Stacking vs. Switching

A couple of months ago I wrote about stacking and how it can be a useful strategy when playing. We talked about the main reasons why teams adopt this strategy.

Today we are going to talk about switching because many people use these terms interchangeably. While the outcome is the same, the players are playing in their desired position which is a different position than they would be playing if they were playing traditionally, the key difference is that switching introduces the element of surprise.

Teams can stack when they are serving and when they are returning. When you see a player stand off to the side closest to the position that they will cover while their partner returns the serve, the team is basically stacking. The returner will return the serve and quickly run to cover the other side of the court (not the side that they returned the serve from).

While you realize all of the benefits of stacking when you use the stacking strategy, the main disadvantage is that the other team knows exactly which player will be covering which side of the court before the rally even begins, so it’s not difficult to target a specific player if they choose to do so. With switching, because the players are standing in their normal positions, the opposing team isn’t absolutely certain of who will be covering which side because the players may or may not switch. When teams are stacking, you know exactly what the other team is doing. When teams are switching, it is far less predictable. The team could “fake” like they will switch but stay instead.

Here’s a great video from Mark Renneson that demonstrates stacking vs. switching.

Trey Sizemore at Pickleball Hut wrote a good article about stacking and switching which you can read here.

This one is another great video from Mark Renneson. There’s so much going on in this video which is why I just love the PPA Hot Shots video series from Third Shot Sports. However, the main thing I want to draw your attention to is that Jessie Irvine and Irina Tereschenko (red tanks on the far end of the court) are stacking on their serve and the receiving team, Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters (pink outfits on the near end) are switching after the return of serve.

At the start of this point, Jessie and Irina are both on the upper left corner with Irina serving to Anna Leigh. Anna Leigh returns the serve and immediately runs to cover the left side of the court while mom Leigh shifts to cover the right side. If the Waters were stacking rather than switching, Leigh would be standing at the sidelines on the right side during the serve and slide left after the return. Since they are switching rather than stacking, Leigh is on the left side of the court and shifts right after the return.

We will probably revisit this video again because there is much to talk about on these PPA Hot Shots videos but, for now, I hope it is a good demonstration of the stacking and switching strategies.

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