How To Become The Perfect Doubles Partner In Tennis
Step One - Get To Know Your Partner
The first thing you need to do is get to know your partner prior to the match.
A lot of times in a tennis doubles competition or in a club match, where one club plays another club you won't actually know who you're playing with until the day and until you arrive on the court.
If you have a chance prior to the match to meet your partner, then get to know them, ask them of course their name, introduce yourself and find out a few key things before the start of the match.
A few of the main things you want to ask them include:
What is their favorite shot that they like to hit?
What is their go to shot that they like to use when they want more power?
Be really specific, ask them is it your forehand down the line? Is it a short forehand? Is it a high forehand?
What's their favorite serve?
Find out a few of those key elements prior to the match and don't forget to ask them which side they prefer.
This will show your partner that you're thinking about them prior to the match and this will also break the ice.
I see this a lot and it's happened quite a few times in club matches that I've gone to watch, I'll see the players coming on the court together, they won't speak the first couple of minutes and then they'll start the match.
They don't even know each other's names, they probably haven't found out anything about each other, it's really hard to play in that kind of tension.
So you want to break the ice, it's really simple but it does happen so break the ice, get to know your partner, find out which side they favour, find out their favorite shot and find out their favorite serves and by doing this you can almost help them in the match to try to hit that shot more often.
If their favorite shot in doubles is a forehand down the middle of the court, you could try to set them up for that shot by going for angled shots that open up the centre, that's when your partner can then strike in that middle zone. Look for ways that both you and your partner can work together to set up both their favorite shot and your favorite shot.
Another very important thing to find out prior to the match starting is if your partner is going to serve and volley?
This is true for the first and second serve and if so what they prefer you to be doing?
Do they want you crossing if it's an easy return? Do they want you staying? Are you going to be putting them off if you try to cross and intercept the return?
Try to find out all of these things prior to the match starting, by knowing this information, you'll have a huge advantage over the opponents, especially if your opponents haven't played together either.
Also find out if your partner is going to be coming in off their returns? This will help you when you're at the net so you'll know that they might be coming forwards on second serves, then you don't have to always look for that cross off your partner's return.
A few other things to discuss prior to the match is who's going to be dealing with the balls in the middle? Who's going to deal with the lobs?
Sometimes one player is going to be a little bit faster and they're going to be able to cover that lob and sometimes a player prefers those high volleys and they feel really confident on those so it's important to discuss this prior to the doubles match starting.
Step Two - Encouragement
The second thing you're going to try to do is be encouraging throughout the match. I see a lot of players playing doubles, even players who have played together for a long time, the body language when one player misses is very negative.
Showing your partner that you're annoyed that they've missed a shot, especially an easy shot, can be very damaging to your partner, they might end up playing worse due to the added pressure of how you react when they miss.
It's also an encouragement to the opponents, you're giving your opponent's energy and you're showing signs of anger and frustration on your side with your partner which will feed the opponents and make them work even harder to "finish you off".
Try to go up to your partner, give them a high five or a tap on the back, say hey don't worry about it we all make those errors, be as encouraging and positive as you possibly can be, keep your body language in between points positive and energetic.
In between points instead of walking around looking frustrated, try to be hopping around, high-five each other and show a lot of positivity, try to also speak really positive to your partner.
You can be saying things like "come on, this point, this next point, let's get this point" so always encouraging and always positive, the last thing you want is be known as the player who everyone hates playing with because when your partners are missing or not having a good day, you're showing your frustration and you're showing them that you're annoyed and angry with their performance.
You want to be the player that everyone wants to play with by being positive all the time and encouraging.
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Step Three - Take Care Of Your Business
The next step to being the perfect partner in doubles is to take care of your business so what I mean by that is anything on your half you want to try to be consistent and effective in those shots.
So don't go for crazy shots, play high percentage doubles tennis and really take care of the shots that come on your side and that you've already agreed to take care of, so if you've agreed to take care of the lob, you're going back for that and you're taking care of that lob as effectively as you can.
Of course you're going to make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes, even the best doubles players in the world, this is part of the game so your partner hopefully they'll be understanding just as you should be understanding when they make mistakes but if you take care of the majority of your points and you're playing a high percentage game then you'll be a favorite amongst your partners and someone that people want to play with.
Step Four - Lead By Example
Another way to be a really good doubles partner is to lead by example. So if you're energetic, if you've got great intensity on the court, if you're fighting and you're hustling for every ball this will rub off hopefully on your partner.
If I'm playing with somebody and I see that they don't really care about a match or I see that they're not really giving their best effort maybe they're a bit tired that day, maybe they've had an argument at home, who knows what's going on but if I see they're not engaged in that match it will bring down my energy.
It will have an effect on me as their partner because now instead of carrying one player you're having to carry both yourself and your partner. So lead by example, have really good footwork on the court, have great intensity on the court and really try to finish off those points in an aggressive way in the match, by doing this hopefully your partner will then feed off your energy and also that will raise their game to a higher level.
By being enthusiastic, by being energetic on the court hopefully that will have a positive effect on your doubles partner and then after the match they might be thinking "Wow, I played so good with that person hopefully we can play again in the future".
So go out there and try to implement as many of these tips as you can into your doubles games.
Also leave a comment down below, tell us which part of your doubles game do you struggle with the most and which part of your doubles do you want to improve the most?