Doubles Tactics

A couple of years ago Tom and I went down to Lilleshall for a coaching weekend with Paul Stewart. This was a fun weekend of practice aimed at club/mid-league level players and I’d recommend it to those interested.

Paul has a blog on the website and I’d like to highlight a 3-part article about tactics, written a while back, which is thought provoking. Part 1 and 3 are about styles (part 2 discusses shots mostly) and he suggests four(five) styles of play to try to categorise yourself and opponents; as a bit of fun I’ve suggested some players and where they might fit in this system – what do you think? I suspect several of the suggestions actually fit the ‘Complete player’ option, but I’m thinking of the ‘preference’ style really.

Aggressive Attacker: They try to attack everything. They like a fast-paced game and favour the big smash to finish off the rally at the earliest opportunity. When serving to this style of player, they are ready to pounce on any loose shot. They have an aggressive attacking stance, toeing the service line and try to psyche you out and force a loose low serve or flick to allow the big smash return.

Ever been on the receiving end of a Steven or Seb multi-smash attack? Do they fit here?

Attacking Thinker: They can attack well and use a range of well-placed shots to achieve a desired result. They like to mix the pace, searching for openings, work well in a pair to create a weak return. When serving to this kind of player, you need to pay attention to the variety in return they command. There’s less aggression in their game, preferring the well-placed return to the booming smash. Be on your guard, especially around the net and watch out for push returns. They will still latch on to a poor serve and bury it, however, they lack the aggression on court to send you back on your heels. This type of player likes a more medium-fast paced game, although they are far more adept at changing the pace to create their openings.

I suspect I tend to here, I like to work to make an opponent lift to Steven’s smash (see above!) and set up a 2 on 1 attack. Ever been outfoxed by James’ net stun change of pace or feinted push past to mid-court? Maybe James, Rob and myself are here?

Aggressive Defender: These are players who like to counter-hit. They like to set up certain situations, specifically to play for a certain return where they can inject pace into their defensive shot creating an unstoppable shot or causing a weak return. Their defensive capabilities are good and they love to move the shuttle around the court quickly to expose weaknesses or open up a weak return, especially in the rear court. Serving to this type of player will usually result in fast pushes to the rear court or at the server’s partner in doubles. They like to send an opponent the wrong way, so have developed good deception skills in order to use fast pushes to win points. This style of player prefers a fast-paced game and they really like to drive the shuttle into the corners to create their openings. They love to hit “through” the attacking net player deep into the rear court.

John defends very well but moves rapidly from defence to drives/fast pushes or net kills when he sees an opening, Darren and Eric can both inject pace into a block to turn it into a cross-court attack in the blink of an eye; could all three players maybe be aggresive defenders?

Defending Thinker

This style of player is good at moving the shuttle around the court, but in a more defensive manner. They are happy to lift the shuttle and then manoeuvre the shuttle to expose the gaps in their opponents attack. Again, they like to use deception to fool their opponents and enjoy a slower pace of game, lifting high into the corners, blocking and pushing returns in order to create their openings. Serving to this player is certainly less pressure. They tend to stand off the service line, preferring to cover their rear court rather than attack a low serve.

Have you noticed Ians’ high percentage block and slice net shots, and speed of net kill?

The Complete Player

The complete player is one that is a bit of a chameleon. They can play all four styles, although have a preference in terms of their most comfortable style. They will have weaknesses and some of these styles are almost alien to them, because they are so good at their preferred style of play. With this type of player, it’s important to recognise the style they favour and either better it or learn to play against it.


All of the players mentioned probably fit here, and my perception of the main style may be totally off, I don’t know – what do you guys think? Think about your playstyle and who you play well with, or against; this might help to create the team pairings next season. Or if you recognise you are one style more than another this might give you some ideas as to how to evolve your game in the future.

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