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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Basic Overall Strategy of Doubles - Phase 1

A previous post mentioned that this is a theme week focused on understanding what is happening on the court. The centerpiece is a video, Doubles Pickleball - The Basic Overall StrategyThat initial post introduced and emphasized the overriding strategy of getting to the net. This post moves on to the first phase of most points which the video calls "The Formality Phase".

The Formality Phase consists of the serve, the return of serve, and the capture of the net by the service return team. This phase is appropriately named because these actions occur in nearly every point of tournament play. The serve initiates play and the return of serve has the goal of allowing the team to get to the net.

Even at top levels of play, the serve is not used as a weapon (although that is changing as mentioned in A Different Third Shot Strategy). There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the serve is an underhanded motion that takes away most of the ability to hit it it hard. Second, there is only one serve allowed (as compared to a game like tennis which allows two serves). Much of this was previously discussed in Service Strategies.

The return of serve is also rarely a scoring shot. It is normally directed down the middle or toward the weaker opponent. A deep return is ideal but many players also hit it high. Either shot accomplishes the goal of pinning the service team deep. A short return, in contrast, allows the opponent to get to the net. The Return of Serve discussed this in more detail and was confirmed in Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Return of Serve.

The return of serve has the goal of allowing the returner to join his partner at the net. That is the single most important part of phase 1.

When both players are at the net, the odds of keeping the opponent pinned deep increase. Players positioned at the net are able to volley rather than take balls on the bounce. A volley is almost always a more offensive shot.

In conclusion, phase 1 (The Formality Phase) consists of only 2 shots - the serve and the return of serve. Points are rarely scored in this phase. They are only strategic in nature with the goal of gaining advantage in later phases.

 video is shown below. This post covers about 4 minutes starting at 5:00. I will include the video each day as we move through it section by section.

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