Are there rules for doubles tennis? Besides the obvious ones – like hit the ball over the net, and inside the white lines – we seem to think there are other tennis doubles rules about where we need to position ourselves on the court. Those ‘rules’ have become so prevalent that they have taken on mythic status! Well we’re here to bust those myths, and in doing so, give you some valuable tennis doubles strategy to take out onto the court the next time you play.
The two most common positioning myths are:
1. You have to begin the point with one person at the net and one person at the baseline;
2. You have to work toward getting both of you to the net.
Neither one is true! The easiest way to look at this is to first look at your strengths and your partner’s strengths, and find out what the best formation is to utilize both of your strengths – and then strive to get in that position on every point.
There are four basic formations; each formation takes advantage of certain skills. They are:
1. Both back at the baseline. Strengths: both players have great groundstrokes, or their groundstrokes are more effective than their volleys.
2. Both up at the net. Strengths: both players have great volleys and overheads, or their volleys are more effective than their groundstrokes.
3. and 4. One up at the net, one back at the baseline. Strengths: one player has a killer forehand groundstroke (so will be at the baseline in the deuce court), and the other player has great forehand volleys (so will be at the net on the ad side). This counts as two formations because your strengths may be the opposite – one of you may have a strong backhand groundstroke and the other a strong backhand volley – so one of you will be up on the deuce side while the other is back on the ad side.
NOTE: we are talking as if both players are right-handed. If one or both of you are lefties, adjust accordingly!
So here is the bottom-line tennis doubles strategy: know what your team’s strongest formation is, and find a way to get there as often as possible. When you bust those positioning myths, you will open up a world of possibility and raise your doubles game.
Stay tuned for Part II – How the Heck Do We Get into the Strongest Formation? Coming Soon!