Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How not to play doubles

Some of The Racquetball Blog staff was at a tournament on the weekend and we saw a very entertaining B doubles match between some younger guys. We've long known that watching doubles matches with people who've got the adrenaline going but aren't necessarily at a high skill level can quite the spectacle in much the same way that a demolition derby can be.

Part of the reason it was so entertaining was that everyone (all right handers) served to the left side. This meant that no one was entirely sure of where they were supposed to be. You sometimes see teams serve to only one of their opponents when there's a clear difference in skill between their opponents (for example, we'd advise anyone playing doubles against a team with Kane Waselenchuk on it to serve everything to the other player).

But to do so as the default strategy when your opponents aren't dramatically different can be foolish if not actually dangerous for lower skilled players. It's a questionable strategy, because that kind of switching can cause uncertainty and confusion between you and your partner as to where you should be and who's going to take the next shot.

It can also be just as confusing for your opponents, which is how it can be dangerous, because they don't know where to be to get out of your way and don't know where you are when they are taking their shot.


The simplest way to play doubles is to divide the court into thirds lengthwise and have one player responsible for the left, the other for the right, with the middle usually going to the player on the left, as he or she can use their forehand (assuming the player on the left is right-handed). Communication is also vitally important to clarify who's taking what shot, especially for teams that haven't played much together.

That said, you should also move up or back to compliment your partner. Thus, if your partner is in the back court taking a shot, you should move forward to cover your opponent's potential pinch shot, and vice versa.

Also, you generally serve to the side that you are on, which keeps your partner out of trouble. The guys we saw on the weekend did have their partner on the right side as they served to left, so they weren't endangering their partner on the serve.

Still, constantly switching sides when serving can be unsettling to even an experienced team. With a less experienced team it's likely more trouble than it's worth.

Doubles is a team game, and on teams it's important to know your role, and play your role. Changing roles is just asking for trouble.

Follow the bouncing ball....

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