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By Frank Giampaolo

Stan Wawrinka Roger Federer Doubles

Even the best doubles pairings in the world must constantly work on communication in order to get the most out of the partnership. 

(Photo Credit: Keystone)

As in any relationship, communication with your doubles partner is a key component to any successful on-court pairing. These quick and easy tips will help you maximize your communication levels, allowing your racquet to do the real talking.  
1. Pre-Match Communication. Discuss the different systems of play, your preferred side, as well as your strengths and weaknesses in regards to your strokes, patterns, positions, movement, strategies and emotional issues.
2. Match Time Communication. It is essential to communicate during match play- between points and during changeovers. Topics include the next point’s pattern or opponent profiling.
3. Communication Beyond Words. A supportive atmosphere is critical. Facial expression, tone of voice and body language play a very important role in the art of communication. Optimism inflates your team’s energy while it intimidates & deflates the opponent’s energy.
4. Communication and Physical Synchronization.  Teams that continually reconnect systematically move fluidly together; shutting down the opponent’s highest percentage plays as their court position controls play.
5. Communication and Mental Synchronization.  Connecting with unified strategies and tactics allows teams to orchestrate precise plays and patterns.
6. Communication and Emotional Synchronization. Optimistic exchanges reinforce positive energy and high adrenaline.  Keep each other plugged in even after a setback.
7. Compare Notes Regarding the Systems of Doubles.  This includes how to play, and how to play against the three systems of doubles. The Three Systems include: one up/ one back, double back, and both players rushing the net.
8. Discuss Poaching Options. The most common poaching opportunities include: directly after the serve, after a quality return of serve and during a rally exchange. Communicate when, where and why.
9. Review the Server’s Role and Shot Selection Choices. This includes where to serve as well as the server’s strategic play. Options: serve and stay back or serve and volley tactic.
10. Define the Role of the Server’s Partners. This includes their position, movement and shot selection choices. Options: formations, poaching opportunities, identifying the opponent’s tendencies and anticipating their responses.
11. Formulate the Return of Server’s Options. Consider the serving team’s strategic formation. Viable preferences may include the off-pace chip return, the cross court drive, lob or down the line tactic.
12. Define the Role of the Returner’s Partner. Job descriptions include line calling, recognizing the quality of their partner’s return of serve and optimal court position.   

Frank Giampaolo is a 30 year sports education veteran, author, popular convention speaker and instructional writer for national and international publications. Frank is the best-selling author of Championship Tennis (Human Kinetics Publishing), The Tennis Parent’s Bible and The Mental Emotional Workbook Series. His highly anticipated Raising Athletic Royalty is set to be released in January 2015.