Pickleball is fun and engaging, but it is also very competitive. Because of the game’s competitiveness, several strategies are used to increase the chances of winning. One of those strategies is stacking. So, what is stacking in pickleball?
In a nutshell, pickleball stacking is a strategy that sees players ditch the traditional positions and adapt to positions that favor each player’s ability. But that’s not all. Keep reading to know how the strategy is implemented, its benefits, and the rules to which you need to pay attention.
Stacking in Pickleball Explained
In pickleball doubles, there are usually traditional positions that the players take. Each player is expected to be covering their side of the court. Typically, when the right-handed player serves from the right side of the court and the left-handed player is on the left side, both players have their weaker hands in the center of the court. Not helpful!
To solve this problem, both players have to position themselves on the sides that position their strongest hands towards the center of the court. In this case, the right-handed server moves to the right side of the court, whereas the left-handed, non-server moves to the right side of the court. Problem solved! This is what is known as stacking.
However, stacking is rarely used with players with the same hand unless one of the players has a strong backhand. The aim is to ensure that the team gets as many forehands and backhands as possible. If one player has a stronger forehand and the other a stronger backhand, it makes sense to take positions that favor each player on the field.
Benefits of Stacking
Stacking is seen as a strategy for advanced teams but can be used at any skill level. Nonetheless, a few things should be considered before integrating the strategy into the game.
- What hands do the players use?
- Does one player have a stronger forehand and the other a stronger backhand?
- Is one player more athletic than the other?
- Does any player have a weakness that needs to be covered?
If you answer yes to any of the above questions, then you might need to give stacking serious consideration.
However, it is essential to know that the two teammates must constantly communicate for stacking to be successful. While the strategy is meant to increase the number of forehands in the middle, without proper communication, it can backfire.
When a ball is hit straight in the middle between the two players, the two might be tempted to hit the ball simultaneously, leading to obstruction. But, on the other hand, both might think that the partner will hit the ball and no one will, which is very unfortunate.
Therefore, it is essential to have prior communication on such scenarios and assign responsibility when they arise. You still need prompt communication during the game, even with prior comprehensive communication.
Communication notwithstanding, stacking will serve you the following advantages.
- You’ll maximize your team’s strengths.
- You can keep both forehands in the middle even with a left-handed player.
- You’ll better cover your team’s weaknesses.
- You’ll maximize the athleticism of the most agile player.
Mastering stacking in pickleball makes your team lethal and hard to contend with, so go ahead and give it a try. But what does stacking in pickleball have to do with the game’s rules?
Pickleball Stacking Rules
There are no pickleball stacking rules. Just kidding, while there are no rules explicitly addressing stacking, there are other pickleball rules that define and dictate how you can stack.
These rules dictate which player must serve, which player must return a serve, which side of the court to serve from, and which side to serve to. If you have all these rules taken care of, then you are free to be on any side of the court.
As previously explained, stacking is when players are stacked on one side of the court, and only after the service do they move to their intended positions. They do this not to subvert any of the following stacking rules.
- A specific player must serve the ball.
- A specific player must return the ball.
- The server’s foot can never be on or inside the line when they serve
- The ball must bounce before it is returned on the serve.
After these four rules have been considered, all bets are off, and the players are free to move to whatever position they want. Therefore, stacking is legal. But, first, you must consider how the strategy maximizes your winning possibility.
How to stack
Before understanding how to stack, one has to understand the traditional pickleball rules. As the famous adage goes, you must master the rules before breaking them. The same applies to stacking.
Traditionally, during a serve, one player stands on the deuce side and their partner on the ad side. The deuce side is the right side of the center line, while the ad side is on the left. The two players play in these positions until they score, and then they rotate positions.
Stacking on Serve
When you decide to stack on serve, then this means that the two players will be standing on either the deuce or the ad side. The serving player has to be on their right side. Then the returning player should stand on the server’s side of the center line. After the service, both players can move as they had agreed.
However, in some scenarios, the serving team decides who to hit the third shot; hence, after the serve, they do not move up until the one designated to return the third hit does so.
Stacking on Return
When stacking on return, the returning team players are still on one side of the center line, but only the player designated to return the ball is on the court. The other player is outside on the returning player’s side but closer to the kitchen line. Once the ball has been returned, then the players move to take their positions as discussed.
Full Stacking and Partial Stacking
A team might decide to go full stacking or partial stacking. When a team decides to go full stacking, they stack on every play, whether serving or returning. Full stacking is the best strategy for a team using stacking as a strategy, but it requires serious concentration and understanding of the game rules. Full stacking is not recommended for beginners. This is because it is easier for beginners to lose their positions when going full stack.
On the other hand, partial stacking is when a team decides to stack either stack when serving or when returning only. This is easier to track for beginners as they know where they should be standing when serving or returning. Nonetheless, stacking is only an opening strategy. Then, after serving and returning, all the players take their preferred position, and the game looks more like a traditional pickleball game.
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