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Who Covers the Middle in Pickleball? A Simple Rule

by The Dink Media Team on

A righty-lefty combo in doubles pickleball is the way of the future, just ask Ben Johns. But two forehands in the middle also comes with some challenges.

You're going to have more paddle collisions than ever trying to cover the middle.

This is particularly an issue on third shots. Usually, you can default to one player with their forehand in the middle to take the questionable balls.

Two forehands requires a little bit more of a conversation. This easy rule helps simplify everything and save some unintentional paddle taps…

…Introducing the ‘X’ rule, don’t ever call your ex after midnight.

Sorry, wrong ex rule.

The 'X’ rule dictates who takes middle thirds so you don’t have to think about it.

A graphic detailing the "X Rule," helping pickleball players determine who covers the middle.

In the X’’ rule, the player diagonally crosscourt from the opponent hitting the ball takes the third.

This is helpful because the ball is naturally traveling toward the player on the other end of the X. Conversely, it is traveling away from their partner.

Having this figured out gives the partner not hitting the ball a head start toward the NVZ where they can be ready for a shake ‘n bake.

Help solve one of the biggest problems in pickleball: not enough courts. If you have a home court, rent it out on Swimply.

No matter how in sync you are with your partner, instinct takes over and you will be chasing middle thirds. Let this rule simplify the process and improve efficiency on the court.

Read Next: Third Shot Strategies in Mixed Doubles


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