The first thing that we have to agree on in mixed doubles is that the male partner will normally be physically stronger and physically faster than his female partner. This results usually in the male having a harder and more penetrable smash and is able to cover the rear court easier than his partner.
If the female in a same level partnership can defend as well as her male partner and cover the rear court without being a weak link, then this pairing can play more like today’s top level players. Which means that a lot of the time they can play as a level pair, but still preferring the man smashing from the rear court while the lady covers the net area.
If we can agree that at this moment in time that 2 of the best female mixed players in the world are Gail Emms and Gao Ling, then ask yourself this question; are they famous for playing point winning smashes from the rear court or are they renowned for their net skills. There can only be 1 answer to that.
So I think it would be safe to say that generally whilst attacking most points are won with the lady at the net and the man covering the rear court . Allowing the man to play his bigger smash and the lady to use her skills to kill at the net.
Each member of the pair will be a hit player and a set up player at different points in rallies.
During attacks the man will normally be smashing and playing drop shots to either win the point outright or to at least get a weak reply to the net for his lady to kill.
The lady, either killing anything in her area or at least playing shots that will result in lifts for her partner to smash and the circle goes on.
As I mentioned previously if the lady’s defence is as good as her male partners then they can defend as a level pair, although this exposes the lady to punch clears which could put the pair in a weak position.
If we agree that the strongest formation in mixed doubles is the lady/front, man/back, then we should try to maintain this position as much as possible. Obviously it then follows that we should do our best to disrupt our opponents formation by pushing the female to the rear court where she should be less dangerous with her smash.
So at lower levels of play whilst defending we should adopt the formation of the lady covering the x court smash while the male covers the straight smash and any clears to the rear court, this will make it difficult for your opponent to push your lady back into the weaker formation. Obviously if you have to lift then it’s better if the man lifts straight and the lady lifts x court as this will maintain your formation.
Serving and receiving
There are so many variables in this area, far too many to mention here.
Basically 95% of serves should be a low service to the T, why do so many lower level players serve wide to the tramlines ?? Have you ever seen a pro player do that…. I haven’t.
The other service should be the occasional flick or drive to catch the receiver out, hoping for a weak reply.
When receiving your objective should always be to get the shuttle down below net height, whether that is with a fast tap down, a push into space or a flat hit to the rear court. But we must remember that we are trying to keep our formation, so when the man is receiving should he go all out to attack the shuttle, again this depends on the partnership. If the man attacks the service but his shot is retuned over his head is he able to get back in time to play an attacking shot ? If he can’t consistently do that then he should consider more shot placement which will allow him time to step back to cover the rear court and also allow his partner to cover any net returns and at the same time they keep their formation.
If the male feels that he can win a lot of points when receiving ( maybe because of a weak or nervous server) then he should tell his partner to stand behind him when he is receiving, so that if his shot is returned over his head she then can cover him, hopefully then she will play a shot that allows them to revert back to their formation. I.e. a straight smash or preferably a straight fast/slow drop, she should then rush straight forward to cover any net replies whilst her man can then go behind for any lifts. This keeps their formation allowing the man to be in position to smash therefore keeping the attack going.
This is enough for this part or it will be like reading a book. Sorry for the lack of images/diagrams as they would help.
I will do part 2 another day.
I would really appreciate any comments. I welcome any points agreeing or disagreeing with my thoughts so please don’t hesitate to comment.
Any questions are also welcome here or if you know me personally just call me or talk with me the next time we meet.