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Pickleball Strategy: Doubles

Pickleball Doubles Strategies:

  • Do not fault on your serve! Aim for 100% successful service accuracy. It is better to get your serve in play than go for a low percentage 'hero' serve
  • On balls down the middle (aka balls in 'no man's land) - they player who has his/her forehand should take this shot. Typically players hit stronger and more accurate shots with their forehand so optimal to let the forehand player take the shot
  • Prioritize shot placement and control over power
  • Maintain strong court awareness - have a sense of where the boundaries on the court are, where your partner is, where your opponents are, etc. It is especially important as a ball could be headed 'out' but without proper court awareness you or your partner may hit it and risk losing the point
  • Position your body facing your opponent (and the ball when on the opposite side of the court) as opposed to being angled sideways. You’ll be in a better position to return a shot that comes to either side of you
  • Implement spin shots... these can be very effective at confusing your opponents
  • Poaching. Poaching means the stronger player steps in and makes the shot. You will need to coordinate with your teammate on how to implement. Deception to your opponents is necessary (head and shoulder fakes, late movement/switching, etc). This is often done in more competitive games or tournaments.
  • Consider 'stacking' your doubles team with one right handed player and one left handed player. This means on all shots down the middle you'll both have your forehand. This is not important for casual games
  • Focus your shots at the weaker player of your two opponents. Note this is not recommended for recreational / fun games where all players are simply trying to get better. However in competitive tournament situations it is advantageous to make the weaker opponent hit more shots
  • Align on expectations for the match... is it just for fun casual match or is it a competitive match? Feelings can easily be hurt and players can walk away upset if expectations are not established early on. For instance, your reasons for playing pickleball may be to get exercise, enjoy the friendship and community, be outdoors, and work on your game. However your opponents may be viewing the match as a competitive affair where winning is critically important. In turn, the other team may be forcing all shots toward the weaker player, poaching, etc. This misalignment can caused hurt feelings. Having clarity on if the game is a casual or competitive game will help ensure it is a more enjoyable experience for all players!
  • Have fun, be safe, and enjoy the great game of pickleball!
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