Around here, we have been focusing in on doubles lately. Troy was awesome enough to share with you guys 3 of his top tips when he steps on the doubles court.
Here they are:
Control the middle of the court:
By controlling the middle of the court, you will cause your opponents to go for low-percentage shots when trying to pass you. There are times during a match where I tend to struggle with this concept. During the heat of a match, I often times become fearful of getting passed with a shot down the alley. When I think back on most of my doubles matches, there is typically less than a handful of successful passing shots down the alleys. More times than not, by you and your partner controlling the middle of the court, you will cause your opponents to hit unforced errors when they attempt to pass you down the line. The old doubles adage: “Down the middle solves the riddle,” well that only works if there is a middle area to hit through!
Think high percentage:
This is definitely something that I have struggled with over the years, but have come to learn the more I play doubles. Having primarily a singles background, I typically would think of myself as a shot-maker. When I play singles, I attempt to hit near the lines more often than I should. As I converted to playing doubles more often, I was going for way too many low percentage shots. As I have developed a better thought process over the years, I have learned that high percentage shots, and getting as close to the net as possible is the key to being successful in doubles. For example, if I am in a situation where I am at the baseline, and both of the opponents are at the net, instead of trying to hit the low-percentage passing shot down the alley, I have learned to take go for more high percentage shots. Being that the other team is already at an advantage with both players at the net, a smarter shot would be to hit a topspin dipper down the middle between the two opponents with hopes of them hitting a volley that will allow me to hit a winner on the next shot. Another high percentage shot in this situation, would be to hit a topspin lob, to the backhand side of either player (preferably the weaker player). The key for me is to not try to force a winner when I am in a defensive position (the baseline); unless you have a forehand like Jack Sock…
Be positive and have a short-term memory:
When transitioning from singles to doubles, it is even more important to stay positive in a team dynamic or partnership. Out of the three tips I am touching on today, this was one comes most naturally to me, being that I have participated in team sports most of my life. Having experience playing quarterback in football, pitcher in baseball, and point-guard in basketball, I had to learn to make my teammates better by being a positive influence, showing leadership, and giving inspiration to those around me. I learned at a young age, that if your teammates aren’t positively influenced by you, then it makes it near impossible to be successful. In doubles I have found that, good communication and trust in my partner is what keeps a positive team dynamic, and ultimately gives us a better chance of winning. One of the worst feelings that I have experienced, while playing doubles, is the feeling of letting my partner down. When I play doubles I want my partner to feel as though he/she does not have to worry about me being upset or angry. One way that I might encourage my partner if I see them getting upset: “don’t worry, nobody hurt, forget about it, the only thing that matters is the next point, let’s go!” I feel that if my partner knows I am going to fight to the finish, than he/she will do the same.
Hopefully these tips will help you the next time you’re playing doubles,