February 15, 2017
Doubles has grown on me. I have finally embraced this side of tennis and have worked towards improving my game that tailors to that. In fact, skim down to the bottom to get a video on some great doubles drills that will really challenge you and your partner to get the most out of your practices. Just watch the Bryan brothers play a point to see how much they move together on the court :)
There is another part of doubles that is just as important. Communication. Effective doubles is not only executing great shots in the right locations but also making sure you and your partner are working as effective as possible. I like to look at communication into three subjects that I want to talk about with my partner. Let's touch on them briefly below.
#1 What are you doing to your opponents?
I often talk to my partner to look at what we are doing well against our opponent. The conversations all reflect what we will be doing on the upcoming point so we are on the same page. This includes: Who talks about who the weaker player is? (We will hit more towards that player) What kind of serves and returns is each player hitting? (We tend to take more risks serving at the higher level player and be conservative on the weaker player. Same on returns) Is there a weakness in their overall game? (Do they leave the middle open? Do they get too close or far from the net? Do they dislike a certain shot?) Are we making them play plan B or C? (Are we serving and returning towards their weaker side?) All of these are examples of conversations that we like to use when we are seeing how effective we are being against our opponents.
#2 What are they doing against us?
It is important to be aware of the overall patterns your opponents are doing to you. This allows conversation to change tactics during games and sets. This includes: Who's the player hurting us the most? (Are we hitting at them more than we need to?) How are they hurting us? (Where are they serving? What returns are they good at? Are they at the net more than us? How are they getting to the net?) What can we do to impact their effectiveness? (Have we switched formations? Have we served to their weaker side? Have we tried to lob?)
#3 What are we doing to help each other?
This is the often overlooked part of doubles. Whoever I play with is my best friend for that match. I need to see what makes them play well. Is it a soothing presence needed or more of a fiery attitude to help them play well? As you start having a consistent partner, you can have those conversations off the court to see what you can do to help them out in the match. This also allows the conversations above to happen a lot more naturally :)
See below for some drills to try for an efficient and effective practice!