Net Play Strategy for Doubles: Podcast 008

This is the fourth episode in a four-part series on doubles strategy. If you’ve never thought about strategy before or are new to doubles, this series will get you started and help you turn into a smarter, more effective tennis player.

Find out why you should be trying to get to the net in the first place, and the different goals we should have once we are at the net. I share tips that will help you force more errors from the opponent. I’ll also discuss how you should be thinking about moving and positioning yourself at the net. You’ll learn how and when to poach even if you’re not usually comfortable at the net in doubles.


Listen to all four episodes in this series on doubles strategy:

  1. Foundations of Double Strategy & The Mental Game
  2. Serve Team Strategy for Doubles
  3. Winning Return Strategies for Doubles
  4. Net Play Strategy for Doubles (this episode)

Show Notes from this Podcast

Here are some of the things I mention in this podcast episode on net play strategy.

  • Why go to the net? Getting to the net has a higher win percentage than staying back.
    • It takes time from the opponent.
    • It creates angles for you & you can hit usually hit the ball down.
    • It forces more errors!
  • Our overall goal is to own the middle of the court & make the opponent see us.
    • Be aggressive when the opponent looks uncomfortable or on defense.
    • Be conservative when they have an easier shot or are on offense.
    • Be unpredictable & annoy them on neutral balls.
    • Move forward, back, AND laterally (side-to-side)!
  • There’s always a tradeoff. We will get beat down the alley some but that’s OK. The forced errors and volleys we get will more than make up for it.
  • When to come forward to the net in doubles. (*favorites)
    • Serve & volley.
    • *Serve +1 & volley – look for a forehand as your first shot after the serve and make the opponent play defense. Then, move forward.
    • *Return & volley – especially on 2nd serves, if you hit a good return.
    • During a rally – anytime you’re able to put the opponent on defense.
    • *Off the short forehand – hit deep to the backhand or low to a backhand volley and follow the ball in.
    • Lobs deep to the backhand.
    • Any good shot you hit that puts pressure on the opponent.
  • How to poach in doubles.
    • Move forward and across. Many people only move across and don’t have forward momentum. See our volley checklist below for more.
    • Mix up your timing. Move as they start their swing and as they make contact.
  • When to poach in doubles.
    • When you have a forehand volley in middle of the court.
    • On slow balls or slices that float high over the net.
    • On deep balls that get the opponent on their heels.
    • On low balls that they have to lift over the net.
    • When your partner is in a rally they won’t win.
    • When you have a backhand volley in the middle, leave earlier.
  • Get started! Experiment & see what works!
    • Pick your favorite time to poach above and poach every time you see it in your next match.
  • More Reading on Net Play
  • Video Lessons

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About the Author

Will Boucek is the Founder & CEO of The Tennis Tribe. He has played tennis for over two decades, including in college. Will has worked with ATP & WTA tour players and coaches. He currently lives in Austin TX where he plays USTA leagues & tournaments, writes about tennis, and teaches doubles workshops.