What is stacking in pickleball | Pickleball Stacking Rules

Pickleball is a strategic and challenging racket sport that’s gaining popularity worldwide. As a player, you need to have a solid understanding of the various strategies that can be employed to outwit your opponents and stay ahead in the game. One of these strategies is “stacking,” a maneuver used by pickleball players to improve their advantage at the net. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what stacking is, how it works, its benefits, and when to use it.

What is Stacking in Pickleball?

Stacking is a serving and positioning strategy employed in doubles play that involves lining up on the court with a partner on the same side of the court. It’s typically used to leverage the dominant hand of one’s partner, placing them on the side of the court where they can use their forehand more effectively. This strategy often forces opponents to adjust their serves and shots, giving you a competitive advantage.

How Does Stacking Work?

Pickleball Stacking Rules

Stacking involves having one player stand in the traditional position at the net on the right-hand side of the court, while the second player positions themselves in the same spot on the left-hand side. This is done to allow the partner who has the stronger forehand to have more room to operate, thereby enabling them to hit more effective shots. Additionally, positioning both players closer to the centerline makes it difficult for the opposing team to hit a winning shot down the middle of the court.

Pickleball Stacking Rules

The rules regarding stacking can vary depending on the type of game being played, but there are some general guidelines that are commonly followed.

Stacking in Doubles Play

In doubles play, players usually stack in order to make the most of their strengths and weaknesses. In this case, the stronger player will often play on the side of the court where they can best utilize their skills. For example, if a team has a stronger forehand player, they may want to place that player on the right side of the court.

Stacking in Mixed Doubles Play

Mixed doubles play introduces some additional rules for stacking. In this case, the stronger male player is typically placed on the right-hand side of the court, while the stronger female player is placed on the left. This allows for more equitable gameplay and balances the strengths of the male and female players.

Stacking in Tournament Play

In tournament play, stacking is usually allowed, but there may be restrictions on how it’s implemented. The most common rule for tournament play is that players must remain in their designated position for the entire game. This helps ensure that teams are evenly matched and prevents stacking from becoming too dominant.

Exceptions to Stacking

There are some exceptions to the stacking rules in pickleball. For example, if a player is injured during the game, they may be replaced by a substitute. In this case, the players may be re-stacked to create a more balanced matchup. Additionally, some leagues and tournaments may have their own specific rules regarding stacking.

Benefits of Stacking

Stacking is a beneficial strategy that many pickleball players use to improve their chances of winning. By having one player stand on the same side of the court as their partner, they are allowed to cover their weaker backhand side, thereby reducing the risk of errors. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, positioning both players closer to the center makes it more challenging for opponents to hit shots that go through the center, which can often be a weak area for many players.

When to Use Stacking

It is essential to note that stacking isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. It should be used in certain situations and circumstances to be effective. For example, many players use stacking as a counter to their opponents’ stacking, as it can cause confusion and alter their opponents’ gameplay. Additionally, stacking may be useful when a team is struggling to come back from a trailing position or when they need to break their opponent’s momentum.

Drawbacks of Stacking

While stacking can be an effective strategy, it does come with some drawbacks. Leaving a wide-open gap between the two partners, may enable opponents to exploit the gap and hit a winning shot. Moreover, stacking can also compromise the team’s court coverage, which can result in difficulty returning certain shots.


In conclusion, stacking is a strategic maneuver that many pickleball players use to gain a competitive advantage. It can be a valuable strategy when used correctly, but it isn’t the best option for all situations. Be sure to use stacking as a counter strategy to confuse your opponents, and only use it when your partner is better suited for the forehand side. By applying the stacking technique correctly, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a formidable pickleball player.


When is the right time to use stacking in a game?

Stacking can be a useful strategy, but it’s important to know when to use it and when it might not be the best option. It can be especially effective when playing against opponents who hit primarily to one side of the court or when trying to target a specific opponent’s weakness. However, stacking may not be the best choice if you and your partner are not comfortable playing on the same side of the court or if your opponents are particularly skilled at hitting unpredictable shots.

How do you choose which player goes in front and which goes in back when stacking?

The general rule of thumb is that the stronger player should be in the back, while the weaker player is in the front. It is because the player in the back is typically relied on for more defensive play and may need to cover more ground, while the player in front can focus more on offense. However, this can also be dependent on individual playing styles and strengths, so be sure to communicate with your partner and make adjustments as needed.

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