Posted on 1 Comment

Switching Hands

Ambidexterity (switching hands) is not necessary to play good pickleball, but it is an option worth considering. You might even enjoy experimenting with it just to see what happens.

You’ll find that it is not particularly difficult to return plays with your non-dominant hand when you are at the non-volley line. You can start practicing switching hands during warming up, and eventually use it in the game. This prevents the full-body side to side movements that are otherwise necessary when your opponent hits one down the sideline, or to your non-dominant side. You can quickly grab the paddle with your other hand, and return the shot.

You can switch the paddle to the other hand as fast or faster than you can set up for a backhand, or move your entire body to the side. With practice, you can get as good at non-volley line rallies in your other hand as in your dominant hand.

You’ll find it more difficult to return backcourt shots with your non-dominant hand, but that too, is possible. While in most of pickleball, you are instructed not to make big swings with your paddle, as you would in tennis, you’ll find that a big, exaggerated swing with your non-dominant hand helps bring about the power and control you need for backcourt shots. Once you learn this, you can return shots that come to your non-dominant side without having to move your whole body as far. This is particularly helpful when the next shot comes right back to the middle of the court. Otherwise, if you had to run to an outside backhand position, you leave much of the court open, and probably will not be able to return to the middle in time. Now you can!

You may find it is advantageous to surprise your opponents with wrong-handed shots.

Another advantage in learning to switch hands is that it comes in very handy if you become injured. Unfortunately, these setbacks are rather common. I have seen many players with injuries such as tennis elbow (tendinitis), torn rotator cuff, and even broken arms play successfully with their non-dominant hand until they healed.

Most such injuries take weeks to heal, but of course you’d still like to play pickleball. Having a head start on non-dominant hand play is useful. However, I have seen players downshift to play with beginners on their first day of non-dominant hand play, then eventually work back up to advanced play. Some become ambidextrous after recovery.

At first, playing with your non-dominant hand feels exceedingly awkward. I believe the trick is to have a playful attitude to ambidextrous play. Otherwise, it is easy to become frustrated and give up right away.

1 thought on “Switching Hands

  1. I am a lefty and have been practicing serving with the non-dominant hand so I can spin the ball to the right instead of to the left and put the ball on right-handed opponents backhand instead of their forehand which most players have more trouble returning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *