What Is Backcourt In Pickleball?

What is Backcourt in Pickleball?

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Backcourt in pickleball refers to the area of the court near the baseline, roughly a few feet inside the court from the baseline. It is the back part of the court, and points are more easily won at or near the front of the court. But what exactly is the backcourt area, and why is it important in pickleball strategy and gameplay? This article will explain everything you need to know about the backcourt in pickleball.

What is the Backcourt Area in Pickleball?

The backcourt is the area of the pickleball court farthest from the net. It includes the space a few feet inside the baseline, which runs across the width of the court.

When you are standing in the backcourt, you are very close to the back boundary line of the court. The backcourt starts right after the non-volley zone line, also called the “kitchen.

So if you imagine standing on a pickleball court, the backcourt is the area you would be in if you took several big steps backward from the non-volley “kitchen” line. You don’t want to stand right on the baseline, but a few feet inside it.

Where is the Backcourt Located on a Pickleball Court?

On both sides of the net, the backcourt is located behind the non-volley zone line, spanning from one sideline to the other.

It occupies roughly one-third of the total length of the court, from the non-volley line to the baseline. So it covers a significant portion of space on a pickleball court.

The key boundaries of the backcourt are:

  • The non-volley “kitchen” line on the front end
  • The baseline on the back end
  • The two side lines marking the width

So the backcourt forms a rectangular area in the back third of each side of the court.

Why is the Backcourt Important in Pickleball?

The backcourt is a very strategic position on a pickleball court. Here are some key reasons why the backcourt plays an important role:

Returning Serves

When your opponent serves the ball, you will usually stand in the backcourt to return the serve. This allows you time to react and hit the ball back over the net.

So during a serve, both you and your opponent will have one player each standing in the backcourt, ready to return the ball. Starting the point from the backcourt gives you defensive positioning.

Setting Up Groundstrokes

The backcourt is the area where you can most easily hit groundstroke shots. Groundstrokes are shots hit after the ball has bounced, usually on your forehand or backhand side.

When you are positioned in the backcourt, you have more time to get behind the ball and swing fully to drive the ball with pace and control. This makes the backcourt ideal for hitting powerful groundstrokes.

Defensive Positioning

The backcourt allows you to cover more court space when your opponents hit shots from the non-volley zone or mid-court area. By standing in the backcourt, you give yourself more time to react, move, and play defensive shots.

So the backcourt provides defensive positioning that lets you defend aggressively against shots hit deep to your side of the court. You can return these shots back deep to try and force errors.

Setting Up for Lobs

Lob shots are high arcing shots that go over your opponent’s head and land deep in their backcourt. When positioned in the backcourt, you can most easily hit lobs to send the ball high and deep over your opponent’s reach.

Lobs are great surprise counterattack shots when your opponent approaches the net. And the backcourt positioning lets you hit quality lobs.

How do You Play Shots from the Backcourt?

The backcourt positioning affects your options for shot selection and strategy during play. Here are some key ways to play shots from the backcourt:


As mentioned earlier, the backcourt allows you to hit your best groundstrokes, like forehand drives and two-handed backhand shots. Make sure to move your feet and get behind the bounce of the ball to drive through your groundstrokes with power.

Counterattack Lobs

When pulled wide or forced deep in the court, hit high topspin lobs over your opponent’s head to reclaim control of the point. Lobs don’t need to be perfect, just deep and high.

Defensive Returns

If struggling to get solid contact on difficult shots, simply block or push the ball back deep into your opponent’s court to reset the point. Keep the ball in play from the backcourt.

Drop Shots

Occasionally mixing in soft drop shots can surprise opponents who expect powerful drives from the backcourt. Let the ball barely clear the net to die in the non-volley zone.

Third Shot Drops

On your third shot after the serve, hit a drop shot to bring your opponent forward after they are pulled back by your groundstrokes. This can set up a winning volley.

What Shots Force You Into the Backcourt?

Certain shots from your opponents will force you to retreat back into the backcourt area. Being aware of these shots will help you assume the correct court positioning. Shots that can push you deep into the backcourt include:

  • Hard groundstrokes hit deep to the baseline
  • Lobs sent over your head while you are near the non-volley zone
  • Drop shots that barely clear the net, forcing you to scramble back
  • Serves hit with a lot of power and depth

Learning to comfortably play from the backcourt will improve your defense against opponents trying to move you out of position.

How Can You Draw Your Opponent Into the Backcourt?

To gain an offensive advantage, it helps to draw your opponents deep into their backcourt. This opens more of the court for you and leaves them on the defensive. Some ways to pull your opponent deep into their backcourt:

  • Hit powerful groundstrokes that force your opponent behind the non-volley zone line
  • Use low slice shots that skip and shoot deep into the backcourt
  • Disguise drop shots then lob over your opponent’s head as they charge forward
  • Serve deep and hard to the baseline to start points with you up front

Drawing opponents into the backcourt allows you to command the point and look for a winning shot.

Conclusion: Utilizing the Backcourt is Key in Pickleball

In summary, the backcourt is the area near the baseline of the pickleball court. It provides defensive positioning to return serves, set up groundstrokes, and counterattack against aggressive shots. Mastering backcourt play is essential for well-rounded pickleball strategy.

Remember to move your feet, get behind the ball, and drive groundstrokes from the backcourt. Mix in drop shots and lobs to vary the pace. And work on drawing your opponent deep to take control of points. Understanding and utilizing the backcourt area will help elevate your pickleball skills and court coverage.

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