Adjusting your game to fit for your doubles team is the key to match wins. If you know how you play your best then you can position yourself better with others.
Having a fast consistent player can work well with a powerful but perhaps less consistent game. A big return of serve matches well with a great server. A volley partner can match with a ground-stroke player. One can set up the other. No one does everything great but matching strengths and weaknesses allows for better covering of weakness and maximizing strengths.
At the very least, look at what your team does well and put your best foot forward as a team. Never keep a strength in the closet during a match. The ball isn’t always going to be shared 50/50 during a match. The ball sharing percentage is determined by whom you are playing and the priorities that are required to win points.
Plays should be set up to defeat opponents. Serving to an opponent’s strength should be avoided on key points! Why give your opponents their best chance to win a point? Hopefully you’ve measured returns of serves in your match and kept mental statistics. When you watch the movie, Money Ball, you see how statistics play out when choosing a baseball team. The same is true when picking a doubles partner, or selecting a play to run. If you are playing totally unconsciously, then you are missing opportunities to win.
Executing plays take experience as a team to run. Trust can only be developed over time. Is your partner going to commit to the poach, time it right, cross all the way to create the proper switch? Does a signal cause confusion and delay? Does your partner get frustrated if things aren’t going your way. Should you just play it straight with no signals. Frustration can lead to selecting easier plays to execute and actually improves results. Though this can be absolutely true, in the long run, a doubles team should pre-plan plays. If the server and net player work together properly, they know where the serve is going and if net player is going to poach. Knowing in advance is much easier to handle than being surprised.
If the your serve strategy is just get the ball in the box then the net player has to be ready for that.
Many times we are playing social doubles or league doubles. The competitive juices are impossible to hold back if you are a true competitor. I never enjoy losing. Who does? Having a plan takes pressure off. And it gives your team tactics that are fluid.
If you're a league player, social player, round robin player you probably already know how your opponent play and their tendencies. Have you thought about your own, your partner’s? If you never have then you should. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and partner. “You don't have to know everything, but one or two observations can sway a match.”
The key to your tennis partner is to position them for the plays they can execute best while giving our opponents their least favorite plays to run. In some cases without your partner knowing you have given them their best play opportunities. They not be aware of their own tendencies. They could be a stronger deuce court player, a better baseliner, lobber or serve returner. Working with your partner's strengths is easier than trying to make them fit into a mold. Your partner's strategy may be as simple as run around the backhand or hit a slice serve. It doesn't have to be a list of ten things. In fact, one or two ideas is plenty. If we think too much we get mentally stuck.
Having pre-designed plays shows the other team you are up to something and they don’t know what is. It may be poach or a fake as the servers partner. It could be a poach after a return of serve by the receivers partner. It could be a position switch during a point by partners. It can run a gambit of different net positions for the servers partner such as a wedge position. The wedge position is when the servers partner takes a center crouch position in the middle of the net and then takes a left or right position as the receiver starts the return of serve. It could be the Australian position— where the server and servers net partner line up on the same side of the court to take away a big cross court return of serve and for the receiver to go up the line away from the net player.
Both the “wedge and the Australian” positions have to be weighed out by testing, as they require a quick reaction time and good movement and volley skills. Not anyone can just execute those kinds of plays. I’d say they start showing up at the 4.0 level. And it also depends who is on the other side of the net. Executing these plays takes practice and pre-match conversation and strategizing with your partner, typically on a practice court with much repetition. It's difficult to run new plays in competition before getting rid of a least a few bugs in the system.
These are the main considerations for you and your partner. Assess your game, you're partner's game, and play to your strengths. Measure your opponent's game and play to their weaknesses. Practice doubles drills with your partner or at least with someone else who enjoys doubles. Talk about strategy (but don't over think it in match play). The best partner to have is yourself. I will post future doubles drills you can do one on one and two on one that will help you improve your doubles game.