In doubles, whether you’re just starting out or on a level like the world renown Bryan twins, there is a laundry list of doubles strategies and tactics that you *MUST* incorporate into your game if you want to be successful.
And of those, the two most important and necessary components in creating a dominant doubles team are proper positioning and stellar net control. These should be on the very top of that list.
Attaining a keen sense of both concepts will make winning a lot easier for you, and it’ll allow you to put your opponent away with a lot less headaches – especially when your team is serving.
But the sad part about it is that, despite it being critical to your game, this is where too many doubles teams (…both new and experienced) have trouble. And they end up losing tennis matches that are very winnable.
Do you fall into this group at times? Let me ask you something, so we can tell if you’re doing the right thing or having a similar problem. Ready?
DOUBLES QUESTION: If your doubles partner were to serve the ball down the middle and into the body of your opponent, where do you think you (…you being the net man) should setup?
I’ll give you a hint. In this case, the two most common answers by club players are “the middle” of the service box and “more towards the sideline.” Which would you choose?
Well, many doubles players on the club level, select to stand out wide to cut off the down-the-line pass. Why would they choose this? Well, their reasoning for going with this one is that they don’t want to get burned by the down-the line pass. And that’s pretty good logic.
It shows they’re thinking. They’re using their heads, which is good. They don’t want to get passed, so they anticipate covering or protecting themselves just in case.
But though this is a good idea (…and is chosen by a lot of players), it’s NOT the best strategy for this situation.
In others (…which I talk about extensively in TMC SS101), most definitely. But in this one, not so much. You see, though a good tennis tactic, there are three reasons why you wouldn’t want to do this here.
3 Reasons For Your Doubles Team To Avoid Setting Up Too Wide
1. Too Much Ground, Too Little Time:
First, you may wind up sliding too far over to where you’re practically standing in the alley. That can make it much harder for you to cut off the return up the middle (…which players tend to use much more often) or up the T. By standing that far wide, you’ll have too little time to cover too much ground.
Superman, maybe… But for you and me, it’ll be close to impossible. Hey, and if you do get to it, your opponent is highly likely to finish you off on the next one anyway because you’ll already be in an inferior (…and very compromising) position. So, what’s the point right?
Oh, and it gets worse.
2. Doubles Partner Abandonment (Team Break up):
Sharing the load of on-court responsibilities among doubles partners is something that’s critically important in doubles. It’s two on two for a reason. It’s unfair for one player to take on a team. That’s why it’s not allowed.
But by covering too far wide like I mentioned, you won’t be the only one out of position. You’ve virtually left your teammate stranded on an island, forcing him (…or her) to play handicapped – making him defend almost the entire singles section of the court.
No more equality. And speaking of “team,” your teammate, if this becomes a habit, won’t be at all thrilled with the idea of having to take up cross country 101 while trying to win the tennis match .
As you may have guessed by now, I prefer you to setup in the middle of the service box. By essentially having equal distance to cover on both sides, this will allow you to have a much better opportunity to guard against the shots that will be coming at you most frequently , while still giving you a shot at the exceptions (…perfect segway into #3 8-)) .
3: You’re Not Playing The Percentages (*IMPORTANT*): The third reason why alley guard wouldn’t be the best play here is this game is about percentages. When you’re serving down the middle, your opponent will usually take the easier (…higher PERCENTAGE) response – the one he’s in the best position to execute.
That being said, because of things like body control, angles, and movement, 8 times out of 10, that return shot will NOT be coming back down the line.
So yeah, being able to catch the exception like the one down the line is good, but what you really want to do is put yourself in the right place to attack and defend against the shots most likely to come your way. Do that, and you’ll be in a lot better shape.
Oh, and there won’t be as many partner on partner brawls as a result of abandoning issues going on either .
You’ll be able to cut off floating returns, easily cross-over to take care of the common “cross courters,” and you’ll only be a couple strides from catching the down the line shot, if you’re met with one of those surprises.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not at all saying you never want to stand by the singles side line or in the alley. There are very specific times when that is the best strategy to go with (…which I talk about here).
But when you’re serving down the middle, you want to be in the center of your opponent’s best possible shots. And in this case, that’s in the center.
Because, let me tell you, you can have the greatest ground strokes, serve, volleys (…both forehand and backhand), and it won’t make a bit of difference if you don’t know where to setup and get yourself in the proper spot.
For more tennis tips on positioning in both doubles and singles play, click here.
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Have a great day, and an even better game!