Large Group Doubles Drills

Here are some tips from the Mid Atlantic HS Coaches Workshop


Play Better – Practice Better

With limited practice time, courts, etc. it’s important for a high school tennis coach to get the most out of the time with the team.  Here are two ideas to keep in mind:

Spend more time on these two shots; the serve and return of serve! These two shots are the most important in a match.  For example, in singles your player will hit one of these shots in every point!  The more successful your players are with serving and returning the more success they (and your team) will have throughout the season.  The player serving is usually the most important player in the game!   The server will also have the biggest influence on winning the game especially as the level of the play increases.  For example, the player serving should be able to hit an offensive serve, place it to a weakness of the returner and often set up a tactic. For lower levels the server can still have a major influence on the game mainly by getting first serves in and using the serve as a set up for the next shot.

Remind your players that the serve is:

  • It’s the only way to start the point
  • It’s the only shot that you can be fully prepared and hit the ball on your terms (pace, spin, placement)
  • It’s a shot you can set up a play or tactic with your partner
  • It’s a shot that gives you two chances to make one!

Here are some drills you can use from;

  • SRC322 One Serve vs Just Forehands
  • SRC349 Initial Serve and Return
  • SRC375 Serve 24s
  • SRC363 Stand Wide Serve Wide & First Shot Drill


This drill is the start of a progression and can be self-run. Divide your players in two groups, one group starts in a line standing wide in the ad court with a player ready to serve.  The other group starts outside the alley near the service line on the deuce side.  The player serves a ball to the ad court and then moves and plays a forehand from the feed from the other player.  Players then switch lines.

VC283 Volley Stations (doubles)

Here’s a practice set up using stations for a large group on a single court with the emphasis on volleys in doubles.  In a team practice the drill can be self-run allowing the coach to roam.  Each station works on a particular type of volley often used in doubles.  Here are the stations and the diagram shows spacing on a court.  You could also use this as a warm-up with quick rotations from station to station.  All the stations need to be co-operative; players are working together to improve and are not trying to hit winners.

Note: The video shows how the drill works for Station V but in this situation the players will be on a baseline and will not need to worry about the net.

Station I: First Volleys (deep volleys)

Each player starts in an alley close to the baseline and work on hitting co-operative first volleys to each other.  Emphasize footwork (split step and a weight transfer), racket angle (for more height) and a solid contact.

Station II: Crosscourt Volley

Depending on the level you can have players just hit either forehands or backhands back crosscourt or for more of a challenge players must alternative between the two shots.  Emphasize footwork (split step and a weight transfer), racket angle (for placement) and a solid contact.

Station III: Crosscourt Volley

See above

Station IV: Reflex Volleys

Two players start off the court standing just a few meters from each other and play reflex volleys back and forth.  Players can stand directly in front of each other and play either forehands or backhands or play to one side only for example a forehand to a backhand.  Or move players in opposite directions so their forehands line up and just play forehand to forehand (good for lower levels).  Emphasize keeping the racket in front (no swing) and a quick recovery.

Station V: Poaching Volley (controlled movement)

Two players start about 3-4 meters apart in the alley on the baseline. Players will volley back and forth as they move along the baseline to the opposite alley.  Once they reach the opposite alley they continue to volley as they move back across the court.  Emphasize fast feet and a controlled racket (for placement)

Station V sample video

GaC718 Runners and Hitters

Here’s another large group drill or game that can handle many players and different levels at the same time.  It can be used as a warm up activity or as a fun group game ending a session.  Divide your players into two teams.  Spin the racket and the winner gets to choose whether they want start as runners or hitters.  The hitters will have half their team on one baseline and their other half on the other baseline.  Their objective is to count how many times they rally a ball with players moving to the back of their line after each hit, if they make a mistake they continue adding to their score with the next rally.  The runners start one at a time and run around the outside of the court, when all players have run (either once or twice) they yell “stop”.  Teams then switch areas and the team with the highest rally wins!

Other activities for the runners could include holding two rackets, one in each hand with a ball resting on the strings.  A player then runs the length of the court trying not to drop a ball and places the balls in a basket and then runs back and a teammate then goes. The runners have to place a certain number of balls in the basket.  You could also incorporate other types of movement; shuffling, lunges, etc and or limit the area and strokes for the hitters, for example backhand crosscourts.


DoC570 Crosscourt and Away II

Here’s a doubles drill emphasizing playing crosscourt to keep the ball from the net players when in the one up and one back position. The coach starts at the net in the ad court with a player as his partner on the baseline on the deuce side.  Another player is at the net post in the “batter’s box” position. The other players are in a line on the opposite side of the net near the service line on the ad side.  The coach feeds a ball to the open court and the first player in line runs it down and hits it back crosscourt to the baseline player.  The second player in line moves in to play the net position on that side. The point is played out mainly crosscourt with the net players “moving with the ball” and looking for the opportunity to play aggressive or poach.  Once the point is over the baseline player can move to the net post as that player rotates to the coach’s side to start a new point (the player from the coach’s side goes to the back of the volley line).  The net player on the opposite side then moves back to start the next point.

DoCPlT564 Moving with the Ball II

This practice drill will help players improve their court coverage in doubles. This practice drill is similar to DoCPlT563 but the starting point is a little different forcing more movement and communication. Start with two players on the baseline one behind the other and a team waiting to come in and two players one on each side near the alley as tosser’s.  One or two other teams will start on the opposite side, one team ready to play at the net in a line one player behind the other. One of the players on the side will toss and a baseline player will move over and hit the ball down the line and his partner moves to the correct positioning.  The net team moves the correct way and the point is played out.  For the next point the other player tossing tosses to his side and players shift and the point is played out.  A new team comes in at the baseline and at the net and the sequence is repeated.  Eventually teams will rotate positions as the tossing team becomes a hitting team.  This drill will easily accommodate 10 players per court.


Self Run Large Group Forehand Drill

 GPT228  3 Ball Forehand Hit and Catch

Here’s a large group drill that can be self run and can handle different levels on the same court.  It can also be used with a cardio class.  Start with half the players in a line on one baseline and the other players in a line on the opposite baseline.  One line will hit forehands from a self toss (3 balls).  A player starts with three balls in their opposite hand and moves wide, self tosses and hits a forehand down the line, the second ball is tossed towards the center and the player hits a run around forehand crosscourt and the third ball is hit from even more of a run around and hit back inside out crosscourt.  The next player starts when the first player finishes.

On the other side of the court the players are catchers and try to move and catch the forehand with the player they match up with from the other side.  You can keep score of targets hit and catches.