Can doubles tennis help your singles game? Well, if the well-rounded skills of players such as John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, and Venus and Serena Williams are any indication, there are quite a few advantages that can be gained by playing doubles tennis. So how exactly does playing doubles tennis improve your singles game? Read on to find out.
1. It will improve the major components of your singles game.
Playing doubles tennis is a fantastic way to sharpen the major components of your singles game, such as the serve, return, and volley. Your serve will improve because you'll become more conscious of accuracy, which takes precedence over power in doubles tennis. You'll also start viewing your serve in terms of how it can help you set up for a nice attack shot on your opponent's return. The accuracy of your return of serve will also improve, because doubles tennis allows for a much smaller margin of error in terms of the amount of court area you have to work with. For volleys, your hand speed and instinct will improve as you learn how to respond to close-range bullet shots from your opponent.
2. It will improve your skills at the net.
Many singles players avoid the net because it's a high stakes area of the court, and it can definitely be intimidating if you feel like your net skills aren't up to snuff. With doubles tennis, net play is far more common, and it will force you to come out of your shell by requiring you to become more aggressive. The more you practice closing the net, the more confident you'll become, and eventually you'll approach the net with fearlessness in your volleys and overheads.
3. It will improve your shot selection and placement.
Doubles tennis requires you to work within constrained spaces--after all, there are three other people on the court besides you, and this greatly diminishes the available court area for your shots. Working within these restrictive limits will force you to become much more creative with shot selection and placement. You'll be forced to seek out creative angles, and you'll pay more attention to the importance of using speed and finesse at the proper times.
4. It will improve your transition game.
This refers to those movements and shots you execute as you're approaching the net (a.k.a. "approach shots"). John McEnroe and the Williams sisters are acknowledged masters of the transition game in singles, and no doubt their extensive experience in doubles tennis has played a huge part in developing this important skill set.
5. It will improve your reflexes.
Most of us have seen doubles tennis matches where rapid-fire exchanges of volley shots happen between the two teams at the net, and the ball looks like it's bouncing around inside of an imaginary pinball machine. These types of shots require ultra-quick reflexes and exceptional hand-eye coordination, and they are far more common in doubles tennis than in singles. Practicing these shots in your doubles game will sharpen your reflexes, which will help your singles game as well.
6. It will improve your tactical thinking.
Playing doubles tennis will definitely improve your tennis IQ. You'll be forced to think on your feet a lot more, because there's a lot more happening around you in a doubles match. Just think about it: At any given time, you have to account for the movement of the ball, the movement of the three other players on the court, and your own court positioning. Looking for angles and trying to find the weak spots on your opponents' side will be paramount. This will force you to think in terms of strategy, and it'll improve your ability to construct points to your advantage.
If you haven't yet tried your hand at doubles, the points outlined above should give you plenty of reasons to start now. Five Seasons Family Sports Club offers an introductory program that will teach you the basics of playing organized doubles tennis, including strategy development, hitting skills, and court positioning. So definitely consider adding doubles tennis to your repertoire, and watch your singles game go to a new level!