Pickleball Stacking Learn the Basics

Stacking pickleball is a must-know tactic if you want to improve your game. Whether you’re a beginner eager to learn or someone looking to improve their stacking skills to avoid losing points while untangling the stack, this article on what is stacking in pickleball and how stacking works has been put together just for you.

Stacking Pickleball

Stacking might seem tricky at first, but by the end of this article, you’ll understand how, with a bit of practice, you can bring something fresh to your next pickleball match.

What Is Stacking in Pickleball?

When a team in doubles pickleball begins on the same side before the serve and then switches to their desired sides following the serve, this is known as stacking. You’ve certainly seen this happen when one team is serving and the opposing team has one player positioned along the sideline, holding up their move until their partner returns the serve.

 Stacking Pickleball
Stacking Pickleball

The word “stacking” is appropriate because, rather than each player occupying a distinct side of the court, both players are initially piled on one side, which varies from standard pickleball position.

What is the Purpose of Stacking in Pickleball? Advantages

There are several compelling reasons why teams should use the stacking strategy:

  1. Maximizing Strengths: Stacking allows a team to best utilize its strengths. For example, if a player specializes in forehand strokes, stacking positions that strong forehand in the middle, allows for additional forehand poaching choices.
  2. Left-Handed Advantage: If a team has a left-handed player, stacking assures that both forehands remain centered, maximizing the offensive potential of the team.
  3. Covering Weaknesses: Stacking is a hidden weapon used to cover up a player’s weak point, like an average backhand.
  4. Move and Groove: Stacking can improve the team’s movement on the court. For example, if one player is more agile and right-handed, they can use the ad side to handle overhead shots for a less agile partner.
Tips for stacking
Tips for stacking

There’s a clever twist when you can swap sides after every rally. It means that a team can stack to their strengths or use the weaknesses of the other side. But how can you know about stacking and make it work in a real game? That’s a completely other ballgame.

Pickleball Stacking Rules

There are currently no restrictions that prohibit players from standing anywhere they wish on the court. However, there are additional rules that normally determine where players should be.

Now, when it comes to stacking, here are the key rules to keep in mind:

  • Serve Player: One player specifically has to hit the serve.
  • Return of Serve: The same goes for the return of serve – a specific player takes the shot.
  • Serving Area: The server can’t have any part of their foot on or inside the line during the serve.
  • Bouncing Ball: The ball has to bounce before being hit back after the serve and also on the third shot.
Pickleball Stacking Rules

Once these fundamental rules are followed, the game becomes more open. Players can easily shift to any position after the third shot. It’s like a strategic dance within the rules and regulations.

How does Stacking Pickleball Work?

Instead of adhering to one side of the centerline while stacking, teammates mix things up. They carefully position themselves to move where they feel most at ease, whether it’s by playing to their strengths or attacking an opponent’s weakness.

Stacking regulations and methods differ depending on whether you’re serving or receiving the ball. Continue reading for a more in-depth look at stacking during the serve and stacking on the return.

How does Stacking Pickleball Work?
How does Stacking Pickleball Work?

In a nutshell, players begin on the same side of the court, with the non-serving/non-receiving player waiting beside them, generally near the sideline. After the serve or return, they individually make their way to their preferred playing positions. It’s an active approach that keeps the game strategy on its toes.

Stacking as the Serving Team

When you’re on the serving team and want to stack, it’s quite simple. Assume your partner is serving from the left, but you prefer the right. Instead of standing on the right and crisscrossing pathways, you’d stay close to the baseline behind your partner while they served. They shift to the open side (the right) after serving, and you get into position effortlessly. As seen by the pickleball stacking diagram below:

Stacking as the Serving Team
Stacking as the Serving Team

Stacking serves an important role for the serving team—it ensures that your opponent’s return becomes weaker and more difficult to control. It’s a wise decision to keep the game in your favor.

Stacking as the Receiving Team

Now, when it comes to pickleball paddle stacking as the receiving team, it becomes a little tricky. If you and your partner find themselves returning from a side that isn’t your regular approach, one player will stand outside the court lines, next to the kitchen. As the person receiving the serve takes their shot, the player standing outside the court easily moves into the kitchen position. As a result, the player returning the serve frequently heads to the kitchen line on the other side from where the ball was returned.

Stacking as the Receiving Team

The main objective here is to avoid cutting in front of your teammate as you both advance into your targeted positions on the floor. It’s a tactical play to keep the game flowing smoothly.


Pickleball stacking grows as an intricate yet approachable technique, allowing players to first line up on one side of the court during service and then strategically relocate as the game proceeds. This dynamic strategy allows players to maximize their strengths while attacking their opponents’ weaknesses, showing the versatility that comes with grasping the skill of stacking. As players master the rules and tactics of stacking, it turns into an invaluable tool, giving them a sophisticated edge to control how the match moves forward. Stacking is, in essence, a strategic game that adds a level of skill and refinement to the game of pickleball.


Is stacking legal in pickleball?

Yes, stacking is legal in pickleball. Players can position themselves tactically on one side during the serve and then shift their positions as the game expands, giving them a tactical edge.

Is stacking commonly used in professional pickleball matches?

Yes, stacking is a strategy used at many skill levels, including professional play, to outmaneuver opponents.

What happens if I forget my position while stacking?

If you forget your position when stacking, don’t be afraid to approach the referee for help. According to regulation 4.B.8, players can ask the referee for information about the score, the proper server or receiver, or if any player is in an inappropriate position.

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