Being successful player at the net in doubles

Doubles is a team game of tennis so there are different roles of particular players. As we know, players can use different tactics to use own strengths and avoid weaknesses. Some teams prefer to play both at the net while others feel comfortable with one up one back formation. We have to also remember about more defensive positioning with 2 players staying on the baseline. This article will focus on teams that use tactics with one player at the net and the other one in the backcourt. To become successful net player in doubles, player has to know his/her roles and what can be achieved in this situation.

 

            Junior tennis players and beginners like to play doubles with partners that have at least decent net game skills because it makes their chances bigger for the final win. Of course, it is always better to have really good partner but lack of this comfort doesn’t mean that we can’t fight for championships. There are many aspects that can be improved during the game if player knows tactical opportunities of playing at the net. It is important to understand that each player of the team has different roles according to the position on the court. Being a team means working for the team so it is not important if baseline player hits a winner or net player forces opponent to miss because each of this situations bring the same 1 point. Even if you don’t have specific doubles skills on the top level you can still be a valuable partner if you know what you have to do. Many players don’t understand that doubles game is based on actions without a ball and these moves have a great impact on the opponent’s decisions and finally on the result. Below, you can find particular areas that can change poor doubles player into world-class doubles partner.

 

 

Constant movement

Moving at the net is the most important aspect to develop. Poor players like to complain about doubles because “nothing happens there” but the real problem is not boredom of the game but it is rather lack of knowledge. There are many advantages of moving up and back and all players should learn how and why they have to keep their legs moving. Firstly, it is important to understand when to move forward and when to move back. When the ball clears the net after our partner’s hit, we should move closer to the net. Position closer to the net gives us a better chance to intercept the next shot and hit forcing or winning volley. When the opponent’s ball crosses the net, it is the moment to quickly move back to the service line. This position puts us in a better defensive spot so we can react to the possible opponent’s poaching attempt.

 

Look into the proper spot

Many beginners and juniors make mistakes of looking back at the partner while standing at the net. Net player has to understand that it is not important what is going behind us because we don’t have control over it. We have to trust our partners and take care of things that we can prepare for. When the ball is coming to the baseline’s opponent, we should switch our attention to this player. On the other hand, if the ball is coming to our partner on the baseline, proper spot to look at is the net player. We have to watch carefully net player because if he/she poaches, we have to be ready to respond. We should never look at our partner and our attention should be switched between 2 opponents.

 

Position while serving

Position of the server’s partner can tell or lie the direction of the serve. Players have to be aware of this information and use it in the proper way. Right before the contact of the serving player, partner has an ability to put the last doubts into the returner’s mind so we can’t forget about it. By moving closer to the alley, we can “tell” the opponent that serve will be going wide and we don’t want to be hit as also we want to take care of the alley. This lie can be a great option to force down the line shot or to put more pressure on the opponent.

 

Poach

Poaching is an action when net player goes across the net to intercept the opponent’s cross-court shot. This move has many benefits so players should try to incorporate this skill into the games. Firstly, poaching puts a lot of pressure on the opponent because he/she has to hit more precise and more powerful cross-courts. Secondly, intercepting is an easy way to quickly finish the point by hitting strong volleys into the other net’s player.

 

Fake

In doubles, we can put much more pressure on the opponent without a ball than it happens in singles. Being constantly at the net helps to create uncomfortable feelings in opponent’s mind. It is important to learn how to fake different actions to get emotional responses from the other team. Classic poaching starts right before the opponent’s point of contact but players can fake poaching by taking earlier few steps in the direction of poach and then come back right before opponent’s hit. This will put a lot of tension on the opponent and there is a big chance to get down the line shot right into the spot where we are waiting.

 

In this article, I wanted to show various skills that can improve any doubles team. The most important thing to learn from these examples is knowledge that you don’t need perfect technical skills to win more points in doubles game. There are actions that can be taken without a ball to make our chances bigger for more points won. Additionally, moving without a ball is a great tool to put a lot of pressure on the opponent and force them to make more uncomfortable shots. As we all know, all individual sports require strong mental skills so it should be a basic tactic for doubles teams to take the opponents outside of the comfort zone.