Easiest Way to Win in Doubles

When I was asked to express my opinion about which doubles formation is the best and which is the least effective at winning points quickly, I did not hesitate: both players at the net (both up) would be my favourite, while the two players at the baseline (both back) to be the defensive one and taking longer to finish/win points.
best doubles tennis formation

Here is my argument and why you should consider playing at the net more often:

But before I get into the details I want to point out that my analysis is done as a general guide and, when assessing one team’s best tactics and strategies, we should consider each player’s technical skills, experience, and their capability to work and communicate as a team.

I believe that the best doubles formation is… both-up.

When the two players manage to get to the net they will be in the best position to put pressure on their opponents, cover the court and finish the points in the quickest way possible.

When the team is at the net, the best chance for the opponents to pass them is using the back court by sending the ball over their heads (lobs).

The both-up formation has the following advantages:

    1. It puts pressure on the opposing team (which is defending) – gives them less time to prepare for the shot.
    2. They can cover a lot more court and there is almost no opening for the opponents to pass (except when using the lob which, if not executed properly, can be a “smash” opportunity).
    3. The ability to put the balls away (finish points) is greater at the net due to the many angle opportunities and the fact that they can contact the ball above net level.

But let’s not rule out the reasons why some players or teams prefer to play from the baseline, in doubles…

The case for both players staying back can be understood considering the following aspects:

  • Both players are not comfortable playing at the net but they possess reliable ground-strokes.
  • The team is receiving against a strong server – in this case, it is wise to begin the point with both players on the baseline and advance after the return is safely made.
  • The team’s serves are being aggressively attacked by the opposing team (example: if the serve is not powerful or deep enough, the returner attacks the net player; in such situation it is a good idea for the server’s partner to begin the point further back, close to the baseline).

Disadvantages of playing both-back formation:

  1. Many angle openings for the opposing team to put the ball away.
  2. Hard to cover the forecourt (against drop-shots or short angles etc.).
  3. Difficulty in finishing the points – they wait for the opposing team to make mistakes.

Any committed doubles player should strive to improve the net skills (volleys and overheads) and most importantly transitioning to the net which for most part can set them up for a comfortable play at the net if executed properly.

For more detailed analysis of how to play and win in doubles, sign up for the Training membership to learn how to play against different doubles formations, how to communicate with your doubles partner, how to cover the court and get to the ball quicker – watch easy to follow graphics and detailed information for beginning and advanced players.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Teaching Professional

Visit the Training, Coaching and Kids Tennis sections at WebTennis24 – lessons, tips and drills for players, coaches and tennis parents.

Practical ways to avoid slippery grips when playing tennis

slippery tennis gripWhile I was practicing with one of my tennis friends, he showed his frustration for not being able to control his racquet – due to the humid air his grips would become easily slippery while playing.

He asked me what should he do about it…

Not only did I share with him my personal ways to keep the racquet grip dry but I thought it would be a good idea to ask some other tennis friends too and find their secrets in this regard. So here are some of the practical ways to keep the hands dry while playing tennis (warning: some of these you might find disgusting or unhealthy 🙂

Before the match:
Consume salty foods (stay away from junk ones like french fries or chips). I once saw a friend of mine eating from a bag of pretzels before a tennis match; he said it helped him to not sweat too much during the match.
I would not recommend that and never tried it. Find some other sources of foods that contain sodium like vegetables or chicken broth.
Get a fresh new grip or over-grip.

During the match:
Use special cream that keeps hands dry (you can find them on the internet or local tennis shop).
Blow into the palms after every point you play (my favourite one).
Wipe the palms against the court’s windscreen (your call 😉 – risking to get your hands dirty but it actually works very well in drying the palm (I tried it many times).
Use a dry towel that you have placed somewhere close to where you are (put it on a chair next to the back fence just in case there is no other support for the towel).
I know this next tip might be disgusting for some but I’ve seen players wiping their hand/palm on the sole of their shoes. I admit I tried that a few times too and it works very well – you’ll just have to wash your hands and grip afterwards; and yes, avoid shaking your opponent’s hand at the end of the match. 😉

Use your judgement when applying the before-mentioned tips. Slippery tennis grips are annoying and sometimes we do whatever it takes to avoid it in order to play our best tennis.

Have fun on the court!

Cosmin Miholca
WebTennis24.com