Like tennis, pickleball can be played as a singles or doubles game, but playing with a partner is very different from going solo. Scoring is different, and you'll also need to come up with a new pickleball strategy to win the game. Smart pickleball double strategies can even vary based on who you're playing with. This guide summarizes the differences between singles and doubles pickleball and then introduces some doubles pickleball strategies to get you ready to play.
Singles vs Doubles: What's the Difference?
The biggest difference between singles and doubles is when your opponent takes possession during a round. In a singles game, each player serves once per round. Rules for doubles pickleball allow both players on each team to serve once per round. Here's how it works:
- Team A's player on the right side of the court (the right service corner) serves. They call out their team's score, their opponents' score and their server number, which would be 1.
- If Team A Server 1 loses the service, Server 2 then has a chance to serve. They would serve from the left service court and call out Team A's score, Team B's score, and 2 to represent their server number. If they lose the point, the other team takes possession, and both players have a chance to score.
- Each time Server 1 scores on their service, they switch places with their partner and continue to serve. Only when they lose does Server 2 take their turn serving the ball.
- The one exception to this rule is the first round of the game. If Team A starts, only the server in the right hand service court has a chance to serve. They use server number 2 when calling out the score because their partner won't be serving this round.
Pickleball Strategy for Doubles
Here are some things that you may wish to include in the pickleball doubles strategies that you devise:
Move and Work Together
Before a game with a new partner, consider having a pickleball strategy doubles planning session to discuss your strategy. If you don't have time, adopt a pickleball strategy early in the game and commit to it fully. For example, you and your partner might want to stay close to the front line that marks the no-volley zone or kitchen to make yourselves wider in the court. Alternatively, you may wish to stand so one of you is closer to the front line and the other is by the back line to cover more of the court.
Pay Attention to Your Opponents
When you have a chance, share observations about your opponents' pickleball strategy. If they tend to play short, you'll likely want to stay closer to the kitchen. If you notice one opponent plays long and the other plays short, changing your position when the servers rotate can give you an advantage.
Aim for Their Shoes
Hitting the ball as high as you can usually isn't the wisest of pickleball doubles strategies. When you hit the ball toward the sky, your opponents have more time to counterattack. Instead, aim for their feet, which will make it much more difficult for them to return the ball.
No doubles pickleball strategy can work if just one of you is following it. Communicating your ideas is essential to working together. If you prefer not to talk during a round, come up with some simple hand signals that you can use to communicate on the fly.
Stay Back From the Baseline When Returning
Unless your opponent plays very short, crowding the baseline can leave you vulnerable. The best position is usually two to three feet behind the baseline. At that distance, you can still run forward to return short serves, but won't be caught off guard when the ball goes deep.
Perks of Pickleball with Doubles
Although pickleball strategy and scoring are a little more complicated as a doubles game, playing with a partner offers distinctive advantages, such as:
Having Fun with Partner
Pickleball is an exciting, action-packed sport, but it doesn't put a lot of stress on the body the way many other types of athletic competition can. Adding a partner to the mix can bring a new dynamic to the game and allow you to enjoy the fun of competing with another person.
Boosting Mental and Physical Health
Every move you make on the court counts as calories burned, and when you're serving and returning, you're working every muscle in your body. As a result, a doubles match is a great way for you and a friend or family member to increase your physical activity. When you're playing in the sun, you'll also be encouraging your body to produce vitamin D, which is needed for a wide variety of tasks including absorbing calcium to support strong bones and teeth.
Team sports have also been shown to improve mental health. Working as a team builds communication skills and can cut down on feelings of loneliness even off the court. In addition, team sports foster feelings of self-confidence and self-esteem that can benefit every part of your life.
Pickleball is as much a social activity as it is a sport. Over time, you'll develop friendships with your opponents as well as your partners on the course. Friendships are also important for supporting mental health for people of all ages.
Check Out Devereux's Pickleball Collection
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