Mastering the Art and Science of Doubles

April 12, 2018
Mastering the Art and Science of Doubles

There are many players who devote a lot of time, money and effort to doubles and yet they never quite “get it” to become successful on a consistent basis. In The Previdi System we believe that there should be a payoff for all of your preparation and that payoff is getting much better at winning doubles matches. So what are the missing ingredients?

This morning we had a practice with a great 3.5 group that I coach. We worked on serve and volley, half volleys and four different returns of serve. We played half court one on one points, doubles points in a vacuum (no score = less pressure) and finally a set.

These players are very skilled at all of these shots because we work on them every day. Even though they are 3.5’s they are consistent, instinctive and most importantly they are relaxed. They’re relaxed because they understand what they’re trying to do and they understand what is working and what’s not working and can easily adjust their game and their mindset.

After we had finished playing some points I called the group together and made the following statement, “You guys can hit all the shots necessary to be a good doubles player. You have mastered the science of the game. Now you have to master the art of doubles.” The art of the game is the ability to have a sense of the situation, what is the right shot and what is the right mindset.  The ability to use the science in a logical, competitive way. It takes much more of a feel for the game to be good at it. It’s like the difference between a musician who can play notes and someone who can play a song and make you feel the music.

Most tennis players spend all of their time on the science of tennis; grips, technique, spin, and footwork are the buzzwords that catch people's attention. Changing their groundstrokes improves their game only in a scientific, physical way. They never allow themselves to get a feel for the game, to let the game become part of them. They’re always frustrated because they’re never perfect at hitting the ball. To most players, tennis is a hitting contest. But to anyone who’s ever been successful in tennis, it’s understood that once you’ve filled your tool box (strokes) you need to spend all your practice time developing the ability to play points successfully by practicing situations and sequences of shots over and over. To be able to see the court and what’s happening in a way where you can anticipate what’s going to happen because you understand cause and effect and have seen all situations many times before. That’s why so many players lose to people they’re “better than.” You can’t judge a player only by what you can see.

When it comes to developing the right mindset, it’s important to understand that your mindset changes all the time during a match, even from point to point. Sometimes you’re a little more aggressive, sometimes you’re going to be a little more conservative, sometimes you change things up and sometimes you stay with exactly what you’re doing. I always equate this to one of those old radios we had when I was a kid. In order to find the station you had to turn the dial very slowly and carefully. You never turned it a lot or quickly because you would miss the station you were looking for. The same applies in tennis. You need to fine tune your mindset, not completely change it back and forth faster and faster. You’re making small adjustments to your mindset on an almost constant basis. Players who master this part of the game play better on a more consistent basis because the mental controls the physical. If you’re a mess mentally, your strokes will collapse and you will have a very difficult time getting your game back on track.

The other part of the game that gets vastly overlooked from many players is the tactical part. The art is that you need to see what the appropriate shot is for the situation you’re in. That includes nuance such as, should I hit this ball harder or with more touch; where should I go after I hit this ball. You only have milliseconds to make these decisions and you can’t make them effectively when you’re obsessing about technique.

Here are The Previdi System Tips for Mastering the Art of Tennis

    • Accept the strokes you have now and learn to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses rather than constantly changing your strokes.
    • Practice shots for situations rather than in a vacuum.
      • Touch, angle volleys
      • Serve to three spots
        • Wide
        • Body
        • T
      • Three returns
        • SAL
        • Lob
        • Hard at the net player
    • Play a ton of points in different situations;
      • Server vs. Receiver one on one half court.
      • Server vs. Receiver and Partner.
      • Receiver vs. Server and partner
      • All four players
    • Work on all different scenarios
      • Serve and volley and be able to handle all returns.
      • Practice the three most important returns in game situations
        • SAL
        • Offensive lob
        • Hard at the net player
    • Work on different score situations.
      • For example; you’re serving at 5-4 in the second set having lost the first set. What should each team be thinking? What shots will be most effective for both teams. There are hundreds of situations you can work on and develop the proper mindset to handle all these situations by rehearsing them.
    • Work on handling whatever happens during a match by remaining relaxed and staying in the moment. The only point you can win is the one you’re playing now! Stay present!
    • Work on accepting whatever conditions you’re in and not letting them upset you, rather, find solutions since you will eventually have to face all situations in real matches.
      • Its windy
      • Its sunny
      • I’m playing poorly
      • My partner is playing poorly
      • Our opponents are playing out of their heads
      • We got off to a slow start and are down

  • Most Importantly - get great at the first two shots of every point. That will always include either a serve or a return. If you can be consistently solid early in the point, hit good set ups and let the point end itself, everyone will want to be your partner and no one will want to play against you!