Coaching Tip - November 2021

    Doubles – play with a variety of formations

    Regular formation
    The most common starting positions for the doubles serving team is with one player at the back of the court (the server) and one player at the net.

    There are however some other alternatives to use when the need arises.

    Defensive Both-back formation
    Both players start on the baseline when receiving serve.
    This format can be useful if you are struggling to
    • keep the return of serve away from the net player
    • return powerful ground shots hit directly at you
    • break your opponent’s serve
    • control the volleys at net
    The both back format will help you reduce the gaps (holes in the court) and allow you to use defence to get back into the game and then move from defence into attack when the opportunity arises.

    Australian (Tandem) formation
    When you are serving both players are on the same of court with your partner still at the net.
    This format can be used if
    • the server is struggling to volley or hit the crosscourt return by your opponent.
    • your opponent has an outstanding crosscourt return
    This tactic takes away their strong shot(s) and helps to cause some indecision in regard to
    where they can hit the ball often allowing you to intercept the returned ball as a volley.
    You do however need to communicate with your net player in regard to the direction
    he or she is going to move during any given rally.

    I - formation
    This format is used when serving by many of the professional doubles players ie the Bryan brothers.
    The net player crouches down on the centre service line prior to the serve.
    Communication is the key when using this formation.
    Prior to each serve you should tell your partner where you are serving to so that your partner
    knows whether to move to the right or left to intecept the volley.
    The server then covers the other side of the court.
    This format helps to
    • create some indecision or uncertainty in regard to the direction of the return of serve
    • take away one of your opponent’s strengths

    Contact me if you have comments or queries in regard to Doubles – a different game.
    In particular let me know if you have tried the variety of formats outlined above.

    I will in future provide some useful tactics for playing Doubles to help you improve your doubles game.

    Tennis the game of a lifetime

    Coach Steve