For any sportsperson, the main goal is always to be better than the rest of the players. Nothing could be truer than that when it comes down to the strategic game of tennis.
Tennis is the kind of sport that requires patience, agility, dedication, but most of all it requires good strategic planning. However, the last requirement may take years for a tennis player to master. But if you follow a few simple rules and guidelines, we can assure you that advancing in the world of tennis is not really that difficult at all.
We know that playing tennis as a single player is hard enough. Adding doubles to the mix can also seem like a bit of a stretch. But do not let that dishearten you.
With a little bit of practice and patience, everything can be achieved. And we do not see why you cannot do the same for tennis as well. As a starter, just like a singles match, it is important to use good tennis balls, have a solid racquet, and a good game strategy.
Today in this post we are going to discuss the 15 main strategies a doubles tennis player needs to keep in mind while playing.
These points are not only crucial, but they can also act as a total game-changer for the player. So without further ado, let us get right into discussing the 15 tennis doubles strategies that will surely turn your entire game around.
1. Serve first
Just like a singles match, serving first in doubles is also the most important part of the game. This one shot literally determines how the game will eventually turn out to be.
Of course, you or your partner may not always get to serve first, however, if you do get this incredible opportunity, do not let it go to waste. Always keep your cool when serving first.
Do not hurry into the serve as this will increase your chances of missing the shot completely. Not only can this be frustrating for you, but it will also make your partner lose faith in you. And in a sport like tennis, cooperation and trust are the top two things that should be imminent between partners.
2. Know where to focus
It is quite natural to always glance at your partner whenever a serve is being made. However, refrain from doing so. Your eyes should be on your opponent, not on your partner who happens to be right beside you.
Observe your opponent and calculate his every move. There is always a soft spot to every player. With enough focus and observance, you can easily spot where, when and how your opponent loses balance or coordination. That is the moment when you can make your perfect shot.
3. Coordination between partners
Most of the time in a doubles tennis match, the partners put in too much gap between each other during play. While this does make it seem like there is enough space for both players, it can actually be the reason why you lose your shot.
As a rule of thumb, if there is too much space between you and your partner, it is very predictable that your opponents will try to hit that empty space in between every time. If you and your partner are standing way too far apart, it will be harder for both of you to reach that common ground in time.
4. Fake it
Nothing could be more confusing to your fellow competitor if you fake a move. Do this when you are playing the net. Constantly be on your toes so you can move fast and swiftly.
If you are going for a shot on the right, jab your shoulder or entire body in a way that will make your opponent assume you are going to hit on the left. Naturally, they will be more on guard on that particular side, leaving you or your partner with the perfect opportunity to hit the opposite side.
If you are going for a super low shot, pretend to go for a high one. However, you need to keep your eyes on your opponent’s feet while doing this in order to make sure you do not make a serve they are actually expecting.
But be a little stealthy when you do this, because you do not want your competition to see you focusing on their feet. They will easily figure out what your true intention really is.
5. Defense for defense; offense for offense
When you are playing doubles, it can be a little hard to refrain from hitting hard for every shot. But with a partner around, you need to trust them as well. Hence, if you are being met with a defensive shot, respond to it with a defensive shot as well. Do not go all out and play offensive on it. Chances are your partner has the offensive part covered for you.
If you mix up and try to take all the shots for yourself, you will only frustrate and isolate your doubles partner and this will act as a vulnerability opening for your opponents to target at.
6. Switch swiftly
We cannot stress enough on how important of a factor this is when playing tennis doubles. Knowing when and where to switch can be what determines how good communication is between you and your partner.
For reader’s convenience, know that you should follow the midline rule. That means, once a player crosses the midline section of their side of the court, the other partner has to automatically switch right then. It does not matter if it was not their time to switch, but once midline crossing is done, switching should be inevitable.
Do not stand behind your partner when they are poaching, and vice versa. This will always leave one side open and clear for your opponents. Do not be lazy. Always be swift on your feet and encourage your partner to reciprocate the same energy.
7. Avoid being on “No Man’s Land”
If you have been playing tennis for a while now, you have probably heard of this phrase quite a few times. But if you have no idea what this refers to, we are going to dive into details for you here.
Basically, the “No Man’s Land” is around 4 feet from the baseline and 10 feet away from the net. So if we had to visually put it, it would be right around the middle of your side of the court.
Even though this area seems like a comfortable place to serve from, it is actually quite dangerous instead. Being on the “No Man’s Land” will force you to either make really low shots, or make really long volleys, both of which you want to completely avoid. This area also gives your opponent more angles and opportunities for targeting.
Try to always stick around the base or net of your side of the court. Being around the net will help you shrink the court and apply more pressure onto your opponent, while being at the base will allow you to perfectly respond to any deep shots.
When playing doubles, being around either the net or baseline should not be a hard thing to do, as you will always have a partner standing where you are not. So trust in them and be smart about your positioning.
8. Encourage your partner and vice versa
Even though this factor seems like a very menial deal compared to the rest of the strategies that are in this article, genuinely encouraging your partner can definitely be a game-changer.
Do not belittle them for any wrong move or misstep. We know that sometimes during a heated match it can be a little difficult to keep your cool, but do not let it out on them. As your partner, he/she will be equally frustrated. So do not increase that frustration by adding fuel to it with your harsh words and behavior.
Instead, acknowledge their mistake but encourage them to do better for the next shot. Give out constructive criticism but do not downright insult them. The last thing you want is to have an angry and stubborn partner during a tennis doubles match. Communication is key, but so is positivity and healthy criticism.
9. Volley and move out
Try not to stand in the exact same position or place right after hitting a volley. What you should do is keep moving forward. This, however, is not needed if you are already standing just a few feet away from the net. But if you or your doubles partner is standing around the baseline, then both of you need to move forward right after hitting a volley.
Do not be scared to move forward as this will definitely not make you lose the return shot. Unlike a singles match, you have a partner here to back you up.
In case your side of the court is returned with a long volley and you have already moved forward, do not run backwards as your partner is already there in the first place. Let him/her take care of the shot. But make sure to switch if necessary.
There are some volley styles you should keep in mind while playing tennis doubles:
- Punch volley- This shot takes a very compact and short swing of the racquet. To make this volleying shot, the racquet is required to be moved forward and slightly downwards to give the ball an under spin. Implement this volley style when the ball is moving at a medium pace.
- Block volley- As the name already suggests, this volleying style is to put a block on the incoming shot. To create this move, you do not need to move your body at all. Just stand there and place the racquet in a position that will intercept with the ball and reflect it back. This move is used when the incoming ball is struck at a high speed.
- Overhead volley- Even though most of the time this move is not exactly considered as a volley style, there is nothing to lose if you do know of this move as well.
Basically for the overhead “volley”, the point is to take out the ball before it even bounces. This means you have to strike the incoming ball or your serve up in the air while making sure it does not touch the ground below at all.
· Drive volley- Now this volley style requires the ball to be moving at a soft pace. Ideally, this volley style uses the longest shot/swing for soft shots made a few feet above the net line.
Using this volley style with a soft ball will allow you to go for really long shots and decrease the chances for your opponent to make a comeback with. However, know that this shot takes a bit of practice to master so it is not really a recommended move if you are still in the beginner or intermediate stage of tennis doubles.
· Swinging volley- We are going to end the volley style list with this last one. The swinging volley requires players to have incredible hand-eye coordination. Typically used against soft balls, this move can also be used against medium-paced low balls.
If this shot is made correctly, you can expect zero return from the opponent. This is a great shot if you have a strong backhand and forehand technique and coordination. However, refrain from making use of it if you or your partner are not confident yet as the chances for making errors is also pretty high with this style of volleying.
10. Serving the “T”
Before you execute this move, make sure you and your partner are on the same page regarding positioning. Serving the “T” is hitting right down the middle. To be clear about positioning here is crucial because major chances are that you and your partner will be returned with a hit right down the middle as well.
Serving down the “T” is a smart move because it will take your opponents off guard and make them uncomfortable in return. As both opponents will most likely be standing on either sides of their court, serving down the “T” will confuse them if that is a move they have not been anticipating beforehand.
11. Vary between hitting hard and soft
Most tennis doubles players do not know when to alternate between soft and hard shots during a match. Sometimes, hitting the ball too hard can actually be what is making you lose.
When you are poaching and the ball is low, go for a soft shot at the opponent’s baseline. This is a shot they will not be anticipating. This move is also great against lobbers as it ends up forcing them to leave their baseline and move forward fast.
Know the two main rules:
- For low volleys, go soft on the baseliner. For high volleys, go hard on the net.
12. Go Australian
This formation is a great one to force your opponents into making shots down the line. To create the Australian formation, both players (the server and net player) has to stand on the same side of their court, but close to the centerline at the same time. This highly confuses the opponents with the return shot.
13. Keep moving
If you are a net player, the trick is to keep moving side to side constantly. The best part of tennis is that hitting a net player is prohibited. So using this rule to your advantage can frustrate your opponents to no end.
As a rule, your opponents will try to change the direction of their shot or play a high volley. Not only will this annoy your opponents and limit their serving styles, but it will also allow you to constantly be on your toes and have the upper hand.
14. Go for groundstrokes
When it is your serve, try going for groundstrokes deep into the court. This will force your opponents onto the baseline and keep them on their heels. Since you will be forcing them down the baselines, your opponents can now only respond back to your groundstroke with a weaker shot.
This also gives you plenty of time and shots to make right from the net. Since your partner will have your baseline covered, you can easily serve low hits and not worry about missing out on a long shot made by the opponents.
For our last strategy for Tennis Doubles, we have pinching. This tactic is a really great one if you want to make your opponent frustrated and confused.
To implement pinching, you or your partner will need to move diagonally down the center line of the court. Even though with this move, you will actually be leaving some alley way, but at the same time, you will also take away some crosscourt shots.
When you are on the center line, your opponent will try to return a shot to you down the alley. Hence, to do this they will need to create groundstrokes but this will also be within a few feet of your sideline.
The best part about pinching is that it lessens the chances for your opponent to score as it increases confusion on where to hit and how to hit.
But you should know when to implement pinching and when not to. Any time you are not faking or poaching, it is wiser to go for pinching.
Obviously, this gives your opponent more chances to make alley shots, but that is exactly what you should be going for.
As your opponent goes for lower shots, it will increase your chances of closing the point out by the net as you will be more involved in the return shot that way.
-Things to keep in mind while playing tennis doubles-
A sport like tennis is not only unpredictable but it can also tick a person off way too easily. And when you are playing doubles with a partner, things can be much difficult and complicated for both players. However, with proper methodology and attitude, you can easily turn your frustrating tennis experience into a pleasant one.
Do not overthink: The worst thing you can do during a match of tennis doubles is overthink your moves. Not only will you be stressing yourself out, but you will also frustrate your partner with your indecisiveness. If there is a shot you have in mind, make it. Tennis is an unpredictable sport. You never know if the move you thought was a wrong one could actually be the game turner instead.
Eyes on your opponent: After you make your serve, do not linger your focus on the flying ball. It will go where it is supposed to go. Instead, focus on your opponent and how they react to it. With enough patience and observance, you can easily figure out your opponent’s moves before they even take a shot.
Be supportive: We are going to mention this again. Always be supportive of your partner in a doubles tennis match. Do not belittle them for losing a shot. Everyone makes mistakes. Instead, confront them with healthy and constructive criticism, tell them where you think they went wrong and how to fix that. We assure you, a happy and positive mindset will affect your partner into radiating the same vibe as well.
We hope you had a fun time reading our article on the best tennis doubles strategies you could pull off during a heated match. The key factor when playing a doubles tennis match with a partner is to keep your cool and not react irrationally.
It is a given that your opponents will try their best to confuse and frustrate you and your partner, but do not let them get to you.
If you are an amateur tennis player, do not fret as with enough practice you can easily do what pro players pull off in a competitive environment. Put in time and determination into playing tennis and sooner or later you will be on your way to the big leagues.