When playing as a doubles team, it is even more important to have a grasp both of the fundamentals and the strategy required to play pickleball. Developing some pickleball double strategies should help you play better pickleball, and beat the opposing team more in your doubles games.
Get to the Kitchen Line
As in singles matches, every pickleball player worth their salt knows that dominating the non-volley zone is crucial to winning a game of pickleball.
Being at the kitchen line makes life so much easier than being pinned to the baseline:
- You’re closer to the net, making dinks and drop shots less dangerous
- You dominate the middle of the court
- You make your side of the court look smaller, making the opposing team’s life more difficult.
Serving Team Tactics
As the serving team, you have an advantage in getting quickly to the kitchen line. Try to serve deep and to your opponent’s backhand (their forehand will usually be stronger).
This will make a return of serve more challenging, giving you greater control.
Once you’re at the non-volley zone, you can go for the drop shot. This brings your opponent into the non-volley zone, making them vulnerable to a ball hit at their feet. Meanwhile, you have control over where you stand on the kitchen line.
Returning Team Tactics
The returning team always has a slightly harder job dominating the pickleball court. However, with some quick pickleball tips you can make your pickleball paddle a weapon to be reckoned with even on the return.
As the returning team, it’s all about shot selection. Try to keep your opponents forced to the baseline on their side of the court. This can give you time to get to the kitchen line.
The crucial thing for a doubles team to remember when returning is not to make unforced errors. Make the opposing team beat you. Don’t hand the game to them. So when it’s your turn to return serve, aim for the middle of the court. Middle shots give you more margin for error.
It’s simple physics: if you’ve got a massive gap between players on your pickleball doubles team, you’ve created a huge no man’s land for your opponent to exploit.
Shots hit into this gap create confusion and are harder to return, leading to lost points.
The key to any strong doubles pickleball strategy is to keep a small gap between you and your partner. Whichever direction your partner moves, go with them.
Keep that gap small!
Aim for the Middle
Try to aim for the “no-man’s land” between your two opponents when you’re hitting pickleball shots.
Middle shots cause difficulty because they can be returned by either player. If the opposing team isn’t in sync, it can lead to some sloppy unforced errors handing you points.
This one doesn’t sound like an advanced pickleball tip, but it’s amazing how many doubles teams forget it.
If you’re going for a ball: call it! If a ball is going out, let your partner know to leave it.
It can feel weird yelling instructions at your friend, but trust me: playing better pickleball is all about the fundamentals, and the fundamental of pickleball doubles strategy is communication.
Aim for the Feet
This pickleball tip applies just as well to a singles or a doubles pickleball game.
Shots hit to the feet are harder to return. A pickleball player must get their racket beneath the ball to get proper elevation, usually lobbing it into the air. This gives you the chance for a killer blow.
Work on your Serve
Again, it sounds like an obvious pickleball tip, but perfecting your service game is even more critical as a doubles team.
First, ensure you’re not faulting consistently. This kills your momentum and makes it incredibly hard to win points.
Second, see if you can get the ball into a consistent spot every time. This makes working on plans with your pickleball partner and executing them easier, giving you greater control over the court.
Reduce Unforced Errors
Keeping the ball on the pickleball court is the key to winning games.
Make the opposing team beat you, rather than handing them points. If in doubt, aim for the middle of the court, which gives you the greatest margin for error.
Have Each Other’s Backs
Much like in life, the key to a successful doubles team is looking after one another.
If your partner is struggling to reach a shot, see if you can get behind them and keep it in play. If they get frustrated with themselves, give them a pat on the back and a pep talk.
Unlike singles play, you’ve got the benefit of another pickleball player.
Nothing is worse than playing with a pickleball partner who rages and screams when things go wrong—especially when they’re raging at you!
This isn’t so much a pickleball doubles strategy as a way to have more fun: enjoy spending time with your partner (and try to be an enjoyable partner to play with!).
While this will make your life easier, you’ll also be amazed at how many more points you’ll win by staying positive rather than getting frustrated and making unforced errors.
BONUS TIP: Build Team Camaraderie Early & Often
Like most championship teams, their chemistry can be an unbeatable weapon. We like spending time off the court with our pickleball partner.
Now’s the time to get to know them better. Understand their strengths and weaknesses. Have some idea of what’s going on in their lives if they need a distraction or motivation.
And, of course, build camaraderie by crafting a pickleball team name. We made this super easy with our Pickleball Team Name Generator and a growing list of team names.
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