Playing Smarter Doubles is a Process

Federer and Wawrinka had to play as a team to win this match despite both being vastly (VASTLY) superior at moving, striking the ball, and playing singles 

For most of my tennis life, I have preferred singles by a wide margin to doubles.  That gap is closing as I have gotten older and coached 9 non-consecutive years at the high school level.  Here are a few very basic doubles tips I have come across for singles first players:

  1. Talk to your partner about where you intend to serve & ask your partner where she/he intends to serve – This makes holding much easier for your team as knocking off the return is easier if one has a good idea where the return is going
  2. “If the ball goes up, the ball comes down.”Gil Downs This is not some proof for gravity, if your opponents float a ground stroke, return, or volley, it needs to be punished.  This should end a point in your team’s favor and should add an intimidation factor to your team.  Hitting at someone’s feet is a good call here if an obvious winner is not there.
  3.  Be the World Wildlife Fund when returning.  Directional returning can prevent poaching.
  4. Don’t be too macho to lob.  I remember playing a lot of mixed doubles and men’s doubles from 2004-06.  It was stunning how many fewer lobs 4 men produced on the doubles court.  Why?  It was not that lobbing was tactically bad, but my guess is that lobbing was viewed as a cop-out instead of ripping returns and/or passing shots.
  5. Move together.  Sometimes when the ball is being directed to one’s partner, it is possible to become a spectator.  Keeping some proximity to your partner helps cut off cheap winners from bad positioning.

Now, I need to just take my own advice instead of acting like I am playing singles with someone else on my side of the net.

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