Winning Strategies for Doubles Play in Pickleball

Doubles play in pickleball demands not only individual skill but also seamless coordination and strategic harmony between partners. Here, we'll delve into essential strategies that can elevate your doubles game.

Communication and Teamwork

  • Pre-Game Planning: Discuss strengths, weaknesses, and preferred strategies with your partner before the game.
  • Clear Communication: Call shots loudly (“Yours”, “Mine”, “Out”) to avoid confusion and ensure both players aren’t going for the same ball.
  • Team Chemistry: Understand each other’s playstyle. Play a few practice games to develop chemistry and a mutual understanding of each other’s movements and shots.

Positioning and Movement

  • Court Coverage: Cover the court effectively by moving in sync with your partner – when one moves forward, the other should as well, and vice versa.
  • Stacking Strategy: In stacking, both players favor one side of the court over the other. This is useful if one player has a particularly strong forehand or backhand.
  • Net Presence: Aim to control the net. Being at the net puts pressure on opponents and allows for more aggressive play.

Shot Selection and Placement

  • Third Shot Drop: Master the third shot drop to transition from the baseline to the net. It's a key shot in doubles to gain net advantage.
  • Dinking Strategy: Use dinks to create openings and force errors. Dinking rallies can test opponents' patience and draw them out of position.
  • Lob Shots: Use lobs sparingly and strategically to push back opponents who are dominating the net.

Serving and Return Strategies

  • Serve Placement: Mix up serves – deep serves push opponents back, while short serves pull them forward.
  • Effective Returns: Aim returns deep to give your team time to position yourselves, preferably at the net.

Defensive Tactics

  • Block Shots: Instead of hard volleys, use softer block shots to regain control when under pressure.
  • Body Positioning: Stay low with knees bent, especially during volley exchanges, to react quickly to fast shots.

Psychological Strategies

  • Maintain Consistency: Focus on consistent, error-free play rather than risky, aggressive shots.
  • Pressure Points: Identify and target the weaker opponent, especially under high-pressure situations.

Adaptability

  • Adjusting to Opponents: Be observant and willing to adjust strategies mid-game based on the opponents' strengths, weaknesses, and playing style.

Fitness and Endurance

  • Physical Conditioning: Maintain a high level of physical fitness. Endurance, agility, and strength are crucial in doubles play.


Successful doubles play in pickleball is about combining strategic play with effective communication and teamwork. By mastering these strategies and continuously adapting to the dynamic nature of the game, you and your partner can significantly enhance your performance on the court. Remember, the key to doubles success lies in playing as a cohesive unit where both partners complement each other's strengths and cover each other’s weaknesses.

For more information, strategies and tips on pickleball be sure to check out USA PickleballThe International Pickleball Federation, and the Pro Pickleball Registry!

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