Another episode of the Tennis Quick Tips podcast is here! In this episode, I'll tell you everything you need to know about being a really great tennis doubles partner. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the gray media player above or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link: tennisfixation.com/itunes.
I play doubles for three different tennis teams right now. That means, with shuffling line-ups and subs, I may have three different partners each week. In the course of a month, I can theoretically be partnered with twelve different people!
So, each month, I may be learning how to achieve doubles success with twelve different partners. And, twelve different people may be sizing me up, considering my tennis game, and deciding if I am the kind of partner they ever want to play with again.
Consequently, I try to not only play my own game well, but I also try to be a great tennis partner. I try to be the person that anyone would be happy to find out they are partnered with. And I try not to be the person that people have told the captain that they never, ever want to partner with ever again.
So, what makes a great tennis partner? What should you do to be the partner everyone wants to pair up with? Well, here’s what I think it takes:
1. A great partner communicates well.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do in doubles is communicate with your partner. You need to be sure that you’re both on the same page as far as what you’re trying to accomplish on court. But beyond that, a great partner communicates to support the team. Sometimes a great partner has something really helpful to say, an insight into the other team or an observation about your strokes. Sometimes a great partner has something encouraging to say, about not getting down when you’re behind or continuing to play aggressively when you’re ahead. Sometimes a great partner is just talking to assure you that he or she’s still hanging in there, playing the match point by point, and hasn’t checked out on you or thrown in the towel. I personally can’t think of a time I had a partner who I didn’t like because she talked to me too much about the match.
2. A great partner focuses on the match.
While communication is important, that does not mean, however, that we haven’t all played with partners who talked too much. I’ve played with people who seem to be talking constantly. And as long as they are talking to me about the match, I’m good. But the focus has to remain on what is happening on the court. So, until the match is finished, I’m sorry, but I don’t want to talk about how sick your dog is or what you might make for dinner tonight. Save that for later. Right now, focus on what you can do to help win the match.
3. A great partner is always upbeat and optimistic.
Guess what? Sometimes you lose. Sometimes NOTHING goes your way and no matter how well you play, the other team creams you. But a great partner will never let this destroy his or her attitude or ruin the match. Because, even when you’re losing, you hit some good shots, ace some serves, run down balls that appeared to be sure-fire winners and get those balls back just one more time. A great partner sees this, appreciates it, pumps you up and just keeps plugging away with you. A great partner does not believe the match is over until its truly over.
4. A great partner is flexible and willing to change.
You may not know what you are going to face in a match. What you see in the warm-up and the early part of the match, may not be what is happening later in the match after your opponents have truly warmed-up and gotten into a groove. A great partner is not tied to just one way of playing. He or she doesn’t think anything you say is a ridiculous idea and is open to trying, or at least discussing, your suggestions for how to turn a match around.
5. A great partner doesn’t take it personally.
It’s only tennis after all. Nothing I say about your game is meant as an insult. And I don’t take anything you say as an insult to me. So if I yell at you to switch and get the ball or I urge you to come in to the net because you’re getting pinned down in baseline rallies, I only mean it as a helpful observation and not as a negative comment on your tennis skills. And I won’t be upset about anything you say to me during a match. Because, it’s tennis. It’s a game. And, just like you, I want to be a great tennis partner!
So those are my tips for being a great tennis partner. And I think I’m a pretty good tennis partner, maybe not great yet, but pretty good. As far as I know, no one has asked to never, ever be partnered with me. As far as I know. Hey, if you’re on one of my teams and told my captain that you never want to be partnered with me, let me know by commenting in the show notes to this episode. That would be something good for me to know. And if you’ve got your own tips on how to be a great doubles partner, I’d love to hear those too. So add them to the show notes which can be found at tennisfixation.com/quicktips32.
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Thanks for listening and, as always, Happy Tennis!
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