on his left hand. But still to me that's one of the best 2h bhs on the tour.

Aerion
06-26-2007, 10:26 PM
I think that's a difficult transition. We're usually better at one than the other.

I'll stick to singles. :eek: Where only I can hit the ball on my side! :mad:

BgStallion
06-26-2007, 11:09 PM
I think that's a difficult transition. We're usually better at one than the other.

I'll stick to singles. :eek: Where only I can hit the ball on my side! :mad:

Hmmm :) You should give doubles a chance. You know the saying
A champion team always beats a team of champions.

Aerion
07-21-2007, 02:36 AM
Hmmm You should give doubles a chance. You know the saying
A champion team always beats a team of champions.

but...still....:p

ninersankingsfan
08-23-2007, 01:40 PM
I think with singles you need the mentality of being patient and willing to grind out the point until you get a short ball to attack while doubles is a lot more aggressive most of the time. You don't need to paint the stripes to win in singles, just be smart and go for the winner only when you have a good opportunity. Also, when you come to the net in singles, you don't need your first volley to be a winner but rather use it to get the other player out of position and take it on the next volley.

Angle Queen
08-23-2007, 07:10 PM
I think with singles you need the mentality of being patient and willing to grind out the point until you get a short ball to attack while doubles is a lot more aggressive most of the time. You don't need to paint the stripes to win in singles, just be smart and go for the winner only when you have a good opportunity. Also, when you come to the net in singles, you don't need your first volley to be a winner but rather use it to get the other player out of position and take it on the next volley.Welcome to MTF. I'm honored that you made your first post here...and have added some good advice. Now that the season is over (and I only had to play one singles match that counted), I'll have to file that one away for next year. In doubles, I'm so used to having the alley lines to use as a target; I usually aim for the "singles" line and invariably get it in the alley. They're rarely "out." Maybe during practice some this fall, I'll get out some chalk and mark an "inside" line for singles play. :) At least it'll give me a better target zone.