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Play Better

Build Chemistry on the Court

Lucas Dawson / Getty Images

You may not be new to doubles, but maybe you're new to the guy or girl who’s about to be your partner. While you’re reasonably confident that you can play together and not be terrible, it’s possible to shoot a little higher with your expectations. Brian Kiggans, head pro at Palmetto Dunes Resort, has some tips for immediate cohesion:

1. Use signals.

It’s easy to think that they’d complicate matters, but just some basic signs when serving will bring more success. Along with disrupting the returners, you’ll have a plan going into each point, and, as the server, you won’t have to constantly react to the reactions of your partner at net. “You’ll know at least what you’ll try to do,” Kiggans says.

2. Ease up.

The tendency is to try and prove yourself by going for big shots, but you need to play the percentages. Attack the middle. Make sure you get your first serve in—kicking it is always good—and serve to the T. Keep your returns low. On any ball, if you don’t have a putaway, hit to the person farthest away to buy time. If it’s a sitter, hit it to the closest person to give them less time. The biggest thing is to put balls back in play—opportunities will open up for said putaways or they’ll screw up. “You’ll win more points because your opponents are missing,” Kiggans says.

3. Overplay the middle.

As you’re playing the percentages, so are your opponents. If they hit a great down-the-line or crosscourt winner, fine. They won’t do it every time, but the last thing that you want is to be burned down the center. When you go to cover the area, move at a 45 degree angle to the ball, not parallel, in order to cut down the space and shrink the options, Kiggans says.

4. Make notes.

You want to experiment and throw in different looks, but the other reason to play the percentages, especially in the first 4 games, is to discover your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, along with your own. Pay attention to their tendencies and don’t be hesitant to communicate any findings with your partner—don’t assume that anything is obvious. You may fall behind early, but it’s just that, early, and there’s a lot of time to make adjustments. “You’re not out of the match until you lose the last game,” Kiggans says.

About The Author

Steve Calechman – Steve Calechman is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com. He has published articles for Men's Health, Natural Health, The Robb Report and Women's Health magazine.

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Tags: Tennis