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John Milbank

How to play with and against left-handed players seems to be often up for debate. This article will describe the most common situations and what to do when playing with and against a team that has a lefty. The most important factor of a righty-lefty combination is to make sure that while at the net your overheads are in the middle. (right-handed player on the left). We would like to eliminate situations that might force us to hit a backhand overhead! This is why the Australian serving position may be so beneficial, however not absolutely necessary. When a lefty serves his partner will play Australian for the ad serve. When the righty serves his partner will play Australian for the deuce serves. This position eliminates the need for switching at the net, which is often difficult for less experienced teams. All other strategic information ever learned is only helpful if a team understands the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses while being aware of their own strengths and weaknesses. For example: My lefty partner may keep hitting to the deuce side screen if the deuce player can’t hurt us. This may be considered poor strategy by many but if it is winning points, why change. I have always found it important to test my opponents to see what they are capable of even if it is to their forehand side. We do not want to be too predictable or our opponents may become more confident.

This is a common question: Which side of the court should the lefty play while at the baseline? Answer: Every team is different and each team should discuss what strategically works best. Some players have two-handed backhands. Some players that are left-handed can only play well from the add side. Some right-handed players can only play well from the deuce side. The team should decide keeping in mind that we do want offense in the middle of the court since this is the safest place to hit overheads. Most advanced teams have the lefty in the deuce side and the righty in the ad court.

Here Are Some Common Questions When Playing Against A Lefty:

  1. Where should we hit our overheads? Play the ball soft and deep down the middle to confuse the team. Attack overheads to the ad side screens mostly so the player at the net on the left side can get to hit most of the overheads.
  2. Where should we drive? The answer will always be down the middle 90% unless one player has clearly a weaker volley.
  3. Where should we lob? Lob down the line to get activity off your side and to your partner. Lob crosscourt to bring the activity back to you. Lob down the middle to confuse your opponents. Lobs should have a purpose and you and your partner should understand your lobbing strategy. Lobbing down the line from the add court may possibly set up the deuce player’s forehand.
  4. Where should we volley? Volleys should be mostly hit down the middle soft and deep to the weaker player or at a player to make him move. Only attack a player when the ball is above the net a bit and moving slowly.

Here Are Some Common Questions When Playing With A Lefty

  1. Who takes the middle balls? The player that gets to the ball sooner should be given the green light since they are attacking sooner as long as the are not taking so many balls on their partners side that their partner loses rhythm from the “guest appearances”
  2. Who hits the overheads? The player who is crosscourt from the baseline hitter should be farther from the net then their partner. He is now looking to hit balls going over his head and across his outside shoulder. Other balls may be his partners. We would like the left side net player to hit as many overheads as possible since they have better angle to attack the ad side screen if the angle is available. Offense will less likely come out from this side.
  3. What side of the court should we play? The team should figure that out based on what will make them most formidable against the opponents.
  4. What is our volley position? The player down the line from the drive should cover the outside third of the net. The player crosscourt from the driver should cover the middle third and be a few inches behind their partner so they don’t hit paddles giving up most of the crosscourt third of the net.

The most important information to know about paddle is that so many different strategies can win a match and that team unity is always where it begins. I served and stayed back on every ad court point in the semis of the mixed nationals 2003. My opponent was hitting the greatest forehands I had ever seen and I knew I could not volley them. I attacked the return off the screens. The screens can help in so many ways as they did in this instance. When you and your partner are committed to understanding position and shot selection for each individual match your chances of feeling confident and secure increase greatly. There is no specific way to play!


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