Whether playing recreational, club-social, or league tennis, doubles is usually 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 P.M.A. (positive mental attitude).

And the best way to do that? Communicate with your partner in a positive manner no matter what the circumstance.

One of the best examples of this type of communication can be seen by watching these pro doubles tennis players in particular:

Bob and Mike Bryan (men’s)

Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza (women’s)

Martina Hingis and Leander Peas (mixed)

It’s amazing to see how they communicate, support and reinforce each other through each and every point, win or lose, always 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 on as you warm up against the opposition.

Once play is underway, frequent communication should be the norm and 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’ll take the shot
  • If you think a ball your partner is about to hit will be out, say “bounce it” or “no”
  • Communicate more (always be positive) rather than less
  • 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 portraying 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, win or lose, the result will always be good.

Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives and teaches in the greater Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area. lwmarino@hotmail.com