If you want to improve how you play senior tennis doubles (NOTE: not everyone really wants to enough to do something about it!), here are seven random tips for you to consider …
- Communicate – Talk with your partner before, during and after matches … to know who covers the lobs, where you will be serving the opponents, when you will be poaching, and how you played together.
- Use the Stagger Formation – We are all getting less mobile and chasing down lobs more difficult. For that reason, when you and your partner are at the net, whoever is on the side where the ball is should play tighter to the net and be the aggressor; while his partner should lay back slightly and be ready to chase the lob over his partner’s head.
- Use the Lob Volley – Former world #1 Fred Drilling once advised me, when all four players are at the net having a bang-bang point, everybody is leaning forward. So that is a great time to use the lob volley over their heads.
- Hit it Softer – We are not Jack Sock and can’t drive the ball through our opponents. Watching another former world #1, Hugh Thomson, play doubles, I saw that he almost never hit the ball hard. Rather he would hit it softly – and under complete control – to a spot on the court where the opponents aren’t or it would be difficult for them to hit a response.
- Never Miss a Return of Serve – I once pointed out to Australian Legend Roy Emerson that the Bryan brothers had played a match and had an outstanding 90% return of serve percentage. And asked Roy what his goal was when playing and he said, “100%! Unless it is an over-powering serve, you should NEVER miss a return of serve.”
- Be Aggressive at the Net – The Bryan brothers say, “Make them feel your presence at the net.” In other words, if you are at the net and your partner back at the baseline serving or playing a ground stroke, don’t be a passive lump at the net … make sure your opponents know you are there and may just cross to pick off their shot.
- Stay in Shape – One of my favorite quotes is from George Bernard Shaw: “You don’t stop playing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop playing.” So not keep play regularly; but do the off-court work to PREVENT injuries and make you feel better. And no matter your age, try to keep playing with the “younger guys.”
What tips do YOU have to improve doubles play?
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