In this post, I wanted to explain what exactly I mean when I say “Dancing with Your Partner” (‘cuz I can promise you we are NOT doing the jitterbug and you it’s something you can do with or without music…)
Some of what I teach and coach players on in the Dance with Your Partner section of Bootcamp is included in my book and in past articles but I have not yet put it all together into one comprehensive list.
While we don’t exactly have music that we are dancing to on the court, we DO have something that we are moving in synch with, and that’s the rhythm of the ball being hit. Every time the the ball is hit, it’s like one beat of music, and you and your partner move accordingly.
1: Use the One-Third/Two-Thirds Approach to Covering the Court
Here’s an in-depth article on what the one-third/two-thirds approach is and why I do NOT recommend the “forehand takes the middle” policy to my students.
The short version is: Don’t try to cover 100% of the court 100% of the time.
Instead, focus on covering 67% of the court 100% of the time because that’s that’s totally doable.
2: Know When to Cover the Line or Cover the Middle
If you are only covering part of the court at any given time, the logical question is: which part of the court should you be covering when?
Click here to read the in-depth article on this, but the short version is:
When the person across from YOU is hitting the ball, you should cover your line.
When the person across from YOUR PARTNER is hitting the ball, you should cover the middle (while your partner covers the line).
3: Shadow Your Partner
In some cases, your partner may get pulled off the side of the court to go for a wide ball. This is the time when you do your best to “shadow them” or slide over a little more than usual to cover the space that they would normally have been covering.
When they slide out of position to get the ball, the best thing for them to do is to hit it to the opponent in front of them, since you are both skewed to cover that side.
If your partner can’t do anything but hit it to the opponent catty-corner to them, and you have time to recover your position, then you’ll be prepared to cover YOUR line again and have your partner cover the middle.
4: Use Your Happy Feet!
In order to STAY in position as the ball moves, you and your partner must be constantly re-adjusting your position EVERY time the ball is hit.
The best way to do this is not to take large steps, which are liable to leave you off balance…
Instead, use a quick, shuffling motion side to side (a.k.a. your happy feet) to constantly make micro-adjustments to your positioning based on where the ball is on the court.
The Difference Between Knowing and Consistently Executing
Now, let’s be honest: READING about these tactics is about the easiest thing to do. IMPLEMENTING them once in a while in real play is a good start, but CONSISTENTLY EXECUTING them EVERY time you play makes the difference between a beginner/intermediate and an advanced player.
I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again here:
You’ll learn a lot at bootcamp, but the real value isn’t just in the know-how.
The real value of attending one of my bootcamps is in getting specific, individualized feedback so that you consistently execute the tactics and strategies you may already know, but are NOT yet using effectively or consistently.