The game of tennis can be played between two players or between two pairs of players. The former is called singles and the latter is known as doubles
There are certain basic principles in terms of rules and tactics that are applicable if you want to learn how to play tennis doubles. The rules aren’t that different but there are a few things that need to be remembered if you are not familiar.
The real difference between singles and doubles is in the way you approach the game in terms of strategy, tactics and psychology.
Often, as soon as a player learns the basic strokes and rules of the game, he or she gains experience playing an actual match. But most often, this first match is a singles match since it makes it relatively easier to teach the rules of tennis and get the players oriented to the flow of a tennis match. The players only need to know where to serve first, how to score, and where the boundaries of the court are. They don’t need to figure out who will serve after a player wins a game.
For a player to get familiar with how to play tennis doubles, he or she will need to get used to the different sidelines, the sequence of serving, and the fact that they will only be returning from one side of the court.
There is also a different psychology involved because he or she will have to deal with his or her partner as well. The only way for all of this to happen is to actually play doubles. But if all four players out on the court are inexperienced with doubles, a coach should stand by keeping score and reminding the players where to stand, where to serve from and who will serve.
In learning how to play tennis doubles, it’s always important o learn Here are some basic reminders how to play tennis doubles:
- Pick a partner that complements your own abilities
- Talk to your partner. Pre-match decisions have to be made as a team.
- Pick a side from which you will be returning – either forehand or backhand side. For example, if you are right handed and your partner is left handed, you would probably be playing from the right side.
- Choose between you and your partner who will serve first. Then keep in mind the sequence of who will be serving. If you were the first player to serve, then after your service game, the opponents will be serving. After the opponents’ service game, your partner will be the one to serve next.
- When you are serving, you follow the same sequence as when you serve in singles. The first point is served from the deuce court, the second point from the ad court, and so on.
- When your partner is serving, you will usually be on the other half of your court. So even if you are playing primarily from the right side, obviously, if your partner is serving from that side (deuce court) then you will be standing at the left side (ad court).
- When your team is receiving, throughout the game, you stay only on the side from which you are returning serve.
How to Play Tennis Doubles: Keeping the Ball in Play
The objective of tennis, whether singles or doubles, is to keep the ball in play longer than your opponent/s.
For beginners, this is best achieved by simply keeping the ball in play and waiting for the opponent to make an error. As players develop their games, the strategies and tactics will also change.
The main strategy in tennis is to maximize the angles and spaces in which to hit your shots while minimizing your opponent’s. Because there are two players on each court in doubles, the situation is different than in singles and so too are the shots that are more useful and effective.
In order to learn how to play tennis doubles, players need to be more adept at playing certain areas of the court and hitting some of these particular shots.
How to Play Tennis Doubles: Controlling The Net
How to play tennis doubles is about controlling the net. Controlling the net is much more critical in doubles than in singles. It is far easier to win points up at net because you can make use of the greater angles available for your volleys. Since there are two opponents, maximizing the possible spaces on the court where you can place your shots is best done up at net.
The usual position of the players at the beginning of a point is to have one player at the baseline (the server or returner) while his or her partner is at net. Whenever possible, the player at the baseline should also join his or her partner up at net. Consequently, a player needs to improve his or her volleys if he or she really wants to learn how to play tennis doubles.
More volleys are usually hit in doubles because it is generally harder to put the ball away. In singles, the angled volley is usually a point-ending shot but in doubles, it can be just one of several set-up shots for the rest of the point.
How to Play Tennis Doubles: The Volley
Aside from the volley, the overhead is also much more frequently used in doubles. When two players are up at net, it is tougher to hit a passing shot because there are fewer spaces to thread the ball through.
Instead of the passing shot, the lob gets used more frequently.
If a player doesn’t know how to hit a good overhead, then his or her team cannot control the net position because even if they have good volleys, they will be vulnerable to the lob. The main difference of the overhead in singles and doubles is this: in singles, when you are forced backwards, you usually hit the ball crosscourt or down the centre, while in doubles, you usually hit it straight ahead.
How to Play Tennis Doubles: The Lob & Overhead
These are the different ways in order to reset the point. If the lob can be smashed away, you just hit it away from your opponent in singles. In doubles, you usually hit it at an angle so even if it gets returned, the court has now been opened for the next smash. Alternatively, it can be hit down the middle between the two players.
The serve and return are the two most important shots in the game of tennis, whether singles or doubles. A big serve is effective in any situation. In singles, a good serve out wide opens up the court for the next shot. In doubles, because there are two players, this tactic doesn’t work all the time. It is actually better to serve hard down the middle.
How to Play Tennis Doubles: Placement of the Tennis Serve
This placement of the serve limits the returner’s angles and allows the serving team to take control of the net. The server’s partner has a better chance of volleying the return and hence giving control of the point to their team. Of course, there are other things to consider, like where the weaker wing of the returner is. It is always advisable to hit to a weak side whether in singles or doubles.
The return in singles can be hit crosscourt or down the line. In doubles, the down the line return is rarely attempted because you will be directing the ball to the server’s partner at net, and you wouldn’t want to cede control of the net over to them so early in the point.
How to Play Tennis Doubles: Return of Serve
So the best option is to return crosscourt, back to the server. If the server is approaching, the return should dip low to his or her feet, just as it should against any other serve and volley player whether in singles or doubles. If the server is staying back then the return has to be deep or angled.
Passing shots in doubles are usually hit down the alley or down the middle between the opponents. Crosscourt passes have to be more severely angled in doubles than in singles.
Rally shots in singles can be high and looping as long as they are deep, but in doubles, these shots have value only if you are sure that it cannot be poached (or intercepted) by the net player of the opposing team.
In other words, the placement and trajectory through the air have to be precise. Obviously, if both opponents are at net, this shot has no value at all. A better rally shot for doubles is the flat or sliced return that crosses low over the net. This is much more difficult to volley.
How to Play Tennis Doubles: Hitting to The Weakest Player
It is always a good idea to hit to the weaker player, just as you would also always try to hit to the weaker side of either player. So if getting to these weaknesses means you will have to hit shots that have been deemed relatively ineffective for doubles, by all means go for these shots.
Lastly, there is also a psychological component of the game. In learning how to play tennis doubles, you will find that this mental aspect is different than in singles. The most obvious reason is that you will have to deal with your partner’s mental toughness or lack thereof as well as your own.
How to Play Tennis Doubles: Team Work & Communication
For some players, having a partner on court makes them more secure. But for others, it only makes them more self-conscious. If you make an error, you sometimes think about things like “did that make my partner mad?”
If your partner is the one who makes mistakes, you must try not to get mad at him or her.
To avoid any conflict, there should be communication between the partners. Talk about your strategies and tactics, as well as try to encourage each other. This is why it is important to choose a partner who not only complements you in terms of skill but also in temperament and mental fortitude.
It is hard enough to play against two players, so avoid having to play against three!
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