Playing great doubles tennis is just as much an art as it is a science. It requires several intangible elements--e.g., instinct, good chemistry, an unselfish mindset, etc.--in order to be successful, and as any seasoned doubles player will tell you, these qualities aren't developed overnight. One of the best ways to improve your effectiveness as a doubles team is to regularly practice doubles-specific tennis drills with your partner. Below are some simple yet highly effective doubles tennis drills that will take your doubles game to the next level.
1. The Line and Cross Drill
You will need to practice with another doubles team for this one. With all four players taking position near the baseline, the goal is to rally one ball among all four players using a specific hitting pattern: One doubles team will always hit cross-court, while the other doubles team will always hit down the line.
Try to keep the ball in play as long as possible using this pattern, and when someone calls "Change!," the teams switch roles and begin hitting with the alternate pattern. Focus on accuracy, including hitting down-the-line shots as close to the doubles boundary line as possible.
2. The Net Play (a.k.a. Volley) Drill
This drill helps players develop one of the most important skills in doubles tennis: having quick reflexes. The Net Play drill focuses solely on the volley, which is basically a shot where the ball is hit before it bounces on the ground. You'll often see doubles matches where multiple rapid-fire volleys are exchanged at the net, so you can see why this drill is important.
You'll need two doubles teams for this one--we'll call them Team A and Team B. Each player should be positioned roughly 10 feet away from the net on both sides. One player from Team A feeds the ball into play, and then one player from Team B responds with a volley. The ball should be volleyed back and forth in this manner until each player has hit at least three volleys apiece. If an error is made before the three-volley minimum is reached, repeat the drill until everyone gets it right.
3. The 2 Up & 2 Back Drill
This drill requires two doubles teams as well (Team A and Team B). Both players on Team A will be positioned at the net, while both players on Team B will be positioned at the baseline. One player feeds the ball into play to start the drill, and each player practices hitting shots from their position. Make a note of each point scored, and after 10 points, teams will switch positions, with Team A now at the baseline and Team B at the net. This drill is perfect for helping players strengthen their groundstroke and volleying techniques in the context of doubles play.
4. The "Whose Ball is It Anyway?" Drill
You will need someone - a coach, or another tennis player - on the other side of the net to feed balls to you and your partner. As the balls come your way, practice proper communication so that it's clear which player will hit the ball. Make sure that the coach feeds you and your partner a variety of shots with different placements, speeds, and angles, so that each of you can sharpen your ability to communicate during the various scenarios that can happen during match play.
Developing chemistry and effectiveness as a doubles team can only come through plenty of practice. One great way to boost your doubles skills is to attend a Drill & Play class at Five Seasons Family Sports Club, where professional coaches will provide you and your partner with themed drills that you can apply right on the spot during the training session.
By using this valuable tool as well as the drills listed above, both you and your partner can develop greater synergy, and become an even greater threat on the doubles court!