Communication is an essential part of a successful doubles partnership, yet is often overlooked when deciding who to pair for doubles. This guide outlines communication strategies that will help you become a more effective team.
Communication is necessary for any serious team, so discuss your goals and strategy – both as a team and individually — early on. You and your partner need to be on the same page, but I often see players assuming this because the their partner has similar technical abilities.
If your partner has a weak smash, make sure you have a strategy to avoid him or her continuously getting pushed to the back. If you and your teammate have different dominant hands, figure out whether who will take forehands down the middle. Similarly, discuss your strongest formation from the baseline and net. If your partner is faster at the net, and you’ve already discussed this fact, you’ll know that he should take that shot during a match when possible. If you have a powerful smash, you should put yourself in situations that play to this strength (i.e. which side of the court is your dominant side).
Call Your Shot
You and your partner need to understand each other’s positioning throughout the game. If you usually play with the same teammate, you’ll have an understanding of their preferred playing style and repertoire of shots from your time on court with him or her. Still, your teamwork might falter when both of you stare at an easy shot as it bounces down he middle — both assuming the other person had it. Get in the habit of calling shots by either yelling “mine!” or “yours!”. Some shots won’t require a call, but you will be able to judge if it’s close to questionable.
You’ll often hear a “clash” sound as both partners swing at a ball down the middle. Generally, one player ends up mishitting and the shuttlecock flies outside the court. Sometimes one of the rackets crack and break. Simply calling the shot can save you money from broken racquets, losing points, which can add up and cost you critical opportunities.
As the match goes on, you’ll recognise your opponents’ vulnerabilities, strong points, and tendencies. Likewise, competition anxiety may affect certain areas of your game, so you’ll need to discuss and alter your approach if that’s the case.
Communication is an integral part of the strategy of doubles. Although it’s easy to assume you’re both playing to win, on-court communication is a critical part of your team’s success. When facing a challenging and high pressure situation, great doubles teams constantly talk to one another and in an evenly matched game, teamwork is a deciding factor in who wins.