Often times, players just play single’s tennis and go for everything that can get their racket on.Why? Because many of us start out playing singles when first learning the game.
But I’ve got new for you. That’s not going to get you on the winning end of things when you have a teammate. You need to develop a balance and a sharp sense of coordination out there both with your “other half” and within yourself as well. It’s not gong to cut it.
So, instead, you want to adopt a team mindset if you want to win double’s matches. How? Well, two of the most important elements in producing a good doubles team are knowing your role (…what shots you should go for and which ones you should step back and let your partner handle) and being able to efficiently communicate with your partner while a point is live and in play.
Now, these a both great things, but don’t do you any good if you don’t really know how to use them . So, here’s a great drill to help enhance your game in both areas .
Part 1: SETUP
Setup 2 teams (…4 players in total) in traditional net and base line positions for doubles. One team will have both players back by the baseline and the other will be separated (…one at net while the other is at the baseline). Once the drill is executed a few times, both teams can alternate.
Part #2: SHOT SELECTION
Have your coach or hitting partner feed balls to completely random places on the court. You want them going down the center, out wide to the doubles alley, drop shots at net, back spin, topspin, etc. Yea, the works.
By going through these widely different point patterns, it’ll help the teammates on both sides more accurately identify which balls to aggressively go for and attack with 100% certainty.
Because it’s bad enough if you go for the wrong shot, but when you’re not sure and get very topsy-turvy in your desicion making (…when you’re kind of 50/50 on what your game plan should be), you’re guaranteed to sink fast than a sumo wrestler in quicksand.
And remember, it’s important not to have any type of pattern or routine when it comes to the order of shots and the way they’re fed. That way, it won’t feel that you’re just simply going through the motions. Because if you already know what shot is coming next, it takes away much of the effectiveness of the drill.
You won’t work as hard to get ready and establish early preparation. You reflexes won’t be as sharp, and it doesn’t condition your mind for what you’re going to see in a real live match. The point is to be caught off guard sometimes so you’ll know what do when the time comes and you only have a split-second to make a decision.
Part #3: PARTNER COMMUNICATION
Pay close attention to your partner’s movement and make sure you cover him when he needs help. You and your teammate will without a doubt be scrambling around going up and back and crossing sides and will probably be completely confused at some point. Don’t worry about that. It’s going to happen early on.
But when this does happen, and you do get in a bad situation, come up with a word or some sort of signal to that your partner knows to let your partner know that you need his help.
Pretty soon, you would have seen or heard what specific situations your partner called on you so many times, that you’ll get to the point where you’ll be able to instinctively recognize when your assistance is needed before your partner even calls on you. Now that’s communication to the max!
Call up your double’s partner now, and let him (… or her) know that you want to try this out in your next practice. Let him or her know that you’ve got an easy way to maximixe your court coverage and the impact of your shots.
All the best,
Brian, Your Tennis Mind Coach
P.S. Who’s watching the Oudin match today?