Today we are going to talk about doubles – my favorite! Doubles is incredibly fun to play and it has always been my favorite. The points are quick and action-packed and you get to play with a partner, which makes it even more fun!
There are many similarities between singles and doubles, but there are a few key differences that can make all the difference between winning and losing. Let’s go over a few quick and easy doubles strategies that will help you and your partner play better, more focused matches. In doubles, all of the shots are the same, but the strategy to finish points is different. What may work in singles may not work as well in doubles when there are fewer angles and/or open spaces to hit into. With 4 people on the court you immediately face space challenges that you don’t see in singles. Because you do not have as much open court to work with in doubles, you will often notice that winning requires you and your partner to come to the net to finish points. A simple strategy like get to 5 might not be quite as effective in doubles as it is in singles (although it can still work!). A wise man once told me “Doubles is checkers and singles is chess”, so let’s keep it simple!
- Let’s start with the serve. The “tee” serve on either side is a very effective serve because it takes the angles away from your opponent. This means that it is harder for the returner to get the ball away from the net player, and if your partner at the net is getting the opportunity to finish points with easy volleys that is what you want! Any time you serve out wide on either the deuce or the ad side this opens up the opportunity for your opponent to hit a cross-court return or even a down the line return. If your serve is good enough then either of these will be difficult, but the risk is still there. Keeping your opponent in the middle of the court limits their opportunities for quality returns and usually draws the ball back to the server or the net player.
- Next we go to the return of serve. In general you should be hitting your returns cross-court away from the net person. The person closest to the net always poses the most immediate threat to you and your partner losing the point since it is easier for somebody closer to the net to hit a winner. When returning cross-court picture a small “box” two feet over the net strap and aim for this. This will help you control the height and accuracy of your return. The more you can practice this concept the easier this will be in your matches! If you are struggling with this return or your opponent is serving really well and making it difficult then the lob is always an option at your disposal. The lob will keep the net player honest, by honest I mean the net player will think twice about poaching against your return if you get a lob or two over them.
- Guard the middle and attack the middle! If you have ever taken a doubles clinic you have probably heard the term “Split the middle!”. The idea is to hit the ball in the middle between your opponents. This often causes confusion between them as they may not be sure who should take the shot. Once again it takes away the angle from your opponents as well! This theme pops up quite frequently in doubles with four players on the court. When it comes time to guard the middle you have to be very clear with your partner who will cover the middle! If one player has a really good volley or groundstroke in the middle then that player should take the shot that comes to the middle of the court and both players should be aware this will happen so there is no confusion. Communication is key!
Doubles is a great game I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I do! With four people on the court at once you are always on your toes reacting to the next play – so much fun!
Hope you enjoyed these doubles strategies. We would love to hear from you! Tweet us @LaunchTennis or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org !