~Covering the Middle, by Sarah Ansboury

Pickleball Essential: Covering the Middle
Posted on July 24, 2017 by Sarah Ansboury
I believe that one of best ways to evaluate how well a team plays together is to return the ball down the middle. Covering the middle is one of the most important aspects of pickleball doubles play, and is the focus of today’s post. Covering the middle.

Service Return to the Middle
When I return the serve to the middle of the court I am looking for two things. First, I want to assess how well the team communicates with one another. A good team will call the ball early, without hesitation. Secondly, I am trying to determine if their team has established one player to cover the middle. Typically, the player with the forehand will take the middle.

You have likely heard the saying, “Forehand has the middle.” This is why you see many teams place the stronger player, or the person with the best forehand, in the odd court. This is the reason many higher level teams stack, even though both players are right or left-handed. By doing this, we take the guesswork out of the shot. The player can have more room and move aggressively to the ball. Their partner knows their role is to move forward towards the non-volley zone line.

Of One Mind
pickleball mindsetEliminating guesswork is so important when we play pickleball. Think of the number of times you may have mishit a fairly easy ball because you changed your mind in mid-swing. When you aren’t sure who is going to cover the middle, you may hesitate for a split second and then rush…or crowd your partner that is trying to return the ball.

By assigning roles, we take the guesswork out of the shot. When we know our role well in advance and have a firm plan in mind we are more likely to allow our body to move in a way that will promote the shot we envision.

Forehand Covers the Middle
Assuming both players are right-handed, we typically recommend that the forehand player take the ball up to about one foot to the right of the center line. This is not to suggest that the other player does not have a strong backhand. They very well may. However, our goal is to put the team in the best position. Having that forehand in the middle keeps more of the court in front of both players.

In addition, often the person who tries to take a backhand tends to make contact a bit further behind them. This, along with the fact that their paddle is required to cross their body leaves them vulnerable down the line.

When I go on the court with new people I usually start with, “If you have the forehand in the middle they are all yours.” I want what is best for setting us up for the rest of the point. The forehand usually has more ability to maneuver the ball and move more easily forward.covering the middle

Of course, every rule will have exceptions. There are times when the backhand will take it…and may even have a better angle than the player on the forehand side…so don’t stew about it. The most important thing is to talk to your partner prior to playing and then reinforce it by calling the ball so there is no confusion. Of course, in those cases when both forehands are in the middle, you need to have a plan worked out prior to playing. When covering the middle, your goal must be to create a plan that works best for the team. Perhaps one player has a better third shot drop that day…or perhaps that day I am struggling with my third shot. I have no problem telling my partner to take more of those shots.

The best players and teams are flexible with how they do things and open to options when they are covering the middle or playing.


~Where to play Pickleball in Northern Colorado


~Mehaffey – 3350 W. 29th Street, 4 courts, lights for night play

~Osborn Park, 1305 SE 4th Street, 2 courts, lights for night play

~Chilson Recreation Center, 700 E 4th Street, call for times (970)962-2386, Chilson

~Muv Fitness 910 E. Eisenhower Blvd., call for times (970)593-9111, Muv

~Fort Collins

~Fort Collins Senior Center, 1200 Raintree Drive, call for times (970)221-6644, FCSC

~Fort Collins City Park, 1500 W. Mulberry Street


~Greeley Recreation Center, 651 10th Avenue, call for times (970)350-9400, GRC

~Kelly Farm, 104 54th Avenue, view their Facebook page here: Kelly Farm


~Windsor Community Recreation Center, 250 N. 11th Street, (970)674-3500, WCRC

~Main Park, 300 Locust Street


*For additional information contact the Northern Colorado Pickleball Association, (970)819-3906, NCPA

**Please let me know if anyone has any additional places for Pickleball play or contact information to add to this list.

OoO-Construction started on four new dedicated Pickleball Courts.

Header photo: Taken on 06/30/2017

Photo below taken on06/25/2017 at Centennial Park, Loveland. CO, 977 W. First Street.

Centennial Park, Pickleball Courts





~Ribbon Cutting Event for the new outdoor courts in Windsor, Colorado

Tuesday, November 1, 2016-Ribbon Cutting Event-1:00pm at Main Park, Windsor, Colorado

(email from Eric Lucas below)

Ok, its official! 

We will cut the ribbon on our new outdoor courts at 1pm on November 1st at Main Park. 

Please help spread the work and make plans to attend.


Eric Lucas, MS, CPRP

Director of Parks, Recreation, and Culture

Town of Windsor

301 Walnut Street, Windsor, C.O. 80550


Photo from Charlotte:



~Chilson Center-PB Schedule (email from Larry dated 10/28/2016)

(Email from Larry)


SENIOR DROP IN PLAY – Chilson Center

November 1, 2016 thru January 1, 2017

I have been working with Gina to plan a schedule for playing times during the upcoming holiday season. 

Please take note of the dates listed below when the Chilson Center will not be available for pickleball:

Please make note of the “no play dates” for the next couple of month

  • Friday, November 4th– No evening play due to Ski Swap Sale at the Chilson Center.


  • Thursday, November 24th– Thanksgiving Day


  • Monday, December 19th– TSD Winter Break


  • Thursday, December 22nd– TSD Winter Break


  • Sunday, December 25th– Christmas Day


  • Monday, December 26th– TSD Winter Break


  • Thursday, December 29th – TSD Winter Break


  • Sunday, January 1 – New Year’s Day


  • Monday, January 2nd – TSD Winter Break


  • Thursday, January 5th – TSD Winter Break


We will continue to play on: 

  • All Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 6:00 a.m.- 9:00 a.m.
  • All Friday evenings from 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. (unless listed above)
  • All Sundays from 11:00 A.M. – 1:30 P.M.(unless listed above)


Regular schedule of play to resume on Monday, January 9, 2017

~UPDATE: PB Play for Thursday 10/20 and Saturday 10/22/2016

oOo Osborn Park: SE 4th Street, Loveland, CO

oOo Chilson Recreation Center: 700 East 4th Street, Loveland, CO

(email from David)

~Thursday, October 20, 2016 – No scheduled play at Osborn – too chilly

~Thursday, October 20, 2016 – Chilson Recreation Center – 1:30pm to 3:30pm

~Saturday, October 22, 2016 – Osborn Park

^Challenge Matches start at 8:00am

^Regular play starts around 9 to 9:30am

~Playing Pickleball Indoors

Playing inside…

I have had a great week of Pickleball, and the week isn’t over yet! With the morning and evening temperatures getting cooler it is nice to find places to play indoors. So here are a few places to play Pickleball in northern Colorado – inside.

Venturing out from my hometown of Loveland this week, I played Pickleball on Monday in Greeley, and Tuesday and Thursday in Fort Collins.

I have played in Greeley several times over the last several weeks and I can’t say enough wonderful things about the facility (six courts) and the friendly groups of players there. They are fun, warm, welcoming and experienced players. It is wonderful to have so many courts available for play and the opportunity to meet and play with great people.

My first visit to play in the Fort Collins Senior Center was Tuesday. The groups I played with there were extremely friendly, welcoming and experienced. They have three courts setup during scheduled play, and when the gym isn’t being used players are allowed to setup Pickleball nets. Take a few minutes and visit the web site for Pickleball at the Fort Collins Senior Center: Senior Center. Scroll down the page to view the schedule. Again, I met and enjoyed playing some challenging games with several groups of friendly people there this week!

I haven’t visited the newly remodeled facility in Windsor, but a visit is on my list of things to do. Here is their October open gym schedule: Windsor Pickleball

Next up, is to play at the Chilson Recreation Center in Loveland, on the newly finished remodeled gym floor. Too bad they don’t have more than two courts available with additional play times.

I look forward to continuing my pursuit of experiencing Pickleball in and around Northern Colorado.

I also truly enjoy playing with all my friends in Loveland!

It is amazing that Northern Colorado has so many places to play Pickleball, and so many wonderful people to play with. The numbers continue to grow!

What a fun sport! Indeed!



Enjoy playing Pickleball? Get together with others in and around Loveland, Colorado, that love to play.