Ten Ways to Help Your Partner Out in Doubles

  1. Establish a plan in conjunction with your partner. Establish a plan with contingency options with your partner. Maintain the game plan specifically as it relates to your role (i.e. serve and volley on your first serve, lob at least one return per game, etc.).
  2. Talk to your partner. Take time to communicate with your partner (particularly during the changeovers). Discuss strategy and tactics, what’s working, what’s not working, where to hit to serve or return, etc.
  3. Be positive and provide moral support. Be supportive and encouraging with your partner. Help lift the spirits of your partner. Don’t wince, drop your shoulders or roll your eyes if your partner makes a mistake or error.
  4. Get your first serve in play. You want to maintain a higher percentage of first serves in play for doubles. Getting your first serve in play places more pressure on your opponents and most importantly allows your partner to roam and be more aggressive at the net.
  5. Hit your service targets. Hit the targets as signaled by your partner or as established in prior consultation with your partner. Your partner is in a better position to respond to the return if he or she knows in advance where you are planning to hit the serve (out wide, at the body or down the middle).
  6. Keep the ball in play particularly with the return of serve. Doubles is a percentage game and your percentages definitely improve if you can keep the ball in play and make your opponents hit one more shot. Steady play also gives your partner more opportunity to finish the point with a winner.
  7. Cover the middle of the court when positioned at the net. Don’t hug the alley. Ensure nothing passes you down the middle of the court, particularly floaters. Drift towards the middle of the court to cut off the next shot when your partner hits a strong serve, hits a serve down the middle or hits a low, difficult-to-return chip or drive.
  8. Don’t be afraid to cross and poach. Impose your will and presence at the net with a lot of movement (particularly when your partner is serving).
  9. Keep it low when your opponents are positioned at the net. Keep your ball low at the feet of your opponents making them hit up to your partner and you. Don’t get the ball up into the strike zone of your opponents where they can hit down at the feet or potentially at the jugular of your partner. It’s not a good thing to lose partners due to injury.
  10. Make it fun. Enjoy the process and interaction of play with your partner.