Words We Use

Good communication for a doubles team usually comes over time playing together – and can be critical to the success of the pairing.  But choosing the right words to say to your partner will help or hinder that process.

Whose Ball is It?

The traditional “Yours” or “Mine” calls are common; but can be problematic.  A critical issue for me is      WHEN those calls are made.  The basic principle is: the sooner the better.

As that opponent’s lob is starting to drift over your head, you have to make that split second decision: can you get it in the air, are you going to turn and run back to get it, or are you going to call for help from your partner?  Any delay or motion like you are going for it may prevent your partner from being able to cover for you.

When my partner is serving and I am at the net, I always ask if they are coming in behind their serve.  If they are, I need to be more mindful of covering my own lob; but if they are staying back, I tell them that I will be more aggressive at the net and I will look for them to cover the lob over my side.

Another issue for me is the late call of “yours” when I am standing there and starting my swing at the ball.  Call me weak minded, but that just stops me from a free-flowing swing (and frequent error results).

Ball Going Out?

What do you say when the incoming shot looks like it will be going long or wide?

  • NO!” – If you are confident that the incoming shot will be out, quickly and loudly yell to your partner.

  • Bounce it!” – If I am not sure, this is what I will yell … and hope that my partner will still get himself in position; but let the ball land to see if it is in or out.

  • Out!” – This is what you do NOT want to yell; because it essentially ends the point on that call.  And if your partner plays it in the air or it lands and they play it, your opponents can claim the point is over because you called “Out”. (which I successfully did in a USTA tournament).

What are YOUR communication calls and issues?

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6 thoughts on “Words We Use

  1. You!


    Bounce- Only a suggestion. That way I take no responsibility either way.

    Ed, yes, i forgot about the all important “switch” call … which is normally made by the player on the baseline to the net partner. and you win the First Responder Award this morning! thanks, george

  2. You and I are in total agreement! We have great communication when we play together and feel very comfortable knowing what each other will do and what we will cover. I feel more communication is better than less. Assuming who will take which shots is a guessing game I don’t want to play. Playing often with the same partner is helpful and leads to a good understanding, but there are still situations where verbal communications is better than none.
    When I have to tell my partner to let a ball go , I will often just make a quick sound like “UH” if I can’t get a full word out.
    Hope your MRI goes well.

    Steve, UH. thanks, george

  3. I’ve seen the Bryan Bros play numerous times and they seem to be talking to each other on every SHOT….not just every point….it’s always “me” or “you”….or “got it”….or “switch” etc….and I actually try to do that when I play tennis and pickleball. As Steve D said above, the more communication, Uh, the better!

    Scoot, i can testify that you are a good communicator. And sorry we got rained out yesterday after the Falcons loss to TB… i had a nice Thank You surprise for you! george

  4. I find it distracting, and actually kind of annoying, when your partner says “Yours” when it is obviously your ball and totally unnecessary.

    Kent, and i have a partner who asks me NOT to say “GO, GO!” when is running for a short ball, because it distracts him. thanks, george

  5. Don’t forget – partners can only talk when the ball is on it’s way to them – otherwise it is a ‘hindrance’. Shouting ‘Duck’ or ‘Short’ when you put up a short lob are examples.
    A call of ‘Yours’ just as a player is about to swing at the ball almost invariably causes a missed shot. It takes time to process a call and that moment is frequently enough to cause a pause in motion.
    Much better to call ‘Mine’ or say nothing at all.

    Allan, that late YOURS almost always negatively impacts my swing. thanks, george

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