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This article is written by James from MindtheRacket.com.
Doubles is VERY different from singles.
Let’s get this out of the way first. It’s not at all uncommon to see brilliant singles players really struggle when it comes to doubles play because they’re not used to the fast-paced, free-flowing element that doubles brings with it.
Points finish fast. Longer rallies are cut short with surprise plays out of nowhere. You have to work with your partner to win the point. This isn’t all about you, you, you! Stop being so selfish! It’s about how you communicate with your partner. If you gel well, brilliant. If you don’t, well…
But let’s remain optimistic. Let’s say you’ve found a partner that you get along with and you’re ready to take on all-comers!
Well, let’s put a pause on that for a moment. Don’t worry, we’ll let you get back to it shortly! We just want to make sure that you’re properly equipped to dabble with doubles.
And so we’ve put together 5 must-know strategies for tacking doubles.
Strategy 1: Down. The. MIDDLE!
Many modern-day tennis matches are played by exploiting tight cross-court, inside-out, or down-the-line angles. But what if we told you that a great play in doubles is to hammer shots right down the middle of the court?!
Yup, with your opposition spread between two sides of the court, there’s often a relatively uncharted area of middle-ground not entirely covered by either of them. Hitting power down the center will often cause confusion and stop-start movement from your opponents.
If by some miracle, one of them does manage to scoop a ball back in play, you and your partner should be primed in place at the net to volley away a winner.
Strategy 2: Exploit Weaknesses
OK, this may sound harsh… But it needs to be done.
If you happen to notice one or both of your opponents have a weaker groundstroke, come up with tactical plays to direct the ball to that side. Keep in mind that most players favour their forehand so look to try scouting out how good their backhands are.
Also, if you see one of them struggling to deal with volleys or huffing and puffing in baseline rallies, take note of that and be ready to focus on it when the time comes. Do not simply hit to that weakness all the time, however. Your opponents are likely not foolish and will pick up on what you’re doing. They’ll take steps to combat your play.
In moments of pressure, go to their weakness. The rest of the time, mix things up.
Strategy 3: Lobbing
Everyone loves a good lob. You love them. Your opponents love them. Old Mr. Mable from the corner shop down the road loves them!
So use them! In doubles, lobbing right away in a rally will force your opponents to communicate early and likely push them to change up their initial plan for the point. It’s also a brilliant play if they’re trying to serve and volley their way up to the net.
Despite there being two players on the court, there will still be space to exploit on their baseline and it’s up to you to get the ball up and over their heads at the net and force them to back up. This will entirely change the feel of the point and with any luck, will leave you in a prime attacking position to win the point.
If you see that you’re about to successfully lob your opponents, you and your partner should be rushing to close down your own net and close out the point with the next volley.
Strategy 4: Net Rushing
Get. To. The. Net!
If you’re not comfortable up there, doubles is a great way to change that because volleying is absolutely the key to regularly winning points with ease. You also only really need to concern yourself with your own side of the court when your partner is up there with you.
You’re a team and you need to have each other’s backs. Communicate with your partner before points begin. If you both know that you’re heading to the net as soon as possible in the next point, you’ll both know to move in on a moment’s notice.
Dominating up at the net is a winning doubles combination.
Strategy 5: Shoelace Shots
So you’re up at the net, ready to volley…
But where are you aiming?
If you find that your opponents are repeatedly getting your volleys back in play, aim for their sneakers. Make them swat at their laces in an effort to flick the ball back up at you. It’s far harder to return low volleys from around your socks than it is to hit shoulder height shots.
Time to exploit that. Frustrate them and confuse them. Keep them guessing with your volley placement but generally, hit low and deep.
Final thoughts and Summary…
Don’t be afraid to experiment with doubles. It should be a fun experience, being out there with a partner, and it allows you to try out new formations to perfectly set-up that winning volley put-away.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Keep talking with your partner as the match progresses and if you feel like changing up some of your strategies, you NEED to be discussing it with them before you do so. They won’t thank you if they’re expecting you to serve and volley, only to find that you’ve changed plans without informing them.
Hopefully, everything we’ve told you has motivated you to try out some doubles play in the future. If you’re used to singles, it’ll take a while to acclimatise to the doubles way of life but when it does eventually click, there’ll be no looking back!
Our final thought on learning the ins-and-outs of doubles is to watch some of the professional players. They’re often overshadowed in favour of singles but they’re wonderfully skilled and you’ll undoubtedly find yourself picking up on some of the tactical decisions that they’re making.
Well-worth your time.
And with that, we’ll bid you farewell and happy doubles-ing!