Tennis Doubles Strategies

When playing doubles, most of the rules are the same. Because there is an extra person to help earn points, the boundaries get extended, however. With the ally by your side, how shots are executed changes, meaning different skills come into play.  Tennis doubles strategies are different ways to work with your partner for maximum court coverage.

With a partner sharing the court with you, your priority narrows down to half the area you’d be responsible for when playing singles tennis. Focus is more important than ever. You and your teammate will likely play using one of three main doubles positions:

  • One Up-One Back; one player will cover the net while the other takes responsibility for the baseline.
  • Double Up; most aggressive position, played with both players at the net.
  • Double Back; used as a defensive tennis doubles strategy, both team mates play from the baseline.

A closer look at each position.        

One Up-One Back

Set up for this position puts the player who is not serving or receiving at the net. The other player, who IS serving will cover the baseline and middle (for any deep shots). Player one, at the net, will be responsible for the middle as well. This versatile position allows for both defensive and offensive play, and is often the formation chosen for game openers.

Strategy weakness: a large angular gap opens between both players in this formation allows the opposing team the chance for a crosscourt hit.

Solution: Keep the opposing team guessing by switching positions with your partner frequently while playing the point by using the pouch or the fake pouch. When a player runs toward their partner’s side to hit the ball, while the other player switches back to cover player one, is a pouch. A ‘fake pouch’ is where the players begin to execute this move, but stop half way and return to their original positions. Again, both moves are done to confuse their opponents.


Double Up

It is not unusual for the One Up-One Back formation to shift into the more aggressive Double Up as players dart around. With both players right at the net, most shots are returned immediately, and the opponent doesn’t have time to set up and react. Double Up players also tend to use overheads and drive volleys, power shots, to score quickly.

Favored by tall people, and players with advanced net skills.


Double Back

When needing to play it safe, the Double Back strategy is a good choice—for defensive purposes only. This formation is typically used when the opposing team has doubled up on you, or has taken an aggressive One Up-One Back position.

By staying at the baseline, players eliminate the chance of passing shots, but also increase their opportunities for powerful lob shots.

Strategy weakness: no coverage at the net for those angular shots in the forecourt or drop shots, no net pressure.


A good mix and use of all these strategies while playing will yield the best results for racking up those winning points.

For more in depth tennis instruction, contact Elysium Tennis at 614.873.8749 to schedule a private lesson with one of our pro tennis instructors.

Happy playing!