By: CJ Johnson | February 12, 2018 |

Playing Tip: The 10% Challenge

little boy playing pickleballSo you are in the groove, playing pretty well and syncing with your partner of the moment. Suddenly everything gets thrown off balance because one of your opponents, or maybe your new partner, is left-handed! Do you know that 10% of the U.S. population is left-handed?

Left-handers might be grumpy because they face challenges every day that the rest of us don’t even notice. The world is built for right-handed folks. But that makes lefties very adaptable.

Here are a couple of basics;

Experienced players know the importance of hitting to weak backhands and avoiding feeding shots to strong forehands. But you can’t play smart if you don’t even notice that one opponent is left-handed. So start each game by checking the paddle hand of the other players.

When one opponent is a lefty,  unless they stack which requires a different strategy, there will be times when both of your opponents’ forehands are in the middle. Your typical shot down the center line will be feeding balls to their strength. Don’t do it. You’ll need to change direction.

When they win a point, they have to switch places, and now their backhands are both in the center. Great time to go back to the middle shots.

If the lefty is your partner, you should agree at the beginning of the game who will try to take the center shots. It is more important than ever to communicate, and you should probably call every ball to avoid confusion. It’s a great idea to do this even when you are playing with someone who holds the paddle in the same hand as you do.

Bev writes a weekly email blast for our pickleball club. She delivers the rules with clarity and a sense of humor. If you have a rules question post it in the comments below.


CJ Johnson

Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)