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Top 5 Shots for Recreational Doubles Tennis

I am often asked which lessons players should take to become effective recreational players. “I’m not going to become a pro,” says one such player. “I just want to be a reasonably good recreational doubles player.”

It’s an excellent point, really. Recreational doubles players don’t need to have every shot that Federer or Sharapova have. They don’t need a booming serve that blasts opponents out of the court. They don’t need a jaw-dropping back court drop shot.

To play recreational doubles well enough to compete and have fun, these are the only five shots you really need to work on.

The Serve

The key to serving in recreational doubles is to get the ball in. Getting your first serve in is especially important. It doesn’t have to be powerful. It doesn’t need to be precisely accurate. It just needs to be in.

If your first serve percentage is consistently under 50, sign up for a serving lesson. If your first serve is over 50 but consistently under 65, practice more.

The Serve Return

Most recreational players believe that returning a serve is simply a matter of hitting a forehand or a backhand. Not true. Not true at all!

Serve returns are a special kind of forehand and backhand. They are as different from regular ground strokes as shopping carts are from minivans. If you don’t know the difference, sign up for a serve return lesson and think about taking a two-handed backhand lesson as well.rnrnThe ForehandrnrnTo play recreational doubles well, you need to be able to return short balls. More importantly, you need to be able to return them to specific spots on the court.

Accuracy, not power, is the key here. So keep an eye out for lessons that will help you improve the accuracy of your forehand. Recreational doubles players can safely take a pass on any lessons promising more power.

The Two-handed Backhand

In doubles, the two-handed backhand is the most useful of the two backhand options available. One-handed backhands are elegant and seductive; they are also more powerful and allow players greater reach on the court. Two-handed backhands, however, are more accurate and easier to control for most players. They are also better for returning topspin serves.

One-handed backhand players beware. If you do not have a two-handed backhand in your tennis toolkit, your ability to play doubles is impaired. This is especially the case when you are receiving topspin serves to your backhand while standing on the ad court.

The Volley

The basic strategy in recreational doubles is to hit an angle shot that forces your opponent off court in order to return it. In most cases, this creates a wide space between the players on the opposite team into which the net player on your team pounds the ball at the earliest opportunity. Given this, it is essential that every would-be recreational doubles tennis player have good basic skills at the net.

Racquet Network offers lessons on volleying and all of the above shots throughout the outdoor tennis season. Sign up for the ones you need and forget about the ones you don’t. Racquet Network does not insist that you sign up for a full set of lessons when all you really need to do is work on improving a single skill.

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Are You Fit Enough to Compete?

With the start of another tennis season just around the corner, I am reminded of a question that every player should ask themselves before setting foot on a tennis court (or any racquet sports court): Am I fit enough to play and compete without injuring myself?

It’s an important question that is often overlooked. For most people, an injury on the tennis court can lead to a loss of income at work. For some people, even a brief lost of income can be a devastating blow to their short term financial plans.

Even the most physically fit racquet sports players suffer injuries from time to time. But the fact is that the bulk of injures happen to players who are not fit enough to be playing racquet sports to begin with.

So take this two-minute test and find out if you are fit enough to jump onto the tennis court and start playing this spring.

Put on some shoes and then get down on your hands and knees. Assume a push-up position. Then lower your forearms so that your elbows and forearms are on the ground. Keep your hips locked and your eyes on the ground.

(Seriously. Get down on the floor right now and try this. What you learn in the next two minutes may save you from weeks or months of agony later.)

The position your body is now in is known as “the plank” because your body forms a straight line from your heels to your head and is stiff as a board.

If you can hold this position for two full minutes, you certainly have enough core strength to start playing tennis the moment outdoor season begins next month.

If you can hold the position for one to two minutes, you have enough core strength to begin recreational play. With only a little work, you will be ready for competitive play.

But if you cannot hold this position for one full minute, then forget about it. You should certainly not consider playing competitive tennis and you should probably think twice about playing recreational tennis until you’ve had at least 6 weeks of core strength training.

If you cannot hold a plank for at least 60 seconds, the chances of doing permanent damage to your back is too great for you to risk. Stay off of the court and enrol in a basic fitness class until you have a stronger core.

The rule of thumb is this: If you can hold a plank for one minute you are strong enough to play recreational racquet sports. Once you can hold it for two minutes, you are ready to compete.