To practice the return and planned approach tactic; to make the returning team dominate the point; to develop coordinated movement at the net; to improve communication and teamwork between partners.
Intermediate to advanced
The doubles team sets up in the normal one-up/one-back returning position while the coach stands on the opposite baseline in a serving position. the coach hits a second serve to the returner, who approaches behind her return. the coach hits or feeds a number of different second shots to the pair (e.g., down the middle, down the line, short crosscourt, lob, fast pace, slow pace). the aim of the drill is for the returning team to be able to recognise three things immediately: (1) Is the ball going in? (2) If so, whose shot is it? and (3) Where do they hit to? the returning team must hit to specific targets depending on the type of ball the coach hits to them. (For information on net play targets in doubles, see chapter 4.)
the coach should encourage a safe target area positioned well inside the baseline for the returning team’s second shot (probably a volley or smash unless a lob forces them back to the baseline). the coach must ensure that each player knows her area of the net to cover (e.g., who takes the lob down the middle?) and that both players move together, as one unit, at the net. the returner’s partner at the net should start to move forward as her partner joins her, so both players are moving forward ‘shoulder to shoulder’. this applies to sideways and backward movement also. this parallel play prevents any big gaps from opening up between them for the opposing team to hit into.