Doubles positioning is about how you and your partner cover the court.
Many players are purposeless in their positioning. It’s common to hear players say,
let’s play sides, or
let’s play front-and-back.
With an understanding of basic doubles strategy, however, you can make purposeful decisions about where to stand.
The three main situations
At any given moment during a doubles rally, you are in one of three situations:
- Fighting for who gets the next attack
Each of these situations is associated with standard positional ideas.
The basic positions
When attacking, you should adopt a formation with one player in the rearcourt, and the other player towards the front of the court.
The rear player will cover most shots to the rearcourt, continuing to play smashes or drop shots; the forwards player will cover replies to the net or midcourt, either playing kills or shots that provoke another lift.
When defending, you must adopt a side-by-side formation so that you can cover the full width of the doubles court. If you can’t cover the full width of the court, then you will lose the rally immediately to any well-placed smash (or even a drop shot).
You should stand about one step back from the middle of the court, to give yourselves time to react to the smash. If either of you stands near the net, then he will be vulnerable to a smash.
Fighting for the next attack
When both sides are fighting for the attack, they both tend to start in a
defensive side-by-side position. As one side gains the advantage, one of their players will move forwards to claim the front of the court, and their attack will begin.