Tennis doubles strategy is probably the diamond in the rough of tennis. This section will describe the tactics and the strategies and then suggest ways in which you can capitalize on those tactics! Remember, practicing your doubles and the tactics are equally important so I suggest you read over the doubles tennis drills aswell! 🙂

These are the reasons why players that range from the thousands to the top few hundred in singles, can still dominate the doubles rankings or even be number one in the world in doubles. The current #1’s in the world are the Bryan brothers, and they are a great example of this.

So lets kick off with…

Tennis doubles strategy while serving

#1 Tennis Doubles Strategy: I Formation

I formation can be extremely useful! So it deserves quite a talk! When you serve, your partner will crouch down on the center service line… Just before the opponent returns the ball he will spring up to the right or left and hopefully put away the volley.

The trick with the I formation lies in when to use it and the direction you choose to spring out at. If you see that your opponent is returning confidently cross court then it is definitely time to bring out the I formation.

tennis doubles strategy
Why? Because the majority of the times in I formation you should spring up to cover the cross court return. This is a much easier volley because you have to cover less ground to get to the ball. Literally if your partner serves to the “T”, all you have to do is stand up to cover that cross court ball.

Your opponent would have to hit an insane low percentage cross court angle to get it by you. So, if you stand up and cover the cross court you will start to force your opponent to go down the line.

Great! This is a much harder return for the player to hit! The net is higher, he or she has to redirect the angle of the ball, and he is nervous that he has to slot in perfectly down the line or else the guy at the net will have that shot for breakfast.

On top of this, there is no way your opponent is sure that the volleyer hasn’t decided to cover the down the line in the first place. All these thoughts and complications mixed in with a bit of pressure usually combine to make a cocktail of missed or weaker returns!

Where to serve? In I formation you will serve to the “T” pretty much EVERY time, try jamming them in the body if you have a precise serve! It doesn’t matter if they know it’s coming to the T… It is still better.

Please DO NOT try serving out wide in I formation! It can be disastrous. You give the opponent all the angles he or she needs and therefore you facilitate the down the line return.

When you serve to the T, on the other hand, your opponent will have to hit a inside-out backhand down the line with no margin for error. Not too easy!

NOTE: Some good players, when they see you in I formation, will always go down the line as a rule…

They do this because they know that if they go cross court their opponent at the net will be waiting with a smile. This is when you can start springing up to from your crouching position and kill that ball that you know is going down the line. Keep them confused! 🙂

#2 Tennis Doubles Strategy: Australian Formation

Ok this formation, can be good or not so good… It depends on your game style!

If you:

  • Do not like to volley
  • Have a big forehand
  • Have a decent serve
  • Are fairly quick

Then this formation may be for you. Basically, your partner will crouch directly in line with you but at the net. For example, If you are on the deuce side he will be standing in the right service box.

So why play australian formation? How do they make it effective?

Firstly, if you feel like you have or nearly have those previous suggested requirements then you should only do Australian formation from the Ad side.

The idea of Australian formation is to force your opponent to hit that difficult down the line shot, which they will. Hitting it cross court would be a suicide for your opponents. After all your partner is just standing, there chilling with not much else to do but wait for a volley that comes cross court or to the middle!

So, when they hit it down the line, you will be running to cover it winding up one of your strong shots… The forehand. (If you are a lefty, this whole formation will be reversed! But you guys are used to that I suppose)

The idea is that if they do make that low percentage return you still have your strong shot to battle out the point with! And if your not comfortable at the net, this is a much preferred situation to be in. 🙂

#3 Tennis Doubles Strategy: Switch

The switch is simple tennis doubles strategy. After your partner hits the serve you will explode to intercept the cross court return, this means the server will have to cover the down the line shot. So you have effectively switched halves of the court.

The idea is that it is a surprise! You want to get that easy volley so that you can plant your volley square in your opponents chest (if he’s at the net!)

That means timing is everything. You have to start to move right before your opponent hits the ball. If you move to early, while the ball is passing the net. Then your opponent will see you move and have all the time in the world to slot his return down the line.

In short you will need to be explosive and quick to be effective with the switch. Remember to cross over laterally on that first step to be even quicker! Once you get good at it, you will get many free and easy points with this tactic. Not to mention confuse and break your opponents rhythm

#4 Tennis Doubles Strategy: The Bluff

Ok, is a tennis doubles strategy that goes hand in hand with the switch. If you never switch, it’s no use bluffing something you never do. (Yep, I have seen many players just bluff and never switch… It really doesn’t mean or do much!)

If you do switch, then sometimes instead of switching, just pretend to switch. Do this by moving to intercept the cross court ball a tiny bit earlier… Just so your opponent sees your moving.

Just before he hits, when his eyes are focusing on the ball making contact with his racquet, push back into your original position, and be ready for the down the line ball.

This tactic just confuses your opponent more, makes him think more, and therefore he or she will try to do more. As a result, your opponent is more likely to miss, say their having a bad day, etc 🙂