Doubles pickleball can be a lot like dancing. As they say, “it takes two to tango.” In dancing, someone should take the lead, while the other partner should follow. Just like dancing, on the pickleball court, one partner in a doubles pickleball team should be the "captain," the "traffic cop," the "alpha," etc.
What we mean by this is that one partner should take the lead on calling out who takes which shots—“YOU” or “ME.” This is particularly important on shots to the middle of the pickleball court (and even more important if you and your partner are relatively new to playing with each other). Working together to cover the entire pickleball court is easier when you and your partner are communicating in real time.
Further, although one partner should take the lead on “directing traffic,” communication is the responsibility of both partners. You and your partner should constantly be communicating during the rally (as well as before and after a rally to improve upon strategy). This communication during a rally includes:
- Whether or not to let certain shots go by that will be landing out of bounds—“OUT” or “BOUNCE IT!”;
- Who is running down a lob and whether or not to switch sides of the pickleball court as a result of that lob—“SWITCH!”;
- If you see a short shot from your opponents and you need to race in toward the Kitchen line—“UP!”; and
- If you hit a poor shot and your opponents are about to go on the offensive against you and your partner—“HEADS UP!”
Things happen so quickly on the pickleball court, so it is important to vocalize what you see in order to act fast and act together. By communicating during a rally, you and your partner will be better able to work as a team and work as one.
This is an easy, but important tip to incorporate into your pickleball game, as having a “captain” that directs traffic and calls out shots can reduce errors and miscommunications on the court. So, pick a captain and call out who takes which shot.