What Is Stacking In Pickleball?

The more and more you watch Pickleball matches, especially professional matches, then you’ll begin to see how different strategies are deployed and used, and when players begin to use them in different parts of the game.  

What Is Stacking In Pickleball

Some of these strategies and techniques are fairly obvious, especially when it is something as simple as the type of shot used.

However, there are some other techniques used by players that might confuse you at first, and Stacking is definitely one of them. 

At first, not many Pickleball players even realize that the technique of Stacking even has a name, but this technique is something that can prove particularly useful, especially if you frequently play doubles matches too! 

So, if you want to learn more about Stacking in Pickleball, including what it is and how you can do it for yourself, then this guide will provide you with everything you need to know. 

What Is Stacking?

Before we can begin to teach you the rules of stacking, and how you can employ this tactic for yourself, it’s first important to learn exactly what stacking is. 

In a game of double Pickleball, stacking is the term used to describe when both of the players on a team line up on the same side of the court as each other before the serve, and then go on to place themselves on their preferred side of the court/ 

If you’re someone who frequently watches doubles matches of Pickleball, then this technique is likely one that you will have seen before, especially when one of the teams is serving, and the opposing team has a player on the sideline, waiting until after the initial serve before they take their place next to their teammate. 

As you probably might have guessed, the term “stacking” comes from the fact that the team is “stacked” on one side of the court, as opposed to the traditional Pickleball positioning of having a player on either side. 

What Are The Rules Of Stacking In Pickleball?

Many people might think that stacking is an illegal move or technique in Pickleball, but the reality is that there are absolutely no rules that can actually prevent the players on a team from standing on whatever side they want to on the court.

Of course, however, there are a certain number of rules that dictate where these players stand though, which include: 

  • A specific player must hit the serve
  • A specific player must return hit the return of the serve
  • The server is unable to have any of their foot either inside or on the line when they actually serve the ball 
  • The ball must first bounce before it is able to be returned from the serve, as well as on the third shot. 

These are the only rules that require consideration before you try out stacking for yourself in your next game of Pickleball doubles, outside of these rules, there are absolutely no limitations on where the players are able to move to or the positions they are able to pick up and are able to play from. 

How To Stack In Pickleball

At this point, you’re probably wondering how you stack in Pickleball, as there’s no doubt that you’re just itching to try out this technique for yourself the next time you play a doubles match with your teammate, so let’s get into it. 

What Is Stacking In Pickleball (1)

Usually in a doubles match in Pickleball, one player from each of the teams is designated to stand on either side of the centreline. The right side of this line is known as the deuce side, and the opposite side, the left side, is called the ad side. 

Throughout the duration of a point in Pickleball, many players tend to stick to the side they start on, as that is the way you were always taught to play, right?

However, stacking changes this entirely, and means that both players find themselves either on the ad side or the deuce side, but this can change once both the serve and the return of the serve have been played. 

So, here’s how to stack: 

How To Stack When Serving

When you stack on the serve, both players stand on the serving side, and for the odd points, they’ll be positioned on the left (ad) side, and for the even points, they’ll be on the right (deuce) side. 

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean they’ll just be anywhere in the square. Usually, the non-serving player will stand out of bounds, but close to the baseline, they then will rotate to the pre-agreed position ahead of the third shot.

It’s also not uncommon for a team to decide that the serving player should hit the third shot, and will therefore delay the rotation slightly. 

How To Stack On The Return Of The Serve

Stacking on the return of the serve is a similar process, however, the one who isn’t responsible for returning the serve stands out of bounds, close to the kitchen line, and once the teammate has returned the serve, they can rotate to their preferred positions. 

When Should You Stack In Pickleball? 

The most common reason for people stacking is to take advantage of the strengths of the team. For example, a team with a player with a particularly strong forehand will always want to keep their forehand as close to the centerline as possible, which makes poaching easier. 

Stacking can also be used to keep both forehands on the centerline if one of the players is left-handed, or it can be used to keep both forehands away from the centerline instead. 

It can also be useful to take advantage of an opponent’s weak back-hand too! 


So there you have it, everything you need to know about Stacking in Pickleball, we hope this guide has helped you!

Damien Dansel
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