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Stacking Strategy

Stacking is a strategy designed to have one player always playing a particular side of the court during rallies.  One of the two ultimate articles on stacking, complete with photos showing all the positions, was written for us recently by Lee Moore, with help from Verna Moore, Ken Porter and models Terry and Sandi Brown. If your desire is to quickly learn stacking strategy, go here now.   There is more good information below, as well, but in our opinion the article is the quickest way to learn this strategy. The second really excellent piece is Prem Carnot’s recent article. Then come back and read the other stuff, view the video, etc. for further enlightenment, if that’s the right word.

This strategy is most often used when one player is left handed in order to always have both forehands in the center of the court.  It can also be used to allow both players to better know their partner and what the other will do since each player’s backhand and forehand are always in the same place on the court.

Stacking  produces some strange line-ups. When stacking, often you will see both players on the same side of the court during their serve, after which the server will move over to the other court. Used in receiving you’ll sometimes see the proper receiver return the ball and make a run, diagonally, towards the opposite kitchen line. It’s a valuable strategy but not a simple one to master.

Sources indicate that only 10% of the world’s population is left-handed, but that represents a lot of folks nonetheless and of course eventually you will, as a righty, find yourself playing with a lefty. If you only play with them once in awhile nothing will change for you beyond the fact that the other team will occasionally put balls in the middle just because it’s second nature to hit to the middle (“the middle is your friend” is the typical lie told here) , and you are both waiting (if the lefty is on the right side) with your two forehands taking total control of that vulnerable area. That’s a real good thing usually, assuming  you both can take care of your respective backhand sides, and wouldn’t it be cool if you could always have that rotation, instead of  shifting sides and sometimes having two backhands in the middle and sometimes having two forehands in the middle? Well, of course, you can. “Stacking” allows you to do just that.

Here’s an earlier point of view, a nice (and short!) description of what stacking is. We borrowed this from the Rincon Country West Pickleball Club blog post. Check their blog out for some other good stuff as well.

Strategy Behind Stacking

(NOTE: Italicized portion was edited by us a bit….) Stacking is a strategy designed to have one player always playing a particular side of the court during rallies.  It produces some strange line-ups. When they’re stacking, you will see both players on the same side of the court during their serve, after which the server will move over to the other court. Used in receiving you’ll sometimes see the proper receiver return the ball and make a run, diagonally, towards the opposite kitchen line.

This strategy is often used when one player is left handed to keep both forehands in the center of the court.  It can also be used to allow both players to better know their partner and what he will do since each player’s backhand and forehand are always in the same place on the court.

Here’s a fairly new video from Pickleball 411, showing the philosophy of stacking being utilized. (link opens in new window.)

Jacobsen and Nelson used stacking periodically in the match.  Did it help them?  You be the judge.(Ed. Note…they refer to a pretty good match where stacking was  used. Check that out to see the technique used occasionally.  Brian Staub & Phil Bagley vs. Billy Jacobsen and Timmy Nelson (part one) – you’ll easily find part two to the match if you wanna see that finished.)

Back to pickleball.biz talking again….this technique seems to be more difficult to learn that we think it should be. We practiced for an hour recently with two 3.0 friends who were getting ready for their first tournament. Their objective was solely to learn how to move properly while Stacking, and even though I was assisted in the mentoring by my partner-d’jour, Al Hager, an excellent 5.0 player and strong-minded coach (to put it mildly), we were not able to feel confident that our two mentees could do this in the upcoming tournament. And they agreed; more practice would be required before they would feel comfortable using it – they thought they should be thinking about other stuff at the tournament, like winning the point, which itself is a very good point, pun intended once again. But stacking CAN be valuable.

Lastly, here’s another link, this time to Gale Leach’s view on this…she’s written extensively on pickleball and also plays Words with Friends pretty well, as an aside! She has a very nicely piece on stacking here, and we also recommend you subscribe to her newsletter on pickleball…we do.

Gale Leach on Stacking

All this may get you started stacking. It’s a valuable, albeit not indispensable, tactic…it’s worth considering, anyway.