In doubles tennis, though much is the same, it really is a different game than singles. Beyond playing on a bigger court, having a partner and 2 opponents adds an extra dimension of strategy and play potential. It’s important to understand the dynamics of doubles tennis to maximize your play and win games.   

The Basics of Doubles Tennis Strategy

Doubles tennis takes the focus off of individual players and their outstanding skills and places it on how players play tennis together as a team. It is your team and how well you play and communicate together that determines your level of success. Consider the following guide to the basics of doubles tennis.

1) Finding the right partner is everything.

Choosing your partner will make or break you in doubles tennis. You may be tempted to choose the absolute best singles player you can find. This will likely be a big mistake. The key to a good doubles partner is finding a player who is at your level or better AND compliments your game. Maybe you excel in serving and playing around the net, but struggle returning serves. Find a partner who is a beast when it comes to breaking serve. Always look for a partner who fills in the gaps of your game and vice versa.

2) The first serve.

Your first serve is the most important one of the game. It sets the tone and potentially gives your partner a boost in confidence. If done well, it also sets your net game, giving you the best chance to play well and win. Focus on increasing your 1st serve percentage rather than crushing it every time.

3) The return of serve.

Your return of serve is also vital to your game. Often, players keep a singles mentality, trying to do too much on the return. Remember, you’re hitting the ball back to two people, not just one. This makes outright winning shots much more difficult. You may risk many needless mistakes and unforced errors. Instead, focus on increasing your return percentage and hitting crosscourt returns low and near the service line.

4) Know your target.

Be ready with a strategy before you hit the ball. You’re always looking for either the weakest player or the hardest place oncourt for your opponent’s return. This means aiming for your opponent’s feet or hitting the ball in the gap between them. Avoid the player near the net. Remember to vary the speed and height of your serves and returns.  

5) Keep your focus.

Be aware of your partner’s placement and movement on the court, but keep your eyes on your opponent. Many players end up watching their partners and aren’t ready when their opponent attacks. Instead, watch your opponent’s movement. Look for every smallest opportunity in your opponent’s game to win points. Play more on the net and keep your opponent from being able to do the same.

6) Coordinate court movement and positions.

Your opponents will be looking for vulnerabilities in your game just as much as you are theirs. It’s crucial to keep all player movements intentionally coordinated at all times. Remember, it’s always safer to close the gap between you, even if you’re opening a space on the left or right of the court. You will also want to have some different formations under your belt to be able to respond to any situation that may arise.

7) Maximize your communication.

Coordinating your movements and executing your strategy and formations will be impossible without excellent communication between you and your partner. In doubles, communication is just as important as your choice in partner. You and your partner should move, think, and act as one. This takes lots of practice and compatibility, but it’s vital to your game. You can’t afford either of you trying to showcase your individual skills at the expense of your team. Showcase your team and you’ll both shine, together. Great communication is the key.

It’s All About Teamwork

No matter how well you play or improve your individual game, in doubles it’s all about teamwork. Doubles is fun and exciting, but you have to learn team strategy, coordination, and communication. Find a partner that compliments your game and learn to showcase your team and you’ll be well on your way to winning games. Get started with this guide to doubles tennis strategy.

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