A doubles tennis match taking place

How To Play Doubles Tennis

Before learning how to play tennis doubles, the rules of the game of tennis should be mastered first. But even once you have the fundamentals down, playing tennis doubles can be challenging and confusing for new and very experienced players alike.

As could be reasonably expected, a game of tennis doubles is played between two pairs of opposing players. And there are a few basic principles in terms of rules and tactics that applies to tennis doubles that adds a new dimension of strategy to the game.

For example, a player who is new to tennis doubles will need to get accustomed to the different sidelines, sequence of serving, and the fact they they will only be returning from one side of the court.

There is also a game of psychology involved that is unique to tennis doubles; he or she will need to synergize their tennis game with a partner instead of playing alone.

In this guide, we’ll cover off all the important aspects there are to mastering tennis doubles, which should significantly cut your learning curve.

Quick Tips For Playing Tennis Doubles

  • Find a duo partner that has a relative skill level to your own
  • Communication with your doubles partner is of utmost importance, including before and after your tennis match
  • Make the choice between the forehand or backhand side, which will usually be determined by your dominant hand (left or right handed)
  • Decide if you or your partner will serve first

How the Net Will Influence Your Game

Once you have the fundamentals of doubles tennis down, what comes next is to fine tune some important techniques to increase your chances on the court.

Controlling the net is regarded as far more important in doubles than in singles. This is due to the fact that it is much easier to score points at the net as you can make use of a greater variety of angles for your volleys. Additionally, the presence of an extra player on your team works to maximize the possible spaces on the court.

Typically, the server or returner in doubles will be at the baseline of court while the other player will be at the net. As the game progresses back and forth, the baseline player should support his or her partner at the net also.

Take Advantage of the Weakest Player in Tennis Doubles

In order to gain a strategic advantage, many players in doubles matches will pressure the weakest player on the other side of the court. This pressure is applied by directing the flow of the game towards the weaker player, forcing them to react in a way that sets the pace of the match.

This psychological component of the game is key when it comes to securing victory in doubles matches, although it could be seen as a bit machevillan or slightly unfair!

The Lob & Overhead

In doubles, you usually hit the ball at an angle so that when the ball is returned your partner can smash it back to the opposing team. Another option is it return the ball straight down the middle between the two players, which can take your opponents off guard.

The serve and return are known as the two most important shots in tennis. A key difference between a single and double match is that hitting the ball at an angle may not be the best tactic due to the presence of another player. Most seasoned tennis pros prefer to hit the ball straight, as it is rarely expected.

Teamwork and communication

Although there are some differences in terms of tactics and raw game mechanics when playing tennis doubles, teamwork and communication are by far the most important variables to success.

To put it simply, if you do not synergize well with your teammate, then you have a very low likelihood of succeeding in a doubles match. For this reason, it is imperative that you find someone that you have chemistry with, both on and off the court.

In addition to finding someone who you gel with personally, you should also discuss the various tactics and strategies that you’d like to employ before the match begins. By being open with your tennis partner, you’ll both be on the same page, as well as working in unison to execute on your game plan.


Despite the obvious similarities between singles and doubles tennis matches, there are definitely some nuanced differences between the two game types. Learning how to play doubles tennis can take years to master, with some people spending their entire tennis careers just learning how to synchronize their game with another player.

Like most things, learning how to play doubles tennis takes practice, patience, and more than a fair amount of tenacity — yet it can be mastered with the right coaching and attitude.