Today, I’d like to delve into an effective strategy in the world of pickleball. If you’ve ever ventured onto the recreational courts, you’ve likely come across this formidable combination, one that can score you easy points every game. I’m talking about the “Shake and Bake.”

The Shake and Bake is a highly popular combo that many doubles teams employ to gain an edge on the pickleball court. This maneuver involves a third-shot drive and a fifth-shot volley. One partner stationed at the baseline initiates the action with a well-placed forehand drive, targeting their opponent’s backhand, often leading to a high, vulnerable return. This sets the stage for their partner to swiftly move in and finish with a decisive volley. This combination is particularly effective against opponents who struggle to handle power or topspin shots and find it challenging to block the ball. It’s an excellent way to secure easy points on the court while capitalizing on your power advantage.

Let’s break down the components of executing a successful Shake and Bake, starting with the forehand drive. The forehand drive is a fundamental aspect of any player’s repertoire and a crucial shot to master. Proper footwork is essential to set up your shot effectively. Two stances can be employed: an open stance is ideal for balls at the baseline, requiring lateral movement, while a closed stance is better suited for moving forward to address shallow balls.

When you’re positioned at the baseline, the first step is to get to the ball with precise footwork and set up early. Early preparation is key to a successful forehand drive. Once set, it’s important to lower your center of gravity. In an open stance, power originates from the ground up, so getting low helps generate the extra power needed for your forehand drive.

Next, ensure you have the proper grip. While there are different grip styles, it’s crucial to make contact with a slightly closed face. This closed face allows you to generate topspin through your swing. With this closed face, it’s vital to swing from low to high to create the topspin that will help the ball clear the net and land with power on your opponent’s side.

The swing path is another critical aspect of the forehand drive. Think of it as the “swoosh” shot, reminiscent of the Nike logo. You begin high, dip down under the ball, and then finish high again. This motion creates the desired topspin and power. In essence, you want your paddle’s swing path to resemble a swoosh symbol.

Here are some examples of what a proper forehand drive should look like: start high, get under the ball, and finish with a low-to-high swing. This technique generates the topspin needed to send the ball over the net with enough power to force your opponent into a difficult return.

Regarding footwork, from the baseline, you can utilize the open stance to maintain leverage and position yourself well. As the ball comes in low, transition into a closed stance while moving forward. This will allow you to maintain your momentum as you advance towards the net.

Once you execute the forehand drive, it’s your partner’s responsibility to time their approach correctly and position themselves for the finishing volley. Most of the time, when hitting the forehand drive, you’ll aim for the backhand pocket across the court. If you successfully hit that target, your opponent is likely to pop the ball either to the middle of the court or to the right side. Your partner must communicate effectively and recognize your intention as soon as they see your backswing. They should promptly advance to the kitchen line, anticipating the finishing setup. Once the ball is driven to the right side towards your opponent’s backhand, they should be poised to deliver a strong volley, finishing the point.

To gain a deeper understanding of the Shake and Bake in action, let’s take a look at some real-game examples featuring myself and a partner. These instances will provide valuable insights into how to execute a successful Shake and Bake maneuver on the pickleball court.