Playing pickleball doubles can be a lot of fun, but it takes some practice to get good at it. To play well with a partner, you need to communicate effectively and work together as a team. Here are five tips for playing better pickleball doubles.
Pickleball Doubles Tips
Develop a game plan
Before you start playing, take a few minutes to develop a game plan with your partner. Discuss what shots you want to hit and where you want your opponents to be. This will help you both get on the same page and make better decisions during the match. Last night, for instance, during my usual pickleball league play, my partner warned me that our opponent was a “banger” and that we needed to focus on non-stop dinking to have a chance. She was right.
Communicate with your partner
Pickleball doubles are all about communication. You need to be able to talk to your partner and let them know what you’re thinking. If you’re not communicating, it’s easy for things to go wrong. If we back up a step to the “game plan,” let your partner know in advance if you plan to give verbal instruction throughout the match; some players hate it, some players appreciate it–but most like to know it’s coming. When I play a team that doesn’t communicate well, I will look to exploit the center of the court, usually with some success.
It’s important to stay focused when you’re playing pickleball doubles. A lot is going on, and it’s easy to get lost in the moment. If you’re not paying attention, you could miss an important shot or make a mistake that costs you the game. Pickleball is played in closer proximity with your partner and opponents than tennis, and rookies often find it takes a while to get used to the distractions close play can present.
Somewhere along my pickleball journey, someone gave me a tip: pretend a string attaches you and your partner–they move, you move. I have found this to be an effective strategy, assuming you and your partner are at similar levels, with an understanding that it’s non-volley zone or bust!
At the end of the day, pickleball doubles should be fun. So, make sure you’re enjoying yourself and not taking things too seriously. If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth playing. When in doubt, speak kindly to yourself and remember, no matter the level, pickleball is just a game.
Pickleball Doubles Strategy
Two popular strategies that doubles players employ during pickleball include the “I” formation and the “zone” defense.
The “I” formation has one player at the back of the court, while the other is at the front. This allows for each player to cover more of the court and makes it difficult for opponents to hit shots past them.
Meanwhile, the “zone” defense involves both players staying close to the non-volley zone. This can be effective if you have good communication with your partner and are able to anticipate where your opponents will hit the ball.
Oftentimes, a point will start in “I” formation and shift to “zone” defense.
Drop Shots Are The Key to Pickleball Doubles
Being able to hit a drop shot in pickleball is essential to victory. To hit a drop shot, you want to hit the ball just over the net so it drops down onto your opponent’s side. This can be difficult to do, but if you practice, you’ll be able to master it in no time.
Spin on a drop shot is optional. If you choose to manipulate the ball, be sure your swing is not undercutting the pickleball in a big sweeping motion. Instead, give the ball more of a punch, this will help disguise your shot, and clever deception is part of the game.
Pickleball Serves and Movement in Doubles
Be sure that your serve has depth, hitting it deep into your opponent’s court. With only one serve, you have to make it count.
After the serve, the player at the back of the court will typically take the first shot. They will then move up to the front after each subsequent shot. This is known as “rotating.”
It’s essential to keep moving and not stay in one place for too long during a pickleball match. If you’re not moving, you’re not going to be able to hit the ball as well.
While you’re moving around the court, try to stay light on your feet and be sure to bend your knees. This will help you stay low to the ground and give you more power when you swing.
Pickleball is often won by the person who makes the fewest unforced errors. So it’s sometimes worth sacrificing power and placement for a simple return.