How Traffic Lights Can Help You Teach Pickleball


I had never considered the analogy of traffic lights in relation to attacking the ball in pickleball. However, upon reflection, the concept makes a lot of sense. When Taylor and other professionals teach their students, they use zones of red, yellow, and green to indicate when to be offensive and when to hold back.

The Traffic Light Analogy

Red Zone: Stop and Defend

The red zone applies to situations where you are near the kitchen line and the ball is coming to you either in the air or after it has bounced. If the ball stays low and does not rise above your knees, it falls into the red zone. This is a ball you do not want to attack, as it is likely to go into the net. Even if it makes it over the net, it will be moving in an upward trajectory, making it easy for your opponent to counter-attack. In the red zone, your best strategy is to defend and wait for a better opportunity.

Yellow Zone: Proceed with Caution

The yellow zone is the area between your knees and just above your waist. In certain situations, this is an attackable ball. If you are in a good position and ready to attack, this is a good chance to be offensive. However, the yellow zone also offers opportunities to reset the ball or simply drop it into the kitchen. The key here is to assess the situation and decide whether to go on the offensive or play it safe.

Green Zone: Go for the Attack

The green zone includes any ball that is above your waist. In this case, players of all levels should attack. This is because you should be able to hit down on the ball, making it difficult for your opponent to return. Aim for a spot just behind your opponent’s feet. More advanced players may even target specific areas, such as a right-handed player’s right hip or shoulder, to maximize their advantage.

Adapting the Traffic Light Concept to Skill Levels

One important consideration with the traffic light concept is that the more skilled you are in pickleball, the more you can be offensive, especially in the yellow zone. If you watch professional players in 2021, they attack as much as possible when the ball is between their knees and waist. In years past, this was not as common, but the game is increasingly rewarding aggressiveness. The key is to be consistent and make smart decisions based on the traffic light zones.


The traffic light analogy is a powerful tool for teaching pickleball, helping players understand when to be offensive and when to hold back. By categorizing balls into red, yellow, and green zones, players can make more informed decisions and improve their overall game strategy. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, incorporating this concept into your training can help you become a more effective and strategic pickleball player.

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

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