Staggered Doubles


No doubles team can cover the entire court. This is an enduring fact of this format of tennis. There will always be gaps to hit to on the other side of the net and there will always be gaps on your side of the net. You need to exploit your opponent’s gaps, and cover your own… as best as you can. What is the most optimal position for you and your partner to cover the gaps? 


Staggered position.

The staggered position is where one partner is slightly in front of the other. When both players are at net this gives the front player opportunity at the middle ball and makes it easier for the back player to track down and defend against the lob

The net player in front has first right to the middle ball
The net player at the back has lob coverage

In a standard formation (one up, one back) a doubles team is naturally staggered. The trick is to be able to stagger while both players are at the net.

One Up, One back staggered coverage
Both at net staggered coverage

The two easiest shots for your opponent to hit when you are at the net are the crosscourt lob, and the down the middle groundstroke. By staggering, you and your partner are covering those places. There is no confusion as to who takes the lob or the middle ball in this formation. 


Staggered formation will allow the front player to be more aggressive knowing their partner can help with the lob. Especially important against opponents who love to lob. Covering the two easiest shots will have your opponents trying for smaller targets to beat you. Over the course of the match this will pay off. Learn staggering and optimize you and your partners court coverage. 


If you would like to see a great video by doubles champ Gigi Fernandez where she explains staggering. The link is below. 

Gigi Fernandez on staggering

See you on the courts.

Joel Myers 
USPTA Elite Coach 
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Sheraton Hotel & Marina San Diego
(949) 485-8679

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