Pickleball Paddle Positioning Strategy – Everything you Need to Know

The way we position the paddle matters in the way we play pickleball. The prime objective is to position the paddle in a way that complements the best strokes. Positioning the paddle in an appropriate manner is the key to winning the game. There are basically three Pickleball Paddle Positioning Strategy that has their own ups and downs.

Whether you are a pickleball professional or have just started to play, you must understand that positioning the paddle is an important factor that might influence the game. One thing you should keep in mind is that there is no “perfect” position. Every individual has their own style of play and they should go with the position that fits them best.

Pickleball Paddle Positioning Strategy:

The three widely used pickleball paddle positioning strategies are the Ready Position, Tracking Position, and lastly the Paddle-Up Strategy.

Going with one way to position a paddle can become very puzzling for novice pickleball players. We recommend the upcoming players try all these three positionings once before choosing which one to go for. Every tactic has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. So one must be very careful while making this decision.

1. The Ready Position:

Generally, new pickleball players, when learning how to play pickleball, are told to position their paddle straight up. This is what they call a “Ready Position”. The video attached here has a more detailed explanation of this position with tips. We have seen numerous pickleball players positioning their paddles at 12 o’clock. Even though this paddle position works like a charm for most of the players, not everyone prefers this tactic.

The reason here is that, when the ball is coming toward the players, he or she has to shift their paddle in the 9 o’clock direction to return the ball with a backhand. Similarly, the player shifts the paddle at 3 o’clock to strike the ball back with a forehand.

Video Credit: Selkrik
  • Perfect for defending the body from the coming shots.
  • Leaves the weak side open (left side for right-handed and vice versa).

Our thoughts on this:

To return the shots with backhands and forehands smoothly. Position the paddle in more of a 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position rather than the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. In this way, your elbows are still tucked into the sides of your body and do not jam up. Making the entire process of exchanging the shots trouble-free.

2. The Tracking Technique:

The Tracking Strategy is the brainchild of Sarah Ansboury, one of the best pickleball coaches in the world. While playing using this tactic, you are to position your paddle right in front of your body and just follow the ball with your paddle. Here in this video, the tactic has been explained comprehensively by herself.

One thing to keep in mind here is that you are not only following the ball with your paddle but with every inch of your body. It is just like shifting the entire weight of your body while tracking the ball with your paddle.

Video Credit: Sarah Ansboury
  • Ideal position for poaching the ball.
  • Might result in rotator cuff injury due to excess movement of shoulders.

Our thoughts on this:

Many players make the mistake of keeping the paddle RIGHT in front of them. While it is the essence of the strategy but there needs to be some adjustment. The paddle is to be positioned not too close to the chest.

Refrain from twisting wrists and extending elbows, instead, we recommend the pickleball players stick out their arms all the way in the front and make the most of their shoulders. Lastly, angle the body in the direction of the ball.

3. The Paddle-Up Tactic:

The paddle-up strategy is one of the most confusing techniques there is in pickleball. Solely due to the reason that there are a lot of reasons why this can put you at a disadvantage. But still, many coaches still try to teach this strategy to new pickleball players.

In this tactic, the paddle is positioned right above your chest at nose level. Although this might give you the strength you need to pull off some of the most menacing shots. But smashing the ball while keeping the paddle right above your chest comes with a great cost.

  • Awesome for deadly and powerful smashes.
  • Slows the player down.

Our thoughts on this:

We are of the opinion that one should not go with this strategy. The biggest downside of this technique here is that it raises the center of gravity of the player. Meaning that it will be extremely difficult to move quickly from one place to another on the court.

Key Takeaways:

Proper positioning of the paddle won’t get you the victory that you desire. There are numerous other things to consider while playing pickleball. Here we have highlighted some of the most prominent things you should consider on the court while maintaining your position.

  • Be in a ready position with your paddle out in the front the whole time you are engaged in a fierce battle against your opponent.
  • Try to position your paddle in more of a 10 o’clock or 11 o’clock position than the traditional 9 o’clock position. The reason is that by placing the paddle in such a way, you can respond to the incoming shot without any extra effort with backhands. Also, it can help in blocking shots and protecting your body.
  • As for the forehands, keep the paddle in either 1 o’clock or 2 o’clock position for optimum results.
  •  Place your feet in such a way that they are the same width as your shoulders. This stance gives you more stability and a strong posture to hold your ground.
  • Do not hold the paddle below your waist (except when you’re fatigued). Always be on guard and stay alert as the opponent can strike a hard shot anytime during the match.

Wrapping things up:

Picking up a paddle position and going with it is a key factor to bag points. You must choose a paddle position that is the most comfortable for you. There are quite a few pickleball paddle positioning strategies to opt for. We at Pickleballobby recommend you to give every single one a try before choosing a permanent paddle position.

Robby Anderson

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