Pickleball Skills | Understand and Respect the "X" – Pickleball Point Breakdown

Pickleball Skills | Understand and Respect the "X" – Pickleball Point Breakdown

Pickleball Skills | Understand and Respect the “X” – Pickleball Point Breakdown

Understanding and respecting the “X” is a critical skill to learn if you want to improve your pickleball doubles play. We also look at keeping the ball away from your body as you hit your third shot. These are critical pickleball skills to improve your game.

This is part of our Project 4.0 point breakdown video series where we break down a pickleball point to look at optimal and not as optimal play so that we can improve our games.

Link to full match:

Thank you to Chasing Dill for allowing us to use the footage in this video. Thank you also to the players in the video for their play. Finally, thanks to Matt McInerney for the video footage that keeps on giving.

In2Pickle Player Development


  1. kzetting on November 7, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    where do you play in Clearwater? I play in Sand Key

  2. RichM3215 on November 7, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    Sorry to add to the "forehand takes the middle " comments. At the 4.5, 5.0 and pro level I not only see the return covered by the forehand when it’s down the middle, but even when the ball is a third or half into there partners side. (?)

  3. Dave Spencer on November 7, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    What am I missing here. I would never take a ball like that and try to drop it straight ahead of me. I would drop it to the persons back hand that’s basically my X in that situation. If you do a good drop shot that person usually then dinks it cross court back to you just as your arriving to the net in time to get it. I get the X concept but I think it’s a bad idea to think in rec play
    that this random person your paired up with will understand the X, they will do a bad backhand then wonder why you didn’t take it having the forehand

  4. In2Pickle on November 7, 2021 at 8:43 pm

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  5. Erin Shea Hernandez on November 7, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    I’ve tried to play this way but in rec play teammates insist on forehand takes the middle. Great video to refer them to.

  6. badmiyagi .s on November 7, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    First of all if only the player with the forehand covers the center hit it becomes predictable to the opponents.
    Secondly it could result in leaving that spot/area of the left side of the court open.
    The backhand stroke must not be assumed weak. Since this is rec play especially it would be an opportunity to develop and maintain a sound backhand. Otherwise it’ll remain weak. Darwin’s theory of ‘use and disuse’. Using it strengthens it, not using it lets it atrophy.
    Nice example using the X here to illustrate the need to work together as a team and not leave too many open spots for them to exploit. By all means focus on covering that vulnerable middle shot but make sure to cover the sidelines as well. Footwork drills come in handy, as in approach shots, split step and lateral movement and reaching with an otherwise looser/comfy grip, now firming up momentarily.

  7. Jacob Buckman on November 7, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    None of that matters when the player hitting the 3rd shot leaves it up. The 4th shot could have got the feet of either of the opposing players. There are other important points to be made here.

  8. kim leith on November 7, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    great body position analysis of shot choices.

  9. Ann Wilkins on November 7, 2021 at 9:24 pm

    Great video and a light just went off. I heard this at a Helle Spare clinic a few years ago but most rec players want forehand to take the middle. However, this explains why I play so much better with some partners – especially one who is a lefty – we maintain the X. It the ball is coming cross court to you, you take it.

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