One of the biggest myths of doubles is that if you are a good singles player you’ll be a good doubles player, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Doubles is primarily a game of strategy and court positioning when you get into the intermediate and advanced levels of play. You can no longer just bang the ball and stand anywhere like two singles players together on the court, but must move and work independently and together at the same time. Teamwork is the key to success.
Figuring out the seven secret components, is critical as it can make or break a doubles team. Do this FIRST when picking a partner:
1. Chemistry plays a big part when playing doubles. Chemistry is defined as a mutual attraction or rapport. Basically, players should be able to get along. The better the friendship, the better the partnership. Doubles is a game of saves and covering one another.
Rocky Carson/Alvaro Beltran…great friends
Jason Mannino/Sudsy Monchik… great friends/like brothers
2. Communication is the key in any relationship, and doubles is just another relationship. You must be able to talk to each other and share your thoughts and know what the other thinks out there before, during, and after the match. There needs to be a quarterback, or leader, on the court calling the plays. The last thing you want is for both players to go for the same shot.
Jason Mannino, regarding Cliff Swain: “I remember a time when Cliff was playing too far forward one match, and I asked him to move back. He glared at me, and then the next rally, a pass shot was hit and the ball got by him. I went over and simply said, ‘Trust me—I got the front!’”
Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas…Paola is the leader on the court calling the plays.
3. Contrasting Game Styles are a necessity when you are playing doubles. The best teams generally have partners with contrasting game styles; the differences tend to complement one another and balance things out.
Jason Mannino/Cliff Swain… Cliff Swain and Jason Mannino are a great example of power versus control. They never lost a doubles match in their careers. Why? Cliff was a dominant power player with a huge serve (the best ever). Jason was more of a methodical high-percentage player with the best lob serve, the greatest high-percentage shots, and an exceptional getting ability (some say the best ever). This balanced their team out because they were able to throw everything but the kitchen sink at their opponents to totally keep them off balance and guessing.
4. Contrasting Personality Types tend to complement one another and balance things out. If two players have the same personality traits, one cannot complement the other, and they cannot feed off each other in a troubled situation.
Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas…Paola is calm and lets things go; Samantha is more of an emotional player and quite feisty on the court.
5. Specialty Positions are relevant in racquetball just like any other sport. In football there is a running back, wide receiver, etc.; in baseball there is a catcher, pitcher, etc.; in basketball there is a forward, guard, etc. Athletes playing in these positions are skilled in their specialty. Racquetball is no different. Knowing how to play a particular position takes a special skill and will usually enhance the team’s performance.
Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas…Paola is the shooter, the shot maker; Samantha is more the retriever, but can also make shots and compliments Paola’s game style.
6. Controlling your attitude, the tempo and rhythm, your positioning, service strategy, game strategy, and shot selection creates the best unity between doubles partners.
Rocky Carson/Alvaro Beltran & Rocky Carson/Jack Huzcek…both these teams create top-notch unity between themselves.
7. Shots for Doubles are the pass shots (DTL, wide angle, jam, and overhead), reverse pinchs, and z-shots because of the number of players on the court and the teams’ court positions create a smaller margin of error.
ALL these teams have all the doubles shots that are what makes them or made them champions.
I use “The Art of Playing Doubles” with my “Championship Team,” Rocky, Paola, Jason, Taylor, Sharon, Connor, Jordan, and Wayne, as at one point or another they all play or have played doubles. I encourage each and every one of them to use the “seven secret components”, to pick a partner. Here’s what Rocky, Paola and Jason think personally:
Rocky Carson/Alvaro Beltran, according to Rocky:
“First of all, we trust each other…knowing when to take the shot or not, knowing when to shoot for the kill or not, and knowing how to control the court.
Second, we also cover the court very well, which keeps the pressure on our opponents. I think that was what made Jack and I, as well as Alvaro and I, great teams.
Lastly, I believe that much of the time I’m on the court in doubles, my job is to make my partner a better player and sometimes that means getting out of their way.”
Paola Longoria/Samantha Salas according to Paola:
“Yeah, Samantha and I are such a great team as we won the Mexican National Doubles 10 times. I feel she is someone who always gives her best when she is playing. She is totally committed and I am glad to have a partner that is committed to every single tournament we play in.”
Jason Mannino/Cliff Swain according to Jason:
“I had the utmost respect for Cliff as every time he stepped on the court he gave 150%, never any less.”
One of the biggest myths of doubles is that if you are a good singles player you’ll be a good doubles player, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. No matter how talented you are individually, doubles involves two people joining their skills and unifying into a singular working unit.
ALL of the players I coach, from the professionals led by Rocky and Paola to the amateurs, know just how important it is to learn “The Art of Doubles” which starts with using the “the seven secret components” in picking a doubles partner. Their doubles records speak for themselves…Rocky and Paola is BOTH 2014 National Doubles Champions for their respective countries. They will BOTH be competing at the World Championships in Toronto, Canada this summer where Paola will be defending her doubles as well as singles titles.
In the next issue, I will continue to build your Championship Racquetball Game one level at a time so you too can be ready to become the champion you always dreamed of becoming, by giving you the tools to make it a reality. Rocky ‘s and all my athletes “Championship Racquetball Games” stem from their focus on ALL 3 sides of the triangle working together so they can develop into top competitors. Without a shadow of a doubt, they KNOW just how important it is to do the work. They are living proof it works and their titles substantiate it.
For details on more personalized instruction, a weekend camp, instructional DVD’s, our book, Championship Racquetball, and our APP (coming soon), ALL which covers all aspects of the Sports Racquetball Triangle and more, please visit www.FranDavisRacquetball.com.Fran Davis is a 2004 racquetball Hall of Fame inductee, Racquetball Woman of the Year 2009, Coach #2 International Racquetball Tour (IRT) Pro Player and 1X US Open Champion, Rocky Carson; Coach #1 Women’s LPRT Pro Player and 4X and present US Open Champion, Paola Longoria; Coach Jr. World & National Champion, Intercollegiate Champion, & IRT Pro Player, Taylor Knoth; Coach Intercollegiate Champion & LPRT Pro Player, Sharon Jackson; Master Professional Instructor/Coach USAR-IP.