15 Pickleball Doubles Strategy Tips For Dynamic Duos
You've already conquered the singles court, mastering every twist and turn of pickleball strategy.
Now, an even more exciting challenge awaits – the dynamic match, where teamwork is all about synchronizing every move.
In this article, we're about to unlock the secrets of pickleball doubles strategy, arming you with 15 useful tactics and tips that will harmonize your every step with your partner's.
1. Serve Strategically
So, you've flipped the coin and the court is yours for the first serve. But what's your next move?
In pickleball doubles play, there's a dance of rules that guide your serve, adding a touch of strategy to every swing. As the official USA Pickleball Rulebook states, both players on the serving doubles team have the chance to serve and earn points until a fault is committed.
You're free to position yourself anywhere behind the baseline, but remember to stay within the bounds marked by the imaginary extensions of the inside edge of the center mark and the outer edge of the doubles sideline.
When serving, aim to direct your serve deep into the opponent's service court.
Unlike singles play, where sideline corners are often targeted, doubles strategy often involves serving more towards the middle of the court, creating potential confusion between opponents and setting up your team for advantageous positioning.
And, let's not forget this fundamental rule: in pickleball doubles strategy, the serve must be executed underhand.
2. Catch The Serve From Behind
When you're not serving first, positioning yourself behind the baseline lets you read the game before deciding how to respond. It all happens quite fast, but once you've got the scoop, you can then make a calculated move.
From this spot, you've got options. You can return the serve deep, creating space and setting the tempo for the rally. Or you can opt for a cross-court shot to disrupt their positioning and keep them guessing.
So, when you're not in the serving spotlight, remember the baseline is where you call the shots and turn the game in your favor.
3. Get Your Steps In Sync
Being in perfect sync with your partner is the secret ingredient to doubles pickleball success, much like how the dynamic TeamVulcan duo of Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner have conquered the court. You know, teamwork makes the dream work.
In pickleball doubles, the coordination between you and your partner is crucial. As the serving team, the player who hits the ball determines the movement of both players. If one of you moves forward, the other follows.
Poaching often comes into play, where one player crosses over to hit a ball that's technically in their partner's court, capitalizing on their position to outwit the opponents. But, make sure to practice this as poaching can destroy your team's chemistry.
The split step is another move – it's that momentary pause before you make a move, helping you stay balanced and responsive.
4. Talk Your Way To Victory
Communication is the lifeline that keeps your strategy on point, and believe me, talking your way to victory is not just allowed – it's essential.
During doubles matches, the bond between you and your partner isn't just physical; it's verbal too. Chatting between points, during those quick breathers, is your game-changer.
But the rule of thumb is to keep it concise and efficient. A quick "mine," "yours," or even "switch" in case you swap positions is gold.
Quick exchanges between points keep the momentum flowing, but don't let it drag on. Short, sweet, and purposeful.
The victory doesn't end when the match does. After the final point, it's time for reflection. Discussing what worked, what didn't, and how to overcome faults is also a vital part of the journey!
5. Dink To Win
The pickleball game's rhythm is intense, and that's where the art of dinking steps in.
Hold on a second, though. If terms like "dink" aren't part of your pickleball lingo, let's break it down.
A dink isn't about brute force, so forget about slamming the ball down on the other side of the net. It's a gentle stroke that sends the ball floating just over the net, elegantly landing within the kitchen area of your opponents.
The secret of both players in the team is to mix up your dink placements, keeping your rivals on their toes, wondering where your next delicate delivery will land.
As many picklers would say – simply dink with intent.
6. Master The Drop Shot
In case you need to refresh your memory, a drop shot involves delicately guiding the ball with a high arc, causing it to descend rapidly into or around your opponent's kitchen.
In pickleball doubles strategy, the drop shot plays a dual role:
- Defensively, the drop shot can be used to buy time and regain control of the rally, allowing you to reset and reposition yourself at the NVZ line.
- Offensively, when facing an opponent who is less agile or less adept at handling delicate shots, the drop shot can become a surprise offensive weapon, catching them off guard and potentially setting up an advantageous follow-up shot.
To execute the perfect drop shot, you have to remember that a controlled, relaxed swing is the way to go. You aim for a spot just over the net.
And when you are about to complete your move, follow through swiftly, as this will add a spin and make the ball drop faster on your opponent's side.
7. Rush To The Kitchen
No cooking skills required here! In pickleball, the kitchen isn't just a place for cooking up points, it's your ticket to success.
The moment that rally begins, your mission is to rush to the kitchen like it's the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow! This is where most points are scored, and being there positions you for offensive plays while keeping your opponents on the defensive.
When both you and your partner have coverage in the kitchen, you establish court dominance. This makes it incredibly challenging for your rivals to hit shots past you.
Here's the thing, getting to the kitchen isn't just about sprinting forward. You have to do it with a purpose and move together as a team!
Being in the kitchen affords you the power to dictate the pace of play. You can slam powerful volleys, execute strategic dinks, and set up winning angles.Talk about double trouble!
8. Aim At Your Opponents' Body And Feet
Don't be fooled – while aiming at your opponent's body or feet might sound like a wacky move, it's a clever strategy on the pickleball court.
Serving shots at your opponent's body or feet puts them in a bit of a pickle, where quick reactions become a challenge. However, it's essential to keep the game friendly – we're not here to recreate a slapstick routine.
Remember, this strategy keeps the game light-hearted and strategic, but never aggressive. In pickleball, we're all about keeping the play respectful and enjoyable.
And just in case you're wondering, if you happen to get hit with the ball, it's a fault – even if you've got some dance moves to show off.
9. Keep Your Opponents In Check
Ever heard of the saying "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"? Well, in pickleball, keeping your opponents pinned to the baseline is like having that bird right where you want it – in your control.
In doubles pickleball, the court is smaller, making it harder for your opponents to chase down deep shots. When they're rooted near the baseline, they're farther from the no-volley zone (NVZ) a.k.a. your coveted position for volleying.
While on both pickleball and tennis courts you share the baseline strategy, there's a twist. In pickleball, you can exploit the kitchen right at the net.
You can pin opponents by hitting deep shots that force them back, creating distance between them and the NVZ. Surprise them with lobs that disrupt their rhythm and keep them anchored.
10. Learn To Use Stacking To Your Advantage
In pickleball, stacking is a perfect move for strategic surprises, especially during the serve.
Normally, players stand diagonally opposite each other, but in stacking, you both stand side by side on the same side of the court.
Stacking shifts the serving angle. For example, when you are serving from a new direction, you confuse your opponents and shake up their predictions about where the ball is going to land.
Another reason to do it is because stacking sometimes hides the ball, making it tricky for the opponents to read its path. It's really a handy trick to have up your sleeve.
11. Patience Pays Off
In the dynamic match of pickleball doubles, patience extends beyond your own actions to include your partner. Just as you're working on your own game, remember that your teammate is also on a learning journey.
Be patient with them as they refine their skills and adapt to different situations.
And, well, it's also all about the timing. Each moment counts, from the serve to the final volley. Rushing leads to mistakes, but patience helps you seize the perfect moment to strike.
Remember, in pickleball, it's not always about the fastest or the strongest. It's about the smartest, the most observant, and the most patient. Let the impatient players make the mistakes while you bide your time and take control!
12. Be Quick On Your Feet
Speedy footwork means you can respond to shots faster, covering more ground effortlessly. This translates into seizing opportunities, countering opponent moves, and maintaining court dominance.
Your agile moves disrupt your opponents' plans. They'll find it harder to anticipate your shots, giving you the upper hand in controlling the pace and flow of the game.
Moreover, you will make the rally fun for onlookers as they witness lightning-fast exchanges and strategic maneuvers!
Agile movement not only keeps opponents guessing but also enhances your endurance. If fatigue sets in too quickly during matches, focusing on your cardio fitness can help you stay energized and fast throughout the game.
On the other hand, moving as slow as a turtle won't get you anywhere, and your opponents will recognize this as your weak spot.
13. Target The Weak Spot
Now that we have mentioned targeting one's weak spot, the next pickleball doubles strategy would be to identify the weaker opponent and strategically direct shots towards them.
How do you recognize the vulnerable spot? Observe their movements, shot preferences, and court positioning. If an opponent consistently struggles with backhand shots, that's your target.
Recognizing and exploiting a weak link takes time and adaptability. Keep observing and adjusting as the game unfolds.
However, don't fall into the trap of tunnel vision. Overly focusing on one opponent might expose vulnerabilities in your strategy. Strike a balance by mixing shots to keep both opponents guessing!
14. Hit Between Your Opponents
Unlike singles, where you cover the entire court, doubles offers the luxury of shared responsibilities. Aiming between opponents takes advantage of this teamwork, putting pressure on both players to respond effectively.
It also highlights the gaps in their court coverage, letting you exploit vulnerabilities that are otherwise difficult to spot.
So, after you see those gaps, you can assert control with each following shot. You will keep pushing your opponents to their limits, which will get you to score more points and win!
15. Keep Practicing
Practice makes perfect. While it might sound cliché, the truth is that regular practice is the most important step of elevating your game to new heights.
While immediate wins matter, the grand pickleball doubles strategy is about long-term growth.
Being on the same page as your partner, both sharing the same goals and aspirations is ideal. By setting a weekly practice schedule, you're working together towards a common objective.
So, try experimenting with different techniques on the court, and establish your signature moves. You will learn each other's nuances, develop seamless communication, and forge a partnership that's built on trust and understanding!
That's a victory all on its own!
Well, there you have it. Just as players move in sync, these pickleball doubles strategies seamlessly flow together, one leading to the next.
Your serves initiate the action, positioning sets the stage for precise shots, and communication fuels your rhythm.
Remember, practice and patience are the keys that unlock your potential, and success is yours to seize!