A scorpion is an arachnid that attacks by raising its tail over its body and then driving its stinger to inject venom into its prey. This raised attack has been used to describe another kind of attack on the pickleball court. If you have watched pro pickleball lately, then you have certainly heard the broadcasters describe certain shots on the pickleball court as the “Scorpion.”
What Is the Scorpion in Pickleball?
With pickleball being an “unsolved sport” (as characterized by Ben Johns, arguably the world’s #1 pro pickleball player), there are new shots being developed as the game evolves. One of these relatively new shots on the pickleball court is the Scorpion.
The Scorpion is named as such because it looks like the arachnid’s attack. A Scorpion is when a pickleball player drops low by using significant bend in his/her knees, raises his/her pickleball paddle above his/her head (like the raising of the tail for the arachnid), and uses a forehand to counterattack an attack from his/her opponents.
When to Use the Scorpion on the Pickleball Courts
A Scorpion is generally used in the following circumstance:
- When you hit a shot that sits low below the pickleball net to your opponents, so that the only direction that your opponents can hit the pickleball is on an upward trajectory; and
- When your opponents have a tendency to speed up the pickleball at your paddle-side shoulder (in other words, the “chicken wing” area).
The Scorpion is a powerful counterattack in this circumstance because your opponents are likely to hit the pickleball up or high relative to your body. Assuming that the pickleball will remain in the court (remember, do not keep your opponents in the rally by hitting any out balls!), the Scorpion will allow you to turn a difficult and awkward shot against you into a shot that is essentially an overhead shot. In other words, instead of hitting a neutral or defensive shot (i.e., a chicken-wing block), you will be able to hit an offensive overhead-like shot that allows you to hit the pickleball down at your opponents (which is one of the best and most offensive positions to hit the pickleball—down at your opponents’ feet).
How to Use the Scorpion on the Pickleball Courts
If you find yourself in this situation on the pickleball court—where your opponents are speeding up a pickleball that sits low below the net—consider using the Scorpion. To execute the Scorpion in pickleball, there are a few crucial keys to success:
- Get Low – To turn a somewhat high attack from your opponents into an offensive overhead-like shot, it is imperative that you get low. This means bending your knees so much that your eye-line is parallel with the pickleball net. If you do not get low, then the Scorpion will not be an option for you, as you will not have any room to attack and extend your pickleball paddle. To execute this Scorpion shot, you must get low!
- Raise Your Paddle – Similar to getting low, in order to hit an offensive overhead-like shot that is the Scorpion, you must raise your paddle above your head. This will mirror an overhead shot and allow you to prepare to hit down on the pickleball. Plus, if your opponents are hitting a low-sitting pickleball, the only place for their shot to go is up. So, by raising your pickleball paddle up, you are ready to hit the most likely shot from your opponents.
- Commit Forehand – The last crucial key to success for the Scorpion shot is to commit to hitting a forehand. A forehand will be easier to execute, allow you to cover more shots, and give you more power in your counterattack (just like if you were to hit an overhead out of the air, you would likely prefer to hit a forehand overhead). Plus, generally speaking, your opponents will likely target your paddle-side shoulder, which is known to be an area of weakness for most pickleball players. This “chicken wing” spot is the transition point between hitting a forehand and a backhand and, in most circumstances, will lead to an awkward shot for most players. By committing forehand, you turn this awkward spot into an offensive spot.
Once you have (1) bent your knees and got into a low position, (2) raised your pickleball paddle above your head, and (3) committed to hitting a forehand shot, then it is time to finish your Scorpion. Hit your overhead-like shot by hitting down on the pickleball to send that pickleball down to your opponents’ feet. Be sure to extend and follow through.
After you finish your Scorpion shot, be sure to revert back to your ready position in case your opponents get the pickleball back to your side of the net.
How to Counterattack the Scorpion on the Pickleball Courts
With every shot on the pickleball court, there are both strengths and weaknesses. For instance, pickleball players that favor their backhand at the Kitchen line are able to block and cover most attacks, but are more prone to a chicken-wing attack. Likewise, pickleball players that like the Scorpion shot on also have both strengths and weaknesses.
If you are struggling against a pickleball player that likes the Scorpion, try the following to cause a breakdown in the Scorpion:
- Keep your attacks low. First and foremost, keep your attacks and speed-ups of the pickleball low. It is hard to hit an overhead-like shot—which is what the Scorpion is—if you keep your attacks low. This is particularly effective if the Scorpion-shot player does not get sufficiently low enough.
- Hit to the backhand side. The Scorpion is a forehand shot. So, make the Scorpion difficult by hitting your attack or speed-up to the backhand side. This will cause your opponent to have to whip the pickleball paddle all the way to the opposite side of his/her body. This takes time (which your opponent will not have much of if you are speeding up the pickleball), so you may be likely to jam your opponent. Plus, if you keep it low, it will be incredibly difficult for your opponent to attack or even keep the pickleball in play.
- Stop attacking low balls. If you are still having trouble stopping the Scorpion when you attack or speed up the pickleball, then stop doing that. Stop attacking those pickleballs that sit low below the pickleball net. Try a different strategy and use a different shot, such as an aggressive dink or an offensive lob. Your opponent that is using the Scorpion is changing his/her ready position, so hit a shot that is counter to that ready position.
Try these pickleball tips to beat the Scorpion!
And, if you are using the Scorpion, remember to disguise your shot and wait until the last second to drop low and raise your paddle to strike. Good players will adjust to your Scorpion counterattack (for instance, by using the tips above), so do not telegraph your next move. Wait until the last second and surprise your opponents on the pickleball court!