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Is Your Doubles Position Holding You Back?

Are you finding yourself in the wrong position during doubles play? Grasping the nuances between left-side and right-side play can significantly impact your performance on the court.

Let’s dissect this and determine where you might excel.

Left Side vs. Right Side Dynamics

The Left Side Player’s Role

In pickleball, the left side player often takes on an aggressive stance. This player is responsible for executing numerous thirds, drops, and drives, covering more court space to control the game and maneuver the ball effectively.

The left side player typically handles the majority of middle balls due to their forehand being positioned in the center, enabling a more aggressive approach. As one experienced player noted, “I prefer having the stronger player on the left side so they can use their forehand to dominate the middle of the court.”

The Right Side Player’s Role

Conversely, the right side player adopts a more defensive role. This player focuses on consistency, serving as the team’s stabilizer.

They manage many counters, resets, and dinks to keep the team in the point and create opportunities for the left side player to launch attacks. One player shared, “I enjoy playing on the right side because there’s less pressure to make flashy plays, and I thrive on enduring long dink rallies.”

Pro Pickleball Player and Coach Nicholas Wade delves deeper into the intricacies of playing on the left versus right side:

The Dynamics for Left-Handed Players

For left-handed players, the court dynamics shift. Teams with a left-handed player often stack to keep their forehand in the middle. This arrangement allows both players to utilize their forehands for middle shots, maximizing their strengths.

A left-handed player explained, “I’m a lefty and play on the right side. My tournament partner plays on the left. This way, my backhand, which is stronger than my forehand, is more effective.”

Advantages of Playing Both Sides

For many recreational players, alternating between both sides can be transformative. It enhances versatility, allowing you to practice hitting shots from various angles.

One player mentioned, “Playing both sides helps you hit forehand shots down the middle on one side and backhand shots down the middle on the other.” This kind of adaptability can significantly enhance your overall game and make you a more formidable player.

Identifying if You’re in the Wrong Position

Curious if you’re playing the wrong position in doubles? Here are some indicators to help you determine:

  • Comfort Level: Are you frequently feeling out of place or struggling to keep up? Discomfort might signal that you need to switch sides.
  • Effectiveness: Monitor your performance. Are you making more errors than usual or missing crucial shots? Your effectiveness on the court can indicate whether you’re in the right position.
  • Role Preference: Consider whether you prefer being the aggressor or the stabilizer. Do you enjoy taking charge and making aggressive plays, or do you excel in consistency and defense? Your preference can guide you to the appropriate side.
  • Skill Set: Evaluate your strengths. Are you more proficient with forehands or backhands? If your forehand is stronger, the left side might be more suitable. If you have a reliable backhand, the right side could be ideal.

One player shared their experience: “I prefer the right side. I like to drop all my thirds and engage in long dink rallies. My partner handles the aggressive shots.” This player found their optimal position by focusing on their strengths and playing style.

In summary, listen to your comfort level, assess your effectiveness, consider your role preference, and play to your strengths. These tips will help you find the best position for your game in doubles.

Positioning for Partners with Different Skill Levels

By positioning the weaker partner on the right side and leveraging their strengths, you create a balanced team that can effectively compete and develop together. Here’s why:

  • Right Side for Stability: The right side is generally more defensive. It allows the less experienced player to focus on keeping the ball in play, while the stronger player on the left can take on more aggressive shots.
  • Forehand Coverage: If the less skilled player is right-handed, positioning them on the right side allows their forehand to cover the middle. This setup can be more comfortable and effective. For left-handed players, the left side achieves the same result.

Good communication and support from the more experienced player can help the less skilled partner improve and gain confidence, leading to a stronger overall team dynamic.

Players’ Preferences and Strategies

Players often have specific preferences and strategies based on their strengths and who they’re partnered with.

One player shared, “When I’m playing with a less experienced partner, I like to be on the left side so I can take control. But with an equal partner, I prefer the right side because it lets them be aggressive while I focus on positioning and setting them up.”

Another player added, “I think more and more pro players will start specializing in specific sides. I’m trying to play full right side in men’s matches but still stay left in mixed doubles.”

It’s evident that whether you play left or right, it largely depends on personal comfort and strategy. Some players switch based on their partner’s skills, while others stick to one side to perfect their game. Experimenting with different positions can help you find what works best for you.

Find Your Sweet Spot

Understanding your playing position in doubles pickleball is crucial to maximizing your potential on the court. Knowing whether you’re best suited to stand on the left or right side can make a huge difference in your game. But don’t stop there—being versatile and open to change is just as important.

Experiment with both sides, and see how different strategies and positions feel for you. You might discover hidden strengths or new ways to complement your partner’s playstyle.


1. How do I determine my best position in doubles?

To find your best position, assess your comfort level, effectiveness, role preference, and skill set. Experiment with both sides to see where you perform best.

2. Can left-handed players play on the left side?

Yes, left-handed players can play on the left side, but many teams prefer stacking to keep the forehand in the middle for both players, maximizing their strengths.

3. What if my partner and I have different skill levels?

Position the weaker partner on the right side, focusing on their strengths. This setup allows the stronger player on the left to take on more aggressive shots, creating a balanced team.

4. Should I specialize in one side or play both?

Specializing in one side can help you perfect your game, but playing both sides can enhance your versatility and overall skill set. Experiment to find what works best for you.

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

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