10 Keys To Successful Doubles


10 keys to successful doubles:
Oliver Stephens.

Doubles is a game that can be as, if not more, tactical than singles. Because of the fact that you can have many different combinations of court positioning and because may have 4 different game styles on the court, doubles can be a fascinating game.
Here are 10 ways that you can become a better doubles TEAM!

1. Be a TEAM! Communication is key and remember to keep it positive! If your opponent poaches and misses, the last thing they need is a negative reaction! Your immediate feedback should be along these lines: “Nice try, keep going for that, I love your aggressiveness.” The WORST thing you can do is display negative body language and start telling your partner what not to do! Talk after every point and keep it positive.

2. Be aggressive at the net: One of the best tips I received was to assume that your partner cannot play! If you think you can get to the ball then go for it! Doubles is an aggressive game, don’t be a mouse at the net, be a tiger!

3. Focus on serving down the T more often than out wide: When you serve out wide, your partner has to cover the down the line return. Therefore they will find it much more difficult, if not impossible to poach. Practice your serve to the T, it makes your partner more likely to poach!

4. Test their volleys! So often we are scared of the net person. You know what, more often than not, the net player is at the net praying that you don’t hit the ball to them! Take a risk and hit the ball at the net player early in the match, if they miss the volley or make a weak reply, you may well have a weakness to exploit.

5. Take away the lob! This is a big one. A lot of players get beaten because they keep getting lobbed. You know the story, you are a lot better at tennis than your opponents but you simply lose to the dreaded lobbers! One great way to combat this is to actually approach short, not deep as we are used to doing. It is much easier to lob off your back foot than it is while running forward, so become proficient at approaching a little shorter and making your opponents run forward to the ball. It is also a good idea to hit slice on this type of approach so that the opponents have to hit up on the ball, right into your wheelhouse!

6. Isolate the weaker player: This sounds so simple, but sometimes I see doubles teams actually playing to the stronger player! You should look for the weaker player and do your best to pick on that player as much as you can. It will not only fluster the weaker player but the stronger player will become frustrated and may try too hard to be involved and make uncharacteristic mistakes.

7. Make your returns! Again, oh so simple, but this is a huge deal in doubles (and singles). Count with your partner to see how many returns you make and miss. If you aren’t making at least 80% of you returns then you aren’t applying any pressure to the serving team. Make them play=Make them pay!

8. Make your first, second and THIRD volley. When you are not at the net, don’t be in a hurry to finish off the point. If the opportunity doesn’t arise to hit a winning volley, then keep it deep, keep it simple and wait for the right ball to attack. Be a wall at the net!

9. Make the net players volley. The flip side of the above point is that it is very important to make the volleyers actually hit volleys. It is amazing how many people make the net players hit one, maybe two shots but no more. Make an effort to really test the consistency of the net player. Make them hit two, three, even four volleys. You will often find that if you keep making them hit they will break down.

10. Get your first serve in! I think this is the most important one. If you serve at a noticeably higher percentage than your opponents, you will be so hard to beat! Practice your serve a lot and not only from the deuce side as most people do, it will make a huge difference to your match results…..

I hope these tips help you with your doubles game. Take the two or three of these that you find most useful and try to use them in your next doubles match.



  1. Anonymous says

    1. second sentence, change opponent to partner

  2. John h says

    Great ideas

  3. James Scholtz says

    I like and agree with all of your comments except isolating the weaker player. While I agree that, in the end that is what any successful team does, just like in singles, it makes sense to test your team strength against the opponent’s strongest player – if your strength is better than theirs, then that will demoralize them faster – you can always go to weakness as an alternative.

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