What Is Stacking in Pickleball?

In doubles, stacking is one of the advanced pickleball strategies. The piece below provides some excellent tips for gaining control over pickleball stacking, what it is and why it is used.

stacking in pickleball
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So let’s dive right in to know more: what is stacking in pickleball, it’s benefits, etc…

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What Is Stacking in Pickleball?

Pickleball stacking is a strategy used in doubles play in which players don’t stand in a traditional position but stand on either side of the court to gain an edge over their opponents.
As a rule, pickleball players position themselves in their quarters on the court, whether serving or returning.

When using the stacking strategy, two members of the same team start on the same side of the court, usually at the start of the rally, and then move to their traditional positions, depending on how the rally develops.

When Is Stacking Beneficial?

A stacking strategy is popular in pickleball when the following conditions exist:

stacking benefical in pickleball
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  • If you play pickleball with a partner who uses the opposite hand from you (for example, a righty and a lefty), stack their forehands in the middle of the court so that both forehands are on the same side;
  • Pickleball players with stronger forehands or backhands should stack to keep them toward the middle of the court;
  • Stacking could help you emphasize a player’s strength or hide their weakness when they have a particular weakness. For example, if one player has weak mobility and your opponents are throwing up a lot of lobs, you might stack the player with the stronger mobility toward the middle of the pickleball court so they can track them down;
  • When you and your partner face the same opponent across the net, you have a better match-up; and
  • Changing your strategy and giving your opponents a different look can change the momentum of a game.

When the stacking team adjusts to its weaknesses and strengths, it benefits. The advantage of stacking is that if a team spots an opponent’s weakness, they can exploit it. Teams can stack to one side based on their skills or stack based on the weaknesses of their opponents.

Cons of Stacking in Pickleball

You must be careful when stacking! However, stacking comes with some risks, which can make it a risky pickleball strategy.

You can easily lose track of who is the correct server and receiver when stacking. Pickleball partners can only switch sides after serving or returning a serve (as applicable). For this reason, it is essential to be in the correct position when serving or returning a serve.

It is possible to inadvertently give your opponents an easy point if you or your partner are in the wrong position (e.g., being the wrong server or receiver). It is, therefore, important to keep track of the score when stacking!

Stacking in Pickleball
Ron Alvey – Shutterstock

The pickleball court also requires extra movement when stacking. Additionally, this extra movement can result in more unforced errors and easy points for your opponents, not to mention extra exertion on the pickleball court. It’s more likely that you will make mistakes when you change sides and move around the court.

In pickleball, stacking can be an effective strategy in a lot of situations, but not always. The point is it is certainly a strategy you should learn and master, so you can deploy it when necessary.

Is Pickleball Stacking a Legal Strategy?

Does pickleball stacking count as a legal strategy? The chief reason why stacking is allowed in pickleball is that there is no rule dictating where a player can stand during a doubles match except when serving or receiving.

Aside from the player completing their serve and the returner completing the return of serve, no restrictions exist on where players can stand on their side (they can’t jump over the net!), even in the kitchen. In the kitchen, it is impossible to hit a volley.

Essentially, pickleball service rules outline which player serves and from which side of the court, and which player returns.

There is no description of where the other players involved in the doubles game will stand and who will play the next shot after the ball has been returned (unlike table tennis, where the order of shots is predefined).


Is stacking good in pickleball?

In pickleball, stacking is when players are rearranged so that one stays on a specific side of the court rather than in the traditional position. Stacking teams start on the same side, but when the serve or return is hit, they shift into the desired position.

How do you stack paddles in pickleball?

Stacking can be done in singles, doubles, or triples. At the end of the line, the winners of the last game may stack their paddles first. If you don’t see enough paddles in the stack you’re on, don’t stack your paddles on another pile further up. Make sure your paddle is at the end of the line at all times.

How do you keep score when stacking in pickleball?

Players 1 and 2 will rotate sides after each point they score as long as they are in the serving team. As the returning team, Players 3 and 4 will not rotate, and their scores will remain the same.

How Pickleball Stacking Works?

Understanding stacking requires a solid understanding of traditional pickleball positioning and serving rules. The traditional positioning consists of one player on the ad side and one player on the deuce side for each team. Serving teams rotate after scoring while returning teams stay on their respective ad or deuce sides.


Concluding our bog on what is stacking in pickleball?

Let’s quickly, recall!

Using stacking in combination with your partner, you are able to use your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses by changing your post-serve placement on the court based on your strengths and weaknesses. 

The strengths and weaknesses of your opponent will likely influence your stacking strategy. 

“You don’t have to stay in your serving positions. Doubles teams that know how to shift positions to make the most of each play will win more matches!”

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