I’ve always enjoyed playing doubles and in today’s Tennis Tuesday article I’ll be offering some tips of the trade to help you play better doubles!
Participate in drill sessions at your club.
No matter what your skill level, drill sessions are a great tool to improve your doubles play. Live and dead ball drills are the best way to get the repetition needed to improve all of your strokes in a controlled environment. A good, quality drill session should include forehand and backhand ground strokes, volleys, overheads and doubles strategy. Remember that drill sessions aren’t private lessons so don’t expect to learn grip changes and things of that nature. Drill sessions are to practice for matches and to hit lot’s of balls in different situations. Most clubs offer clinics or drill sessions so sign up and take part in a fun and fast paced drill session today. You won’t be disappointed!
Work on your serve.
The serve is absolutely crucial in doubles for a variety of reasons. Getting in a high percentage of first serves will increase your chances of winning dramatically. Learning to take a little pace off of your first serve will allow for a higher serving percentage and doesn’t allow the returner to ‘tee-off’ on a weak second serve. This will also give your partner poaching opportunities simply because the returner has to work harder at returning your first serve then your second serve. Grab a bucket of balls, place a few targets in the service boxes at the ‘T’, in the middle of the service box near the service line (into the body serve), one near the middle of the box near the sideline and one at the elbow (where the service line and singles sideline connect) and use a variety of speeds and spins and you should see a dramatic change in your service game and in your doubles match results!
Communicate, communicate, communicate!!
Watch the pros play doubles and you will see and hear a lot of talking going on out there. Between points they’re not making dinner plans (at least hopefully not!) but discussing strategy. During the point they’re yelling, “mine” “yours” “leave it” (meaning let the ball go). Good communication is crucial to successful doubles teams. Telling your partner you’re serving to the ‘T’ forces you as the server to try and hit the spot and it also allows your partner to tell you what he plans to do which helps greatly with positioning. You know what your partner wants to do and what you need to do. For example; my partner tells me he’s poaching on a serve that goes to the returners backhand. Because he’s communicated this to me, I know and can anticipate covering a ball that’s hit down my partner’s alley thus giving us a better chance to stay in the point. Great communication takes time so be patient and learn to listen to your partner and you should see much improvement in your doubles results!