While pickleball is an ideal game for elderly adults to get their share of daily exercise and provides an entertaining and fun activity to keep them going, it is also a game of strategy. So, if you are a competitive person and want to feel the adrenaline rush that is attached to playing a good, competitive sport, then pickleball is the one for you.
Pickleball doubles is a team sport, which requires you to play the game in pairs, so be sure to find someone who you have compatibility with and enjoy playing. If you want your pair to win each time, you should implement the following strategies wherever possible and gain the victory you deserve:
1. Pick a Compatible Partner
The main and most important part of playing a winning pickleball doubles game is to have a partner that you will remain synchronized with no matter what. Whether your doubles partner is your wife, best friend or even someone you met at your retirement home, make sure you have enough compatibility with them. You and your partner will have to implement strategies and find your opponents’ weaknesses continuously, so doing this together may be difficult if the two of you are in constant contradiction with one another.
You can even stack your players by getting a partner whose dominant hand is the opposite of yours (so, if you are right-handed, get a left-handed partner and vice versa). This will add variety to your shots, and it will ensure greater coverage of the court. Plus, with shots down No Man’s Land (or those that go in the middle), you both are more likely to reach it than two players with the same dominant hand.
2. The Serve and Returning A Serve
The critical thing to remember when making serving is that you need to get your hit to the other side of the court. If it is possible, you should make your serve in a way that makes at least one of your opponents move from their position. Some people believe that the serve sets the tone for that particular round, but in reality, it is only essential to manage to get your shot to the other side. Other than this, using fancy tricks can be useful, but only recommended for expert players.
When returning a serve, it is crucial to get your opponents to move as this will keep them deciding which one of them should hit the ball. If you can, then return the ball within a foot of the baseline to ensure a strong return from your side. Also, avoid hitting a short return because this may come back to bite you when the ball returns to your side.
3. Push Your Opponents Back
With every shot, you hit, try to get your opponents to move further down the court. Moving them down the court while you move more towards the net will provide you more control over the game while your opponents will have less control of the ball. Plus, it is possible that your opponents might not be able to get their shots to your side of the court.
This can be done by hitting deeper shots to the back of the court. More in-depth and longer shots will require a trained hand, so make sure that the more expert one of your team makes such shots. This strategy will ensure that you win the game because you will be able to remain dominant within the game. Also, the middle of the court is the best position for you to make your shots (since it provides the closest distance to the other side of the court).
4. Be Aware of Your Partner
You and your partner should be constantly aware of where the other is on the court because this will allow you to remain in sync when the ball needs to be hit. The mistake many pickleball teams make is that they decide to play a doubles game as a single player while disregarding their partner. This will cause a decisive defeat in the game because your partner either will back out of the game entirely or the two of you will clumsily trip over each other, thinking the shot is yours. Another critical thing to make sure of is that you and your partner constantly communicate with one another, so the two of you know who is taking the shot.
Also, being aware of your partner will allow for the two of you to ensure that you cover the entire gap and only leave an appropriate amount of space between the two of you. If you leave too big of a gap, then it is likely that your opponents will see this before you do, and they will take advantage of it.
5. Strategize the Placement of Your Shots
The placement of each of your shots will provide you with either a strong return that you and your partner may have difficulty in returning or it might let you get your opponents to the backcourt. Simply ensure that your shots are strong and aimed deeply, at the back of the court. As mentioned above, getting your opponents to the end of the court is one way to solidify your victory.
Do not play a simple game of catch because your game will go on forever, and no one will win the game. Strategize your shots and hit them at an effective downward angle to the middle of the court. Target your opponents’ feet when making shots because that will catch them off guard and will make them move from their spot.
6. Your Third Shot
This is where the game really picks up speed. Your third shot is the one-shot that will set the tone for the match because each team has about five shots that should be of different levels in order to win the game. Played correctly, the third shot might end up being the middle of the game, and it will be the key to your victory. The third shot is also generally the point where both teams get a feel for how the other plays. So, you might want to mix your shots up at this point.
Your third shot depends on one more thing, the expertise level you and your opponent have. If you have a lower level than your opponent, you will have to choose your shot’s positioning wisely, but if you have the upper hand, use something that surprises your opponent.
7. Exploit the Weaknesses of the Other Team
If you are playing doubles with your opponents for the first time, you and your partner should take the time to study their weaknesses during the game. Whether this is a weak stance, backhand, or control, you should exploit it. Exploiting their vulnerability simply means that you will make your shots in a way that will ensure that your opponents will have difficulty returning. You might even find one of the players to be weaker than the other, so try aiming your shots towards that player.
In cases where you have already played doubles pickleball with your opponents before, make sure to take note of their weaknesses the first time so you can continue to exploit them. If the opposing team is your friend, make sure that you and your partner do not tell them of their weaknesses, or you can kiss winning pickleball games farewell.
8. Move Your Feet Constantly
Have you ever noticed how tennis players continuously move their feet during a match? That is because they keep their bodies and minds aware that their feet will need to move at any moment. The constant shifting of your feet will ensure that you are aware that you will have to proceed with the next return in order to make your hit.
Keeping your feet off the ground will also help your body to develop a quick response, which is much needed on the pickleball court. However, do not tire yourself out because you will need to use your energy, the actual movement when returns are made to your side of the court.
Thus, study these and other strategies well. You can even combine these strategies according to your team’s strengths and weaknesses. However, do not combine conflicting strategies because that will become the downfall of your match.
Make sure to get your partner to study these strategies as well before your next pickleball match and implement them for a definite victory. If you are competitive, you might even get inspired by the strategies mentioned above and develop your own strategies to apply to court.
However, whatever you do, do not go unprepared to a pickleball match if you are playing for competitive purposes. Play with your partner and practice if you want to win. Otherwise, simply play for the fun of the game, and do not worry about winning if you haven’t gone through the appropriate studying and practice required.