Tennis is not just for pros.
Tennis is for everyone.
RALLYING THRESHOLD - SHOT NUMBER TOLERANCE
With an Emphasis on Doubles
By TennisTom, 2009
Rallying Threshold – what a concept – is synonymous with shot number tolerance. In doubles play a rally is an uninterrupted sequence of shots between two teams which continues until the point is lost by one of the teams. Every player has a rallying threshold.
A rallying threshold is the number of balls you can comfortably hit during a point before you become anxious about missing. Your rallying threshold subconsciously and significantly affects your level of play. Some few enjoy the increased intensity as the rally extends, but the majority of players experience discomfort at some point during a protracted rally. Nevertheless, it’s an inherent and fundamental part of tennis.
The big question is: How many balls can you hit during a point before getting nervous at some level? Is your answer four, eight, twelve, or more? (See the trivia note below, p. 2; you won’t believe your eyes.)
Shot number tolerance – doubles play vs singles play. A cause of the mentioned discomfort usually varies substantially between singles players and doubles players because singles players typically have much longer rallies than doubles players as singles typically demands more patience during rallies to develop a point. Doubles play, with its traditional one-up, one-back formation, lends itself to shorter points because of net player intervention. Also, due to the nature of doubles players – especially males – the tendency is to take more high risk shots. These unforced errors tend to shorten rallies.
How do you know what your shot number tolerance is? Finding out the answer to the rally threshold question for you personally is relatively simple. Go out and play a match. While you are playing, pay close attention to your feelings. Forget trying to make winners. (Hey, it’s possible!) Count each hit as you make it during each rally. After a few games you will soon be able to determine the average number of balls you can hit before you begin to feel a little nervous. (You also may be surprised at how short many rallies are.) If you are not willing to try this, then perhaps you are not really serious about improving your game. Your shot number (in-)tolerance is an often overlooked but important aspect of your game. Leave the blitzkrieg mentality to the pros, as they play in an entirely different tennis world.
How can you increase your rallying threshold significantly? During cooperative doubles practice (same playing level), try to maintain a 10-hit or 20-hit groundstroke rally. Be sure that the two (or four) of you use at least medium or greater pace because just bunting the ball back and forth is not realistic and will not be effective. The more you play this type of practice games, the more comfortable you will become with long rallies. It’s a confidence builder.
After a month of practice, if you adhere to the above rally enhancing routine, you will likely discover a nice side effect. You will begin to win more competitive games as your rallying threshold increases. This will particularly be more noticeable if you play in a League where the stakes are higher than in purely recreational games.
Lengthening your shot number tolerance is another aspect of smart tennis.
Tip concerning the idea of feel. A tennis ball should not be “hit,” in the sense that one might clobber a baseball. A tennis ball should be stroked with intentional follow through. The ball is your friend, and you should stay with it for a time beyond actual contact. Don’t pummel the ball as though it want to squish-squash it. Treat the ball right and it will treat you right.
When you learn how to keep your cool in lengthier rallies by increasing your shot number tolerance, you are also getting inside your opponent’s head psychologically. What fun.
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From the Oracle, my son Roman’s name for the Internet…
According to Guinness World Records, the longest continuous tennis rally ever was accomplished by twin brothers Ettore and Angelo Rossetti, in North Haven, Connecticut on August 28, 2008. It took 15 hours and 3 minutes. Their record breaking rally was 25,944 strokes of the tennis ball.
Also according to Guinness World Records, the Longest Tennis Marathon, Doubles, was played by Vince Johnson, Bill Geideman, Brad Ansley and Allen Finley, in Hickory, NC on April 13-15, 2006. It took 50 hours and 8 seconds.
And, the Longest Tennis Marathon, Singles, was played by George L. Bolter and Athos Rostan III, in Hickory, NC on November 8-9, 2008. It took 31 hours and 30 seconds.
[8D-Rallying Threshold – Shot Number Tolerance] [Rev 5-28-10]