Doubles Tactics: Win Points with the Right Volley
This marks the start of a new series on doubles strategy for players of all levels. In this four part series, I'll be covering what I believe to be the most important tactics for doubles players to employ to for success. Topic #1 is a simple, but mission-critical tactic the pros use every match: hitting volleys in the right place at the right time.
Atlanta, GA is home to the Atlanta Lawn & Tennis Association, a group that runs the largest recreational doubles league in the world (a.k.a ALTA). I have been coaching ALTA teams since 2002 and the single biggest match changing factor, regardless of playing level, has remained the same. Teams that have the right volley placement win. Those who don't, lose. When coaching a doubles team, it's the very first topic I cover. Here's the main point of the lesson:
- Hit offensive volleys towards the side of the nearest opponent (that is, any volley the hitter believes can either win the point outright or put the opponent in a defensive position)
- Hit defensive volleys towards the side of the deepest opponent (that is, any volley the hitter believes will not win the point, or is contacted below net level)
Here are the #1 ranked doubles team on the ATP Tour, Americans Bob & Mike Bryan playing in their latest Davis Cup match against British pair Jaime Murray and Dominic Inglot. In this brief highlight reel, every single point shows the use of these tactics. In fact, it can even be more generally applied to groundstrokes. When the hitter believes they can either damage or win the point outright, they hit towards the nearest opponent. When the hitter is in a defensive position, they hit to the furthest opponent. Here is the clip:
Doubles teams that apply these tactics will display two glaring results:
- when they have a chance to play offense, the points end quickly
- when they are in a defensive position, they stay in the point long enough to play offense.
Those results performed over the course of a match will add up to more victories and a lot of fun!