Relishing Pickleball: More Doubles Strategies

David Zapatka

Continuing our study of Pickleball Fundamentals Master the basics and compete with confidence by Mary Littlewood, we will continue to learn from two professional Hall-of-Fame players, Alex Hamner and Jennifer Lucore. (Quotes are paraphrased for brevity. Buy Ms. Littlewood’s book to get the whole story!)

Unforced errors happen! Nobody means to hit an unforced error and nobody likes it. If you do, own up to it by saying something like, “Sorry pard” or “My bad.” If your partner makes an unforced error, support them by saying something like, “Good try” or “We’ll get the next one.” If you think you recognize something your partner did and would like to be helpful, nicely suggest a corrective action. Make your suggestion positive, specific, and brief. Then add a positive, forward-focused comment. Leave that point behind and move on to the next with laser focus.

Have fun! Pickleball is the best! Enjoy being on the court, swinging away at that ball, being social, and getting exercise. That is why we play pickleball, isn’t it? Have a great time!

Keep the ball in play. In The Official Pickleball Handbook (1999) by Mark Friedenberg, he wrote:

1. Three of every four rallies (75%) are won or lost because of errors.

2. One of every four rallies (25%) are actually earned or won by a good shot.

3. Three out of every four errors (75%) are made at the baseline by hitting the ball into the net or out of bounds. (Remember last month when we said the game is won at the net?)

Too often, inexperienced players attempt to hit the ball too low over the net, trying to make the perfect shot; not surprisingly, the ball goes into the net. A far more effective approach is to make keeping the ball in play your main objective. Even if your return isn’t perfect and ends up being a setup for an aggressive smash from the opponents, you have placed the burden of keeping the ball in play on the opponents. It is possible their smash may go into the net! Use high-percentage shots. Hit over the middle of the net where the net is two inches lower. Try more aggressive, angled shots as you improve.

From tournament pro, Tyson McGuffin:

1. Keep your stance shoulder-width, maybe a touch wider, knees bent.

2. Keep your upper extremities quiet. Imagine you have your beverage of choice in your non-dominant hand. Don’t spill it.

3. For directional dinking, lead with your palm on the forehand and knuckles on the backhand.

4. You have more time than you think. Don’t overextend to take a ball out of the air. Take a step back. Be more offensive with your dinks. Give up court position to be more aggressive.

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