Stacking is a strategy that I like to use when I am playing with left-handed partners. This allows for my forehand and my partner’s forehand to always be in the middle and prevents fewer balls to slip past us.
However, stacking is useful for other scenarios besides playing with a left-handed teammate. In the video below from Pickleball Channel, Dave Weinbach and Justin Rodgers explain what stacking is and three main reasons to employ this strategy when playing pickleball doubles.
The three main reasons they give for stacking are:
- When you’re playing with a left-handed partner and you want both forehands in the middle. This is basically what I do when I’m playing with Tom Pham or Chris Wilson (or any other left-handed person).
- When you want to hide a weak backhand. This is the second reason they give for stacking. I don’t really have what you would call a weak backhand and I don’t know many players who I would say have a really weak backhand, but I do know that I prefer not to hit with my backhand as much as possible. If I have a partner who I know has a strong forehand, we will usually stack to ensure that their forehand is always in the middle. This is what I do whenever I am playing with my friends Karen Fox and Ian Carr. I don’t like hitting backhand overhands and I know that they both have great forehand overhead smashes so I prefer to play on the right and have them play on the left where their forehand is always in the middle and ready for those put-aways.
- When you want to leverage player mobility. We commonly see this in mixed doubles where the teams will stack with the male on the left and the female on the right. Often, this is because the male partner is more agile and able to cover more of the court. Regardless of genders, if you’re playing men’s or women’s doubles (or in mixed, when the female is stronger and more agile), it is always a good strategy to have the stronger, more agile player cover the left side of the court and have their forehand in the middle.
Another reason for stacking, which isn’t covered in the video, is to give the opponents’ a different look. For instance, if they are targeting a specific player and constantly hitting to the same side of the court, you and your partner could use the stacking strategy over the next few points to throw them off.
Stacking can be confusing at first but it is a helpful strategy to learn and use. We have several local players who effectively use this strategy to consistently win matches. Tiffany and Donnie Lesperance and Lori and Dave Belew are two teams that immediately come to mind. Next time you see them playing, watch how they stack and observe how it make a huge difference in the outcome of rallies. Next time you play, give it a try because the more experience you have with it, the more natural it becomes. See you on the courts!