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Can You Use Two-Handed Strokes in Pickleball?

Woman hits a two-handed backhand during a pickleball match.

I didn’t think you were allowed to use two hands on a pickleball paddle. However, I stand corrected by Pickleball Magazine.

Introducing the Two-Handed Pickleball Backhand

Pickleball Magazine expert Christine McGrath tells the world how a two-handed backhand is done.

“Of course, you still see the one-handed backhand that has been used since the creation of the game. However, in recent years, the two-handed backhand has entered the game and become popular, especially with some of the top female pickleball players coming from backgrounds in tennis.”

Mc Grath continues to explain that the two-handed backhand offers “additional power and stability.” This may not always be necessary for every backhand, but when the occasion arises, some of the most renowned players use this paddle stroke of choice.

Tyler Loong, for example, has received recognition for having one of the best two-handed backhands. This player has even mastered a two-handed groundstroke that uses a backhanded motion.

You can watch Tyler Loong’s video and see techniques he uses for both offense and defense. Otherwise, you can follow the steps explained by Christine Mc Grath.

Two-Handed Pickleball Steps Explained

Woman about to hit two handed backhand in a pickleball game.

The two-handed pickleball backhand typically applies to a two-handed groundstroke. However, some people might be crazy enough to try it with a volley (hitting the ball in the air instead of when it bounces up from the ground). I say whatever works if you can get away with it.

1. Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Everytime I hear “put one foot in front of the other,” it reminds me of a song from a holiday show that I saw as a child. It still sticks in my brain. Anyway, this is the advice that seems to reign with preparing for the two-handed backhand before the ball comes toward you.

If you’re right-handed: Put your right foot forward to step into the ball.

If you’re left-handed: Put your left foot forward to step into the ball. 

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2. Pull your Paddle Back

The ball will come at you fast, so don’t wait too long to do this. Pull your paddle back as soon as your arm reflexes allow you to. You’ll want to practice this while not playing live because you’re going to do this at the same time as you step forward.

3. Step Forward With Your “Lead Foot”

Your “lead foot” would be the same as your dominant writing hand. By the time you get to this step, you should have already decided to put either your left or right foot forward. Choose the foot to step forward with according to the hand you write with.

4. Bend Your Knees

Woman hits a two-handed backhand during a pickleball doubles match.

Bend your knees at the same time as you also perform step number 5. Doing this simultaneously gives you the momentum you need to hit the ball in the spot you want to.

5. Lean Forward

Have you bent your knees yet? I hope so, and lean forward at the same time.

6. Hit the Ball

While you hit the ball with your paddle in both hands, the lean and bend that you do will provide you with power. This weight will thrust the ball up and forward to where you want it to go.

7. Follow Through With an Arm Swing

Continue to apply your body weight as you swing your arms across your body. By this time, you will have hopefully shifted your weight to your front foot to finish the swinging and thrusting action.

Do You Have to Use Two Hands in Pickleball?

A player holding a pickleball paddle with two hands.

No, you don’t have to use two hands in pickleball. However, it’s one way that beginners can start out. It gives them maximum control over the ball when they do.

What Are Some Benefits of Using Two Hands in Pickleball?

Control over the ball is the number one benefit. It helps you stay out of the “kitchen” too. The “kitchen,” by the way, is the no-volley zone in front of both sides of the pickleball net.

You can’t step into the kitchen at all, and preparing to use two hands could help you keep your balance. It may prevent you from falling too.

Can You Do a Two-Handed Volley in Pickleball?

I don’t see it done very often, but it may be possible. I don’t notice any rules stating that you can’t do this. It might depend on the league. Two-handed pickleball paddling typically refers to back-handed groundstrokes though.