The 7 Deadly Sins – Tips for playing doubles tennis

What are the 7 Deadly Sins? Well, they are the capital vices or, as some like to refer to them, the cardinal sins of life. And, due to my sole useful ability being that I am able to apply everything in this world to tennis, I’ve applied these on court, too. The following seven sins are doubles mistakes that challenge us on court with our partners.

Screen shot 2013-03-01 at 4.14.50 AM1. Lust – “Intense desire”

Lust signifies wanting the glory shot – the drop shot you shouldn’t go for, the blazing winner past the volleyer, or (my personal favorite) the down-the-line shot-when-you-really-should-have-hit-it-crosscourt-again. Yes, that shot (you know what I’m talking about) – that you want so badly, but you usually don’t make. To that I say, have some discipline. Sure, the feeling you’ll get when you make it is phenomenal (and you’ll look magnificent), but it’s better to wait for the right moment. Don’t go for the wild flaming winner because the percentages of you making it regularly are very low. Take your time, build your points and resist temptation. Do it when you’re actually supposed to. You don’t want to look good hitting a single awesome forehand once a set. You want to look good by winning.

If Venus is smart

Instead of going for too much, Venus gets the low volley back to join her sister in at net

2. Gluttony – “Over indulgence”

Gluttony represents your tendency to over-indulge yourself on the easy stuff — yup, you know your ball toss should be in front of you rather than behind (“oops.. screw it, I’ll hit it anyway”), that you should come into net with your partner when they do, or that you should be hitting to that guy’s backhand so your partner can poach. But you don’t, and every time you take the easy route and let the bad habit sink in a bit more, it’s only going to get worse. Yup, I sound like your mom, but it’s true. Kick the bad habits. Don’t keep allowing yourself to do the same lazy thing over and over again. Once again, it’s about the self-discipline.

3. Greed – “Pursuit of wealth”

Greed focuses on what we want, when we already have enough. Sometimes, we just want a better partner. Yep, it would be great to have one of the Bryan Brothers on court with us, but what you get on the day is what you got. You want to serve into the back of their head you get so mad, but the best thing to do? Focus on your own game and how you can set your partner up. I can confidently say that when they make a mistake, they’re probably just as annoyed, if not more, than you are. Improving your game and winning more points can sometimes give them back the confidence they need to stop making mistakes. Doubles is about two people working together — you won’t win on court if you’re wishing they were off it.

US Open 2010

I’m pretty sure Mike wants to punch Bob sometimes, but what does he do? He plays with his brother, and they work as a team to be effective. Chest bump!

4. Sloth - ”Laziness”

Sloth explores the idea of not putting in the practice to get better. And I don’t just mean practicing your shots – I’m talking about practicing strategy. Serve and volley, ‘I’ formation, Australian, two back, two up, poaching on serve or in a rally… The list goes on. Whether it’s a friendly organized match on the weekend or a hit with a friend, you can always be teaching yourself new habits. Not only will you learn the concepts, but you’ll also be able to implement them properly to have a bigger arsenal in your matches. You won’t get better if you don’t practice. And, a largely forgotten secret: with practice comes confidence :)

5. Wrath - ”Rage and fury”

Wrath represents the rage you get on court – focusing on the opponent too much or getting too mad at yourself or your partner. I’m not talking about being angry because a little bit of fire in the engine is good, I’m talking about rage. All-consuming. Explosive. Rage. For whatever reason (justifiable or not), getting so angry you want to punch your head through a wall isn’t going to help anyone. So breathe, drink some water, refocus your mind. You’ll feel better, trust me, and your tennis will thank you.

Look at all the love Roddick has for Fish (yes, they probably just won a tournament, but they won by being a team)

Look at all the love Roddick has for Fish (yes, they probably just won a tournament, but they won by being a team).

6. Envy - “Insatiable desire”

Envy explores the idea of insatiable desire for things that are not yours – poaching too much and wanting all the shots. You don’t want your partner to hit it! Psssh, they’ll screw it up and you can hit a better shot anyway… Yeah, sometimes. If you’re in a better position, go for it; cut off the angle or take the ball out of the air. But if you’re not? Trust your partner to do their job, the same way they’re trusting you’ll do yours. It’s definitely no fun playing with someone who takes all your balls, and it just leads to contention.

Andy Murray and brother Jamie Murray are pictured here in the doubles event at the BNP Paribas Open. (Picture by Kana, TW

Murray crosses to take a backhand volley while playing with his brother. Effective poaching works; ineffective poaching causes problems.

7. Pride – “Excessive belief in one’s own abilities”

Pride represents the feeling when you think you’re so awesome — so awesome that it’s detrimental to your relationships with others. It’s an age old tale: being better than your opponent on court doesn’t make you a better person off court, so learn to keep the ego in check. Confidence is hugely important, but no one likes a sore loser — especially if your opponents were rude or cheated. The match is over, so rise above it. Yeah, it’s tough sometimes but accept the loss and know that it doesn’t define you as a person no matter how much your pride was involved.

Are you guilty of any of these 7 sins?

Do you think there are any other doubles sins that people commit on court?

Always a pleasure, peace and love,

Siobhan

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