Dear Abby

Would my partner and I ever play
I-formation to the deuce side?
It seems we always practice to the ad side.

Signed, Ima Confused

Dear Ima,

Thank you for the great question. Here at Elysium, our strategy is to match up our strengths to our opponent’s weaknesses. By primarily teaching I-formation from the ad side, we are setting up our partner’s forehand volley and our forehand ground stroke against our opponents back hand volley and ground stroke. To maintain this match up, the ball must be continuously played down the line. Typically, the team that goes cross court first loses the point. First choice of serve placement should be into the body to take away the angles with the intent to set your partner up at the net to put the ball away. Up the T would be a second placement option because it moves your opponent to the middle of the court, giving you even more opportunity to keep the ball at their backhand for the duration of the point. Your partner at the net must stay in the middle of the court even if the first ball passes them to eliminate the cross court shot.

If you do choose to do I-formation to the deuce side, it is typically done in these situations:

  1. Your opponent is hitting cross court returns that you can’t get back or make a play on. By placing your partner in the center of the court, it forces your opponent to rethink their return.

  2. If your partner is left handed or strong at the net from both sides.

Overall, I-formation is a very effective strategy from the standpoint it forces your opponent to rethink their shot. It gives them a different look and puts the burden of making the return on your opponent. Next time you have a bunch of deuces and you and your partner have the advantage, try I-formation to the ad side and put the pressure on your opponent.

Good Luck Ima!