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Got Doubles Skills? (Part 2)

Post 25 of 40

I hope you liked Part 1 of our Got Doubles Skills? series on the Server’s Jobs in doubles.  In today’s second part of Got Doubles Skills? we’ll be exploring the Server’s Partner’s Jobs.

Job One:  Direct the Server’s Placement of Their Serve

Much as a catcher does in baseball, the server’s partner (or net man/woman) can give signals that dictate the type and/or placement of the serve.  For example, if the server is signaled to serve up the middle, then his partner knows to move a step toward the middle with or without the fake of a poach.  This is just one example, there are many more.

Directing the serve with signals works so much better than calling poaches with signals because once the poach is called, the net man is forced to cross even if the server has hit a poor serve.  When the server’s placement is planned, their partner can watch for that specific serve and react accordingly.  Poaches can still be planned, but it is better to do these verbally to ensure no miscommunication.  Remember to keep your signals simple and specific.  As an example of simple signals, the Bryan Brothers, who happen to be the #1 doubles team in the world, use rock, paper, scissors as their signals.

Job Two:  The Starting Position Should Be a Step Farther Back with Weight on the Inside Foot

It’s important that the net man always be in a position to jump on any floating ball.  Their weight should be on their inside foot, and they should be positioned a step or two farther back enabling them to lean in as the receiver makes contact with the ball. So often you see the net man too close to the net with their weight balance on both feet.  This will result in unaggressive net play, a no no in doubles!

Job Three:  Move for a Poach on All Floating Balls

An important key to holding serve more easily is for the net man to move on all floating balls.  Aggressive play like this will often take the receiver’s concentration off making a good return and help score many easy points for the serving team.  If the net man is tentative and limits their movement, the receiving team has an excellent opportunity to get into a good groove on their returns.  As mentioned in Part 1, the server assumes responsibility to cover all first volleys there by allowing their partner the freedom to aggressively play all floating balls.

Job Four:  Poach with a Step Out and Lateral Movement

Don’t run through the poach out of balance; instead always use a step out and move sideways or laterally.  This will enable the net man to maintain good balance on any shot hit behind him or to an awkward position.

Job Five:  Stay Aggressive at the Net

The server’s partner should never, ever stand still; they should be either faking or crossing.  Their job is to distract the concentration of the receiver with their aggressive play.  Even just making eye contact with the receiver can be distracting enough to keep them off balance.  Look to poach on any and all floaters.  Draw fire from the receiver.  Holding serve is always done with the help of an aggressive partner at the net—stay active and make good things happen!

Remember, the server’s partner is not a spectator.  Say active and aggressive at the net and your partner will hold serve every time—well maybe not every time, but more times than not!

In Part 3 of our series we’ll take a look at the Receiver’s Jobs.  Until then …

See you on the courts!


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