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Lessons from the Pickleball Court – Turning Defense into Offense

Strategy & Technique Stacie Townsend 10-18-2021


There is an old adage that says “the best defense is a good offense.” Defense is essential to success in many aspects of life, including life on the pickleball court. However, defense alone will not result in success. Rather, it is important to turn defense into offense by counterattacking when the time is right.

Turning Defense into Offense

Imagine you and your partner are on the pickleball court. You pop up the pickleball, so that your opponents can go on the offensive. You and your partner jump back off the Kitchen line to buy a few more seconds of time.

BANG! Your opponents hit a swinging volley straight at your feet. With a flick of your pickleball paddle, you somehow get the pickleball back over the net, but so high that your opponents can hit an overhead. You and your partner take another few steps back, so you are now by the baseline.

Lessons from the Pickleball Court – Turning Defense into Offense

BANG! An overhead takes you off the pickleball court to track down the pickleball. But, again, you get it back over the pickleball net with a high lob.

BANG! Another overhead… this time, far to the other side of the pickleball court, causing your partner to race down the pickleball. Your partner gets it back with another high shot.

BANG! Shot after shot, you and your partner keep the point alive with amazing grabs all around the pickleball court. Then, you finally hit a shot that lands in the Non-Volley Zone. With their heads down, your opponents do not see that you race to the Kitchen line immediately upon contact, as you knew you hit the perfect reset. Unknowing you were already at the Kitchen line, your opponents hit a floating shot, which you immediately crush back at them for your own “Shake and Bake.” With a winning shot, you and your partner turned defense into offense with a perfectly timed counterattack.

The point of this descriptive rally is the following:

  1. Always play your best defense and keep the point alive, so that you give yourself an opportunity to make things happen (or for your opponents to make a mistake). If you give up too early, even when your back is against the wall, you do not give yourself an opportunity to change the game or turn the tables;
  2. Be on the lookout for your moment to counterattack. Defense alone will likely not lead to success on the pickleball court. As a result, it is important to look for opportunities to turn defense into offense by counterattacking when your opponents are not expecting it; and
  3. Execute your counterattack! But, be ready for your opponents to mount a counterattack of their own. Never assume that you hit a winner. Keep your guard up and finish out the point until the very end.

Lessons from the Pickleball Court – Turning Defense into Offense

Just like on the pickleball court, in life, “[t]he hand that strikes must also block.” So, guard yourself and always have a “Plan B”—in whatever aspect of life you are focused on (business, financial, driving on the roads, pickleball, etc.)—and always stay positive that, no matter how precarious your situation, you may have a way to completely change the game and turn the tables. To do that, look for opportunities to take advantage of and then execute to the best of your ability. Your ability to stay positive and in the game until your chance to counterattack and turn defense into offense may just be the difference between a victory and a loss or even just a good day and a bad day.


Read past blogs from the “Lessons from the Pickleball Court” series:

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