Despite most pickleball players being right-handed, a good percentage of the player population is left-handed or even ambidextrous. Just like in tennis, lefties can be tricky. Here are 7 tips for playing pickleball against a lefty.
The left-handed player will always have the edge since they have more experience playing a right-handed player than a righty does playing a lefty. Here are our top seven tips for when you come up against a left-handed pickleball player:
1. Identify Your Opponents Paddle Hand (Left or Right)
Train yourself to step on the court and notice what hand each player is holding their paddle. Notice this during warms up too – where does your opponent like to do (dink, bang, etc.). Watch how they serve too. It’s okay if you have to keep reminding yourself at first, but make it a habit, and you’ll be able to apply the following tips when you’re playing a pickleball lefty.
2. Lefty Spin
If you’re familiar with playing lefties in tennis, then you’re aware of the different spins they’re able to get on the ball. The same goes with pickleball. Pay attention and focus on the spin of the ball coming at you. Noticing the spin of a lefty player will help you better anticipate where the ball is going, especially where it’s going after the ball bounces. Stay on your toes, keep your legs engaged, so you’re able to react quickly to the spin.
Make mental notes of how the ball may jump off your pickleball paddle differently so you can anticipate that for the next shot.
3. Target Their Backhand
More often than not, a player’s backhand is weaker than their forehand. Target the lefty’s backhand, and remember that it’s the forehand side of a right-handed player if you accidentally keep hitting to a left-handed player’s forehand. When you’re playing against a right/left duo that set up with their backhands in the middle of the court, target the middle. If they have their forehands in the middle of the court, target the sidelines. Force them to use their backhands.
4. Pickleball Stacking
It’s an advanced pickleball doubles strategy for lefty/right duos to always position themselves with their forehands down the middle of the court. It’s an excellent option to try when playing doubles. For stacking against a lefty / righty team, they will either have their forehands both in the middle or both on the outside. Notice this for setting up your shots.
Also, some players stack in pickleball only on serves. Meaning, when they are returning serves, they may be in opposite positions. Stay focused on the places the players are on the court. Or a team may use hand signals when returning serve. Meaning, the team may start in one position and rotate into a stacking position after the return of serve is hit. Try not to let this movement make you nervous. The best way to approach this is to think about your shots before the serve and know what you would like to do in each situation.
See the Pickleball Insights 3.5 skill page for more pickleball videos and tips on pickleball stacking.
5. Target the Middle of the Court
It’s a good strategy in tennis, and it’s also a good strategy in pickleball. When playing doubles, look for the openings your opponents create down the middle of the court. Force your opponents to communicate and hopefully reach for shots. When people reach for shots in pickleball there are usually two main results – a pop up, which you can attack for a put away and a mis-hit into the net.
6. Slow Down the Game
When playing with a lefty, whether in singles or doubles, slowing things down will increase the odds of your opponents getting confused. Slowing the game down gives your opponents too much time to think rather than just reacting to a heavy hit pickleball shot. Also, slowing down the game can help you better analyze the skills of your opponents. Banger matches usually go to the team who has the best banger shots.
Here is a link to a previous blog Pickleball Insights post for Slowing Down the Game.
7. Make Your Opponents Communicate
This is a great strategy to implement even when there isn’t a lefty on the court. Communication is essential in pickleball doubles. When your opponents are stacking with a lefty (both forehands are in the middle), the tendency is for both players to be aggressive. This can lead to confusion on their side. If a lefty and righty team is not stacking (forehands are on the outside), then blast the middle all day long. Make your opponents figure out how to pick who’s shot it is…many times you may end up with a down the middle winner.
Take these tips on the court with you the next time you’re matched against a lefty or a right/left duo and put them to the test. Let us know if you have any more questions about playing against a left-handed player.