The very first thing you need to know is that your rallies will rarely look like the ones in this video.
If you don’t play a lot of doubles, nothing about playing with a randomly picked partner is going to make you look more professional. Table tennis players accustom themselves to playing with a certain rhythm. If you’re used to rock and roll, your polka playing partner can throw off your whole game. Likewise, you aren’t helping your partner much either. There’s also a good chance your partner really doesn’t care if you win. In the event of a loss, they can always blame you, then get back to playing singles. Doubles matches don’t affect ratings, and are often taken less seriously.
There are some universal truths about playing doubles, as well as some universal myths.
Universal myth #1 – It’s always best to have a right handed/lefthanded team. If you watch the video closely you will notice that the righty/lefty teams do manage to avoid crossing in front of each other. This is a potential advantage. It has nothing to do with you. There are two qualities you want in a potential partner that are far more important than which hand they use. Find the best player you can ask or bribe to be on your team. Obviously, skill is important. The other quality is conservatism.
Universal truth #1 – Conservatives just make better doubles players. They don’t have to be politically conservative, but in a game where everyone’s timing is off, safe shots may prove to be more valuable than spectacular ones.
Universal truth #2 – Two average players will beat one great player teamed with one weak player. Consider Team #1 rated 2500 and 800 with a team rating of 3300. Team #2 has two 1500 players with a team rating of 3000. It would seem that the 3300 team should have a decided advantage; not so in doubles. I’d always put my money on the 3000 team. Weaker players will generally pull down a doubles team far more than a highly rated player can elevate it. In this example, it would probably be pretty close, especially if the 1500 players couldn’t return the 2500 player’s serves. I’d still bet on the lower rated team.
Universal myth #2 – The team with the most talent will usually win. Two good singles players may struggle against a good doubles team, even if that team is less skilled at singles.
To play well at doubles, you have to play doubles frequently. You will also need to keep the same partner. Doubles requires different footwork and timing. Serves need to set up your partners best shots, not yours. It’s important to communicate with your partner, and feel comfortable with them. Continuity and communication are the keys to good doubles teams. If you only play occasionally, it still can be fun …..ugly, but fun.