Doubles is too often—and unfairly—considered a hacker’s game that doesn’t require as much movement as singles. The doubles court is wider than the singles court, but you have a partner to make up the difference.
With that safety cushion, it’s easy to fall into lazy footwork habits. But to be successful in doubles, movement is just as important as it is in singles—and you also have to coordinate your movements with your partner.
High-level doubles is incredibly fast and requires quick feet, explosive recovery skills and great anticipation. “The game between shots,” according to seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander, is everything you do after you’ve hit your first shot that prepares you for your next shot.
Here is a key doubles movement to master so you can win that game—and the match.
Chasing a Lob
If you get lobbed, good footwork can bail you out. Quickly turn and sprint toward the baseline in a semicircle pattern around the flight path of the ball. The key is not to get too close to the ball—you need to create enough space to swing comfortably.
When scrambling on defense, you’ll almost always lob crosscourt. But glance at your opponents. If the net player on your side of the court is too aggressive while closing in, and you’re relatively balanced, you may want to lob down the line.
As you move back, so should your partner. If it looks like you’ll get to the ball comfortably, your partner should stop at the service line to prepare for a volley. But if you’re really scrambling and know that you’ll likely hit a weak return, tell your partner to move all the way back to the baseline.