Tips From The ProsImprove Your Game

Teamwork: Crucial for Successful Doubles

Pat ChildYou have seen it and so have I. Those doubles teams who try and win matches by banging away from all over the court in an effort to overpower their opponents. They never communicate with their partner about where they should attack the opposing team. They make about one in ten shots for a clean winner and that is just like throwing gasoline on a fire, as it just makes them more convinced that this is the path to victory.

While this strategy may produce a few flashy shots during a match, the true road to long term success on the doubles court is by working together with your partner to dismantle the opposing team. It is vital that you communicate well with your partner about strategies and adjustments that may need to be made during the course of the match. If each player does his or her individual part, winning will come much more frequently.

Let's take a look at how a team can play together. When each point begins, you will normally find each team in the one up and one back formation with the server and receiver at the baseline. If you find yourself in this position, whether at the beginning of a point or during a point, you have to make shots based on that position on the court. Your have three priorities from that position. First, you must realize that you are in no position to win a lot of points, thus your top priority is to not lose the point. In other words, don't miss! Play high percentage shots, primarily back to the opponent that is at the other baseline. Don't get greedy and try and blast the ball down the alley past the net man. While you may make the shot once in a while, the odds are against you. When you do this, you are trying to win the match on your own and forgetting that you have a partner on the court. Your second priority it to try and set up your partner at the net. You do this by hitting the ball deep if your opponent is at the baseline or low at your opponent's feet if they are at the net. Either of these shots will place your opponent in a position where they have limited shot options and thus make it easy for your partner to poach and pick off the returning shot. Your third priority is to try and get to the net. It is important that you do not force your way forward, but that you take advantage of the opportunity when it is there. You must keep these priorities in the proper order or mistakes will slip into your game. For example, how many times have you seen someone miss a shot because they are running right through it in an attempt to get to the net. Clearly this player has their getting to the net as their first priority and thus errors occur.

If you are the player at the net, you must take of advantage of opportunities presented to you by your partner. Don't just stand at the net in one spot and wait for someone to hit a ball to you. If you see your partner's shot land deep, you should immediately look to cut off the middle of the court, realizing that you are now forcing your opponent to hit the ball down your alley, a much tougher shot. You must remember, that by being at the net, you are the player on your team that is in a position to win the point. Look for opportunities to do so. So many times we see doubles matches when two players get into these twenty shot cross court rallies. If this is happening, the net man is not doing their job.

So to be successful at doubles, work together. Communicate and support your partner, even when they are struggling a bit. All of this will make you a better team and one that no opponent will look forward to facing.


Pat Child   BA, CPT, CSCS

Head Professional

Island Club Tennis Center