Great communication essential to winning doubles

We're now in the throes of this year's league doubles season. And, whether you're playing recreational, club, social or league tennis, doubles is the tennis game most widely played. It truly embodies the best and worst examples of team sport one can imagine.

No matter if you play with a regular partner or a different one every time, the No. 1 best thing you can do to have great success is to maintain positive mental attitude (P.M.A.).

What's the best way to keep your "P.M.A."? Communicate with your partner in a positive manner, no matter what the circumstance.

Some of the best examples of great doubles communication come from a selection of pro doubles players in particular: Bob and Mike Bryan, Santa Mirza and Martina Hingis, Leander Peas and Martina Hingis.

It's amazing to see how they communicate, support and reinforce each other through each and every point, win or lose, virtually smiling, laughing and having a good time.

Communication begins off court. Before you and your partner take to the court, discuss an initial game plan, opponents' strengths and weaknesses, where you'll serve, poach, etc. This can be expanded upon as you warm up against the opposition.

Once play is underway, frequent communication should be the norm and should continue throughout the match. That should focus on positive feedback for playing a good point, kudos for good shots, strategy suggestions and ongoing encouragement - all to help stay focused and confident.

During the match, don't leave anything to chance. Here are some tips to help your team be stronger together:

• Call out "yours" or "mine" if it's not a for-sure decision who should take the shot.

• If you think a ball your partner is about to hit will be out, say "bounce it" or "no."

• Communicate more rather than less, and always be positive.

• Always trust and support your partner.

• Be aware of each other's body language.

• Share the communication dialogue.

• Be kind, thoughtful and positive, no matter what.

• Always work together to portray a united image.

• Practice your communication to make it more effective.

• Never stop communication when things get tough. More pressure means talk more.

• Don't fear trying something different if things aren't working.

By staying positive, playing smart, talking it through, and working as a team, the result will always be good, whether you win or lose.

Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives, teaches and provides custom-hybrid racquet service in the Bluff-ton-Hilton Head Island area. lwmarino@hotmail.com


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