With a jammed-pack weekend of pro pickleball featuring unique match-ups and partnerships at both the PPA Selkirk Labs Showdown and Major League Pickleball events, we saw some partnerships that worked and some that didn’t. This is similar to our own pickleball play, where we hit the courts for recreational open play and find ourselves on the same side of the net with someone new or maybe even someone that we have never met before.
These first-time partnerships can be intimidating, so we thought of a few tips to help you ease in, have more fun, and win more games with your first-time partner. Try these 5 tips when you find yourself teaming up with a first-time partner on the pickleball court:
- Overly Communicate – With a first-time partner, you have not built up your instincts to know what your partner is doing. You do not have the same feel for court positioning or ability to anticipate the next shot. As a result, it is important to communicate and communicate some more. This means before the game, let your partner know any tendencies that you have. For instance, maybe you like to drive and speed up the ball, or lob the pickleball. This also means that you should communicate extra during points (e.g., “You!”, “Me!”, “OUT!”, etc.), as well as between points, so that you can make adjustments as the game goes on. By overly communicating, you and your first-time partner can help overcome some confusion on the pickleball court.
- Make Your Partner Feel Comfortable – Oftentimes, playing with a new partner can be intimidating. You are not sure of where to be, and you want your first-time partner to be happy with you. Your first-time partner is likely having this same uncomfortable feeling that you have. So, help your first-time partner feel comfortable next to you on the pickleball court. Be encouraging, positive, and responsive. The more comfortable that your first-time partner is on the court, the more likely that your first-time partner will play better—which will help you win the game.
- Play Your Style of Aggressive – As noted above, you may be feeling tentative or uneasy with a first-time partner. It is important to overcome this as quickly as possible because it will affect your performance on the pickleball court. One way to do this is to remind yourself to aggressively play your game. This does not mean that you have to drive and speed up every shot—particularly, if this is not your style of play. Rather, it means to play your game with 100% effort on every shot. Do not play passively or be scared to make a mistake. That is when you will make errors. Go for it!
- Close the Middle – New teams are particularly prone to losing points down the middle of the pickleball court. So, before a game with a new partner, be sure to discuss who will cover the middle, so you do not lose points for lack of communication. This can be as simple as the player with the forehand in the middle takes the middle. Also, be sure that you and your first-time partner are close enough to cover the middle of the pickleball court. Consider taking a small step in toward the middle to exaggerate your coverage, so that you do not fall victim to the common occurrence of losing points there as a new team.
- Have a Good Mindset – Whether you are playing for money like the pro pickleball players or playing for fun at recreational open play, it is important to be in the best mindset on the court. You cannot change your partner while you are on the pickleball court. So, make the most of it for both you and your partner. It is up to you two to work together to come away with the victory.
One of the best parts about the sport of pickleball is meeting new people and being social with the pickleball community. So, embrace your time on the court, meet new people, and make the most of your first-time partnerships with these pickleball tips.
WANT MORE PICKLEBALL TIPS AND STRATEGIES?
Struggling against aggressive players on the pickleball court? For instance, those pickleball bangers? Learn 7 strategies on how to defeat the banger now.
Plus, if you want more pickleball tips and strategies on every aspect of your pickleball game, check out Pickler’s online video lesson collection called My Pro Pickleball Coach. My Pro Pickleball Coach is a fraction of the price of one clinic or even one lesson, and features over 140 video lessons (over 7 hours of instruction!), as well as a corresponding e-book. These online video lessons are available on demand 24/7 and breakdown every aspect of the sport of pickleball, including pickleball drills, strategy, and advanced concepts, so you will play your best pickleball.