The key to playing doubles pickleball is having a proper strategy and clear communication with your teammate. While the rules and court size are the same between singles and doubles, there are differences in how one should play. A good pickleball doubles strategy can propel your team to victory, and recognizing your team’s strengths and the opposing team’s weaknesses will elevate you as a pickleball player.
So, are the rules the same for singles and doubles pickleball? What are the differences in play between singles and doubles pickleball? What are some tips for playing doubles pickleball on offense, defense, and one versus 2?
Here is the complete breakdown of playing doubles pickleball.
Are the Rules the Same for Singles and Doubles Pickleball?
In general, pickleball rules are the same for singles and doubles. In a game of pickleball, all serves are underhand off a volley or drop serve off a bounce. All serves and pickleball paddle head must be below the waist. The serve must be behind the baseline and between the center and sideline at the point of contact.
Pickleball scoring consists of games going to 11 with a win by two unless it’s a tournament that is scored to 15. Doubles scoring only occurs on the serve for that side. Both singles and doubles play adhere to the double-bounce rule. Once the ball is served, the team on the receiving end has to let it bounce before they return it.
Volleying is prohibited in the non-volley zone, commonly called “the kitchen.” If a ball comes in contact with any part of any line except the non-volley line on a serve, it is considered in. Any serve that comes in contact with the non-volley zone line results in a fault. A fault occurs in any action that stops play when the receiving team results in points for the serving team or when the serving team results in the server’s loss, like hitting the ball out of bounds.
What are the Differences in Play Between Singles and Doubles Pickleball?
The main difference in play between singles and doubles is pickleball serving. In singles, the server serves from the right side when the score is even and the left side when the score is odd.
When the serving team’s score is even in doubles, the player who was the first to serve in-game will be on the right side when serving or receiving. When the score is odd, the player will be on the left side when serving or receiving.
Also, on a doubles team, each player on the serving team can serve and score points until a fault occurs. The first serve sequence of each new game is an exception to this rule. The first server of each side-out is made from the right side. If points are scored, the serving player will switch sides. After that, the server will initiate the next serve from the left side.
What are Some Tips for Playing Doubles Pickleball on Offense?
Clear communication and placement on the court are critical in pickleball, especially when playing with another teammate. You should ensure that the strong side of your hand is facing toward the bottom corner of the court when playing doubles. For example, a dominant left-hand player should try and play on the left-hand side since they will have a better chance at returning corner shots.
When it comes to serving, you and your teammate should try and hit it toward the weaker side of the court. You want to place the serve there since it will require a backhand return from your opponent. Backhand returns tend to be softer shots, allowing you and your teammate more time to set up a precise return.
Finally, aim towards the middle of the court at times on offense. Hitting between the net lines tends to cause the highest margin for error. Since hitting the ball there is similar to “no man’s land,” you can force mistakes by the other team with indecision on who should hit the ball.
What are Some Tips for Playing Doubles Pickleball on Defense?
When you are on defense in pickleball, your return of serve is as significant as the serve itself. The return should be deep in the opposing team’s side of the court. Give yourself a margin of error because a missed return makes scoring points for the opposing team easier.
When hitting the ball, look for open spaces that force opponents to stretch the ball. Remember to utilize power shots to throw off your opponents and keep them off balance. Lobs are great, but the forehand is better.
Finally, just like for offense, it is best to communicate clearly during a game. Saying “I got it” when the ball is hit between you and your teammate can reduce unnecessary mistakes. For instance, a ball hit between you and your teammate might result in neither of you swinging since you thought the other would go for it.
What are Some Tips for Playing 1 vs. 2 Pickleball?
When playing 1 vs. 2 pickleball, there are some things to remember to help you win the game. First, communication is critical if you are on a team with two players. It is best to over-communicate who is hitting the ball, where you are going on the court, and more.
Another tip for a team with two is to try and tire out the single player. Setting up volleys that result in players running from left to right on the court will cause them to get tired. Consider consistently hitting the ball to the left and right of the court to force them to tire out faster than staying in the same spot.
For the player playing against two players, there are things to consider. First, communication is vital for the teammates, so you want to aim your shots directly between them to cause confusion. Hitting shots between both players can lead to mental mistakes on who should hit the ball, which can be frustrating. Another tip is to aim your shots against your opponents that require backhand returns. Those backhand returns tend to be slower volleys, which can create a mismatch in return.
Conclusion: How to Play Doubles Pickleball?
Playing doubles pickleball comes down to a great strategy, whether on the offensive or defensive. Always be aware of your team’s strengths and your opponent’s weaknesses. Also, clear communication with your teammate is key to winning games when playing doubles.
Finally, it is worth noting that the rules between singles and doubles pickleball are the same. The same rules apply to winning games by two points, serving underhand, and not hitting the ball in the air in the kitchen. Along with that, the one-bounce rule is still in effect, even with doubles.