Doubles Formations – Aussie
By Kyle Mollison, USPTA
Continuing our series on doubles formations today we explore the formation down under, the Australian, or Aussie formation.
This formation can only be used when serving and after the serve and return can turn into a modified 1 Up 1 Back formation or a double up formation. The serving player will line-up close to the center hash mark (as if they were serving in singles) and the net player will line-up on the same half as the server anywhere from the middle of the service box to near the center line. The net player will use signals to “call the play” to the server.
The Aussie formation is a widely under utilized formation. It is special because when used correctly it can allow for a strong defense as well as a strong offense.
One of the biggest benefits of the Aussie formation is that it limits the targets that your opponent can hit to. The crosscourt return is the highest percentage return a returner can hit, by playing Aussie you force your opponent to attempt the lower percentage down the line return.
Another benefit is that through smart play calling the net player can look to finish the point with a volley, overhead, or drawing an error.
A last benefit is from a defensive position. If your net partner is being beat with a down the line lob from the return, going Aussie effectively turns the down the line lob into an easy approach volley for the serving player, eliminating the mis-match that is created from that lob.
The biggest drawback of the Aussie formation is that it leaves one half of the court much more vulnerable and open than the other. While it is the lower percentage target, if your opponent can hit it, they have the ability to hurt you.
A secondary drawback is that in any formation in which play calling is needed there is a chance of miscommunication resulting in an exploitable mis-match on the court.
When To Use
Aussie is widely under used much like most formations that utilize play calling. Use the Aussie formation whenever your server can consistently hit to a target. Another time to use is when your net player is being beaten with a down the line lob. A third time is if your opponent has shown that they can only hit the return cross court and will commit errors if going down the line.
Check in next week for the last formation on our series on the different doubles formations.