By Ken Woodfin

Here are the secrets to great racquetball doubles.

Doubles Strategy

Subject: Court coverage, including positioning, movement, teamwork, and communication. 

TWO PARTNERS IN DOUBLES COVERAGE SHOULD BE ABLE TO COVER MOST ANY OPPONENT’S RALLY SHOT WHEN TAKEN FROM DEEP COURT WHEN THE COVER PARTNERS MOVE EARLY INTO THEIR GOOD CENTER COURT COVERAGE POSITIONS AND THEN THEY ALSO RELEASE TO COVER THEIR DESIGNATED COVERAGE AREAS.  

BASIC COVERAGE – Cross court partner covers near sidewall shots into far sidewall and penalty hinder mandated crosscourt passes. Closer partner first covers down the line (DTL) pass and he also fields the wide angle pass (WAP). When serving to his side or covering shots from corner back behind him, he moves into coverage early to block reverse shots diagonally aimed into opposite front corner. 

MUSTS in doubles:

1.  GET OFF THE SIDEWALL – When your partner is shooting the ball, get off *your* sidewall and move as near to center court as you can get! (Usually be between and slightly behind your 2 opponents). When your partner is shooting the ball from a back comer, first get off the wall and move as near to center court as you can while giving defenders option to move up front. The idea is to let your shooting partner use the far sidewall, if they want to, for a wide angle pass. And your job is to get in best possible position to cover should your partner leave up a low shot. Remember the side opposite your shooting partner in the front court and the V crosscourt passing angles are still your main covers after your partner shoots. So, after they shoot, move up and slightly over. 

2. GET OUT OF THE BOX – When your partner serves the ball, your job is to get out of the service box quickly. Beat your partner out! Goal: get in position in center court before the opponents can return your partner’s serve. (as soon as the ball clears the <middle> short line, MOVE!) – It may help to use your off-hand to push yourself off the wall behind you, as you move toward the middle. It also helps to point your toes slightly backwards while standing in the box. Be ready to bolt, with a crossover step with the foot closest to the front wall. Step past the back foot and the short line, too, and then crisscross step behind that foot with the back foot as you pivot and turn first to study the serve receiver to pick up hints as to their return. Then, as the receiver commits to return by driving their elbow forward, turn to face the front wall as you D-up and field even a ball rocketing right back at you. Shield your body at chest level with your racquet when you turn to face the front wall. Technique: watch the shooter and then, after they release their arm to shoot (and elbow flies forward), turn your focus to the front wall looking for the shot your perceptions tell you is the one you choose to cover, including moving to get to the shot, as well. Once you are in position in center court your job is only half done. From there, you are ready to move to cover your areas and the shot you anticipate by watching the shooter for clues. 

3. COVER CROSSCOURT ANGLES – As the opposite side cover player on your team, you are supposed the cover the near sidewall pinch, so MOVE UP! When your crosscourt opponent is shooting the ball from either in a deep corner or from out along the sidewall, cover both the V, 45 degree angled crosscourt pass and sidewall shots, including the pinch and splat. Start at about 24′ back or even a little closer and, when you read a sidewall shot, be primed to sprint forward only after the shooter commits by letting go with their arm flying forward.

• FREEZE! – Get to your spot at ~24′ and freeze and study the opposing shooter, as he sets up to shoot. Then release (run to cover) as the shooter’s arm flies forward. If the shooter is making far out front contact or their feet point decidedly crosscourt, a crosscourt is far more likely. If they angle off to face the sidewall and pint their toes at the wall, a sidewall shot may be coming; so be ready to dash into the front court. 

• AVOID BEING WRONG FOOTED – When you move too early, you allow the shooter to <wrong foot> you and pass you by hitting the ball right where you were into the open court you just vacated (or ran away from much too early). 

4. EXCHANGE COVER SPOTS – When your partner is shooting the ball from the back court, don’t stand in front of your 2 opponents. WHEN they make a move to cover, give way. It’ll just cause a hinder, if you block. Let your opponent(s) stand in front of you! Move out of their way. If you vie for front position, it’ll just cause a hard-feelings-hinder, maybe retaliatory hindering, too. Again, let your opponents stand in front of you! Instead move to get between them. As your partner shoots, get ready to move forward to cover the opponents’ possible low shot by responding ideally with your rekill. Be ready to cover the whole side of the court away from where your partner is shooting. So basically cover crosscourt angles, like an opponent’s left up pinch or splat and crosscourt pass that isn’t going to catch the sidewall beside you. Shots completely around you or WAP’s are your partner’s cover.

5. GET IN FRONT AND DON’T GET BLOCKED OUT – Are they shooting? When you are on defense covering a shot by one opponent setting up to shoot from deep court or out along a sidewall, get in front of the ‘other’ non shooting opponent. Otherwise you and your partner may not see the ball as it comes off the front wall. And you probably won’t be able to make a get or get a good shot either.

• COMPETITION FLOWING MOVEMENT – the ‘other’ non-shooting opponent should flow with you to let you D-up to cover. This is unlike rebounding in basketball. If the cover players wants the front, they get the front. In tourneys, an opponent blocking the exchange of position could lose points when the opposing side is serving or give up the serve when the offending party is blocking and a penalty hinder is fairly called. 

• COVERING DEEP SHOOTER – When you are on defense and one opponent is shooting from deep court, again get in front of BOTH of your opponents. Know that it is a possibly that you might not get a replay in competition when you start your cover run from behind. And know that by letting yourself be blocked out you are being snookered or played by the shooting opponent’s partner who is acting the trickster. 

Other Key Doubles Tips:

• GIVE REDUCED SHOT OPTIONS – When a good defensive team takes up position close to center court and also close to the front wall (and out a couple steps of either sidewall), the crosscourt pass and the jam shot up the middle of the court are the only purely offensive alternatives left to a team shooting from deep court or from deep along one sidewall against your well positioned defense. When your team shoots a jam shot, a crosscourt pass (or a perfect rollout killshot) as your offensive options, or  secondarily a ceiling ball, it allows you to exchange positions even with a well stationed covering team. 

• HOW TO TEMPT THEM TO SHOOT – Against your stacked coverage, when your team is in good center court position, defensively you want the offense to still attempt to pinch or shoot a straight-in killshot, as a left up ball becomes an easy rekill, while their passing shot, jam or lifted ceiling would delay and extend the rally giving you a chance to shoot from mid court to deeper in the court to capture the rally. So starting just a little deeper is a tempting maneuver making it appear the front court is open. And, in this case, the far cover partner is ready and even taking a rolling start to dash up front and get anything but a rollout pinch or splat. Roll up when the shooter loses sight of the far cover in his blind spot and he drops his head to fixate in the ball to shoot. 

– TACTIC: PLAY IT STRAIGHT UP; THEN MOVE – To dictate their shot, your defense pair may *appear* to leave the front court open by where you set up in coverage behind or on the dashed line. Here the upfront player (far partner) is ready to move in right when the shot is being taken to get to anything but an extremely low killshot. 

• OFFENSE TO COUNTER FRONT COURT (OR HONEST) COVERAGE – When the defensive team is playing possum coverage ready to dash up to cover any just slightly left up killshot, a smart countering offensive shot is a pinpoint jam shot right up the gut or middle of the court. Ideally aim the jam at the most forwardly placed upfront cover player’s backhand. This tactical jam shot may yield a weak response and generate a follow-on set up for one of the two of you. Also, if a jam, pass or ceiling backs up the (routine) upfront player, the pinch, splat or low crosscourt killshot options reopen for your team. If both opponents back up and stay back, consider shooting low and be ready to go low board or to hit a 3-wall shot when the ball and situation is right. 

– SHOOT SETUPS – When you fashion yourself a Soothsayer and you see a rollout killshot in your immediate future, the low-board target is just a matter of trust and commitment, and it’s ensured by your partner backing you up by getting in position between the two defending partners. Your partner is ready to move forward if your shot is left up and your partner is always ready to cover his assigned side, too. 

• HAVE A DEFENSIVE PLAN AND BE READY TO ADJUST – Have a plan and recognize your pattern of defense. Know instantly what you are both covering. Also, vary the defense, as needed, mid-rally or adjust next time in a similar situation in an ensuing rally when change is deemed needed. If your defense remains unchanged, that unchanging defense, when unsuccessful, will get your team few rekills and then it may get you nothing at all but lots of ROS’s. The main idea of defensive play and positioning is to fake out your opponents and be set to cover left up slop or routine, expected shots like passes and ceilings. Don’t play and be seen by the opponents either way too far forward nor be seen set up way too deep. Be ready to move and cover from center court. Always be ready to move, and move often to cover the shot you read vs just hanging out in the middle expecting their shot will kindly funnel right back to feed the two of you.

• COMPARISON OF HANGING OUT IN CENTER COURT TO ANTICIPATING AND MOVING TO RETURN SERVE IN SINGLES – Wishful play, like both partners camping out in the middle waiting while one opponent shoots from behind the two of you, is just as bad as when a singles player stands in the middle in the back court expecting all drive serves and drive Z serves to pop out of the back corners and feed him juicy setups in the middle. Singles ROS: In your initial return of serve spot, read the serve. Be checking out the server’s ball drop location, the server’s shoulder point, feet angle or any other clues, including past, revealing tendencies or server’s druthers, like they like to serve ‘there’ at game point. Then, if possible, be looking for the ball as it comes off the front wall by looking thru the server’s legs. And definitely be looking for the ball as it passes the short line. When you pick up the ball, move to where you see the ball is going. Anticipate the serve and go, right or left. Waiting in the middle, you are depending on a kind bounce instead of being assertive and covering the serve you read, with a crossover step, prep, and best shot available. Even guessing sometimes beats being repeatedly aced. 

• ASSERTIVE DOUBLES COVERAGE – These same theories go for coverage from center court when the opposing shooter is setting up in a back corner or deep along a sidewall. The nearer cover partner is programmed to execute the 2-step, back foot jab, then front foot cross to cover the down the line because the DTL can get by the two of you so easily. The far cover partner is ready to dash into the front court when a sidewall shot looks likely. For a ball up the middle the partners are ready with options, communication on who’s got it and practiced shots. For setups and ceilings, communication is routine, fast and team oriented. 

• STAY OFF THE SIDEWALL, BOTH Y’ALL – For example, one reason why the righty frontman must stay off the right sidewall is so he may be able to use his forehand, his dominant stroke on that side of the court that tactically also takes up more space. And a forehand stroke and is more versatile than a backhand from along its dominant or primary side of the court. Also, when the righty moves too far off the wall, even a hard hit crosscourt pass coming from the left side of the deep court may just blow by both cover partners. 

Coverage Positioning Options

• FIXED PATTERN COVERAGE DRAWBACKS – The truth is neither front-back nor side-by-side is right all of the time in doubles coverage. Fixed pattern coverage is doomed for failure.

• ROTATE ACCORDING TO COVER SITUATION – The best coverage technique is to rotate. It’s based on positioning being determined on a relative basis or based on what is going on throughout each rally and each game. For example, if Opponent A is on the right side in deep court, about to shoot low – one partner must cover the front. That one partner positions more or less in left-middle behind the short line intending to be able to get the pinch, the splat, and V crosscourt pass, while the other partner on the same side as the ball covers the DTL, while also being ready to move to cover the straight in killshot, the wide angle pass and a DTL ceiling or possibly the crosscourt ceiling, too because of his deeper coverage positioning.

• COMMUNICATION – Look at each other. Point to uncovered court. Be seen overtly making your move. Coverage requires lots of non-verbal communication and a huge amount of team court sense and brain wave sharing. Partnering experience by playing together is the best way to jell as a defensive team, as well as talking over your match experiences, even between rallies. And, of course the tried and true, “Mine” or “Yours” (or “Me” or “You” are clear calls of shooting responsibility. 

• WHERE TO COVER FOR SHORT SHOT IN FRONT COURT – Assume here that one defensive player is on the right side of the court in coverage. His crosscourt shooting opponent is deep along the left sidewall. That right side cover player has moved up farther forward toward the front at ~24′ or even closer to the short line to cover and take away the left side shooter’s pinch and splat. 

— How far from the right sidewall should the cover player be?

– SIDEWALL SITUATION – Both the up front and deeper partner cover player should be no closer than 5-8 feet either  sidewall while in coverage when a ball is being shot from close along a sidewall; unless the closer partner is thinking lift their legs up over the shooter’s shot (or they’re stepping in and jumping over the anticipated DTL. A key to knowing how far from the sidewall to be when you’re the deep cover partner is to stand between the ball and opposite front corner. From there, you legally block the reverse pinch into the opposite front corner and you blanket your primary cover and most difficult to intercept shot, the down the line (DTL) shot along that sidewall.

• SHOT OPTIONS AND COVERS – Consider here the following deep left rear corner opposing offensive shooter’s options and which defensive player on your team covers each shot option:

1) Down the line (DTL) pass along left sidewall (covered by left side cover partner);

2) V crosscourt pass left to right toward far, right rear corner (covered by right side partner)

3) Left sidewall pinch or splat (covered by right side partner);

4) Reverse pinch into far, front, right corner. This shot should basically have to go right thru both of the cover partners when they are both positioned correctly before the shooter can address the ball. (Although the reverse is usually legally blocked it may either be the left side partner who covers it or it may be covered by whichever partner hustles hardest for it);

5) Jam shot up the middle of the court (covered by whichever partner either calls out,”Mine!” or whomever takes it);

6) Wide angle pass shot to right sidewall should normally be blocked by nearer cover partner (Although should be left side partner’s cover as that partner moves back with the ball as it comes off the right sidewall into deep court in the middle and right side partner moves to give the left side shooter a shot, as well as move to get out of the way of the opponents’ coverage runs). 

Positioning Basics

• TAKE AWAY BOTH REVERSE AND WAP – Note: the wide angle pass (WAP) AND reverse pinch shots do NOT need to be given up by the covering partners when they get there before the shooter gets to the ball to shoot. Only the V crosscourt pass directly angled to the front wall so that it may then angle off the front wall toward the far, rear corner and the DTL along that same wall, according to the penalty hinder rule in the USRA rulebook, are unobstructed. Granted that’s the pure game and “recreational” play means it’s up to the honor system whether both of those shots are unblocked. There will often just be a replay of the rally, maybe some hard feelings by the team who had their shot blocked, and maybe a reputation earned as a hinder player by the player who blocks the shot, especially if he consistently blocks either or both shots .

• TEMPTING SHOTS COVERAGE – To dictate a shot, the defense (both partners) may clearly appear to leave the front court open by standing behind the dashed line. Then the *assigned*, far side cover partner is ready to move in just when the shot is being taken by the offensive player who is shooting from deep court along the far sidewall. That move covers both sidewall and crosscourt killshots. For a straight in killshot, the nearside cover covers that. 

• NO LATE BLOCKING OF REVERSE – It’s okay to take away the reverse, but not by late blocking. Cover partners both ideally stand on an imaginary diagonal line between the ball in a deep corner and the far, front corner. When they can *set* up their team D before the shooter is able to set up to shoot, the block the diagonal and the cross front corner. Another penalty hinder rule is that the cover player cannot be late blocking a shot. That means a cover player cannot move in after the offensive player has already had time to set up to shoot, even if it’s a shot like a reverse that the defensive partners recognize (although late) that they will have great difficulty covering. That time they just got into coverage position too late and they may be tattooed by a shot they block too late. And that can be (and should be) a loss of point, when receiving, or loss of serve, when serving, in competition or when in a fairly played “recreational” game.

• AFTER SHOOTING, FOLLOW SHOTS OR ROS’s IN – The shooter turned cover player optimally moves to flow forward after shooting (ceilings, passes or kills) from deep court. That following the shot in also goes for both returning players after one strokes their return of serve. The object is to move into center court where ideally your return ball isn’t. From center use the middle as home base from where you’ll start. The be ready to move, as a team, to cover the opponents’ next potential return shot. More movement = more gets, even when just making your opponent shoot again (they might miss) and moving gives you winning shot chances, too. 

• JAM WELL POSITIONED TEAM – A smart shot against a team crowding the front wall and the middle is a jam shot right up the middle. Ideally direct the jam at the crosscourt situated upfront player’s backhand. When the shot is taken from off to one side, the jam may go directly up the middle or the jam may strike the far sidewall and then veer into the middle at them. A jam ideally yields a weak, reflex reply shot. The jam shooting team may then earn a follow-on setup to be taken possibly much closer up in the court.  

• MOVE UM BACK, THEN SHOOT LOW WHEN THEY STAY BACK – When a jam shot, a pass or a ceiling backs up both cover players, a pinch, straight in or crosscourt killshot, or even 3-wall may open up if the cover players don’t recover into their correct center court coverage positions after getting or more offensively returning the shot that pushed them back. Tip: watch as you set up and determine, where are those pesky opponents?

• MOVE AS TEAM VS GETTING CAUGHT OUT – Move and adjust as a pair. Otherwise, if you don’t move as a defensive pair, you will get few rekills and give up setups when you leave one court quadrant open (or more) or when you get burned over and over by a shot you could and should cover, as a pair. When a gap is left open, talk it over between rallies or games and adjust your coverage. 

• FAKE UM OUT – The main idea of good cover play is to fake your opponents out. 

(1) *Make them think they can shoot* by playing a little deeper and be ready to move up and cover; or 

(2) When they’ve got a juicy deep court setup, make them think they can’t shoot by covering from positions closer up and then cause them to think they must pass your team or go to the ceiling.

• IN COVERAGE, STAY OFF THE WALL – The reason the frontman must stay off the wall, other than to utilize their strong stroke, like, for instance, the righty forehand on the right side, is that when they’re not too close to wall then they won’t be <as> jammed up by a ball coming at them off the sidewall. A common mistake of the non serving partner is not getting out of the box AND off the wall as their partner’s serve is being returned. 

• PLAY YOUR SIDE – As a defensive partner, if you move a little too far off the sidewall, even a sloppy crosscourt pass may get by you. And the pass may not even be a shot your frenetically hustling partner can get, as the partner too much middle may either be in the way or he may even visually hide the ball from his partner who is trying desperately to cover. Key: stay on your side unless your switching sides to make a darting cover run. 

• WHEN YOU SEE YOU’RE NOT ALONE WHEN UP IN FRONT COURT, PASS! – When you are covering a rekill in the front court or moving up with the ball to shoot it as it is flying way off the back wall AND you note one or both of the opponents are also moving up toward the front court (near the first line), usually you don’t try a rekill or pinch unless you intuit you can clean roll it out. In this situation, it’s often a good time to hit a good pass DTL or wide angle around closer opponent. 

– PASS FROM FAR UP FRONT USING WAP – Ideally your pass should catch the sidewall behind the short line. Of course, at this time, your partner is in the middle of the court court and not on either sidewall! So a pass will be easy to place away from the upfront player and ideally away from upfront player’s partner, too. Try to pick an angle to place the ball away from both defending partners. A Plan B shot is a high Z if a pass feels like a shot you will miss. 

• Here’s a partner situation specifically about your team formation:

– In preparation for a competition, a player you’re going to play doubles with insists you play in what is called the “I” formation …

• Note that the “I” formation splits the court up and back for the two partners. One partner takes the back court and the other plays up front positioning just behind or in front of the dashed line directly in center court during rallies and that same upfront player plays right behind the dashed line when returning serve cutting off anything straying through the middle. 

– WHICH FORMATION DO YOU USE? –Side-by-side or Up and Back, Which One Is Best? Usually teams play some variation of splitting the court left and right. The front and back team is often exposed to the dreaded DTL rally shot and both the DTL and wider angle serves and shots may expose coverage holes along the sidewalls and in the deep corners that are then left up solely to the coverage of the deep court partner.

• More tactical *MUSTS IN DOUBLES*:

a) COVER FOR EACH OTHER – For example, if your partner goes up front to cover a pinch on your cover side of the court, *switch sides*. As an example, say you are  returning serve from the left side in the back court. After your return your partner moves up to cover a right corner pinch by an opponent, as the ball is left up in the left, front, corner or quadrant and that is your normal left side coverage. In this situation, to TEAM-COVER, move right of center so you are there to cover a drive down the right side of the court that your partner just vacated, covering for you. That means you adjust. You move as a team. Also, keep to those positions until you switch back by communicating non verbally or by one partner cutting across again.

b) MOVE TOGETHER – While you shoot, your partner makes a little semi-circle run to curl into position occupying a gap in the defensive partners’ coverage and you do the same when your partner shoots. Generally the spot in the middle between the two opponents is your defensive spot. And, on defense, always make it a point to flow as a pair into your *diagonal stack* team coverage when the ball is behind the two of you in either deep corner. 

– THE DIAGONAL STACK COVER – As the cover partner closer to a ball when it’s behind you in a deep corner, position yourself a little further back and be on or just behind the dashed line and always between the ball and the opposite front comer. Ideally your front court cover partner positions behind you also occluding the opposite front corner, ready to cover both the crosscourt pass angle and near sidewall shots.

• WHY THE DIAGONAL STACK? – The far cover player covers the V crosscourt and the pinch and splat shots that are aimed into the sidewall on the same side as the ball which is the wall furthest away from that cover’s position. The far partner’s coverage is done by being ready and positioned to cover the far, front quadrant or, when necessary, to hustle into the other front quad in front of the shooter to cover very, very low pinches or splats. The near, deep defensive cover partner covers the DTL (and any possible WAP). Also, as a pair, by how you stack, you deter the reverse pinch into the opposite front corner. 

• THE DIAGONAL STACK ALSO BLOCKS THE HIGH-TO-LOW REVERSE AND SPINNING OVERHEAD – In addition to the spinning forehand overhead, the stack blocks (or dissuades) the low percentage, but tough to swallow and even harder to cover backhand overhead flick reverse from deep in caddy corner into the front corner, like a lefty backhand overhead into the left front corner. Definitely the forehand overhead is blocked into, for instance, the right, front corner when the ball is being shot by a righty from up high and deep in the left, rear corner. The key is that the covering pair must get in the stack positions before the shooter can set up to reach up and shoot. 

• EARLY STACK TO OBSTRUCT REVERSE – Simply put, low reverse pinches from 35 feet on back aren’t given when you D-up *on-time* as a cover team.

• SHOTS TO ALLOW – Recall the only 2 shots that the cover team *must* allow at all times from basically all defensive situations are the DTL and the crosscourt angle toward the far, rear corner, like a V crosscourt shot taken from the left, rear corner directly to front wall so that the ball may then angle off the front wall directly back into the far, right, rear corner (not five feet off the sidewall). 

• ADVANCED, LEGAL SHOT BLOCKING – Even a near corner pinch doesn’t necessarily have to be given up unless the shot is being taken from less than 3 feet from off a sidewall. A cover player may take away the near corner pinch into that near sidewall on that same side of the court. Say a ball is 4′ or more off that  sidewall. The near corner may be blocked by the cover player being there very early and definitely before the offensive player has had time to get into position to shoot. Then the pinch isn’t available.

• TALK – Communicate who should take the shot nearly every rally when it’s not a bang-bang play or in all situations except when there’s not even enough time to shout who should take it. 

• COMMUNICATE WHEN IT’S YOUR SHOT – Consistently say “Mine!” or “Mr!” or “Me!” when it’s clearly your shot so you make it clear that you have the ball covered. Especially make the call for shot ownership should there be any perceived uncertainty between you and your partner about who is shooting especially a setup or near setup. 

• HELP YOUR PARTNER – Also say “Yours!” or “You!” when it’s your partner’s shot. Especially call out early when you know it’s a ball your partner should be able to cover from their position also taking into account their coverage mobility. Also, quickly call out “Yours!” when you decide you can’t kill the ball, but your partner possibly can or they can shoot a good pass versus relegating your team to just your flick shot. By calling out, “*Yours!*”, you instill confidence in your partner that they have this and they can take and make *this* shot. 

• DEEP COURT OFFENSIVE SHOOTING “MINE” – The partner deeper in the court who is closest to the dropping ball or when the ball popping off close to the back wall and that partner is already setting up to shoot should make the call on who is the shooter. Usually the deeper positioned player should call out “Mine!”, as he may flow with the ball able to go on the offensive versus allowing the retreating, on-the-run partner to backpedal and shoot a defensive ceiling, go for a low percentage “leapin lizard” overhead or try a high-to-low wish and prayer, very low odds if success killshot attempt. 

• MIX-UPS ARE OKAY – Granted sometimes “Mine!” is either called out early and just wrong and after that initial call the other partner may instead rightly choose to overrule that first call so that they can take and make the shot. It may go back and forth, with either player calling Mine, Yours, Mine, but … the *LAST* “Mine!” or “Me!” WINS! If you’ve got extra frames in your bags, try to never let a ball bounce between you unless your partner’s body is between you and the ball. 

• IT’S THEIR TURN – One of the hard and fast rules in doubles is that both partners get a chance to go for the ball or go on the offensive and hit the ball when it’s their team’s turn to shoot. So the cover defensive players *MUST* both also move to give both offensive players a straight line run to the ball and, for the ultimate shooter, the opposing cover pair must give a full, unimpeded stroke bak and thru the ball. The cover team cannot tactically funnel the weaker shooting partner toward the ball by blocking out the less preferred shooter. On the other hand, the opposing team may funnel the ball to one player by doing so legally with shot selections and well placed shots aimed directly toward that ‘weak link’. Talk about how this as the shooting team and you’re using teamwork. Also call a hinder when you’re blocked out and all that’s left is defensive flick by your partner. 

Summary 

If you have any doubs questions or any racquetball questions in general, please fire away. Tactically shoot early and aggressively and go for it when each chance comes. 

In doubles take advantage of back wall setups. That means don’t just swing volley at every ball that comes right at you, especially when the ball is chest high or higher. You and your partner would be better served letting the ball go by and taking the ball as it comes off the back wall into the middle. 

On balls when you can back up and shoot a low-to-low high % killshot, drop back and clinically kill the setup. Rushing your opponents by cutting off a ball you can’t kill is at best a long shot unless you’re way, way up front and the opponents are way, way back in the backcourt. 

Offensive racquetball means giving the shot to the partner on the team who has the best chance to shoot the best shot for the team. A partner just hitting every ball that comes their way isn’t playing team ball. Give the best positioned, best prepared and best “sitiated” partner the shot:

— BALLS POPPING OFF SIDEWALLS – One example of giving one partner the shot that they can shoot best is when a rally shot pops higher off a sidewall next to one partner in mid court 20-30′ back. That partner should let the ball go over to their partner who will have more time and a better chance to move and shoot an aggressive winning or forcing shot vs what would just be a very defensive flick or just a keep it in play shot by the player fending off the ball as it jams up their body when angling off the sidewall at him or when dashing madly trying to pursue a ball popping high off the sidewall next them causing them to hit on the dead run a weak shot. 

• SHOOT CROSSCOURT TO INVOLVE PARTNER –Another example of a tactical shot making in team racquetball is to shoot balls like passes or ceilings crosscourt toward your partner’s side of the court with the intent of involving your partner in the play when that’s tactically the better play for the team because the player on that side is weaker or your crosscourt angled shots are better. Encourage your partner to give the sidewall for your WAP’s. 

• GANG UP – It’s also okay to attack the weak link on the opposing team by hitting to one opponent or for both partners to serve to that player in a full out isolation attack. Just don’t serve directly behind your partner and cause them to be in the line of fire. You may be able to angle the ball so that it pops off the sidewall into the middle away from both of you as you both stay closer to the sidewalls, which is a common characteristic of advanced coverage in  doubles. Serving into the middle you also often serve up confusion for your receiving opponents. Just be ready for balls coming at you from off the front wall or sidewall next to you and have  shots you’ve prepared to execute to respond. 

— DOUBLES MINDSET – Doubles is team ball. Your serves feed your partner. Your serves ideally generate weak replies that set up your partner to shoot. You also back each other up in rallies and emotionally with attaboys and support when things aren’t quite as rosy. Be talking a lot between games and even between rallies to make your team pairing better and better as the match or day goes on. It’s okay to suggest serves (or coverage locating), but steer away from exact return of serve or rally shots because that’ll possibly generate shot choosing conflicts for your partner. Say what you shoot that works in that situation, as a hint. Alternatively you can suggest where to place the ball in the court and that’ll allow them to solve how to place it there. If all of your partner’s serves aren’t working against the opposing partner on their side and you know your partner has another serve or two serve in their repertoire they’ve yet to use, consider suggesting one (or two) from their backup plans. If one tactical shot by the opposition or a situational coverage by them is pressuring your team, discuss adjustments to make and how. Don’t think a weakness will somehow fix itself. Body language is huge. Be a cheerleader, racquet tapper or low fiver, and “good shot” caller. Back up your partner in case they’re discussing a play with the opponents or they have an ruling opinion about a shot, serve, or return. However, if they’re wrong and you know it, go the karma way and explain your point to your partner so you don’t just blindly follow them and damage your team integrity. Have fun by being a team with a common goal and by establishing and maintaining a positive playing environment. Make your emotional and psychological interaction or chemistry work by fostering support, belief and confidence. Never surrender. Show that it matters. 

One on One Lessons
Ken offers one-on-one lessons to true students of racquetball. Based in the Houston area, Ken can assist you with your game and strategy.

713-557-3176

KenRB54@Gmail.com

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