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Try This Pickleball Strategy to Involve Your Partner When You Are Being Targeted

Strategy & Technique Stacie Townsend 10-02-2023

Sometimes, during competitive pickleball play, your opponents can employ a strategy where they will target you over your partner. In other words, your opponents will hit most of their shots in your direction and not to your partner. When this happens, there are a few pickleball strategies that you can employ to involve your partner and relieve pressure off of yourself. 

One such pickleball strategy is for your partner to squeeze to your side of the court and insert herself or himself into the point. However, what happens if your partner still cannot get into the rally? How can you force your opponents to hit the pickleball to your partner and change the pattern? This article will briefly discuss one pickleball strategy to involve your partner in these circumstances.

In the following pickleball strategy you are trying to force your opponents to hit to your partner when they are intentionally targeting you in a narrow part of the court:

1. Dink Down the Line: Start by dinking the pickleball down the line at the opponent standing in front of you. This helps to keep the pickleball in your side of the pickleball court, while also starting to create an opportunity for your partner to get involved.

2. Fake an Erne: As you dink the pickleball down the line, move (or fake a move) toward the sideline by the pickleball net as if you are about to perform an Erne shot. As a reminder, an Erne is when you move quickly toward the sideline by the net to hit a pickleball, typically used when your opponents try to hit the pickleball near the sideline. Your opponents will either (a) hit the pickleball right to you for an Erne (and you will dissuade your opponents from hitting the pickleball back to you), or (b) will react to the Erne move and adjust their shot selection away from you.

Try This Pickleball Strategy to Involve Your Partner When You Are Being Targeted

3. Force Crosscourt Dinking: If your opponents adjust their shot selection, then the Erne move is likely to make your opponents dink the pickleball back to the middle of the pickleball court or crosscourt. In other words, your opponents will avoid hitting the pickleball towards you and be forced to hit the pickleball to a space that (hopefully) your partner is occupying.

4. Set Up Your Partner: With your opponents now dinking the pickleball down the middle or crosscourt, your partner should anticipate this change and position herself or himself accordingly. Your partner should move to cover additional court space—likely near the middle of the court in order to cover the high percentage shots from your opponents, while also being wary of aggressive crosscourt shots.

By executing this pickleball strategy, you create a scenario where your opponents are more likely to direct their shots towards your partner, allowing your partner to actively participate in the point when he or she is otherwise being “iced out.” Effective communication with your partner is crucial to ensure seamless coordination and court coverage when using this pickleball strategy.


Plus, if you want more pickleball tips and strategies on every aspect of your pickleball game, check out Pickler’s online video lesson collection called My Pro Pickleball Coach. My Pro Pickleball Coach is a fraction of the price of one clinic or even one lesson, and features over 140 video lessons (over 7 hours of instruction!), as well as a corresponding e-book. These online video lessons are available on demand 24/7 and breakdown every aspect of the sport of pickleball, including pickleball drills, strategy, and advanced concepts, so you will play your best pickleball.


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