Now let’s get all 4 players involved and not only play half court “shadow” doubles with two players only but full court with all 4 players learning their roles and positions.
Workhorses are both at their Homes in Defense Zone; Terminators are both at their Homes in Offense Zone. See diagram:
Workhorse A starts the point by hitting cross court (does not have to be a serve but can be of course.)
In this diagram, the server A is coming in after the serve but you can also do this drill by staying back in defense and wait for the short ball to bring you forward. More important is watching B’s move back and forth as the ball travels cross court back and forth.
The point starts and as the ball travels cross court, the terminators move parallel with the ball back and forth. After the first cross court ball/serve, terminator B is now up close to the top part of the Offense Zone with ball and player in front of them and the terminator D is back towards the middle T in anticipation of a possible poach by terminator B.
Terminator B is trying to cut off the cross court ball by angling it away for a winner. If that is not possible, she lets it go to her partner and moves diagonally backwards toward the middle T while her partner hits the next shot. Terminator D now moves diagonally forward and looks for the same opportunity as terminator B just before did. So terminators are going after each other alternately. Scary roles at times but fun and necessary to learn your dynamite doubles’ roles and positions.
So this is the main function of the terminator, HOWEVER , watch out for self termination!!!
When the ball is in front of you on opponents side, you are by definition the Terminator, but if the opponent sees a chance to be the terminator themselves and NOT maintain the workhorse’s role by hitting cross court, you are about to be terminated!!! Which should read: DEFENSE !!! HELP!!!
So always READ, try to anticipate, if there is a chance for the player straight in front of you to hit the ball directly AT you with a hard drive passing shot before you venture out for a poach.
When this IS the case (it is coming AT you hard and you know it and I know you know how this feels !!! ) you now have a different role which you may guess is : STAY ALIVE and keep the ball in play! But HOW you may ask? By NOT terminating and NOT changing direction of the ball but simply hold your ground, do not move, neither backwards nor forward and merely block the ball back, right in front of yourself. Be a WALL, do not swing, do not punch, do not turn, do not back up, do not step in, but simply hold still, rackets and hands up high above the net and try to use your racket to block, reflex the ball back from where it came.
When being in offense zone with an opponent hitting from the defense zone the first question you always want to ask yourself is: “are they going to drive it or are they going to lob it?”
This question helps you anticipate what may come and what to be ready for. As a player who loves the net, the offense zone, I always prefer to see the lob which gives me a chance for an overhead, a fun and must-have shot as a doubles player, and really gives me a feeling of being in charge. The hard passing shot is a fun challenge too, but when opponents are able to hit that shot I must not have hit a very good previous approach shot. So I always try to hit shots, when I am in the offense zone, that don’t allow my opponents to hit passing shots. My partners seem to appreciate this as well.
Placement is crucially important when playing up in the offense zone or the opponents will have a blast hitting passing shots, lobs and angles against you which seem impossible to get.
Offense: B terminates by angling the ball away through player D’s feet
Defense: B blocks the ball from C, who tried to terminate by hitting hard at C. B keeps her team in the point, by maintaining the right staggered positions with A when hitting the ball back straight in front of herself. When it is not a winner B must hit back in front of herself to keep the roles and positions the same for her team. This way A and B are ready for another shot and has a good chance to defend any shot again from C. Changing direction by B and it is NOT a winner leaves the team with no defense against the GAP!