Proper Net Staggering

staggeringYounger tennis players don’t really worry about “who covers the lob.” But the rest of us are just not as mobile; so when you and your partner are at the net, you need to understand the proper roles and proper “staggering.”

Gigi Fernandez Says…

The former world #1 doubles player writes in Tennis magazine, “When I played, I was able to cover my half of the court as well as my partner’s side. For us, staggering was not only unnecessary, but also ineffective. But that’s just not the case with recreational doubles.”

She points out – what I have been trying to do for several years now – that the player on the side where the ball is (player A in the diagram) should be tighter to the net and is the aggressor. While his partner on the other side (player B) should be staggered slightly back further – and ready to cover the lob.

And if both opponents are on the baseline, as the ball moves from their deuce court to their ad court, you and your partner should change roles and positioning; so that the player on the side of the ball is always tighter to the net than the other.

Reasons Why

“Proper staggering,” she writes “takes away the crosscourt lob and angle from your opponent. It also helps resolve any confusion over whose ball it is; the front player always gets a chance at the incoming ball first.”

Is this how YOU play doubles?

Know someone who should read this? Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at

My Book: and if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page.

3 thoughts on “Proper Net Staggering

  1. Hi George,

    I teach the staggering concept as well but with slight twist. I always have the player who hits the last volley closer to the net and have their partner back up toward the service line. I believe that it has a couple of benefits:
    1. It forces the other team to change the direction of any drive (forcing a more difficult shot) to avoid the more offensive net player.
    2. It keeps both players engaged because they will typically change positions more often.

    Mike, even if the last Volley hitter was opposite side of the court from the ball? George

  2. Hi George,

    While I am also a proponent of “staggering”, I give added weight to two
    other considerations when determining who should be where.

    1. Who is the better mover? My partner may be able to play much closer
    to the net and still be able to run down lobs.

    2. Whose forehand is in the middle? Crossing behind one’s partner to hit a
    backhand can be much tougher than running back and across to hit a forehand.

    Lots of nuance. What a great game.

    John, good adds! thanks, george

  3. George,
    Yes, even then. I still believe that changing the shot direction, especially with the “outside wing” is the tougher shot for most players b

Comments are closed.