This started as a reply to a post in another thread, but it grew off topic and out of control so here we are. This guide is for players who find themselves playing with weaker partners, and want to help them play better. This is an incomplete guide-ish, and a bit of a mess (forgive me). There is so much more information and so much intricacies that I couldn't begin to mention. There are also so many better players, and better coaches, much more qualified than I, to give advice about this subject. But I feel like the interpersonal aspect of coaching is somewhat overlooked. The focus is usually on players who want to learn and actively seek out improvement, like many of the players on this forum, and they don't need any convincing. But there is also a large group of players that may not be willing to put in the time and effort to get better. But they do want to win, and if some free tactical or strategic coaching can help their game, and the person providing it doesn't challenge their ego, they are willing to give it a shot. With these players, a more tactful approach is necessary than with players who are already willing to accept coaching. A common complaint is that the stronger player of a pair gets isolated out of the game, everything goes to the weaker player, and you end up losing because you can't do anything about it. Getting frozen out of the game is part of a valid strategy by the opponent. There are plenty of strategic choices you and your partner can make to avoid it from happening. However, most rely on a coordinated effort, and that is only possible if the weaker player is willing and able to be coached, and the better player is willing to coach their partner in a diplomatic way. My partner is older, slower, and his technique is significantly worse than mine. He can hold his own in defence, but his ability to attack from the back court often falls short and his high backhand is not consistent, and he can't hit a full length backhand clear. When the opponent is able to pin him to the back consistently we tend to lose. By nature, I like to go forward and control the net, but in our partnership our preferred formation is with me at the back and him at the front. This way, we completely eliminate my partners weakness from the game. Thankfully, my partner is coachable, but he can have a bit of an ego sometimes. In our team we have recently changed partnerships because a new player has joined the team after covid. Three other players don't like to play with him, because he has a tendency to blame others when things go wrong, and be very stubborn, especially if his opinions are questioned by players he considers worse or equal to himself. He respects our best player enough to listen to him during games, but that player isn't one to coach his partners during a game, so that matchup didn't do very well either. I am the perfect person to elevate his game, because I'm good enough for him to respect my opinions, and forceful but diplomatic in my coaching. Yesterday we played a match. For those that don't know, in this league, you have 3 doubles pairs in a team, who will play each of the three pairs of the opponents team. When we (our 2nd pair) played their 1st pair, my partner was clearly the weakest player on court. Naturally, our opponents tried to attack him and isolate me from the game. To avoid this we did everything we could to get our preferred formation with me at the back and him at the front. My partner has a good flick serve, but since the opponents weren't attacking his short serve very successfully, I told him to keep it short so we don't have to give up our attacking formation with him at the front. We often got strings of points with my partner serving, simply because we get to start in our preferred formation. When I was serving, I often flicked, even though it got punished once or twice, because if I serve short the opponent usually got the advantage. A good drive or push, even from below the tape, can be an outright winner since my partner isn't very fast. Even a lift gives the opponent the advantage, because it pins my partner at the back and isolates me at the front. I told my partner that if for some reason he did end up at the back, to play a cross clear to get the pressure off of him and unto me. Even if they clear it back to him, he would have had more time than if he had played a smash or drop, and he wouldn't be in any trouble. The opponent couldn't win points by attacking my partner with smashes and drives, because my partner has a fast short hitting action and can play effective counter shots when it's within his immediate reach, so when they smashed at him, he could hold his own and when they engaged in flat exchanges, my partner usually came out on top. When we are in a defensive formation, they couldn't score points at the net, because my partner will just lift it, and our defence will be good enough. It was an exceptionally slow hall, and everyone had trouble getting smashes on the floor. And when we are in our attacking formation with me at the back and him at the front, he is good enough to cover the net without giving up the attack. So their only option is to lift to me, and I'll just fire away. I had a little more success with my smashes, but mostly I was just fast enough to keep the attack going, even if it takes longer rallies and more attacking shots before we got the point. We won comfortably. I know it sounds like we were just better than them, but before the match we were considered the underdog, and even at the start it wasn't clear which pair would end up winning. When it comes to consistency, speed and technique, they were close to my level and far better than my partner. On paper we should have lost. They got close scores against our 1st pair, that in theory should have performed better than us. We won because we played a strategic masterclass. My partner was by far the worst player on court, and yet the opponent couldn't take advantage of his weaknesses. Some people with less insight (like one of the spectators), would say that I carried my partner. We almost played like a mixed doubles with my partner adopting the 'lady's' role at the front, and I scored most of the points from the back court. But we didn't win because of how I played, we won because of how my partner played. He played in a way that completely nullified his own weaknesses, and that is difficult to do when you are playing against better players. I made sure to praise him for his ability to be open to coaching, to adapt to the opponent and to play in a strategic way to minimise his weakness. (It is especially impressive because he had to accept his weaknesses and admit that him playing the 'lady' was the best strategic decision, which can be difficult, and unthinkable for him at the start of the season).