What Strategies Do Players Use In Doubles Matches?

Are you curious about the strategies that players employ during doubles matches? Doubles matches require coordination and teamwork, as two players work together to outplay their opponents. In this article, we will explore the various strategies that players utilize, such as communication, positioning, and shot selection, to enhance their performance and increase their chances of victory. So, if you’re interested in gaining insights into the world of doubles tennis and discovering what separates winning teams from the rest, read on!

Serve and Return Strategies

Serve Variety

In doubles matches, having a variety of serves in your arsenal can greatly enhance your game. By mixing up your serves with different speeds, spins, and placements, you can keep your opponents guessing and off balance. A well-executed variety of serves can also prevent your opponents from developing a rhythm and anticipating your next move. Some effective serve variations include the flat serve, slice serve, kick serve, and topspin serve. Experiment with different types of serves to find what works best for you and keeps your opponents on their toes.

Targeting Weaknesses

Another important strategy in doubles matches is targeting your opponents’ weaknesses. By identifying and exploiting their weaknesses, you can gain a significant advantage. For example, if one of your opponents has a weak backhand, you can focus your shots towards that side of the court, putting them under pressure and forcing errors. Additionally, observing your opponents’ positioning and movement patterns can help you identify areas where they may be vulnerable. By strategically directing your shots to exploit these weaknesses, you can effectively neutralize your opponents’ strengths and gain the upper hand in the match.


Poaching involves one player crossing over to the opponent’s side of the court to intercept their shot. This strategy can be particularly effective when your opponents are not expecting it or are caught off guard. By poaching at the right moment, you can disrupt your opponents’ coordination and create opportunities for winning shots. However, poaching requires excellent timing, anticipation, and communication with your partner. It is crucial to coordinate your movements and signal your intention to poach to avoid confusion and ensure a successful execution of this strategy.


Effective communication is key to success in doubles matches. Clear and concise communication between partners can greatly enhance the coordination and effectiveness of your strategies. Through verbal cues, hand signals, and eye contact, you and your partner can communicate your intentions, coordinate movements, and adapt to changing situations on the court. It is important to establish a system of communication before the match and consistently maintain it throughout the game. By communicating effectively, you can anticipate your partner’s actions, avoid collisions, and execute strategies with precision.

Net Play Strategies

Volleying Techniques

Volleying refers to hitting the ball before it bounces on your side of the court. It is a crucial skill in doubles matches, as it allows you to take control of the net and put pressure on your opponents. Mastering different volleying techniques, such as the punch volley, the block volley, and the angle volley, can significantly improve your net play. These techniques enable you to redirect the ball with control and accuracy, making it difficult for your opponents to return the shot effectively.

Covering the Net

To maintain an advantageous position at the net, it is essential to cover the net effectively. This means positioning yourself strategically to intercept returns and shut down opportunities for your opponents. By staying close to the net and being proactive in covering the angles, you can cut off passing shots and force your opponents into making defensive returns. Coordination with your partner is crucial to ensure there are no gaps in your coverage and to avoid confusion.

Intercepting Returns

Intercepting your opponents’ returns can lead to direct winners or give you an advantage in rallies. By anticipating the direction and pace of the return, you can position yourself to intercept the ball and make aggressive shots. This requires quick reflexes and the ability to read your opponents’ shots. Anticipating the return and moving towards the anticipated target area will increase your chances of successfully intercepting the ball and taking control of the point.


Lobbing is a strategic shot that involves hitting the ball high and deep, aiming to force your opponents back to the baseline or disrupt their positioning at the net. A well-executed lob can put your opponents on the defensive and create opportunities for offensive shots. Additionally, lobbing can be an effective countermeasure against opponents who frequently rush the net. By mixing up your shots with lobs, you can keep your opponents guessing and prevent them from establishing a consistent strategy.

Formation Strategies

Two Up/Two Back Formation

The two up/two back formation is a commonly used formation in doubles matches. In this formation, one player stays at the net while the other player remains at the baseline. This formation allows for a strong presence at the net, enabling the net player to poach shots and intercept returns, while the baseline player provides a stable and consistent groundstroke game. This formation is particularly effective when one player has strong net skills and the other player has a powerful baseline game.


The I-Formation is an advanced formation that involves one player standing at the net in the middle, while the serving player begins the serve from one side of the baseline and moves to the opposite side after hitting the serve. This formation can be effective in disrupting the opponents’ return rhythm and creating confusion. The net player can poach shots or cut off angles, while the serving player can vary the serve placement and keep the opponents guessing.

Australian Formation

The Australian Formation is a variation of the doubles formation where both players line up on the same side of the court, with one player staying at the net and the other player at the baseline. This formation can be used strategically to surprise opponents and force them to adjust their positioning and shot selection. By utilizing the Australian Formation, you can create opportunities for aggressive shots and put pressure on your opponents’ weaker returns.

Server and Receiver Formation

The server and receiver formation is a flexible strategy that adapts to the strengths and weaknesses of the players. In this formation, the net player poaches shots and takes control of the net, while the other player stays at the baseline and focuses on returning serves effectively. This formation allows for aggressive net play while ensuring solid defense and consistent returns. By communicating and coordinating with your partner, you can effectively execute this formation and maximize your chances of success.

Communication Strategies

Clear Hand Signals

Clear hand signals can be instrumental in effective communication between doubles partners. By agreeing on specific hand signals beforehand, you can communicate your intentions, strategies, and adjustments during the match without relying on verbal cues. For example, a raised hand could signal that you will poach or intercept a shot, while a downward motion can indicate staying back or not going for a shot. Consistency in using hand signals and understanding each other’s signals is crucial for smooth and efficient communication on the court.

Verbal Cues

Verbal cues play a significant role in doubles matches, particularly during fast-paced exchanges and split-second decision-making. By using concise and clear verbal cues, you can communicate your intentions, such as calling out “mine” or “yours” to avoid confusion and ensure that both players know their roles. Additionally, using verbal cues to provide encouragement and positive reinforcement can help maintain team spirit and a focused mindset throughout the match.

Eye Contact

Maintaining eye contact with your doubles partner is essential for effective communication and coordination. By making eye contact, you can convey your intentions, make split-second decisions, and signal your readiness for specific strategies or shots. Eye contact can also help establish a sense of trust, confidence, and understanding between partners, allowing for seamless execution of strategies and adjustments based on the evolving dynamics of the match.

Playing to Strengths

Effective communication in doubles matches involves recognizing each player’s strengths and playing to them. By openly discussing and understanding each other’s strengths, you can tailor your strategies and shots to capitalize on them. For example, if one player has a powerful forehand, you can set up plays that allow them to execute crosscourt winners, while the other player focuses on setting up easy volleys at the net. Playing to each other’s strengths not only maximizes your chances of success but also enhances the overall enjoyment and teamwork on the court.

Movement and Positioning Strategies

Covering the Court

Covering the court effectively is crucial in doubles matches to ensure that there are no gaps or open spaces for your opponents to exploit. By constantly adjusting your position on the court based on the trajectory and speed of the ball, you can maximize the coverage area and be better prepared for your opponents’ shots. Clear communication and coordination with your partner are essential to avoid overlaps and to ensure that both players are covering their assigned areas.

Closing Gaps

Closing gaps refers to moving quickly and efficiently to cover areas of the court that may be vulnerable to your opponents’ shots. By recognizing open spaces or weaknesses in the opponents’ positioning, you can react swiftly and close those gaps before your opponents can exploit them. This requires agility, anticipation, and excellent footwork. By closing gaps effectively, you can put pressure on your opponents, limit their shot options, and force them into making errors or defensive shots.

Staying in Sync

Staying in sync with your doubles partner is vital to maintain a cohesive and effective strategy. This involves consistently communicating, coordinating movements, and understanding each other’s playing tendencies. By being aware of your partner’s positioning and movements, you can react quickly to their actions and adjust your positioning accordingly. Staying in sync not only enhances your ability to cover the court effectively but also minimizes the risk of collisions and miscommunications.

Switching Sides

Switching sides is a strategy that involves players exchanging positions on the court to disrupt the opponents’ rhythm and create confusion. By switching sides, you can potentially force your opponents into making defensive shots or disrupt their pre-planned strategies. This strategy requires quick and smooth transitions between positions, as well as effective communication and coordination with your partner. Switching sides can be particularly effective when the opponents are consistently targeting one player’s weaknesses or patterns.

Shot Selection Strategies

Baseline vs Net Shots

In doubles matches, having an effective balance between baseline shots and net shots is crucial. Baseline shots are typically hit from the back of the court and provide a strong foundation for the point. These shots are usually hit with more power and depth, aiming to push the opponents behind the baseline and open up opportunities for decisive shots. Net shots, on the other hand, are executed when players are positioned close to the net and involve shorter and more controlled shots. These shots allow players to take advantage of the net area, put pressure on opponents, and finish points quickly.

Crosscourt vs Down the Line

Choosing between crosscourt shots and shots down the line requires careful consideration of court positioning and the opponents’ vulnerabilities. Crosscourt shots are generally safer and more reliable, as they have a higher margin for error and keep the ball away from the net player. Down the line shots, however, can be more aggressive and create opportunities for winners. When executing down the line shots, it is essential to hit the ball with accuracy and depth to avoid giving your opponents an easy opportunity to counterattack.

Drop Shots and Lobs

Drop shots and lobs can both be effective strategies in doubles matches, depending on the situation and opponents’ positioning. Drop shots involve hitting the ball softly and close to the net, forcing opponents to rush forward and potentially make errors or weak returns. Lobs, on the other hand, involve hitting the ball high and deep, aiming to force opponents back and disrupt their positioning at the net. The choice between drop shots and lobs depends on reading the opponents’ position, movement, and ability to handle different shot types.

Angle Shots

Angled shots in doubles matches are hit diagonally across the court, aiming to take the opponents out of their comfort zone and create openings for winners. By hitting angled shots, you can force your opponents to cover a larger area and make it more challenging for them to anticipate and respond effectively to your shots. Angle shots require precise timing, footwork, and racket control. The ability to consistently execute well-placed angle shots can give you a significant advantage in doubles matches.

Anticipation and Readiness Strategies

Reading the Opponents

Reading your opponents’ shots and intentions is a crucial skill in doubles matches. By carefully observing their positioning, footwork, and body language, you can anticipate the direction, speed, and spin of their shots. This allows you to react more quickly, move to the appropriate position, and be ready to execute an effective shot or interception. Reading the opponents’ patterns and tendencies can also help you make strategic adjustments and exploit their weaknesses.

Anticipating Shots

Anticipating shots involves predicting your opponents’ shot selection before they make contact with the ball. By analyzing their body positioning, swing preparation, and court positioning, you can gain insights into their intended shot. This allows you to preemptively adjust your positioning, footwork, and racket preparation to be in an optimal position to defend or counterattack. Anticipating shots successfully requires focus, awareness, and the ability to quickly analyze and react to the opponents’ cues.

Staying Balanced

Maintaining balance during doubles matches is essential for executing efficient footwork, stable strokes, and rapid directional changes. By staying balanced, you can quickly react to your opponents’ shots, move smoothly around the court, generate power and control in your shots, and recover quickly from defensive positions. Proper weight distribution, core stability, and correct footwork technique contribute to maintaining balance throughout the match.

Quick Reaction

In doubles matches, quick reaction times are paramount to succeed in fast-paced exchanges and close-quarters play. Developing quick reflexes and a sharp reaction time allows you to respond effectively to your opponents’ shots, intercept returns, and execute defensive or offensive shots. Regular practice drills that focus on reaction speed can enhance your ability to respond swiftly and accurately in crucial moments of the match.

Deception Strategies

Fake Shots

Using fake shots is a deceptive strategy that aims to confuse opponents and create opportunities. By pretending to hit a particular shot and then executing a different shot at the last moment, you can catch your opponents off guard and force them into making mistakes or compromising their positioning. Fake shots require precise timing and execution to be convincing. It is crucial to maintain good technique and disguise the change in shot until the last possible moment.


Misdirection involves directing your shots or movement in a way that leads opponents to anticipate a different shot or strategy. By subtly misleading your opponents, you can create openings and exploit their vulnerabilities. For example, you may move towards one side of the court, indicating that you will hit a shot in that direction, only to change the angle at the last moment and hit the ball to the opposite side. Misdirection requires excellent court awareness, body control, and the ability to execute shots with precision.

Disguised Movements

Disguising your movements can add an element of surprise to your game and keep your opponents on their toes. By intentionally hiding your intentions and intentions through subtle body language, footwork, and racket preparation, you can create uncertainty and make it more challenging for opponents to read your shots or anticipate your movements. Disguised movements require self-awareness, control, and the ability to stay focused while executing deceptive actions.

Trick Serves

Trick serves involve using unconventional or unexpected serving techniques to catch opponents off guard. By adding spins, slices, or unexpected shot placements to your serves, you can disrupt your opponents’ return rhythm and force them into defensive positions. Trick serves require practice and mastery of various serving techniques to execute them accurately and effectively. However, it is important to use trick serves strategically and judiciously, as they carry a higher risk of errors if not executed correctly.

Matchplay Strategies

Analyzing Opponents

Analyzing your opponents’ playing style, strengths, and weaknesses is a critical aspect of matchplay strategies. By observing their shot selection, movement patterns, and overall game strategy, you can identify areas to exploit and adjust your own tactics accordingly. Analyzing opponents also involves assessing their level of consistency, preferred shot types, and overall match temperament. This information allows you to tailor your game plan, shot selection, and players’ positioning to maximize your chances of success.

Targeting Weaker Opponent

In doubles matches, it is common for players to target the weaker opponent to gain an advantage. By identifying the weaker player’s vulnerabilities, such as weaker shot technique, movement, or decision-making, you can focus your shots and strategies towards them. This strategy can put pressure on the weaker opponent, force errors, disrupt their rhythm, and create opportunities for you and your partner to dominate the match. However, it is important to remain respectful and fair in your approach, as the goal is to enhance your own performance rather than belittle your opponents.

Exploiting Weaknesses

Exploiting weaknesses in your opponents’ game can be a highly effective matchplay strategy. By identifying specific weaknesses, such as inconsistent backhands, poor footwork, or difficulty handling high balls, you can tailor your shot selection and playing style to target those weaknesses. Constantly applying pressure on those vulnerabilities can frustrate opponents and force them into making errors or defensive plays. It is essential, however, to remain adaptable and adjust your strategies as opponents may attempt to rectify their weaknesses during the match.

Adapting to Changing Conditions

Adapting to changing conditions during a match is essential for success in doubles play. Factors such as court surface, weather conditions, opponents’ playing styles, and time of day can significantly impact the flow and dynamics of the match. Being able to adjust your shot selection, game plan, and playing style based on these changing conditions can give you a competitive edge. Flexibility, open-mindedness, and quick decision-making are key attributes to adapt effectively and make the necessary adjustments to your strategies.

Mental and Emotional Strategies

Keeping Focus

Maintaining focus throughout the match is crucial to executing strategies and making sound decisions. External distractions, pressure, and the ups and downs of the match can easily affect concentration. Employing techniques such as positive self-talk, visualization, and focusing routines can help you stay in the present moment, block out distractions, and maintain a sharp focus on the game plan. Additionally, effective communication and support from your partner can help you refocus and stay motivated during the match.

Supporting Partner

Supporting your doubles partner both mentally and emotionally is essential for a cohesive and effective team dynamic. Encouragement, positive reinforcement, and constructive feedback can help boost your partner’s confidence, maintain a positive mindset, and enhance their performance. Actively listening to your partner’s concerns or frustrations and providing reassurance or helpful advice can foster a supportive and nurturing environment on the court. A strong partnership based on trust and mutual support can lead to better team coordination and overall success.

Managing Pressure

Managing pressure during doubles matches is crucial for maintaining composure and making sound decisions. Pressure can arise from various sources, including the scoreline, expectations, or competitive intensity. Preparing mentally before the match, employing relaxation techniques, and embracing challenging situations can help you handle pressure effectively. Adopting a positive mindset, focusing on the process rather than the outcome, and breaking the game down into smaller manageable tasks can also alleviate pressure and allow you to perform at your best.

Maintaining Positivity

Maintaining a positive attitude and outlook throughout the match can have a significant impact on your performance and team morale. Positivity helps boost confidence, maintain focus, and overcome setbacks. Embracing mistakes as learning opportunities, celebrating small victories, and being resilient in the face of challenges can foster positivity on the court. Additionally, maintaining a positive interpersonal dynamic with your partner, opponents, and officials contributes to a more enjoyable and harmonious match experience for all involved.