You know that the most basic doubles strategy is to “pick on the weak link” – figure out which of your two opponents is worse and hit to her again and again. While this strategy alone may not win the match, it is usually a big component of doubles success.
The time to start looking for the weak link is, of course, during the warm-up. So recently, I played a match where my partner and I had warmed-up and then discussed who we thought was the weaker of our opponents. We had decided that both women were pretty consistent and we wouldn't necessarily pick on one of them. As the match wore on, I found myself getting into rallies at the net with one of the two women – the one who was taller, played the net more aggressively and got most everything back. Finally, thank goodness, my partner said to me, “Why are you hitting to her? The other one's a lot weaker. Hit to that one!”
Oh yeah! Pick on the weak link! I had not only forgotten that strategy, I was actually engaging in a one-on-one battle with the better player!
The lesson – just because you don't see the weak link early in the match doesn't mean there isn't one. The warm-up doesn't reveal everything. Lots of players are great at going through the motions of the warm-up. But then they refuse to come up to the net during the match. Or they get worn out and suddenly aren't so great. So constantly be looking for that weak link. And if your partner keeps hitting to the stronger player, by all means tell her to stop doing that!
© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved