Are you part of a regular doubles game, or consistently asked to join a foursome? Is your calendar booked out several months with scheduled matches? Do you get called first when someone needs a partner? Your popularity might be because you're a good tennis player, but is more likely because you're a good doubles partner.
Men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles are all very different games from singles, and very different from each other. Singles has it's own strategy of setting up points, while doubles is a game of winning overheads and volleys at net. In singles, you have only yourself to blame if you lose a point or game, but there are four people on the doubles court, and two on one side that are involved in the match.
There are many theories on finding a doubles partner and how to be an effective team. Some say both partners should have similar games, some say you should find a partner with opposite style. Whatever you choose, you need to build on your partnership during each match and adapt to different opponents as a team. Like it or not, one of the keys to having fun on the doubles court could rest on the hands, and in the head, of your doubles partner.
Because doubles is about a team, instead of an individual as in singles, the dynamics of a match are out of the control of one individual, but instead dependent on both team members. The key to your success in doubles, besides basic strategy, is the strength of your team and teamwork. The better you know your partner, and your partner knows you, the more success you'll find on court.
The best way to be a better doubles team, is to be a good doubles partner. Here are some basic, and probably obvious, tips on how to be a better doubles partner.
- Communicate with each other
- Discuss strengths and weaknesses
- Talk during the game
- Recommend strategy
- Support your partner
- Be positive on court
- Keep it light
- Do not blame your partner
- Take the "we" attitude
- Don't apologize
- Have fun
If you can remember only one of the above, the most important key to any doubles partnership is communication - before, during and after the match. Talk during the game and in between points about strategy, and just to see how the other is doing. The best thing you can do for your partner is to be supportive and encouraging.
Most importantly, don't forget to have fun on the court!