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Tips for Winning: Understanding the Lingo of Pickleball Strategy

teenager hitting pickleball ball up the middle solves the riddle


Pickleball is a popular sport that requires a combination of skill, strategy, and technique. As with all competitive sports, players have developed their own slang to refer to strategies and techniques that maximize their chances of winning. While some of these phrases may seem strange or cryptic at first glance, they are actually packed with important tips and advice to help you succeed in this exciting sport. In this article, we will explore some common pickleball phrases that can be used to improve your game and gain a competitive edge on the court. Read on to find out more!


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Pickleball Strategy: Learning the Lingo

I had a pickleball lesson today and we learned some pickleball phrases that were created to help players drill some of the more common pickleball strategies into your brain so they become second nature. Just like a new driver that has to think about every move they make, repeating these phrases to yourself helps to make these strategies second nature and ingrained in your muscle memory.


I found these really helpful in assisting me to remember the strategies I learned and wanted to pass them on to you. So here they are! Thanks to Kathy for passing them on!

“Down The Middle Solves The Riddle”

Pickleball players across the world use the term “down the middle solves the riddle” to refer to a strategy that can be used to achieve success on the court. This phrase is often used to refer to a shot that goes straight down the middle of the court, which can be beneficial in pickleball.


In pickleball, it’s a good strategy to split up an opponent’s court into two halves and fire up the middle. There are a few reasons why this is a good strategy. First the middle of the net is the lowest point of the net. At 34″ the center of the net is almost 2″ lower than at the post. These two inches can be the difference between going over the net or not.


Additionally, going up the middle gives you more buffer from hitting out of bounds since you have five feet on each side. It can also confuse partners, causing them to falter not knowing who will try for the return. Give it a go and see what happens!


Having said this, there are times when hitting down the middle may not be ideal and therefore caution should be taken before using this tactic over and over again without variation. If you understand your opponents’ game plan and where their weaknesses lie, then you may find situations where there are better options-but in most cases “down the middle, solves the riddle” is a great start for a successful game!

“Laces, Not Faces”

Another popular phrase among pickleball players is “laces not faces.” This term refers to the style of shots that should be taken to maximize success on the court. It involves aiming at your opponent’s shoe laces, or feet, instead of aiming directly at their face or body. This tactic is beneficial for a few reasons.

First, it allows for a greater variety of angles and spin which can confuse opponents in their reaction times and shot selections. Secondly, hitting closer to the ground means there is less space for them to aim their return shot as they have little room to hit the ball above or below your shot. Finally, this strategy increases your control over where you want the ball to land on your opponent’s side of the court as balls hit low are harder to return with power and accuracy.

Of course, this technique requires plenty of practice and skill as it involves being accurate with shot placement rather than relying on brute force alone. Additionally, opponents can still make successful returns if they manage to get underneath the ball in time so it is important to mix up your shots and not rely solely on this tactic game after game!

“Chest High, Let It Fly”

“Chest high, let it fly” is another common pickleball phrase, which means that if the ball coming at you is above your chest, you should not try to return it because it will most likely go out of bounds. This reminder is helpful because it encourages you to focus on playing the ball strategically and confidently.

This is important because it reduces your chances of making mistakes due to rushing or simply not having enough time to accurately predict where the ball will go after hitting it.

Here are some more tips on when to let a pickleball ball go out of bounds:

Overall, these common phrases can help you to keep these winning strategies in mind even in the heat of a match. They provide useful tips on how to improve your game as well as insight into the strategy of experienced players. So next time you are in a pickleball game, try to use some of these terms and see if it helps move your game to the next level.


Good luck and have fun on the court!


Read more: 5 Mental Strategies to Help You Win at Pickleball


Q: What does “down the middle solves the riddle” mean in pickleball?

A: The phrase “down the middle solves the riddle” refers to a shot that goes straight down the middle of the court in pickleball. This strategy is beneficial because it makes it harder for opponents to return the ball and can also confuse partners, not knowing who will try for the return.


Q: What does “laces not faces” mean in pickleball?

A: “Laces not faces” is a phrase that refers to aiming at an opponent’s shoelaces or feet rather than aiming directly at their body in pickleball. This technique makes it more difficult for your opponent to return a low shot and reduces your chance of hitting the ball out of bounds.


Q: What does “chest high, let it fly” mean in pickleball?

A: The phrase “chest high, let it fly” is a reminder to not try to return the ball if it is above your chest in pickleball since a ball hit that high will most likely go out of bounds.

Read more: Pickleball Terms Every Pickleball Player Should Know


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