What Is Stacking in Pickleball? [Beginners Guide]

What Is Stacking in Pickleball?

Do you know what stacking is in pickleball? If not, you’re not alone. A lot of people don’t know the answer to that question. In this blog post, we’ll define stacking and explain why it’s a valuable tactic in pickleball. We’ll also give some tips on how to improve your stacking skills. Are you ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

Definition of stacking in pickleball

Stacking in pickleball is a tactic that uses two (or more) players to force the opposing team into difficult plays.

This can include:

  • Playing one player deep and the other short to maximize both offensive and defensive coverage.
  • Using two players to cover either 2 or 1 opponent.
  • Forcing your opponent to use a non-preferred side.

Stacking is primarily used on serve receive, although it can be employed during other phases of the game as well (such as transition and baseline). It’s especially useful on serves hit deep in the corner with an angle.

But stacking isn’t always a good idea – it can be risky if your opponents have a lot of experience playing pickleball.

What are the benefits of stacking in pickleball?

There are several benefits to stacking in pickleball:

It allows you to maximize your coverage of the court. This is especially useful when there’s a shallow angle on the serve receive.

It forces your opponent(s) to use their non-preferred hand or side of the court. It can be used as a desperation tactic when your team is down and needs to create a “hail mary.”

How to stack in pickleball?

Stacking in pickleball isn’t an easy skill to learn. It requires trust between teammates and good communication skills.

Before using the stacking tactic, your team should decide how you want to place your players on the court. You can divide it up evenly or have one player deep and the other short (like a 2-1 formation).

The most common way to stack in pickleball is with two players – one on the left and one on the right. This will force your opponent(s) into a difficult sideline cut or crosscourt angle that they’ll have difficulty returning.

If you’re playing against a team that uses the sideline as their primary offensive tactic, try placing a player on the opposite sideline to give your opponent(s) an awkward angle. This can often lead to easy mistakes, especially for beginners who are still developing their offensive skills.

Here are some additional tips on how to stack properly:

  • Don’t “stack” too close together – you want at least one step of separation so it’s harder for your opponent(s) to pass.
  • Also, try not to stack directly in front of the net – this will make it easier for your opponent(s) to poach or pick off shots.

If you’re playing against a team with exceptional serves, avoid stacking on the same side as their dominant hand. Place your players on different sides of the court to force awkward serves. This will often lead to mistakes and faults from your opponent(s).

What are some situations where stacking isn’t the best choice?

Stacking can be risky if your opponents have a lot of experience playing pickleball. If you watch high-level players, it’s rare that you’ll see two teammates on the same side of the court. This is because they’re aware of the risks involved with stacking.

The primary risk is that it allows your opponents to dictate the play. If you stack, your opponents will find a way to exploit the coverage and make you pay for it. Because of this, your teammates need to be well-coordinated and communicate effectively in order for stacking to be effective.

Also, it’s much more difficult for two players to cover the same opponent in pickleball than it is in sports like basketball or tennis. Since you can’t screen your opponent (and you’re likely facing them), communication becomes key to preventing short shots and dump-shots around the court.

When is it appropriate to stack in pickleball?

Stacking is most effective when playing against beginner/intermediate teams. It works particularly well off of deep serves with an angle.

As your opponents improve their skills, they’ll become more difficult to cover and stacking will become less effective. Instead, you should use it as a desperation move – such as when you’re down and need to score.

What are some common mistakes to avoid on stacks?

The #1 mistake on stacking is players not stepping far enough away from each other. This allows your opponent(s) to poach the shot and pass both of you. Many pickleball players make this mistake because they’re not used to covering someone else – it takes coordination and communication.

Here are some other common mistakes to be mindful of:

Don’t allow your opponent(s) to hit down the line when you’re stacking on one side of the court. If they’re able to do this, your defense will break down quickly. Always have a player in the middle so they can’t hit through your block.

Don’t allow your opponent(s) to hit drop shots when you’re stacking. This is a common problem when players are in each other’s way – it happens quickly and can be difficult to avoid.

In pickleball, the player standing behind the block should always fill in for any short shots coming from their side of the court.

Tips for improving your stacking technique.

Practice as a team. You should spend as much time as possible working on defensive drills – this includes stacking. In the beginning, it feels awkward and you have to adjust your positioning depending on your teammate’s positioning.

You must be well-coordinated to pull off a good block in pickleball. Both players need to step away from each other and cover their opponents.

Communicate! Players need to communicate when stepping back from the net – both verbally and non-verbally. Playing without communicating is a recipe for disaster, especially in pickleball where there are a lot of blind shots.

Know your opponent(s). You want to be able to anticipate your opponent’s shots so you can properly step back. For instance, if they have a big straight-down-the-line serve, then there’s a good chance that it will be followed by a short cross court shot to the opposite side of the court.

In this situation, you might want to stack on the same side as their dominant hand to account for this.

Remember that pickleball is a team sport! In order for stacking to be effective, both teammates need to work together seamlessly. If your opponent(s) exploits the coverage, they’ll beat you in more ways than one – by scoring and making you look foolish at the same time!

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