Doubles strategie

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Tennis Doubles Strategy and Tips

When it comes to tennis doubles, strategy and communication are key. Here are tips on how to develop a partnership that takes you to match point.

How to Steal a Set in Doubles

This simple strategy wins more sets than all other bright ideas combined. And it’s actually quite simple

6 Ways to Win the Mental Battle in Doubles

Learn the six tools that make winning in doubles a whole lot easier—and losing a very difficult option.

3 Shots You Need for Doubles — and 3 You Don’t

One of the biggest reasons for failure in doubles is improper shot selection. Learn the three must-have strokes you need for doubles — and three you don’t.

The Basics of Doubles Tennis

Teamwork is one of the most important aspects of playing successful doubles. Here are tips on how to make the most of your team’s strengths and weaknesses to create a winning game plan.

Court Positions for Doubles Tennis

Learn the best court positions for doubles success—and when to utilize each for optimal effect.

Footwork: The Foundation for Success

The key to great tennis begins from the ground up. Here are five reasons why improving your footwork will also improve your chances of success on the courts.

Tennis Doubles Tips: Choosing a Partner

Seven tips from Nick Bollettieri on how to choose a winning doubles team — both on the court and off.

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How to Win at Doubles — Against All Odds

Just because you’re out-ranked doesn’t mean you’ve lost the match. Here are tips on utilizing your strengths to beat the odds.

Read Your Opponent for the Early Advantage

You can learn a lot about your opponent starting at the warm up. Here are four tips on what to look for early on for developing a winning game plan.

Nick’s Tips: How to Volley on the Move

For success in difficult match situations, you must perfect your skills while on the run.

The Essentials of the Overhead

Learn the three essential elements that will make your overhead a reliable shot for putting away free points.

The New Volley Paradigm

Even in today’s fast-paced game, opportunities still exist to attack the net. Find out how the all-around attacking style is making a comeback.

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10 Tips for Better Doubles Strategy

(Photo: I took this at the 2020 US Open – Austria’s Jurgen Melzer and Germany’s Philipp Petzschner in final set before winning their second Grand Slam doubles title)

Coaches often say that playing doubles strengthens your singles game and vice versa. Having played a lot of doubles over the past year, I couldn’t agree more. Among other things, doubles has quickened up my reflexes and skills at net. It’s also forced me to play smarter and improve my accuracy when placing the ball. And as a USTA competitor, it’s a must-learn skill for most, given that 3 out of 5 courts played for every team match are doubles (unless you’re playing Mixed Doubles, in which case all courts are doubles). I’ve also found doubles to be incredibly fun as you get better and when you find partners you have chemistry with.

My USTA teammates and I learned a ton about doubles strategy over the past few months from Roger Dowdswell, Tennis Director at Manhattan Plaza Racquet Club. Roger is a former world top-60 player who competed multiple times at Wimbledon, US Open, French Open and the Australian Open. He’s also a wise, classy guy who brings intense but calm energy to practice sessions. One of my teammates recently described Roger as “pretty much the coolest guy on Earth” and I agree. See this great Harper’s profile on Roger, “Courtliness on the Court, and Splendor on the Grass.”

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Here are the 10 top takeaways I got from our coaching sessions with Roger:

1) TOUCH AND PLACEMENT ARE FAR MORE IMPORTANT IN DOUBLES THAN KILLING THE BALL–ESPECIALLY WITH VOLLEYS AND OVERHEADS! Getting too “hungry” often just ends up becoming a wristy or swinging shot that ends up in the net or long.

2) GET YOUR FIRST SERVE IN! Roger and so many other pros I’ve worked with emphasize this over and over again for doubles. As soon as you miss your first serve, your opponents get into “attack” mindset (or should!) on your second serve. Take a little pace off to boost your 1st serve percentage. Or consider using a higher-percentage slice serve (versus flat) as your first serve: it may have less pace, but the ball will be trickier for your opponent to handle. The team with the highest 1st serve percentage in doubles has a big advantage. Doubles great Liezel Huber mentions this along with 4 other “Top 5 Doubles Tips” in this USPTA Tennis Resources video.

3) BE CLEAR ON YOUR SHOT CHOICE DURING RETURN OF SERVE. Most often, aim for sharp-angled cross-court returns (medium pace! placement more important than power!) to pull your opposing returner wide. Do this well, and you’ll buy time to move into net, open up the opposing court, and set up you and your partner for a winner.4) VARY THE SPEED AND HEIGHT OF YOUR RETURN OF SERVE– and decide how you’ll return before your opponent serves. Just like volleys and overheads, have a target and strategy in mind before you hit the ball. After seeing your opponent’s serve one game, you’ll probably have a good enough sense of what to expect.

  • Option A: Medium-paced short-angled return (to pull opponent at baseline way out wide out)
  • Option B: Hard drive
  • Option C: Lob (short backswing, usually over opposing net player)

4) TO ATTACK THE OPPOSING NET PLAYER (AND ON APPROACH SHOTS) KEEP THE BALL LOW AND USE MEDIUM-PACE ANGLE SHOTS. If you hit a shot at/near the net player and it’s low, they’ll have to hit up, which means you’ll be able to move into net. And when you hit angle shots, this pulls the opposing teams out of position and buys you time to approach net. Recognize the short balls and opportunities and move into net whenever possible, where most points in doubles are won!

5) ALWAYS HAVE A TARGET IN MIND BEFORE YOU HIT YOUR VOLLEY OR OVERHEAD. Choose a target that buys you some leeway if you’re tight or mishit (i.e., don’t aim for 2 inches from the baseline! Aim for wide boundaries of service line, or opposing net player’s feet, etc).

6) MOVE WITH YOUR PARTNER AND COVER THE MIDDLE! Move with your partner (L and R, up and back–think of “windshield wipers” moving as a unit) and follow the ball. If your partner (or opposing player) is pulled out wide, one of you should be touching the center line of the court with one foot to be covering the middle. There’s only one exception to moving like windshield wipers: if you hit the ball to the middle of the opposing court, you and your partner should move in slightly towards each other to cover the middle.

7) COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE– DURING AND BETWEEN EVERY POINT! Talk to each other during every point (You! Me! Go! Stay! etc). And communicate between every point, whether verbally or just physically: whether you talk strategy about the next point, tell your partner “way to go”, or simply give each other a high-five, you’re connecting– a key ingredient to sustained success in the match.

Closed fist = “stay”
Open hand = “poach/switch.”
— (From T-formation) Pinky pointed down = “I’ll move L after you serve”
— (From T-formation) Index finger pointed R = “I’ll move R after you serve”

9) COMMIT TO A POACH/SWITCH AFTER SIGNALING IT. Signaling a poach means you are telling your partner he MUST plan to immediately cover the other side of the court after serving. It does NOT mean you’re going to “try” a poach and stay if not successful. If you signal “stay” and a ball comes into your zip code for a poach, by all means go for it: your partner should be alert to this and move to cover the other side of the court. Important: Once you start signaling and executing poaches, expect the opposing team to start trying to aim more of their returns to your net guy. They will try to go down the line more often and punish you for poaching. As such, the net player should NEVER think “I signaled stay so I can relax now, because they’re probably going to hit their return cross-court…” Instead, the net player should start expecting– actually hoping– that the opposing team hits more shots directly to him. The chances of the net player hitting a winner are far greater than the baseliner.

10) DURING MATCH WARM-UPS, ASK THE OPPONENT YOU’RE WARMING UP WITH TO FEED YOU SOME OVERHEADS: This will both give you time to loosen up your shoulder AND will send a signal to the opposing team that you know what you’re doing ��

Next step on my doubles journey is to build in communications/ strategy with my doubles partners around placement of serve, which of course informs choice about whether to poach or not… I’ll keep you posted.

Tennis Doubles Strategy – Foundation for Tennis Doubles

Tennis doubles strategy is an important foundation for a winning tennis game. Doubles matches in tennis may not be as popular as the single matches but it has its own prestige as a game in the world of sports.

Tennis doubles is played in the same court surfaces (clay, grass and hard) as in single tennis matches. However, its court dimensions are bigger than the single tennis court. Below are some of the tennis doubles strategies.

Know the basics principles of doubles

Knowing the basics of doubles tennis strategy is vital to win a tennis match. As much as possible play more on the net but prevent your opponent to do so. Hit low balls forcing your opponents to hit high ball. Always aim for a spike in the net after a rally. A spike (like in volleyball or badminton) will definitely earn your team a point.

When you are in the baseline position, play with the player who is positioned farthest from the net but if you are in the net, target the player nearest to the net. Make use of your strengths and at the same time use every strategy to expose your opponents’ weaknesses.

Always hit the ball in the gap between your opponents. This can result to their confusions as who is to hit the ball. Be alert and be ready to any possibility and position yourselves accordingly based on your opponents’ position.

First serve matters most

A powerful and accurately placed first serve is always a very important tennis doubles strategy. The best way to win a game is to do well at the start. A powerful and accurately placed first serve in doubles is very crucial because it is the best way to set your net game. You will be able to prepare better to play the net game with a first serve than with a second serve. Missing your first serve can also frustrate your partner which might affect his or her play.

Right target

The right target is a tennis doubles strategy that can help a team win points. In a tennis doubles match, the best target is your opponent’s feet. Targeting your opponent’s feet will set him off guard and if ever he is able to return the ball, you have more chances to be in a better position and better preparation than your opponents.

Crosscourt return of serve

Don’t try to be flashy and attempt too many passing shots when you return the serve. Hitting a crosscourt return is a better doubles strategy. To be more effective in your cross-court passes, hit the ball low and of course cross-court and land the ball around the service line (dipping to the opposing team’s feet). Another thing to remember to avoid deep returns especially if the player who is not serving (server’s partner) is a mobile person. If you do so, there is a big chance that he will poach (means he will hit the ball that is supposed to be hit by his partner).

Good defense

If your partner is serving, your role is defense. Your partner’s good serve will be useless if you cannot return the ball (after your opponents’ return serve) to your advantage.

When your opponent as on serve, aside from an ace your best enemy is the partner of the server. Your defense is very important here. You should be very attentive with his return because he could hit an easy winner if the serve is executed perfectly. Be aware of the types of return your partner does after the serve (but do not watch him!). This should give you an idea on the type of shot the server’s partner is going to apply. Like for example if your partner‘s return is high and wide, you should defend your tramlines (alleys) because it the best possibility that your opponent will target.

Your opponent is the focus not your partner

Focus your eyes on your opponent, and not your partner. One of the biggest mistakes a player can do in tennis double matches is to watch your partner as he returns the ball after the serve. If you do this, you will miss your opponent’s attack because your focus was on your partner but not on your opponent’s side. Focus your attention to the net player and observe his movement for a possible volley. You will be more prepared in case your opponent hits a volley.

Strategic Placement

The main objective is to target the most vulnerable player of the team or target the weakest spot of the court (weakest spot means the part of the court which can create problems to your opponent’s return like gaps between them). When you are away from the net (baseline), your target is the server’s half court. This is to avoid server’s partner who is near the net. This player can be dangerous if you hit near him.

Movement coordination

Another important tennis doubles strategy to consider your team’s movement coordination. The movement of both players in a team should be well coordinated all the times. It is important not to leave a big gap between you and you partner. If your partner is forced to move far right, you should also move right to cover the gap. This will lead a space in your left side but it is safer this way to avoid a straightforward winner in the big gap space between you and your partner.

Defense and attack

In tennis doubles, you also have to be ready to take every opportunity to win points. Rather than watching your partner as he hits the ball, take your time to watch your opponents’ movements and be ready to hit another shot if you find even the smallest opportunity.

I formation

The I formation is a tennis double strategy to apply if the server in your team serve is weak or when the opponent’s serve return becomes deadly. In this situation, you have to think of an alternative strategy to counteract that deadly serve return.

I formation double tennis strategy can be attained with the server’s partner (partner of the player who is serving) squatting down low near the net at the center line of the court. The server does his serve just behind his partner. This I formation tennis doubles strategy will create confusion to the opposing team as to where the net player of the serving is going to position himself.

Counter attack to opponents’ lob game.

The lob is the best doubles tennis strategy to counteract a net play, so expect you opponents to play lob if you are playing in the net. Continuous lob shot can frustrate you and your partner so you better do something about it.

The Australian formation

The Australian formation is a tennis doubles strategy which is used to win a quick point but it can also be very risky, so it is not advisable to use frequently. However, if your team decides to make use of this tactic, the server should position himself near the center line. This is to cover more angles to give the returning team a harder time.


Good communication is a part of tennis doubles strategy that is indispensible. Forget about playing doubles if you and your partner cannot communicate each other during the game. Good communication is a vital part in playing tennis doubles matches because it enables each player to contribute to the team’s success. Through good communication, both players in a team can produce well coordinated movements, thoughts and actions.

Net play counter attack

Generally, the serving team engages in net play after a very good serve. Beforehand, when you return a serve (you are facing the server’s partner in the net), the best strategy is to target the server because he is the most vulnerable at this stage after hitting the serve. If your opponents were able to return your shots and they are now positioned in the net, you can still make them vulnerable. This time, you can hit a lob forcing them away from the net, or you can hit the ball right in between the two players.

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