What is stacking in pickleball?

Pickleball is a quick and strategic game played by many across the globe. It has its characterized techniques, one of them being stacking. 

Stacking is a practice used by pickleball players to maximize the efficiency of a particular hand. It is used when the players are arranged in a position where their dominant hand is not upfront for strong use. Once the initial service is done, the players can return to their desired arrangement. 

The article below explains stacking, its pros and cons, and the rules involved. Read on!

What is stacking in pickleball?

Why stacking

Stacking is a strong technique to keep the player’s “weapon,” their most comfortable and powerful shot available, and open to an incoming ball for a longer period. Stacking is also suitable for teams with one right and one left-handed player. The right-handed player can keep their weapon (e.g., forehand in this case) in the center of the service zone. 

When stacking, the left-handed player can also keep their forehand (also their weapon) in the middle during the service. This allows maximum strengths to be availed during the shots as both “weapons” are ready to use. 

Stacking is also useful for hiding a player’s weak moves. For example, stacking can prevent the opponent from finding this out if a player has a weak backhand. After the initial serve, both players move to the same courtside. Suppose one right-handed player and one left-handed player are teammates. In that case, the shift to the same side of the court exposes an easy backhand for one player and hides the difficulty for the other. When an incoming ball is seen missing, it is very unlikely as a strong response awaits. 

Stacking can additionally give the team members a boost of swiftness in their moves. With the predictability of the angle of hit and no exposed sides to act as threats for the player, movement in the court is easier and less error-full.

Stacking in Pickleball 

Stacking involves several guidelines that should be followed and many acts that should be strictly avoided. These include:

The dos: 

  • Open communication: Make sure you and your partner have discussed the serve and return during the game, particularly sacking. Lack of communication can easily make teams lose points in scenarios that could’ve been easily avoided. 
  • Stamina: Stacking requires running and quick moves. Teaming up players who can run fast and with great energy can score higher and not get tired. 

The don’ts: 

  • Don’t stack without practice
  • Don’t be stubborn during the game. Pickleball requires players to be open to change to find the most suitable positions. Not trying out of stubbornness can cause one to lose many points in the game. 
  • Don’t stack if your dominant hand and that of your teammate clash. Opposite hand placement helps make stacking easier. 

Full Stacking

Full stacking is a technique used by players that have mastered the skill and have reached a level of 3.5 and above. During full stacking, players stack and play throughout the game, regardless of the need to score a point. Full stacking is a dynamic process as the players continually shift their angles to match each other. 

Partial Stacking

Partial stacking is done by players at a beginner level or those who are below 3.5 level. This technique occasionally stacks when the team has to serve. The players return to the basic positions after each serve. This method allows the teams to give strong, strengthened serves with reduced chances of missed balls while simultaneously allowing the players to adjust to their positions with reduced confusion. 

The disadvantage of this stacking position is the reduced clarity amongst the players when the opponent team is serving, as the angles and constant movement can be confusing. 

Stacking Rules

The rules of stacking are short but very important. They must be followed during the initial serve and the return to court positions during the game. These rules include: 

Hitting the ball during the serve

Serve is done by the player on the back end of the court. When serving with stacking, both players start from the same courtside. The server has to stay in its place while the open player has the freedom to move to the open side. 

Return after serve

When a team has a right and a left-handed player with their forehands being their strengths, the team should arrange in a way that their forehands point towards each other in the center of the court. The player is hitting the return shifts diagonally towards the court’s front. 

Serving sides of the ball

The side is served depending on the skill of the player and the arrangement of the players after the last score. The side being served to has to be diagonal to the placement of the server. 

Mental control during pickleball 

Pickleball is a game in which players and teams can easily make mistakes and lose points, with the opponent not having to spend their energy and time.

Also check out this article: How Long Does a Pickleball Game Last?

During pickleball, it is easy for players to lose track of the game’s progress and give the opponent a random advantage. It is best to be alert and play clean and safe during the game. This will allow points to fall in your court and help you win.

A common disliked factor during pickleball is unforced errors. These are errors caused by players with no involvement from the opposite team. An example of unforced errors is a slow, weak serve that makes the ball land in one’s court, making them lose points. These can be avoided by not over-working yourself during the game and ensuring each service is a Powershot. 

Smashing an incoming ball is very easy for experienced players. For beginners, making such moves may be difficult and confusing. To avoid this from happening, keeping the ball low during the game is recommended. A down ball has fewer chances of energetically entering the opponents’ court, thereby preventing a powerful shot as an answer.

Read an in-depth article here: How to Play Pickleball


Pickleball is a sport that requires attention, focus, and a lot of practice. Read more about what pickleball is here: What Is Pickleball?

Stacking is one of the most important moves of the game that requires players to coordinate with each other throughout the game, an act some may find confusing and irrational. This technique can be mastered with practice, leading to many points throughout the game.

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