Improving positional play in tennis doubles: expert tips

Getting into the right position to return the ball is important in all forms of tennis, but it is crucial in doubles. With two players on one side of the court, you need to plan out your positional play so that you and your partner can cover the court without getting in each other’s way. Here are some expert tips to do just that.
Left and right play

When playing left and right, it’s important to react to the position of your partner. This means moving left and right in tandem with one another.

Think about how far you are from your partner when receiving a serve and try to maintain this distance throughout a rally.

If your partner needs to run out of the court to return a ball, then move over at the same rate to the centre of the court. This will help players to cover the space that their partner leaves uncovered. And that means that your opponents will have a much harder time smashing the ball into a wide open zone that you and your partner are too far from to defend.
Back and forth play

Playing with both players close to the net is called “two up.” It is a idea to do this from time to time to shut down your opponents’ attacking options, especially if they have been having some success hitting winners.

You and your partner could also stand in the middle of either side of the court and volley returns back. But be careful — this tactic can mean your opponents will try to lob you, so decide beforehand which of you will deal with this counter-measure.

Remember that it’s also possible to play with both partners standing on or near the baseline. This “two back” strategy is good for dealing with hard hitters. Doubles players tend to use it if volleying is not a strength or if they are in the lead, which they want to defend.

In games with a lot of back and forth play, switching quickly from “two up” to “two back” is often the most effective strategy.
Zonal play

In zonal play, one player is close to the net and the other occupies the baseline.

To play with this tactic, you and your partner should each own one side of the court. This means that you’d leave everything outside of your zone to your partner and vice versa.

Sharing the court like this sounds like a solid strategy, but your opponents will likely try to drag you out of position. As a result, strong discipline and coordination is the key to the success of zonal play.
The importance of positional play

No matter your skill level is, when your playing doubles you’ll find that the likelihood of winning points improves greatly if you’re able to coordinate with your partner to have strong positional play.

Positional play is so important to doubles tennis because it increases the amount of returns you and your partner can manage in a rally. After all, even if it isn’t perfect, every return forces your opponents to deal with the ball, and mistakes can be made. So keep these expert tips in mind to help you and your doubles partner improve.

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