Coming to the net is obviously important in doubles, but when I watch USTA matches 3.0 to 4.5 level, I see a lot of people who look unsure.
A lot of doubles players will start to move forward then move back. Or maybe they’ll move forward too late and without confidence.
Below are 3 times you should always move in to the net in doubles if you’re standing back serving, returning, or stuck in a rally.
But first, why should you even come to the net?
When you watch a lot of USTA matches, the winning team often plays back and out rallies the opponent crosscourt. Can’t we just do that?
The answer is… Yes, but it’s a lot harder.
The truth is, most doubles points do end at the net, so if you can train yourself to get there at the right time, you’ll immediately become a better player and have a clear advantage over your opponents.
So we’ve got two options to move you up to the next NTRP level.
If you want to do this, call your local courts and book 5 hours of ball machine time per week for the next year. Sit at the baseline and grind it out against the ball machine for hours until your groundstrokes get so good, you’ll move up.
Practice time = over 250 hours! (5 hours / week x 1 year)
If you want to do this, you simply change your positioning and the way you move on the court. You don’t need to practice this except in matches. Just experiment with the way you move on the court and test out different positions.
Practice time = 0 hours
So now you know. Get to the net more to become a better doubles player.
There are the obvious times to move to the net, like on an approach shot, but I want to show you 3 times I like to move in that you may not be using.
The hardest part of getting to the net is the half volley. If you’re playing against someone who doesn’t hit the ball very hard, then you have plenty of time to get to the net.
If you want even more time to get in, take some pace off of your shot. But make sure it has depth!
High, deep, topspin to the backhand is usually a safe bet. However some players can lob well off of this shot, so you can try a slow slice with depth too.
As soon as I see the opponent hit at my partner at the net, I’ll start to move in (just a step or 2).
But I’ll wait to see if it’s a good volley. If not, it’s okay to retreat back to your position. But when I see it’s a good volley, I’ll start to sprint in.
If my partner hit a good volley, then the opponent is in an uncomfortable position and likely to hit a short ball or float one back. You better be on top of the net to end the point.
You give them a shoe shine on their backhand volley.
When you hit it low to their backhand volley, they’ll pop the ball up more often than not. That’s why you should be aiming here when the opponents are at the net. It’s actually a better play than a lob.
Don’t forget step two though.
Once you know you hit that forehand hard and low at their feet, move in behind it.
When you’re thinking about your doubles strategy on, or off the court, you should be thinking of as many ways as possible to get to the net.
A good question is…
Which shot on that last point could I have come in on??
The theme here is that you should always come to the net when you see your opponent is uncomfortable.
It puts pressure on them and makes them hit a difficult passing shot, while also putting yourself in a better position to hit a winner or force an error.
Train your “move into the net muscle” more and more. Over time, you’ll level up.
What is your favorite time to come into the net in doubles that most people don’t expect?? Comment below!
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