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The Pros and Cons of Playing Doubles Up at the Net – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 178

By Kselz @TennisFixation

I'm sure you've heard it said many times - in doubles, the team that controls the net usually wins the point. But why is that? Have you thought about it much? It turns out that there are many reasons for doubles teams to get up to the net and try to take control of the point. In this episode, we'll talk about this "both up at the net" formation and why it is very, very often a great position to get yourself into when playing doubles. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player in this post or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in Apple Podcasts by clicking on this link: For other podcast listening apps, just go to the end of these show notes.


So this episode is, as promised, a follow-up to last week's episode on doubles formations. You may recall that in the last episode, Episode 177, we hashed out the pros and cons of playing the one up, one back formation in tennis. And my conclusion was that, while the one up, one back formation does have some pros in its favor, especially for lower level players, there are just as many cons. So my suggestion was that, if you're playing doubles and you've been relying heavily on the one up, one back formation, its time to try something new.

The "Double Up At The Net" Tennis Formation

And what is that something new? What's the new formation you need to give a try? Well, in this episode, we're discussing just that - the "both up at the net" or "double up at the net" formation. And if you're avoiding the double up at the net formation, or if you're not using it very often, I think by the time you finish listening to this, you're going to want to put it into heavy rotation in your very next doubles match.

I know you've heard this tennis one liner before. In doubles, the team that takes control of the net usually wins the point. Right? You hear it in your lessons and your drills and on all of the tennis YouTube channels you're watching. But why is that? Why is getting up to the net so successful in doubles. Well, there are several reasons.

The Team That Controls Can Hit All Kinds Of Winners

First, when you're at the net, you can hit sharply angled volleys for winners. When you're back at the baseline, you can hit angles but you can't hit the super sharp angles you can hit when you're volleying up at the net. And hitting sharply angled volleys happens to be super fun. If you think sharply angled volleys are not your thing, then I bet you're not spending enough time up at the net. Because it becomes very easy to hit this shot when you're in the net zone.

Second, you can hit down at your opponents' feet making it difficult for them to get the ball back up and over the net. When it's down at their feet, it can be hard for your opponent to even get their racquet on the ball let alone hit something that goes back over the net. And, on the off chance they do get their strings on the ball, they will most often hit a sitter up in the air that you may be able to smash right back down for a winner.

Third, you get the ball back over the net more quickly because you're closer to the net, reducing your opponents' reaction time. I mean that's just geometry. When you're up at the net, you're cutting the ball off and preventing it from traveling deep into your court. So you just naturally cut down on the amount of time the opponent has to react.

Fourth, and this is a good one, you are just a lot more imposing up at the net. You might be saying, "Me? Imposing?" But think about how you yourself have felt when you see both partners on the opposing team up at the net. Two partners at the net creates a visual and psychological "wall" and that can be hard to get past.

Put all of those things together - angled volleys, hitting at the feet, cutting down on reaction time and forming an imposing wall, and I think you can easily see why the team that controls the net usually wins the point.

Use Your Volleys And Overheads When You're Both At The Net

Now, if you and your partner have good volleys and good overheads, then you should definitely be using the double up at the net formation constantly. Because those are exactly the shots you want to be hitting when you're up at the net.

But even if your volleys aren't that impressive, even if your overheads aren't always amazing, this is still a great formation for you. Again, as I mentioned before, when you're closer to the net those angle volleys and those shots at your opponent's feet are just so much easier to hit. Plus, your opponents may be lobbing you to try and get you off the net. And if they're lobs aren't that great, you may get some easy overheads to send back.

What To Do If Your Opponents Are Both Up At The Net

Now, how do you deal with this formation if your opponents are the ones constantly coming up to the net? How can you neutralize them and attempt to take back control of the point? Well, a good way to do this is, of course, to use the lob. When your opponents are forming that wall at the net, you need to get the ball up and behind them to break down the wall.

If they're doing it from the get-go, if you're facing a team that is consistently using a serve-and-volley tactic, then I highly recommend you give the lob return a try. I talked about the lob return back in Episode 54 which was called, " Use This Retro Tennis Shot: The Lob Return," and I'll have a link to that in the show notes.

By using the lob, and especially the lob return, you can neutralize both net players. And if you use the lob return over the net player's head, you can really throw your opponents off balance as they will now need to figure out who is going to get that lob - is the net player going to back pedal or is the net-charging server going to back up and switch sides to take that lob that is over his or her partner's head? It can be confusing.

So those are my reasons for making sure you're using the both up at the net formation over and over in your doubles matches. If you're uncomfortable with this formation, then get out and practice. It just provides so many benefits and will ultimately make you a much stronger doubles player.

That's it for this week's episode of Tennis Quick Tips. Be sure and check out the show notes for a complete transcript of this episode and for links to the resources that I mentioned.


Check out these great resources mentioned in this episode:


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