Go Shopping at the net
IN DOUBLES, GO SHOPPING AT THE NET
by Adolfo Nunez
If you want to be a better doubles player, take chances by poaching more. In my experience in teaching and coaching USTA players, I’ve learned that if there’s one thing that holds players back during doubles it is the fear of being aggressive by poaching
Some players fearlessly attack shots at the base line, run down every ball, go after serves, communicate with a quick “I got it,” “Mine,” or “Switch.” When it comes time to play the net, everything becomes more tentative. Making calls like “Yours,” “That was mine,” and “You have the forehand in the middle.” The reason for that is fear of making mistakes. I’ve heard many players say “I don’t want to upset my partner,” “what if she doesn’t want to play with me again?”
During doubles, each player on the team has a role. When playing the back court your role is to play consistent tennis, looking to set up your partner at the net by playing shots cross court about 8 out of 10 times. When playing the front court your role is to close out points by being aggressive and taking chances. Closing out points is smarter and less reckless than putting the ball away. Choosing the right shot with the right amount of pace with help you close out points and ultimately matches.
Imagine yourself shopping at your favorite store, going through the rack of clothes. More times than not somebody comes over and says: “Hi, can I help you?” Your answer, more times than not is: “No thank you, I’m just looking.” That is exactly what more times than not you do at the net; you’re just looking, instead of going shopping and as a result you end up going home empty handed, without a “W”
Free yourself to play the front court the same way you play the back court. Stop watching the game as if you were in the lobby. You’re on the court so play the game.
If you stop “looking” and go “shopping” at the net three things will happen:
a) You will become a better doubles player.
b) More players will want to partner with you.
c) You will come home with a “W” (and more clothes)