#7 Best Serve Locations

Placement dominates power in doubles.

Get your first serve in – and hit your targets.

Serve location is a huge part of doubles, as the best teams in the world look to raise their first serve percentage at the expense of chasing aces.

When you get your first serve in, you are basically “activating” your partner at the net to get involved in the point because of the strength of the first serve. When the first serve is made, it also makes the returner uncomfortable, then the Server’s Partner will have a field day at the net.

But when you miss your first serve, the server is basically “deactivating” their partner at the net, making it very difficult for them to get involved at the start of the point off a second serve. It is very clear that getting your first serve in carries a lot more weight in doubles than singles, and where it lands in the service box is also more critical to help the Server’s Partner out at the net.

The 8 Serve Locations

The 8 Serve Locations are exactly the same for doubles as they are for singles, so here’s a reminder.

Primary Singles & Doubles Locations Are Very Different 

In singles, you want to spread the court for the next shot, running a Serve + 1 forehand play, hopefully developing into an effective 2-1 strategy. That does not work for doubles. In fact, the last thing you want to do as a doubles team is spread the court and divert the ball away from the Center Window that the serving team look to own at the beginning of the point.

Deuce vs. Ad Court Patterns

Serving to the Deuce Court is typically a lot different than serving to the Ad Court. You are probably playing two right-handed players and when they initially discussed who was going to play on what side, the conversation almost always takes into consideration who likes their forehand more, and that player almost always wants to return in the Deuce Court. That may not always be the case, but it’s a good general rule to go by. I see a lot more better backhand returners prowling the Ad Court than the Deuce Court.

So it’s very clear in the deuce court – the primary location to serve is all the way from a 2.5 position to a 4 – body jam backhand all the way over to the middle.

Primary Sets Up Secondary

Serving a lot down the middle in the deuce court is a very effective strategy to bring the ball back to the middle of the court so the Server’s Partner can feast at the Center Window. Once a strong, primary pattern has been established, then the secondary surprise tactic of going wide to Position 1 is open for business.


Own The High Percentage Return Location

The reason you want to serve so much right down the middle of the court is that it naturally brings the ball back to the middle of the court, and also makes it a lot tougher to execute the wider angles.

Ad Court

The Ad Court is a completely different animal. Good backhand returns roam here a lot, so it is very important to find the weakness before locking down on primary and secondary patterns. It is much more an individual, player-by-player strategy of serve location in the Ad Court, trying to figure out what they don’t like to hit. Sometimes straight at the body, jamming, is a great play. Sometimes down the middle to a weaker forehand, combined with the natural angle down the middle of the court, works well. Other times swinging wide, especially for left-handed servers, becomes more dominant than the backhand return.

Strategy Drills

1. Playing Drill

Objective – To help the serving team develop the best locations and make the most first serves.

  • Play a set.
  • The serving team has to figure out the weakest return for each opponent and serve there most of the time (7-8 times/10), and then figure out when is the right time to surprise (opponent thinks to the primary location + scoreboard not applying pressure).
  • Coach and players evaluate each point regarding the success of the serve location.

Variations – The serving team has to win the point when they go to a surprise location, otherwise they lose two points.

2. Feeding Drill

Objective – The server simply works on developing consistency making first serves and hitting locations.

  • Cut each service box in half (to the forehand/ to the backhand) with targets.
  • The server has to make  a first serve to a specified half of a service box. Making it wins the point. Missing it loses the point.
  • Play No-Ad games for a set. If the server wins easily, shrink the areas to hit to.

Variations – Specify if the serve has to be flatter, more slice, or heavy kick. Also add a depth line in the service box, so shorter serves lose the point.

Go Do This

Practice, practice, practice hitting your spots with the first serve. Got to be able to hit all locations.

The primary location is to the backhand in the deuce court.

You need to mix more in the Ad Court to find the weakness.

Best to change from primary to secondary locations when the scoreboard works in your favor and the opponent thinks it’s still going to the primary location.

Practice making four in a row, Deuce court then Ad court. It’s a great drill for direction and consistency.