Doubles tactics – Part 2

Server’s partner: 


Wrong:  Players in this position tend to stand too close to the net and tramlines. Traditionally, players were taught to stand a racket length and a step away from the net, leaving them very close to the net and vulnerable to the lob and with little reaction time to deal with fast shots. As previously mentioned, they often stand too close to the tramlines for fear of getting struck on the head by the serve.  Also, they’re afraid of getting passed down the line, feeling they have to guard it with their life!  In fact, people tend to think the tramline is wider than it actually is. Often in mixed doubles you hear the bloke saying to the girl ‘you stand in the tramlines’, which doesn’t help the situation!


Right:  The best position is in the middle of the service box – at least a racket length and two steps back from the net. From here the server’s partner has a better chance of covering the lob and buys himself more reaction time if the ball is returned down the line or straight at him.  Most important, he is now in a better position to cover the middle and intercept.  Remember that in doubles you want to get points over quickly and the way to do that is to intercept.  Ideally, the server needs to serve down the middle to set the net player up for an interception (it’s quite hard for the returner to hit the tramline off a middle serve).  But if the serve goes wide, the net player needs to shift over a little before the ball bounces to cover the line.





Wrong: Players make the mistake of standing in the same position for the first and second serve plus they sometimes stand too far over to the left or right to protect a weak forehand or backhand. 


Right:    The best position on a fast first serve is to stand back a few feet to buy some reaction time, and then take a few steps in for a softer second serve.   If a player has a weak backhand, for example, and he’s playing on the right, he may want to stand over a little to the left to favour his forehand, but not too far over so as to expose him to a wide serve.



Returner’s partner


Wrong:  Players often stand too close to the net mirroring the server’s partner’s position.  This leaves a huge gap down the middle for the server’s partner to volley into should he decide to intercept the return. Alternatively, players who are afraid of the net will stand too far back – often on a level with the returner.  This leaves them exposed to a short or angled volley by the server’s partner.


Right:    The best position is on the service line towards the middle of the court.  This way he’s protecting the middle of the court should the server’s partner decide to intercept plus he’s in a better position to reach shorter and angled shorts.  However, it’s key to remember that this player does not stay in this position for the duration of the rally. If his partner hits a good deep return he should move forward a little to try and intercept a weak reply. By moving forwards he is giving the opponents less court to hit into and makes himself look bigger at the net.  Conversely, if his partner hits a weak return he might want to take a step back so that he stands a better chance of defending himself against an interception. During the rally he always wants to be taking a step backwards or forwards depending on whether he or the opposing net player can or cannot intercept.  As he’s moving he needs to keep watching his opponents rather than turning right round looking at his partner hitting the ball.  He can glance at what his partner is doing but his main focus should be on what’s going on in front of him.

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