Relishing Pickleball: Doubles Strategies (Continued!)

David Zapatka

Continuing our study of Pickleball Fundamentals Master the basics and compete with confidence by Mary Littlewood, Ms. Littlewood offers these basic doubles strategies for players of any level. To read all her advice, buy her book.

Strive for 100% accuracy on serves. The serve is the only shot in the game that is uncontested. There is no excuse for not serving the ball over the net into the proper court. Your first objective should be to serve with 100% accuracy. Once you accomplish that, you can focus on a more aggressive serve and placing the serve. Don’t try to get too fancy with your serve too soon.

The forehand player has the primary responsibility for balls down the middle. Most forehands are stronger than backhands, so allowing the player whose forehand is in position to hit the ball will enable your team to return the ball with the strongest possible shot.

Anticipate what the return shot will be and move into position to cover the possible angle of the return shot. The location of the opponents on the court, the paddle position and the body position of the player hitting the ball, and the possible angles for the return shot will tell you what the shot will probably be and where it will be hit. Be prepared to move into position for the return. For example, if you and your partner are at the net and one of you has executed a mis-hit that will be a setup for a smash, instead of maintaining your position at the net, both of you should move back with the hope that one of you will be able to get your paddle on the ball as it is smashed back across the net.

Poaching. If one partner is already at the net—especially on the left side while facing the net—and the other partner is coming to the net but is not there yet, and the opposing team is pretty predictable about where their groundstroke is going, the net player can poach by moving across in front of the partner staying behind the non-volley zone line and hitting the ball just after it crosses the net. Normally a shot hit by a player poaching will be a winner. If it isn’t, the partner switches to the side vacated ensuring that side of the court is covered. The advantage of poaching is that the ball is returned quicker than it would be if it were allowed to continue on to the partner who is still advancing toward the non-volley zone line. The disadvantage of poaching is that if the opposing team suspects that the net player is going to move across to poach, they will hit a line shot behind the poaching player.

Have a question about pickleball? Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected].