Doubles Strategies-Go Up or Stay Back?

The game of Pickleball has different strategies and you will be a better player if you understand these concepts. 

It really gets down to a few questions.  Do you only play with players in your skill set?  Do you play with a variety of age and skill levels?  Do you try to put the ball away as soon as possible?  Do you ever reset a ball that you could have put away to extend the rally?  Do you ever work on ball control and placement verses power shots?  Do you ever take time to teach or work with beginners?

There are players that simply value their time and only want to play competitive games. They take no prisoners and are out to win the point as soon as possible. Then there are players that “play down” to their “opponents” and hit balls that challenge them, but gives them a realistic chance to return the shot. 

One thing for sure, if all players move to the net as soon as possible and hit every ball hard, there will be shorter rallies.  The sole strategy of hitting all 3rd shots and automatically moving forward seems to be taught by most players, but certified teaching professionals have some additional strategies. First off, the best pros can walk to the net and hit numerous shots against 3.0 to 4.0 players as they get to their NVZ line. The best players could also hit a couple of Drives and stay back and there is no shot that you could hit that they wouldn’t be able to defend. 

But that brings us to the question for the majority of players, should you go in or stay back? I teach to play both styles. The vast majority of players only play recreational games and not tournaments. And many games are played against weaker players. So slow down and enjoy some games where you form a solid defense and keep the ball in play, reset your shots, extend the points, and have longer rallies. Why have all 4 players rush to the net and try to put the ball away as soon as possible? 

When other strategies are employed, players have options to position themselves to form a defense to extend and win points. For example, staying back at your baseline when you have not developed a consistent Drop Shot is a better strategy verses hitting a ball too high and automatically moving forward. Strategies should be developed according to the player’s skill levels. 

Hit a third shot drive and stay back and play the returning volley just like you do when your opponent is serving or returning your serve. Hit a good third shot drop and move in. Hit a third shot lob and stay back. (And listen for the complaints because a good lob is difficult to put away) Hit a medium high ball and move forward giving your opponent an easy ball to hit hard at you and win the point.

Don’t fall into the quotsheeple mentalityquot trap and move forward on every ball. You have options.

Gregg Whitfield