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How to Play Doubles Tennis -Tips and Winning Strategies

Heorhii Rysak

Playing doubles tennis can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience that combines skill, strategy, and teamwork.

Whether you’re a beginner stepping onto the court for the first time or a seasoned player looking to improve, mastering the art of doubles tennis requires a solid foundation of techniques, effective communication, and strategic play. In this comprehensive guide on how to play doubles tennis, we will explore the essential elements of the game. From understanding the basics of court dimensions and player roles to honing your techniques and implementing winning strategies, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills necessary to excel in the dynamic world of doubles tennis.

Understanding the Basics of Doubles Tennis

To play doubles tennis effectively, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of the basic elements that shape the game. This section will cover the fundamental aspects of doubles tennis, providing you with the knowledge necessary to navigate the court with confidence.

First, familiarize yourself with the doubles tennis court dimensions. A standard doubles court is divided into two halves by a net, and each half is further segmented into service boxes and tramlines. Knowing these boundaries and the specific doubles tennis positions will aid in positioning yourself optimally during matches.

Next, grasp the roles of each player in doubles tennis. Typically, one player serves while the partner stands at the net, and the opponents mirror this formation. The server’s objective is to start the point by hitting the ball into the diagonally opposite service box, while the net player aims to intercept volleys and protect the net.

Lastly, effective communication and coordination with your partner are vital in doubles. Clear communication helps avoid confusion, allows for strategic positioning, and facilitates seamless teamwork, especially when using the best tennis racquets for beginners.

By grasping these fundamentals, you establish the groundwork for playing doubles successfully, paving the way for advanced techniques and strategies to boost your gameplay.

Essential Techniques for Doubles Tennis

Doubles tennis requires a unique set of skills, strategies, and understanding of the game compared to singles tennis. Here are some essential techniques specific to playing doubles:

Serve and Volley

In doubles tennis, this” technique is a pivotal strategy where the server quickly advances to the net after serving. This aggressive move puts pressure on the returning team, compelling them to execute a precise return. Meanwhile, the server’s partner remains vigilant at the net, ready to capitalize on any high or weak returns, using some of the best tennis rackets for control.


In doubles tennis, poaching is a tactic where the net player suddenly intercepts a ball meant for their partner. This surprise move can catch opponents off guard and create quick scoring opportunities. Effective poaching requires keen anticipation, agility, and seamless communication between partners.


Communication is crucial for coordinating strategies and positioning between partners. Whether through verbal cues or hand signals, effective communication ensures both players are on the same page during play. Misunderstandings or lack of communication can lead to missed opportunities or defensive vulnerabilities on the court.

Cross-court Shots

In doubles tennis, cross-court shots are a favored tactic, especially during groundstrokes. The angled trajectory and longer distance of the ball’s path make it a safer option, reducing the chance for opponents to intercept with a poach. This technique effectively keeps the ball in play while positioning the opponents more defensively.


Lobbing is a strategic move used to counter opponents positioned close to the net. A well-timed lob forces these players to retreat, potentially creating an offensive advantage for the lobbing team. Mastering the lob can disrupt the rhythm of net-focused opponents and open opportunities for winning points.

Active Net Play

Knowing how to play the net in doubles tennis is crucial for active net play, a technique that demands quick reflexes and sharp volleys. Players adept at the net can cut off angles, intercept returns, and apply pressure on their opponents. Being proactive at the net in doubles tennis often results in dominating the court and dictating the flow of the game.

Staggered Positioning

Understanding how to play doubles tennis effectively often involves mastering staggered positioning. Instead of both players standing at similar depths, one may approach the net while the other remains slightly back, ensuring better court coverage. This positioning technique allows for a more versatile defense and a dynamic offense in doubles play.

Tennis Doubles Rules

Tennis Doubles Rules offer a distinct framework that differentiates team play from the singles format. Tailored to accommodate two players on each side of the net, these rules emphasize coordination, strategy, and shared court responsibilities. While retaining the core principles of tennis, the doubles format introduces unique regulations and strategies that both challenge and excite players and spectators alike.

  • Service Rotation: Teams rotate serving with each member serving a full game before switching. The order of service, once established, must remain throughout the set.
  • Receiving Choice: At the beginning of each game, the receiving team chooses which player will receive the serve. This can change from game to game but not during the game.
  • Boundary Lines: In doubles, the wider tramlines (or doubles alleys) are in play.
  • No Ad Scoring: In some doubles matches, especially at the pro level, “no-ad scoring” is used. This means if a game reaches deuce, the next point wins the game, rather than needing to win by two points.
  • Tie-breaks: In many matches, if a set reaches 6-6, a tie-break is played to determine the set winner.
  • Faults and Lets: As with singles, a serve that does not land in the correct service box is a fault. Two consecutive faults result in a point for the receiving team. A serve that touches the net but still lands in the service box is a “let” and is retaken.
  • Switching Ends: Teams switch ends of the court after every odd-numbered game.

Mastering the techniques and understanding the rules of doubles tennis can greatly enhance your enjoyment and success in the game. Remember, the key to good doubles play is synergy between partners.

Teamwork and Communication

In doubles tennis, teamwork and communication are paramount to achieve success on the court. This section emphasizes the significance of working together with your partner and maintaining clear communication throughout the match.

Effective teamwork involves understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses, complementing each other’s playing styles, and adjusting strategies accordingly. By recognizing your partner’s abilities, you can coordinate movements, cover the court effectively, and create a strong defensive and offensive presence.

Communication plays a vital role in doubles tennis. Use verbal cues, hand signals, and eye contact to communicate your intentions, such as who will take a specific shot or which areas of the court you plan to cover. Clear and concise communication enhances anticipation, minimizes errors, and fosters a cohesive partnership.

When teamwork and communication align seamlessly, you and your partner can anticipate each other’s moves, react swiftly to changing situations, and maximize your effectiveness as a doubles team.

Strategies for Success in Doubles Tennis

Implementing effective strategies is crucial to achieving success in doubles tennis. This section explores strategic approaches that can elevate your game and give you an edge over your opponents.

One strategy is to play to your strengths and exploit your opponents’ weaknesses. Identify your team’s strongest skills, whether it’s powerful serving, aggressive net play, or consistent groundstrokes. Focus on utilizing these strengths to put pressure on your opponents and force errors.

Tennis doubles positioning rules are fundamental to a successful doubles strategy. By adhering to these rules for strategic positioning, you and your partner can defend the net efficiently, minimize vulnerable angles, and set up chances for decisive shots. It’s crucial to synchronize movements with your partner to ensure optimal court coverage.

Utilize lobs, drop shots, and other tactical shots strategically. Well-executed lobs can force opponents away from the net, while well-placed drop shots can catch them off guard. Integrate these shots into your game to keep your opponents guessing and disrupt their rhythm.

Lastly, communication and synchronization are key. Develop a system of signals and cues to indicate your intentions and coordinate movements with your partner. This allows for seamless teamwork and minimizes confusion on the court.

Tips for Doubles in Tennis

  • Develop Strong Communication:  Always communicate with your partner, whether it’s about shot intentions, positioning, or serving strategy. A simple hand signal or quick verbal cue can make a big difference.
  • Serve with Precision: While power is beneficial, placement is often more crucial in doubles. Serving wide or into the body can set your partner up for an easy volley.
  • Stay Aggressive at the Net: When positioned at the net, be ready to pounce on any floating returns or weak shots, and aim to finish the point with a decisive volley.
  • Maintain Court Coverage: Be aware of the gaps and cover them effectively. If one player moves laterally, the other should adjust their positioning to prevent exposing open areas.
  • Master the Middle: A lot of points in doubles are won or lost in the middle of the court. Aim your volleys and groundstrokes here, especially when you’re unsure where to place the ball.
  • Anticipate Poaching Opportunities: Read the game and know when to make a move across the net to intercept a return, catching your opponents off-guard.
  • Use Lobs Strategically: Lobbing isn’t just a defensive shot. If your opponents are constantly at the net, a well-placed offensive lob can be a game-changer.
  • Vary Your Returns: Avoid becoming predictable. Mix up your return of serves with deep shots, angles, and occasional drop shots.
  • Stay Positive and Supportive: Doubles is a team game. Always encourage your partner, celebrate the good points, and move past the errors together.
  • Practice Set Plays: Just like rehearsed moves in other sports, having a few set plays or sequences in mind can be advantageous, especially on crucial points.

By embracing these tips and integrating them into your doubles game, you’ll not only enhance your performance but also elevate the enjoyment and camaraderie that comes with team play.


Congratulations! You’ve now gained a comprehensive understanding of how to play doubles tennis. By familiarizing yourself with the basics, honing essential techniques, prioritizing teamwork and communication, and implementing strategic approaches, you’re well-equipped to take on the doubles court with confidence.

Remember, doubles tennis is a dynamic and exciting game that requires constant adaptation and collaboration with your partner. Embrace the joy of playing doubles and the challenges it brings. Continuously refine your skills through practice and match play, learning from both successes and setbacks.

So, grab your racket, find a partner, and step onto the court with a newfound sense of purpose. Embrace the strategies, communicate effectively, and unleash your skills to dominate the game of doubles tennis. Whether you’re competing for fun or in competitive matches, enjoy the thrill of doubles tennis and strive for continuous improvement. Now go out there and make your mark on the doubles court! Here you can see the best tennis rackets


What is doubles in tennis?

Doubles in tennis is a format where two teams, each consisting of two players, compete against each other. Unlike singles tennis, which features one player per side, doubles emphasizes teamwork, coordination, and shared court responsibilities. The game retains core tennis principles but introduces unique rules and strategies, catering to the dynamics of four players on the court.

How long does a doubles tennis match last?

The duration of a doubles tennis match can vary widely based on the players’ skill levels, strategies, and match format. On average, professional doubles matches last between 1 to 2.5 hours. However, amateur or recreational games might be shorter or longer, depending on the scoring system used and the competitiveness of the players involved.

What are the dimensions of a doubles tennis court?

The dimensions of a doubles tennis court are 36 feet wide and 78 feet long. The court is divided into two equal halves by a net, with each half consisting of service boxes, baselines, and tramlines. Understanding the court dimensions is essential to effectively play doubles tennis.

How can I improve my footwork in doubles to optimize court coverage?

To enhance your footwork in doubles tennis, focus on maintaining an athletic stance and staying light on your feet. Practice quick directional changes, split-step before your opponent’s shot, and move efficiently to cover the court. Incorporating agility ladder drills and lateral movement exercises into your training can also help improve your footwork.

Are there any specific practice drills or exercises to improve doubles tennis skills?

Yes, there are various practice drills and exercises that can enhance your doubles tennis skills. Work on cooperative rallying with your partner, focusing on communication and court positioning. You can also incorporate drills that emphasize net play, such as volley exchanges and poaching exercises. Consistent practice and repetition of doubles-specific scenarios will help refine your skills.

What are the rules regarding communication and hand signals in doubles tennis?

In doubles tennis, communication is vital between partners. Verbal communication is allowed during play, but it’s important to keep it concise and avoid distracting opponents. Hand signals can be used to indicate shot preferences, court coverage, and strategies. Develop a system of signals with your partner before matches to ensure effective communication without giving away your intentions to opponents.

How can I exploit my opponents’ weaknesses in doubles tennis?

To exploit your opponents’ weaknesses in doubles tennis, observe their vulnerabilities during play. Identify their weaker shots or tendencies, such as difficulty handling high balls or lack of mobility. Aim to target those areas by directing shots strategically and creating situations that exploit their weaknesses. For example, if a player struggles with volleys, utilize lob shots to force them away from the net and expose their vulnerability. Adjust your strategies based on your opponents’ weaknesses to gain an advantage in doubles play.