Hey there all you beautiful pickle people. I have a personal question….When you’re playing doubles, are you and your partner stacked?…No…hum…well I’m not surprised There are so few teams that I see playing at Pearkes that look the way I think they should. I do, however, have a remedy for those who would like to look better out on the courts. Ladies,…you may get admiring glances from your male playing partner when you are nicely stacked, and guys,…it’s alright if you try something different…..Just keep an open mind, pay attention to the following info, and watch the recommended videos.
So, if everybody’s ready let’s begin our discussion of pickleball stacking 101. ….Oh,…wait,…did you think I was talking about something else?…Sorry.
Here we have an exciting video featuring a team of stackers, lefty Justin Rodgers and right handed partner Dave Weinbach, and the traditionally positioned team of Steve Wong and Aspen Kern. You will notice that when they are on offence, Justin Rodgers plays the whole match from the right side court. His partner Dave Weinbach, naturally, plays the whole time in the left court. You will quickly see how deadly they are as a team. The stacking technique worked well for them, and they claimed the gold medal! The video below featuring the winners.
Here Dave Weinbach and Justin Rodgers give a detailed description of the how and why of the stacking technique. I also heard a radio interview that Dave gave. On the show, he says that it is important to keep track of where you’re standing when you serve. In there team, he said that Justin tells him ‘where to go’. Don’t worry,… I’m sure he says it in a nice way. I’ll talk more about this as why proceed in our discussion.
That great young player, Matt Staub, is using the stacking strategy in both these matches. In the mixed match, Matt takes the left side. His partner, Corrine Carr, gives Matt lots of room to poach. Being right handed, Matt is in position to have his forehand near the middle of the court.
In the men’s doubles, Matt’s partner was a less experienced player by the name of Aspen Kern. Matt changed his stacking plan and took the right side court. This gave Matt the advantage of using his deadly backhand in the middle of the net play.
In this match we see a team of brothers, Rich and Dan Geenen, who use the stacking strategy to their advantage. Rich Geenan is the most experienced player of the two brothers , and he plays offence from the left hand court with his forehand at the middle. This video we can hear an important strategy when your partner is new at the game. The team leader Rich is very communicative with Dan Geenen. Rich calls out ‘mine’ or ‘yours’ on almost every shot. All Dan has to worry about is getting his own shots over the net.
In this entertaining match we have four legendary players battling through four games to decide the winner of the gold medal. The momentum keeps shifting, but in the end the traditionalists, Yvonne Hackenberg & Hillary Marold, edge out the stacking team of Rachel Kroog & Cookie Drake. Their is a link underneath the video where they interview the winning ladies. It was a pleasure to hear Yvonne and Hillary talk about their long partnership!
So there we are folks…. I hope you watch these videos. Then you can decide for yourself if the stacking strategy would help you in your game. It might not be for everyone, but I think it may soon become a common place technique among skilled players that compete in tournaments. One thing that became apparent to me when I watched two right handers stacking,…. the guy playing in the right hand court is going to have to learn to be very good with his backhand shots, and the partner in the left hand court will get lots of practice being the forehand specialist.
When I go to play pickleball at Pearkes Rec, I often imagine I’ve taken a time machine and gone back to school. That’s because at every session I learn something about our sport, and,… about my fellow classmates. Like everyone else there, I’m a student of the game, but, if I was a teacher, then I would give the subject of the following article 3 F’s for his demeanour in the classroom. You may agree with me after you read his answers to my interview questions. Let’s hear his story,… without further adieu here is…
Wayne Russell In His Own Words
Oh, by the way folks, before we get started I thought I should mention something,…the 3 F’s on his report card stand for Fun, Friendly, and Fearless….
1. Wayne, I’m wondering,..how long ago did you catch the pickle head addiction?
- I tore some muscles in my leg over ten years ago which ended my active life. In March of this year I decided that I better get to the gym. The day that I signed up, I saw pickleball through the window at Commonwealth Rec. It took a few days to gather the nerve to go in. I walked into Pearkes and Susan (Guest) greeted me, lent me a paddle and explained the rules. As we warmed up I plodded after the ball and remember thinking to myself, ”You’re an old man.” On the very first point of the game, I fell and broke my wrist. I continued to play about ten games. When I got home my legs were so sore, I couldn’t support my weight on one leg. I was addicted!
2. Have you played other sports?
- The list is long, but my passion since grade 9 was basketball. Some of the more obscure sports I’ve tried are gyn ringette, cricket, kick boxing, wheelchair racquetball, European handball, and the pole vault. I have a diploma in physical education and have had great coaches that stressed fundamentals.
3. Any other info you would like to share?
- When I was first learning pickleball, I would hit overhead smashes at the beginners. Susan said to me one day that probably wasn’t the nicest strategy. It wasn’t of course,…but when you are new there is so much going on, just getting to and hitting the ball takes all your attention. There is no time to think of anything else. People would offer tips and then roll their eyes when I would make the same mistakes. After becoming better at hitting the ball came the time to think about what I was doing. I don’t offer much advice on the court, but,… if you ask,… you may have a hard time shutting me up.
- Pickleball is a great game! It can be very social, fun, great exercise or advanced competition. It really depends on what you want, but it has something for everyone. My mixed doubles partner is Jane Rich and my men’s partner is Terry Glowczynski. We try to play our best but most important to me is having fun. You will often see me laughing on the court. Last Saturday, Neil (Jane’s husband), Terry, and I went on a little pickleball road trip. We played in Ladysmith in the morning and then drove to Nanoose to play in the afternoon. We stopped for Chinese buffet on the way home, or as Terry tells it, ”a romantic dinner by the fireplace.” We were welcomed and had a great day!
- I ‘have’ to say that I love playing and competing and welcoming new players. Everyone has been so helpful and friendly to me…on and off the court! I have spent many Sundays learning the game with Cynthia, Andy and Jason. I have learned much from Eddy, Dave McNeil, and many others. I appreciate the support and encouragement from all, but in particular, Jan Bergen, who I usually refer to as coach.
4. It seems to me that when I watch you play pickleball, you’re like a scientist….Always experimenting with different techniques. Am I right in my analysis?
- Most of the time I am just trying to get the ball back over the net. The mental part of the game is the most important and needs the most work. I sometimes lose attention or get over excited and make a bad shot or hit the ball out. I try to work on hitting soft 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc. shots and,…rather than lob on defence, return a soft shot. The goal is to get to the net. Rather than just hit the ball back, I am sometimes trying to cause the opponents to have to move. There is nothing more satisfying to me than getting opponents on the run and thus opening up the court for the put away shot. I also like to work on speeding up or slowing down the ball. My mantra is,….play with purpose!
5. Can you explain to the readers what you see as the advantages of the pickleball stacking strategy?
- Terry, right handed, is always in the left court and I, left handed, am always in the right court. Most shots are down the middle as the net is lower there, and it’s a safer shot. Forehand shots are stronger than backhands, so this gives us an advantage as both our forehands are in the middle. We are also working on hitting all our shots to the opponents left court,…this limits their angles to return the ball, thus playing into our strength.
- (note from Doug- I have not heard other stackers talk about hitting primarily to one court. I will be interested to hear the results when the guys test their ‘left-stak-attak’ in tournament play. Terry and Wayne may have invented a winning ploy!)
6. I think you mentioned that you and your doubles partners ( Jane and Terry) are going to be playing in next year’s Canadian Nationals. Are there other tourneys you folks are thinking of entering?
- Tournaments add a high level of stress and emotion to the game, and,…a new challenge! Jane and I and Terry are planning to play tournaments here, Nanaimo, Chemanius, Duncan, Kelowna, and Coquitlam.
7. You have a pickleball travel adventure company. Can you tell us where and when your tours are going next?
- I have a small tour company and work with travel agents and ground operators in SE Asia and put together custom trips. I have some trips with a pickleball component, and, as part of that I am offering pickleball equipment. The next pickleball trip is to Vietnam in March with top pickleball pro and teacher, Prem Carnot, the Pickleball Guru. Other trips in the future include the West Regional Tournament in St. George, Utah combined with Vegas and Zion National Park, U.S. Pickleball Championships in Naples, Florida, China in September, and India in November. Also coming are a couple of pickleball cruises. My website is- pickleballgo.ca
8. Last question Wayne,…and it may seem like an odd one, but,…can you tell me again the advantages of buying a used Dodge Caravan over other vehicle choices?
- I really do love my Caravan and have had several over the years. They are great for camping trips, ski trips, and hauling people and stuff. It’s like a covered truck. Good on gas and cheap to fix or replace. I even have my own Caravan guy.
– I have a feeling people might want that van talk information. I’ve noticed a trend in the last few years…..our generation is becoming less materialistic….If that is so then Wayne may be ahead of the curve….People will be trading in their ‘Bimmers’ for the new status symbol of the ‘de-yuppy-fied’ generation….the used mini-van!!
-Thanks Wayne for the interview. I think people will get a kick out of your PB stories. By the way buddy,….I looked up a name for that shot you sometimes hit between your legs. In tennis they call it a ‘tweener’ or ‘the great willy’. Funny names…eh?
Comments, Thank You’s, and Coming Soon in Future Editions of CHALLENGE COURT
Quite a few people liked the profile story on Andy and Cynthia. I think that ‘In Their Own Words’ is becoming the most popular part of my blog.
Future stories I’m working on include a review of the chilli-paddle-wack, pickleball meccas in Mexico and Indio, and who knows what else,..maybe unidentified flying plunkenweedlers!
I appreciate your continued support and encouragement,….thanks for the game!