Tennis Players

What Do Doubles Tennis Players Whisper?

When watching a competitive doubles tennis match, you’ll likely notice the partners whispering to each other at times during points or in between them. These private conversations may seem mysterious from the outside, but they serve some important strategic purposes for the players.

Doubles tennis requires extensive communication and coordination between partners. The subtle whispers you see are typically about tactics, motivation, adjustments, and confirming details like the score. Let’s explore some of the main things doubles players discreetly discuss on the court and why it gives them an edge.

What Do Doubles Tennis Players Whisper?

Doubles tennis players often whisper to each other during matches to discuss strategy and formations without alerting their opponents. They want to keep their game plan private so the other team can’t anticipate their moves.

Communicating Strategy and Tactics

One of the core reasons doubles partners whisper is to talk tactics and reinforce strategy for upcoming points and games. Tennis is a mental game, so keeping each other focused on the gameplan is critical.

Doubles teams will usually establish their formations and plays before the match starts. But a quick whispered reminder of the specifics keeps them on the same page when it’s time to execute.


Some common strategic topics doubles players quietly discuss between points:

  • How they want to position themselves on the court – Who will take the net and who will play back? Which sides they’ll cover?
  • Where they want to aim returns to maximize pressure on their opponents.
  • Possible poaching plays, net rushes, or other formations they want to employ.
  • Reminders on classic tactics like hitting down the middle or targeting the weaker player.

Common Doubles Tennis Strategies and Formations

Australian FormationServer’s partner takes net position, returner’s partner stays back. Focuses on aggressive net play.
I FormationServer and partner both stay back; returner and partner take net position. Allows for more lobs and crosscourt shots.
Serve and VolleyServer approaches the net immediately after serve to take advantage of a weak return.
Chip and ChargeReturner hits slice return then comes to net behind shot. Puts pressure on server.
Two BackBoth players on serving team stay back; returners split between net and baseline. Keeps options open.
PoachingNet player makes a quick lateral move to volley a return aimed at their partner. Surprise tactic.
Delayed PoachNet player waits and then poaches late, catching opponents off guard. Requires good reflexes.

Reminding each other of the optimal strategies and formations previously discussed keeps them aligned when it’s time to actually implement them. The whispers help reinforce the gameplan.

Providing Encouragement and Motivation

In addition to strategy, doubles partners will also use mid-match whispers to motivate each other and provide positive reinforcement.

Tennis is a very mental and emotional sport. Keeping a high confidence level and positive attitude is critical for playing up to one’s potential.

Some examples of the types of encouraging whispers you may see doubles players exchanging:

  • “Nice shot!”
  • “Great hands at net there!”
  • “Way to fight through that point!”
  • “Let’s go, keep that energy up!”
  • “We’ve got this next one, stay focused.”
  • “You’ve got this, keep fighting!”
  • “Forget that last one, new point ahead.”

These kinds of simple but empowering whispers can go a long way toward buoying a partner’s spirits and self-belief. Maintaining strong morale and resilience is key in such an up-and-down sport.

A few words of affirmation and motivation between points can help both players elevate their games and sustain peak performance. The whispers keep them engaged and energized as a team.

Making In-Match Adjustments

The subtle conversations doubles partners have also allow them to make quick adjustments based on what’s happening in real time during the match.

Tennis matches are fluid situations, so being able to adapt on the fly gives a team an advantage.

Some examples of mid-match adjustments doubles players may quietly suggest:

  • Observations about which shots are working vs. not working for them or their opponents.
  • Noticing openings or weaknesses in the other team’s formation they can exploit.
  • Ideas for varying strategy or plays if needed to create a new look.
  • Fixes for repeated mistakes or missed assignments allowing points to get away.
  • Shifting positioning or roles if one player is struggling in their current spot.

Having these mid-match conversations enables doubles teams to learn as they go and tweak their tactics as the situation evolves. They don’t have to wait until the set break to identify what needs adjusting.

The ability to make swift in-match adaptations gives strong doubles teams an edge over less communicative pairs. Their court sense and reactivity sharpen over the course of a match as they exchange observations and ideas.

Confirming the Score

Doubles partners will also periodically use whispers to verify details like the current score in the match.

Keeping track of the exact game and set score is essential for competitive doubles players. Confusion about the score can lead to lost challenges, incorrect serving order, and other mental errors.


Examples of quick score-related whispers doubles players might exchange:

  • “What’s the score again? 3-2?”
  • “We’re at set point now, right?”
  • “This is our ad side, yeah?”
  • “You serve after this game, I think?”
  • “Next point wins the tiebreak!”

These types of simple confirmations ensure both partners are always aligned on the score and next steps. They can avoid easy but costly mental mistakes associated with losing track of key match details.

Related Article: Are Tennis Players Allowed To Talk To Each Other?

The Power of Communication in Doubles Tennis

To summarize, the various whispers you see doubles tennis partners exchange during a match generally relate to:

  • Strategy – Reminders on tactical plans.
  • Encouragement – Motivational reinforcement and positivity.
  • Adjustments – Observations and ideas for in-match adaptation.
  • Score – Confirming game, set, and match details.

This ability to communicate quietly, without alerting opponents, gives doubles teams a real competitive advantage. They can subtly adjust and align as they go, optimizing their coordination.

Whispering may seem odd from the outside, but it demonstrates the teamwork and chemistry required to excel in doubles tennis. The private conversations keep both players engaged in the match and executing at a high level.

So next time you see doubles partners whispering back and forth, remember – they’re likely discussing nuances of the match that give them an edge! The mental component is just as crucial as skills and technique.

Why is Communication So Important in Doubles Tennis?

Compared to singles tennis, doubles requires far more verbal and non-verbal interaction between partners. But why is communication so much more critical in doubles?

There are a few key reasons:


With two players on each side of the net, placement, positioning, and movement must be synchronized. Constant communication helps optimize coordination and avoid collisions or gaps in coverage.


Doubles allows for more advanced tactics and formations. Ongoing communication is needed to smoothly execute complex plays like poaches or net rushes as a cohesive unit.


Doubles matches are fluid. Communicating allows partners to make adjustments on the fly based on what is working or other observations.


Reinforcing each other both verbally and through celebratory gestures helps sustain morale and effort over the course of a match.


Communication allows partners to diagnose issues like unforced errors and work together to quickly solve them.


Knowing they need to communicate forces both partners to remain actively engaged and accountable throughout the match.

So in summary, the extensive communication in doubles tennis enhances chemistry between players, leading to better on-court connectivity, strategy, adaptability, and motivation. It’s a key differentiator that allows teams to maximize their paired potential.

Singles tennis is more of an individual skill and endurance test. Doubles tennis is a true team sport!

What are some examples of effective communication in doubles tennis?

To be effective doubles partners, players need to communicate verbally and non-verbally in a variety of ways. Here are some examples of effective communication in doubles:

Verbal Cues

Clear verbal signals help coordinate responsibility for shots. For example, “Take it!” or “Mine!”

Hand Signals and Gestures

Pointing, gesturing, or using fingers to signal plans. Especially useful for poaching intentions or net rushes.

Eye Contact

Brief eye connections to acknowledge intentions and strategies without saying a word.



As discussed above, discreet whispers allow private conversations about adjustments or reminders.

Positive Reinforcement

Exclamations like “Nice shot!” or high-fives/fist bumps to celebrate and encourage each other.

Side Conferences

Brief strategy huddles or pep talks during changeovers to reset plans for upcoming games or sets.

Post-Match Analysis

Discussion after the match to review what worked well and areas for improvement as a team.

Body Language

Energy and body language should remain positive, upbeat, and engaged even after mistakes.


Subtle physical gestures like hand waves or racket wags can indicate intentions.


Communicating at the right moments is key – between points is best, don’t distract during play.

With so many possibilities, great doubles teams will mix up their communication to keep opponents guessing. The verbal and non-verbal connectivity leads to better chemistry on the court!

How does effective communication lead to better performance in doubles tennis?

When doubles partners communicate clearly, they are primed to perform at their highest possible level together. Here are some of the key ways strong communication translates to better performance on the court:

  • Consistency – Partners stay on the same page with alignments and assignments, avoiding mental mistakes.
  • Strategy – Communication keeps complex formations and plays running smoothly.
  • Motivation – Verbal and non-verbal encouragement elevates effort, confidence, and resilience.
  • Diagnosis – Identifying issues quickly allows for rapid solutions and adjustments.
  • Synchronization – Partners can time their movements and shots without collisions.
  • Adaptability – Continuous communication facilitates necessary real-time adjustments.
  • Accountability – Knowing they must communicate keeps partners engaged and attentive.
  • Positivity – Shared celebrations promote optimism and energy to sustain intensity.
  • Chemistry – Ongoing communication strengthens team chemistry and “doubles intuition.”
  • Effort – Motivational communications result in higher effort and hustle between points.

In essence, good communication enables doubles partners to optimize every aspect of their paired performance. Like a well-oiled machine, they operate seamlessly together to maximize results on the court. Communication is truly a competitive advantage in doubles tennis!

How can recreational doubles partners improve their match communication?

For casual doubles players looking to take their teamwork to the next level, here are some tips for improving communication:

  • Establish signals – Agree on verbal cues, hand signals, and non-verbal communication you’ll use.
  • Discuss strategy – Talk tactics and positioning before the match.
  • Make adjustments – Don’t be afraid to switch things up or change formations if needed.
  • Stay positive – Celebrate good shots and encourage each other after mistakes.
  • Have a dialogue – Keep conversations flowing throughout the match.
  • Make eye contact – Frequently connect visually to stay in sync.
  • Manage emotions – If frustrations arise, calm each other down constructively.
  • Debrief afterwards – Chat about what worked well and what you can improve.
  • Practice together – Develop your chemistry and teamwork at practices too.
  • Keep it fun! – Building camaraderie and enjoying yourselves will enhance your coordination.

By focusing on clear verbal and non-verbal communication, recreational players can develop the same habit of doubles connectivity as the pros. Those who embrace strong teamwork will see their performance, consistency, and chemistry dramatically improve.


What do tennis players say when they whisper to each other?

Doubles partners are usually whispering about strategy, adjustments, motivation, or confirming details like the score. The quiet conversations keep them aligned and executing at a high level.

Why do tennis players talk to themselves?

Self-talk during matches helps players concentrate, regulate emotions, self-motivate, and strategize. The mental component is key in tennis, so focusing inward improves performance.

Do doubles tennis players change signals?

Yes, doubles partners will often change up their signals and whispers to keep opponents guessing. Varying their communication and tactics is an important part of their strategy.

How do tennis partners communicate effectively?

Great tennis partners communicate through verbal cues, hand signals, eye contact, positive reinforcement, and by having dialogues at changeovers and after matches. This builds chemistry.

What do doubles players whisper to each other?

You whisper tactics and strategies to your partner, such as where to position yourselves or which shots to go for. Communication is key in doubles to coordinate your movements and shots.

What do doubles tennis hand signals mean?

Common hand signals in doubles tennis include pointing or tapping where you want your partner to serve, giving a thumbs up for a good shot, or making swinging motions to indicate wanting a certain type of return. Signals help you communicate without alerting the opponents.

Why do doubles players make hand signals?

Hand signals allow you to quietly coordinate with your doubles partner on court. They eliminate the need to shout instructions that the opposing team could overhear. Signals are an efficient way to convey messages during rapid rallies.

How do you communicate in doubles tennis?

Effective communication in doubles tennis involves a balance of verbal cues like short phrases, visual signals using your hands or racquet, and nonverbal body language. You aim to silently direct your partner while keeping the opposition guessing. Working as a cohesive team is vital.

Final Thoughts

Communication is truly the unsung hero that powers doubles tennis success. The ability to subtly communicate mid-match gives teams an edge that is often underestimated.

So next time you watch a doubles match, pay attention to how the partners work together. From quick whispers to hand signals and celebratory high fives, it’s a hidden key to maximizing chemistry and execution.

The private conversations between doubles partners may look mysterious from the outside, but they enable teams to share observations, align strategy, and optimize performance in the heat of competition. Communication delivers the edge!

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