Top 3 unexpected rules of doubles tennis

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This is a guest post by our monthly contributor, Will Boucek, a former college tennis player from Austin, with over 20 years of experience playing and coaching. Will specializes in doubles and was 4.5 men’s and mixed doubles champion in Texas in 2017. Fascinated by the strategy of doubles, Will shares his valuable insights on his website The Tennis Tribe. Will is also the founder of Tennis Tribe Marketing where he designs website and helps tennis businesses grow.

Today, you’re going to learn My 3 Doubles Rules. I went back through every lesson I’ve ever written and found the 3 most popular and most helpful ideas.

Rule #1: Get passed down the alley 3+ times per match

What!? This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!

Why would you want to get passed down the alley? We should cover the alley.

I know, it sounds crazy, but hear me out.

Getting passed down the alley 3 times per match is an indicator of how aggressively we’re playing at the net. In a given match, for example, I might have these stats:

  • Total # of poaches: 12
  • Won the point: 8/12 = 67%
  • Missed the volley: 2/12
  • Passed down the alley: 2/12

If I told you… “When you do this 1 thing during your matches, you win 2 out of every 3 points. Want to know what it is?”

You’d hopefully say YES!, and then go do it more often.

If I had poached 50% more in the match above, here are the new stats:

  • Total # of poaches: 18
  • Won the point: 12/18 = 67%
  • Missed the volley: 3/18
  • Passed down the alley: 3/12

That looks better.

Rule #2: Hit more volleys with your frame

Wait… another terrible strategy. You’re kidding, right?!

The ridiculousness of these strategies will help you remember them. Bear with me.

Every time I hit a winner off of my frame, I apologize to my opponent. But when I say “sorry,” it never feels right. I did most of the stuff right, except hit a clean ball.

I deserved that point, even if I did hit the ball off the triangle of my racquet…

Really, I shouldn’t have to apologize for a shank winner.

The reason we hit winners off of our frames (at the net) is that we were in the right position.

  • Move more to the middle of the net.
  • Move forward at the net.
  • Stay close to the net.

Follow those three tips and you’ll start shanking more winners off your frame in doubles and winning more matches.

Of course, you’ll start hitting more clean volleys at the net too.

When should we be moving at the net? Glad you asked…

Read this: 7 Tips For Poaching In Tennis.

Rule #3: Don’t try to win if you want to get better

At this point, if you’re still reading, we’ve lost the people who skimmed and thought my rules were dumb.

The last rule might be the most important.

The biggest mistake myself and other recreational players make is they focus too much on winning.

But, we’re supposed to try to win right? Well, sort of.

A lot of good players try to win. The GREAT players (and coaches) focus on the process.

For example, I may be able to stay back at the baseline, not lose my serve, and win a match against a 4.0 team. But if I want to actually get better at tennis, I need to think ahead.

“Would this work against a 5.0 team?” is a question I ask myself often.

In the case of serving and staying back at the baseline, the answer is NO. If I want to beat good 4.5 teams and be respectable at 5.0, I have to serve and volley more.

That might mean losing my serve against the 4.0 teams for now, but it’s a skill I must improve to raise my game.

1 step back to take 2 steps forward makes sense here.

Here are a few lessons to help you focus on process instead of winning and outcomes:

For a complete list of Women’s Tennis Blog’s articles dedicated to improving your tennis skills, visit our Tennis Tips page.


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