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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