Tennis Doubles Drills: The Secret Weapon for Improving Your Game

By Patrick

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Doubles tennis requires a completely different set of skills compared to singles. You need stellar teamwork, constant communication with your partner, and mastery of doubles strategy to compete at a high level. That’s why incorporating dedicated doubles drills into your practices is the secret weapon for rapidly improving your doubles game.

In this complete guide, you’ll discover the key types of doubles drills to work on, the benefits they provide, and sample drills to try for each category. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the basics or a seasoned pro seeking to sharpen your skills, these drills will quickly take your doubles prowess to the next level. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to Doubles Tennis

Before jumping into the drills, let’s quickly review the basics of doubles tennis and why specialized training is so important.

Doubles tennis is played between two teams of two players each. The court dimensions are the same as in singles, but the alleys between the singles sidelines and doubles sidelines are in play.

Matches consist of a number of sets, often with a match tiebreak in lieu of a full third set. Each set consists of games played to 4 points (no-ad scoring is common in doubles).

Because there are two players per team covering the court, doubles involves unique strategies based on positioning at the net versus the baseline. Communication and teamwork are essential to coordinate positioning and shot selection.

Why Doubles Drills Are Critical

Trying to train for doubles using only your usual singles drills will only get you so far. To excel in doubles, you need to specifically drill:

  • Volleys – Controlling the net is crucial in doubles, requiring outstanding reflex volleys.
  • Serves and returns – Serving and returning as a coordinated team to start points strongly.
  • Positioning – Optimizing court coverage through smart positioning.
  • Strategies – Executing specialized tactics like I-formations and poaching.
  • Communication – Constantly communicating with your partner verbally and visually.

Dedicated doubles drills train these skills, ingraining the instincts you need to operate seamlessly as a team. Let’s look at the key types of doubles drills you should be doing regularly.

Essential Doubles Drills

There are four major categories of doubles drills to incorporate into your training:

Volley Drills

Volleys are by far the most important shot in doubles. Controlling the net gives your team a major offensive and defensive advantage in points. Volley drills should be a staple in your routine.

Volley Catch-and-Throw

Facing your partner around the service line, volley the ball back and forth without letting it bounce. Move lateral and forward/back to handle wider volleys. Focus on quick reflex volleys and keeping the ball deep. Do 2-3 sets of 20 volleys.

Volley Wall Drill

Stand about 5 feet from a wall and volley continuously against it. Let the ball bounce once before volleying it back against the wall. Focus on consistency, power, and depth. Do 30-60 seconds to start and build up to 2-3 minutes.

Volley Crossfire

Position yourself diagonally across from your partner, near the service line. Volley the ball diagonally back and forth, focusing on hitting sharp, angled volleys to your partner’s forehand and backhand. Do 10-15 volleys crosscourt each way.

Serve and Return Drills

Executing clean serves and returns is crucial for starting doubles points strongly. You must move and recover as a coordinated team.

Serve and Volley

Player 1 serves from the deuce court and player 2 volleys the return diagonally. After serving, player 1 moves directly to the net to join player 2 and volley the next shot. Repeat from both deuce and ad courts.

Serve and Return Rally

Player 1 serves and player 2 returns. The players then rally back and forth crosscourt until one player makes an error or hits a winner. Repeat from both deuce and ad courts.

Serve and Volley Return

Player 1 serves and player 2 volleys an aggressive return low and angled. Player 1 then has to react quickly and move forward to volley the next shot.

Positioning Drills

Optimal court coverage is essential in doubles. Work on moving, recovering, and coordinating with your partner.


Player 1 moves randomly around their side of court, changing direction rapidly. Player 2 mirrors and “shadows” player 1, staying about 3 feet behind them at all times. Reverse roles after 1-2 minutes.

Poaching Drill

Player 1 stands on baseline and player 2 near the net. Coach feeds balls randomly placed around the court. Players must communicate verbally and visually to decide who takes each ball.

Switch Drill

Player 1 on baseline and player 2 at net. When coach feeds the ball, players switch positions before hitting their shot. Cues verbal communication and recovery skills.

Strategy Drills

Practice executing advanced doubles tactics like poaching, lobbing, and I-formations.

Lob and Volley

Coach feeds the ball midcourt. The player on the baseline lobs over their opponent’s head. Their partner moves back and volleys the lob out of the air. Switch roles after 6-8 reps.

Drop Shot and Volley

Coach feeds midcourt ball. Player 1 hits drop shot. Player 2 (at net) quickly recovers and volleys the next shot. Reverse roles after 6-8 reps.

I-Formation to Lob

Players form an I-formation with player 1 up and player 2 back. Coach feeds alley ball. Player 1 poaches and player 2 lobs over the opposing net player’s head. Reverse roles.

Getting Started with Doubles Drills

Now that you’re familiar with the major doubles drill categories, here are some tips for implementing them into your training:

Set Aside Dedicated Doubles Practice – Try to allocate at least 30-60 minutes per week solely for doubles drills. This focused training time is key for developing skills quickly.

Work on Weak Areas First – Evaluate your doubles game and choose drills targeting your biggest weaknesses to provide the fastest improvement.

Vary the Drills – For best results, mix up the drills each session to develop a wide range of skills. Maintain variety to keep things fresh and challenging.

Use Quality Repetition – Mastering doubles requires engraining new instincts through repetition. Give your full focus on quality execution, not just mindless reps.

Increase Intensity Over Time – Start simpler and slower, then increase difficulty, speed and intervals to build doubles-specific conditioning.

Following these tips will ensure you maximize the performance benefits from your doubles training.


Great doubles requires great teamwork, lightning reflexes at net, and impeccable doubles strategy execution. It’s a whole different ballgame compared to singles tennis. Taking time to specifically drill the required doubles skills provides the fastest way to take your game to the next level.

We’ve covered the four essential doubles drill categories you should focus on – volleys, serve/return, positioning, and strategy. Pick 2-3 drills in each area to perform during dedicated doubles practice sessions in your weekly regimen. Start integrating these drills today and you’ll notice steady improvement in your teamwork, reflexes, positioning, and strategy in no time.

With the secret weapon of specialized doubles drills now in your coaching arsenal, you’re on your way to becoming a doubles tennis force to be reckoned with. So grab a partner and get ready to start dominating the doubles court!

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