Pickleball Hand Signals

Have you ever wondered why certain pickleball teams utilize hand signals during games? It’s like a playbook for victory in pickleball doubles, and it’s an important aspect of a team’s game strategy.

A game plan is an expert strategy for outwitting, outplaying, or outperforming your opponents. Pickleball hand signals are something that you and your partner can readily include in your game plan, regardless of your skill level.

Pickleball Hand Signals

A game strategy in pickleball doubles only works if both players stick to it throughout the game, which is when hand signals come in helpful. They’re quite adept at ensuring that the game plan goes exactly as intended.

Let’s have a look at how these pickleball hand signals bring a new dimension to the game, making each match more entertaining and full of surprises.

What Are Pickleball Hand Signals?

Pickleball players usually use two key hand signals: a flat open hand to indicate “switch,” and a closed fist to indicate “stay.” A third signal, utilizing the spread of the index and middle fingers in a V-shape, may occasionally be used to express a “fake” move – effectively faking a switch but quickly returning to the original side of the court.

What Are Pickleball Hand Signals?
What Are Pickleball Hand Signals?

These signals are normally integrated by the partner standing just behind the kitchen line, also known as the non-volley zone (NVZ), while their teammate stands at the baseline, ready to return the opponent’s serve. It’s a subtle yet powerful way of interaction that adds a strategic dimension to the game.

Why Use Hand Signals?

Hand signals are essential in improving gameplay, especially in doubles pickleball, fostering improved communication and strategic collaboration between partners. Doubles teams frequently use these signals, particularly when using a “stacking” technique to strategically arrange players on the court, regardless of the server. This strategy enables teams to take advantage of individual strengths, exploit opponents’ weaknesses, or capitalize on different player peculiarities.

These signals, which are executed discreetly behind the non-serving partner’s back or paddle, provide vital details regarding post-serve location. Partners employ nonverbal signs to indicate if they want to move sides, adjusting their court positioning dynamically before each serve return. By using these subtle hand signals, players not only communicate efficiently but also add a layer of surprise, keeping opponents on their toes and contributing to higher levels of cooperation and changes during the pickleball game.

3 Basic Pickleball Hand Signals

Before we get into the specifics, it’s important to understand a few basic factors for effectively using hand signals on the pickleball court. To begin, 3 basic hand gestures are commonly used in pickleball games. Pickleball hand gestures include the following:

Open Palm – The Switch

When your partner makes an open palm signal, it’s time to make a quick switch. When you and your teammate are in sync, this informal interaction works well. It’s a good technique for making your next move without giving your plan away to the opposition side, which adds another element of surprise to your gaming.

The Switch
The Switch

Closed Fist – The Stay

If a teammate near the kitchen line signals with a closed hand behind their back, it’s a dead giveaway that they’re not looking to trade positions. Instead, they’ve opted to stand their position on their side of the court. Furthermore, this gesture conveys that the player will not be poaching – an important piece of information for keeping strategic teamwork during the game.

The Stay
The Stay

Open & Close – Fake

Players will occasionally use a signal to let their partners know that they are going to “fake” – claiming to switch but quickly returning to their original courtside. The purpose of fake is to get opponents to become confused. When they see movement, opponents can predict a switch and adjust their third shot plans appropriately. However, a rapid return to the starting side might spoil the opponent’s plan, resulting in the third shot being dropped or not aligning with the player’s intended strategy.

Close – Fake Signal
Close – Fake Signal

In Or Out Hands Signals

  • To call the ball ‘IN’ point the palm, thumb, or index finger downward.
  • Players indicate that the ball is ‘OUT’ by pointing upwards or towards it.

Confirm the Signal

To use hand signals effectively, the player sending the signal must hold it until they get confirmation from their partner. The partner returning the signal will often answer with words such as “ok,” “yes,” or “got it” to confirm the transmitted command. If the returning partner disagrees, they may say “no,” indicating their determination to do the opposite. It is important to accept the “no” as the final choice, which establishes the expected positions for both partners.


Including hand signals in your pickleball strategy gives you a tactical advantage, allowing you to outwit your opponents with flawless teamwork. The trick is not just to use signals, but also to plan meticulously and consistently, developing the approach to the point where it seems simple on the court. By learning these subtle signals, players can improve their game by encouraging good communication and strategic maneuvering, eventually improving the whole experience of this dynamic and quickly rising sport.


Can you switch hands in pickleball?

Yes, players can switch hands, giving them more flexibility in their match. This move is very effective for changing shot angles and strategic events on the court.

Can you hit a pickleball with your hand?

No, hitting the ball with your hand is not allowed in normal pickleball play. To hit the ball, players must use a paddle. In the game, using your hands is considered a fault.

Do all pickleball players use hand signals?

While not necessary, many pickleball players, particularly in competitive situations, use hand signals to improve interaction and alignment with their partners.

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