When someone asks me about doubles the first few words that come to mind are; Dynamic, engaging, social, interactive and entertaining.
I was first introduced to Doubles at Northfield Racquet & Fitness Club about 6 years ago. Since then, I have moved on to Movati in Brantford and feel very lucky to have a doubles court at this facility. In fact, now that I have the doubles bug, I am certain that if I ever had to change clubs in the future, a deciding factor would be whether or not they had a doubles court. I believe the game of doubles is not only the way to increase the longevity of our playing years, but also a way of bringing the joy of teamwork to an otherwise solo sport.
My initial thought was that the game was going to be the same as singles, only with a partner. This assumption was quite incorrect.
What is different? Pretty much everything...
- The Ball.
The ball in doubles is a “hard ball” and yes, it is hard. It therefore plays significantly different than our singles soft ball. To say it is FAST is an understatement! To say that you can make it do some interesting spins and tricks is yet another understatement.
In singles when you finally work your opponent out of position you know exactly where to put the ball – where they aren’t. In doubles, this is a bit of an issue as they have a partner who happens to be exactly where they are not. This changes the strategy of the game all together. The opposite of singles (where the majority of your shots should be straight balls), doubles is a cross court game trying to open up the court. The idea is that there are 4 corners in the court and only 2 people to cover those spots. If you can split them diagonally then you can shoot to the openings!
Much like singles (which is chess at 100 miles an hour), doubles is pretty much double that – chess at 200 miles an hour. Not only do you have one opponent to work around, but now a second. Each of which bring different skills and shots, but also weaknesses, to the game. Figuring that all out and putting it into play is a big tactical effort. Working this out with your partner is quite a fun challenge too. There is seriously so much strategy to this game. I am still learning every time I get out on court with skilled players and every time I watch high level matches. It is a pleasure to watch and learn!
There are some exciting and fantastic shots used in doubles that rarely get adopted into the singles game.
a) Skid boast: Struck with great force at a narrow angle along the side wall, the skid boast is struck high producing a cross-court lob shot.
b) Reverse boast: the ball is hit into the furthest away side wall before hitting the front wall.
c) The Philly / Corkscrew: Struck high on the front wall on the striker’s side of the court first and instantly kicking back off of the side wall diagonally across to the opposite side of the court.
No longer are you covering the entire court (thankfully, as it is a fair size!). You are now playing a side (right wall or left wall). In other words, you are not clearing to the middle any more… your “T” is not center court , but center to your side of the court. Clearing to the “Wall” is a rather difficult thing for the singles player to adjust too (I am still working on it), but when you see it done correctly, it makes complete sense to the strategy of the game. Not only is it weird to clear to the wall, but you are also responsible for covering your partner when they get stuck, or blocked or pulled out of position. It is rather like you are attached together by a tandem rope!
These are just a few things that are noticeably and instantly different between singles and doubles. Once you get playing, more and more microscopic differences start to show. Which brings me to my final comments.
Here I am 6 years into a sport I wrongfully thought was going to be an easy transition for me. Do I find this frustrating? At times yes, but that is due to my fierce competitiveness, not the sport itself. What I do find is that I am in a wonderful space of exploring something new and exciting. A challenge that brings out my competitive nature and the need in me to get better and to continually improve. Doubles is a sport that adds depth to my love and passion for squash over all. It has also added more fun, more fascinating characters and people into my world of squash.
What is the moral of my report?
Doubles is a wonderful variation of the singles game, and if you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it.
Go on. Double up!
Squash Pro & Director
Brantford MOVATI Athletic