By Aidan Harrison
Most of the focus of teaching professionals is on the juniors but if you can build a vibrant adult doubles program at your club and make it fun, it builds an extra layer of community within the squash section. Doubles players are lifers. It’s a social game where members can get a sweat, but are able to come back the next day to play again.
When I first came to Onwentsia in 2001, there were about thirty men and eight women playing doubles; today we have 140 active men and eighty women. Our two doubles courts are active about seventy hours a week. We have the Nonagonal handicap system—using a two-point sliding adjustment in-between games—that allows all levels of players to be able to get in a game and have the matches close and fair.
How do players improve? Just play? Not at Onwentsia. It is all about programming. We have pro doubles lessons that last for one hour with one pro and three players. We have two full time pros who teach doubles from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Thursday. Only Friday through Sunday are match play days for the adults. Here are some of the doubles drills that we use during the lesson.
1) Last shot hit is how many points you get for your team. Count the walls. Example reverse boast is two points. Volley kill, no side wall is one point. Three wall nick is three points. If a player dumps it in the tin or makes an error, it’s the previous shot played. Play up to between thirty and fifty points.
2) Partners play opposite tactics. One can only hit the ball above serve line and one only below. Opposing team plays the opposite.
3) Opposite corners conditioning game. Ball can only land in front left and back right. Then play opposite.
4) If the ball lands in front of the service line, then the next shot must be above the serve line. If taken out of the air, any shot can be played. This forces lobs and resetting and looking to volley.
Pro plus three players
1) One plays above the serve line, one below and one must hit a side wall first. Play to eleven points then rotate all conditions. Pro keeps score and reminds players of their condition.
2) Pro feeds in the ball to the middle. Three players go in order and must hit above the red line. When a mistake is made, the person who had hit the error gets the first ball fed to them. First to ten loses, leaves the court and the last two continue. Great warm up came for mid-level to beginner players.
3) Players can’t let the ball hit the back wall. Trying to defend all shots from going deep. Focus on good defensive lobbing.
4) Players can only hit two walls. This can be used with four players too. Teaches focus.
5) Split court in to three sections. Ball must land in the front or back. If it lands in the middle during a rally, team A loses a point and pro deducts a point in their head. If team A wins the rally then it’s a wash. Play to nine.
6) Can only score a point on an outright clean volley winner. Play to five points. Regular serving rotation still in play.