Improve your tennis game with these simple strategic doubles tips.
1. Doubles Positioning
Start in the classic position for doubles With player A at the baseline serving or returning, and player B at the net ready to poach and apply pressure. This is the best starting point for doubles play, especially at a recreational level.
Too often both players will start at the back of the court or Player B will just hang around behind the service line the whole point. You ideally want the volleyer to be in front of the service line and the baseliner behind/on the baseline.
2. Player Communication
Start communicating from even a beginner level. It’s important to have a strategy, even a basic one, but also to build moral. Communication can be anything from a ‘good shot’ to ‘I’m serving down the T, try and poach the return’.
Try and set up plays, or at least tell your partner where the serve is going so there is some structure, otherwise they’re playing as blind as your opponents.
One of the simplest communication tactics is to shout ‘mine’ or ‘yours’ during the point. This can be applied for a mid court shot, lob, or any ball that could potentially be hit by either player.
3. Get to the Net
Over the years I’ve taught a lot of B and C grade players who when they start lessons struggle to commit to the net, usually because they’re scared of net play. If you’re one of those players you need to practice approaching the net. You will win some at the net, and lose some but you have to get there to get better at it.
Start every point in a neutral position, but don’t just stay there all match. The most aggressive position to win the point is both players at the net, the most defensive is both players at the back of the court. Get to the net.
Remember this, the closer you get to the net, the more angles you can play. Doubles is a game of angles and you want to get on top of the net and put the ball away. Playing from the net also means the opponents have more court to cover, plus as you come closer to the net the opponents have less options to hit to and often revert to the lob, which can often be a smash, or try and hit a winner which can easily turn into an unforced error. If you stay back on the baseline every point, you don’t create any pressure and the opponents have more options to hit to.
4. Don’t hit to the volleyer
If you have a player at the back of the court, and a player at the net, HIT TO THE PLAYER AT THE BACK OF THE COURT! The volleyer can finish the point easily if they get a swing at the ball. Keep the baseliner back by playing deep balls wide in the doubles so it’s also out of the volleyers reach.
As you pull the baseliner further out of court the volleyer has more court to cover, then when you see the opportunity play the down the line shot. But be patient, you have to create the openings before pulling the trigger. You can also play a down the line winner if you think the volleyer is moving in to the court early or leaving space, but it can be a low percentage shot if played at the wrong time
5. Poach, Poach, Poach
On the reverse side, as a volleyer, you need to poach the crosscourt rally and finish the point. This is tricky because it all comes down to timing. Move too early and you might get passed down the line, move to late and you miss to ball and open the court a little. The key is to move once to opponent has committed to their swing trajectory. If they try and change mid shot there is a high risk of an unforced error.
Try doing fakies. Feign a step to poach early and make the opponent hesitate. This is a great tactic for sussing out the opponents timing and nerves. And most important of all is it applies pressure which results in unforced errors.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these little tips for improving you double social play. They’re easy to implement with a little practice. In your net double match just aim for 1 of the tips for a whole set and you’ll see some progress. Keep building on each of the goals and before you know it they will all come naturally.
If you’re keen on playing some social tennis here at Four Seasons Tennis or want some more info check out the Social Tennis Page