Basic Doubles Strategies - Take Control of the Net

Basic Doubles Strategies - Take Control of the Net

Although doubles tennis has a lot of things in common with singles tennis, in many ways it’s an entirely different animal.

There are certain elements of doubles tennis that require a completely different approach to strategy and tactics, and many times what works well in singles tennis might not work at all on the doubles court.

One of the biggest differences between singles and doubles tennis strategy is how the net is played.

If you've watched any high level tennis doubles, one thing is really apparent - good doubles teams win at the net! 

Taking the net is a great way of taking control of the point, being aggressive and putting your opponents under pressure.

It takes time away from them and gives them much less space to hit into, forcing them go for riskier shots like passing shots down the line or even lobs.

And it gives you an easier shot! 


At the beginning of a point, the typical doubles arrangement is to have one player at the baseline and the other one at the net.


If you’re the baseline player, be patient and wait for the approach shot, and then be quick to join your partner at the net once the ball is in play. 



Firstly, have the mindset of looking for opportunities...then start to understand what those opportunities are! 

1. My Opponent is in Trouble 

If you are back in the court, a good time to come to the net is when you see your opponent is in an uncomfortable position. This might include:

  • Hitting from way behind the baseline.
  • Is on their heels.
  • Has a weak backhand, and you can find it.
  • Is running for a ball and off-balance.

2. No Pace

If you’re playing against someone who doesn’t hit the ball very hard, then you have plenty of time to get to the net.

If you want even more time to get in, take some pace off of your shot. But make sure it has depth!

High, deep, topspin to the backhand is usually a safe bet. However some players can lob well off of this shot, so you can try a slow slice with depth too.

 3. Play the Middle

Hit a drive up the middle of the opposition’s court. This is more effective than coming in off a crosscourt ball. Don’t give your opponent lots of options; if you’re coming in off a straight ball, or a ball that you’ve hit down the middle, they’ve got to come back down that line, it’s harder for them to pass you.

With two players in position at the net, it makes it very difficult for the opposing team to pull off any passing shots, mainly because there are fewer open spaces for them to “sneak” the ball through. 


When both players are up at the net, it’s almost inevitable that the opposing team will fire off some lobs to get you out of position. This is where it becomes important to know how to hit a good, solid overhead smash.

You can approach this one of two ways:

  1. Execute the overhead shot at a sharp angle (which often opens up the court for a follow-up overhead smash if the ball gets returned), or
  2. Drill it straight down the middle between the two opposing players.


If you can take over the net consistently in a doubles match, you will put pressure on your opponent. 

You can force them on their heels, and make them try to hit difficult low percentage shots.

A good question is…

Which shot on that last point could I have come forward on?





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