| By Bill Longua

A player once asked, what are the important shots to practice to improve doubles play? Let’s go over them. The importance here is that I am talking shots, not strokes. There are five shots that dominate doubles play, they are (not in any order) the serve, return, volley, overhead and lob. If you can find a partner willing to practice towards improvement like you, it will be fun and you will improve.

The serve and return can be practiced together. One serves while the other practices returning cross-court. Try to practice serving down the middle. Strategically, you want the highest percentage of serves to be down the middle, so the opponent’s options are limited on their return. The returner should spend time practicing both deep returns and low, service line returns, this will have you prepared for an opponent who serves and stays back or serves and volleys. In either case, depending on the speed of the serve, you may need to shorten the backswing so contact is being made early. The low service line return is best hit with backspin, learn the slice, or chip return.

You want the return low to a serve and volley player so their first volley is at their feet, forcing an upward shot.
In doubles, you will spend at least half the match at the net, so having a solid volley and overhead is essential. Feed each other volleys, Player A at the baseline starting the feeds while Player B is at the net. Practice hitting cross-court, down the line and angles. One great drill is to have both players at the center of the service line and volley back and forth, the quicker the better. This will improve your hand-eye coordination and reflexes. It will also help stop the dreaded backswing on your volley.

For the same reason you need a solid volley you also need a solid overhead. Practice the overhead from the service line, then move in and practice backing up for the overhead. Remember do not back pedal, turn sideways with your racquet back and slide step. Smart opponents do not try to hit through players already positioned at the net, if the passing shot is not there, they will lob.

Practice the lob to make you a smart player. The lob will take the opponents out of offense and have to back up; this will allow you to move in. The lob is a feel shot, so practice it often. You’ll be glad you did.

Go to http://onlinetennistraining.com for more tennis.

Good luck ... have fun!!

Bill Longua

<p>Bill Longua is the tennis director/head pro at Palm Island Resort in Cape Haze, Fla. Bill is a member of the USPTA, has been teaching tennis for more than 35 years, and is the author of Winning Tennis Strokes. Bill also enjoys teaching tennis on his Web site, <a href="http://onlinetennistraining.com" onclick="window.open(this.href,'httponlinetennistrainingcom','resizable=no,location=no,menubar=no,scrollbars=no,status=no,toolbar=no,fullscreen=no,dependent=no,status'); return false">http://onlinetennistraining.com</a>. Please check out Brent&rsquo;s Shearer&rsquo;s Literary Corner for his review of <em>Winning Tennis Strokes</em>. Take advantage of the download version sale by going to <a href="http://onlinetennistraining.com/usopen" onclick="window.open(this.href,'httponlinetennistrainingcomusopen','resizable=no,location=no,menubar=no,scrollbars=no,status=no,toolbar=no,fullscreen=no,dependent=no,status'); return false">http://onlinetennistraining.com/usopen</a>. He may be reached at <a href="mailto:bill@onlinetennistraining.com">bill@onlinetennistraining.com</a>.</p>