#22 Fake & Bake

Is it an ambush? Is it an illusion? It’s certainly distracting!

Faking at the net creates uncertainty and chaos for opponents.

Ever played an opponent who fakes a lot at the net with their movement? Well, I think we all have, and it’s a very good aggressive tactic that looks to take control of the rally simply with movement. – it’s happening on basically every point at the pro level.

Faking at net provides many benefits for the net player, most of which look to disturb the shot selection of the opponent and also to get more involved in the Center Window area.


Faking To Ambush

This is a very effective fake that is used to initially show the opponent that you are moving to a part of the court where you won’t be a threat. The move is done early to be obvious, to show the opponent that they don’t need to be concerned about you at all. It’s a trap. Right as the opponent is committing to the stroke in their backswing, you cut back the other direction, probably straight to the Center Window, and intercept the ball right in the middle of the court. The opponent saw you go the other way and now all of a sudden you appear on a whole different part of the court. Pure brilliance.

Fake To Disrupt

This is a dirty trick, and I love it. The whole key here is to throw a huge, early monkey-wrench into the opponent’s shot selection with a huge, very obvious jump in a direction simply try and distract the opponent. This works really well as the opponent is mostly looking straight at you instead of the ball, and the opponent often misses the shot because of it.

Fake Staying

This is a very clever one. You don’t move at all until the very last second, and then take off as fast as you can to the Center Window. The key here is to give the opponent the impression that you are not a threat at all to move. Staying still removes all the danger from the opponent’s mind, and when they are focused on the ball hitting it, you take off hard and fast and intercept the ball, leaving the opponent wondering how in the world you got the ball.

Faking displays threat and intention.

  • Got to constantly dictate on the doubles court. Faking at the net certainly helps that.
  • Doing nothing at the net is the beginning of a slow death in doubles. It does not matter if you get it or not – just try!
  • Faking is just as much about getting the ball as it is about disrupting your opponents shot selection.
  • Faking can directly make the opponent miss – giving most of the credit to winning the point to the net player, who did not even hit the ball.

Strategy Drills

1. Playing Drill

Objective – To get the net player more involved and disruptive with faking at the net.

  • Play a set.
  • The net player has either got to fake and come back, or go all the way and get the ball. If the net player is not faking or crossing, then that team just lost the point.
  • Encourage the net player to do something, especially when they are not involved in the point at that moment in time.

Variations – Award two points to the net player if their fake forces the opponent to miss the shot (typically wide).

2. Feeding Drill

Objective – To practice faking and distracting at the net to build instant pressure on the opponent.

  • One player in the Server’s Partners position.
  • The coach drop feeds to create enough time for the net player to make their moves.
  • The Server’s Partner must move early, and the feeder can try and outwit the net player by sometimes going down their line.
  • The net player looks to do more at the net than they normally would.

Variations – To practice one of the specific movements mentioned about. Do it successfully 10 times, then practice another one to 10, or least until there is confidence at the net with this exaggerated movement.

Go Do This

Faking is primarily distracting. If you can’t get the ball, be alive at the net. 

Faking is an ambush when you go the other way first, and then quickly change, chasing your true intentions. 

Faking early to the Center Window can cause the opponent to change their shot selection late and miss.

If you are not hitting the ball, this is a primary strategy to still have influence over the point. 

Faking you are doing nothing also works. Then charge the middle right as the opponent commits to their shot.