Art of Doubles – “Offensive Play”

Here are ten offensive tactics and strategies to dictate play/take control of the match.

  1. Be mentally resolute in your game plan. Be relentless in your attack and willingness to get to the net.
  2. Play the percentages. With a strategy that looks to close and attack the net with every opportunity, the goal is not to win all the points just most of the points. Don’t be dissuaded from your plan of attack if passed at the net or hurt with a successful lob.
  3. Attack the net with a serve and volley. Choices are to serve and come in all the time (first and second serves), most of the time (first serves and less frequently following second serves) and more selectively off both the first and second serves. In all cases, the goals are to take time away from your opponents, take control of the net and disrupt the rhythm of your opponents.
  4. Attack the net with the return of serve. Choices are to return and come in all the time (in response to first and second serves), most of the time (in response to second serves and less frequently in response to first serves) and more selectively in response to first and second serves. As with the serve, the goals are to take time away from your opponents, take control of the net and disrupt the rhythm of your opponents.
  5. Attack the net player with the return. There are several target options with the return of serve. Choices include hitting cross court for depth, hitting cross court at an angle and lobbing over the net player. A fourth choice is going right at the net player with pace. If not overused, it can be very effective at disabling the net player (by getting the net player to play further back from the net, making the net player jittery and reluctant to move, etc.).
  6. Lob and close the net with the return. Most players see the lob as a defensive response to stay in the point but the lob can also be used as a weapon. To effectively attack with the lob, hit the lob with a lower trajectory and then close into the net with your partner to finish the point with a volley or overhead.
  7. Crowd the center of the court. Establish a goal with your partner of never getting passed down the middle of the court. Make your opponents beat you by trying to hit to the outside of the court.
  8. Look to cross and poach whenever possible following the serve, particularly following serves hit down the middle or following any serve that jams or stretches your opponents. For better results, use signals to let your partner know whether you are going or staying or to direct your partner where to hit the serve.
  9. Play tight to the baseline (when hitting from the backcourt). Take balls on the rise as necessary to maintain a strong court position and to give your opponents less time to respond. Playing tight to the baseline also shrinks the court from your opponent’s perspective. The natural tendency is to hit with less depth (giving you a better ball to attack).
  10. Have fun. It’s fun to be unfettered to take more chances and to be less exact and precise with your shots (as is often necessary with a more consistent, defensive style of play).

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