Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How to communicate with your doubles partner the RIGHT way

Katelyn Caniford & Kristianne Bontempo | Towpath Tennis Contributors

In honor of our 3.0 40 & Over Men's USTA team competing at Nationals this month, we wanted to tie in how vital communication is in doubles and how to create a winning method. Communication with your doubles partner is by far one of the most critical components of succeeding together as a team. Whether your partner is your best friend who you’ve played with for years or someone on your USTA team who you’re meeting for the first time, those skills will be a huge factor on whether or not the two of you will work well together in your matches.
front row (l to r): Matt Birbeck, Scott Altman, Michael Kramer, Bill Fox, Adam Stopka
back row (l to r): Ron Bassak, Curt Binder, Ron Novak, John Ragner, Steve Wilt

Often times, communication on the court can be both verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication can consist of talking between points, during points, and in between changeovers about various strategies as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents. Sometimes verbal communication can even just be helping to lift your partner up if they are struggling to get their confidence back.

Non-verbal communication is just as important as verbal communication. This could be hand signals identifying where one of you will be moving on the court, fist bumps to stay connected with each other, or simply making eye contact or giving an encouraging smile. Even if you agree not to talk during the match (some players prefer it that way), non-verbal communication is still a must. So whether it's verbal or non-verbal, let’s go over how to communicate with your partner the right way.  

·         TALK BETWEEN POINTS - In many cases, it doesn’t matter what you are saying to your partner, as long as it’s something positive, encouraging, and helpful. I know from experience that playing with someone who didn’t speak to me at all both during and in-between points is incredibly difficult and frustrating. Whether or not you are talking strategy or just playing therapist to your ailing companion, it is always helpful to speak to each other. That way both of you will be more comfortable as the match goes on and will be able to have enough trust in each other to be successful. Which brings me to my next point

·         TRUST YOUR PARTNER - If you don’t have trust in your partner’s abilities then it’s going to be extremely difficult to be on the same page with your communication skills.  A lot of times, especially in USTA you can get paired with someone that maybe isn’t at the same skill level as you, but the best advice I can give with this is, make it work! Just because your partner isn’t Serena Williams doesn’t mean they don’t have their own strengths to be successful. As their doubles partner it’s your job to build their confidence up and use their strengths to create the best possible match-up you can have. If your partner is incredibly patient during points, use that to your advantage. Get them involved in those long rallies so they can hopefully set you up to hit a winner. If their weakness is the net, maybe try having them stand at the baseline with you so you can be the one to go up and play the net.

·         STAY POSITIVE - There is nothing worse than having a partner that’s negative about every little thing that goes wrong or who knocks your confidence down. Doubles is about teamwork. In order to work together as a team, both people need to have a positive attitude about the match. If you screw up a point, high five your partner and get the next one. Even if your partner is hitting every single ball out, the best thing you can do is keep them calm. Help them to get their confidence back by lots of encouragement and really showing that you believe in them and their abilities. Being as positive as possible even in the worst of situations is the best remedy for a partner who is struggling. Tennis matches can go on for a while. There’s always enough time to come back from any terrible situation as long as you have the right attitude.

·         SHOW FRUSTRATION - If things aren’t going well for you or your partner is having difficulty, one of the worst ways to react is by visibly showing those frustrations. If you are unhappy with something, do your best to change it. Again this means encouraging your partner even if on the inside you want to scream. If you’re playing bad, don’t show your opponents your frustration. Instead, slow your game down and focus on trying to be consistent until you can get your confidence back. That way, your partner doesn’t start to deteriorate as well.

·         STOP TALKING TO YOUR PARTNER - Duh! You could be beyond annoyed with your partner, feel the heat of a partner that's frustrated with you, or you could simply be cruising along in a match before you realize your communication has completely deteriorated. How to prevent this? The obvious solution is to remain talking, even if it's about your weekend plans. The more difficult solution is to keep talking when one partner is frustrated. Despite being intimidated, I once walked over to my obviously frustrated partner who clearly didn’t want to talk and sparked up a fun, non-tennis related conversation...guess what it worked and we were able to turn the match around!

·         TEACH - There’s nothing I hate more than having a doubles partner that feels they need to correct what I’m doing wrong when they’re not my tennis pro, especially when that partner could use a little help on their own game. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to sit back and watch your partner make the same mistake over and over without a little help, but it’s imperative you approach it encouragingly. It’s best to use ‘we’ in situations when you want to help your partner improve: “We might have better luck lobbing the net player.” “We should try laying off of our shots to reduce the margin of errors.”

Now here's the biggest tip-have fun! Remember that you and your partner are out there playing together because you both love tennis! Even when things seem tough, as long as you help each other, and have fun, you're already setting yourself up for success.

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1 comment:

  1. It is really important to stay alert while playing tennis; otherwise players are facing failure. In case of doubles we should frequently communicate with our partner; most of the occasion players are facing communication problems player from two different zones if they play together in doubles. Then definitely they are suffering from lack of communication problems; here in this above article we can get the perfect solution for these problems.
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