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Master the Art of Being the Perfect Pickleball Partner

Strategy & Technique Pickle4 Team 05-15-2024

Pickleball is more commonly played as a doubles game rather than as a singles game. As a result, mastering the art of being the perfect pickleball partner is important. Whether you are playing with a long-time pickleball partner, or you find yourself on the same side of the net with someone new when hitting the courts for recreational open play, being in-sync on the pickleball court can be challenging, and sometimes even intimidating. To help us all have more fun, win more games, and become better doubles partners, we have come up with some tips to become the perfect pickleball partner:

Find Power in Positivity. Not only do you need to play confidently and play your best pickleball, but your partner does too—at least if you want to be successful. A good partner is one that helps you, motivates you, and remains positive. Positivity breeds positivity… and usually better play. Positivity is essential if you want your partner to have fun, play confidently, and play their best pickleball. Your pickleball partner can feel when you are relaxed and confident. Exuding positivity helps to keep you and your partner cool, calm and collected on the pickleball court. If you or your partner make a bad shot, build yourself and your partner up so you are mentally ready to win the next shot.

Communicate on the Court. Positive and productive communication builds trust and confidence between pickleball partners. You and your partner should communicate any strategy for the game, particularly in a competitive play environment. What is the strategy against your opponents? What are your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses? When you and your partner are working together and on the same page for strategy, rather than fighting each other on strategy, you will certainly be prone to more success on the court. Things happen quickly on the pickleball court, so it is important to vocalize what you see in order to act fast and act together. Call the shots and communicate as a team who has the shot or when to let shots go. By communicating during a rally, you and your partner will be better able to work as a team and work as one.

Be Accountable for Your Play. Give credit to your partner (and your opponents) for good pickleball play and take responsibility for your shots. In other words, voice credit for great shots—“Yeah! Great shot!” or “Way to go! Keep it up!”. Also, voice and take the blame for bad shots—“My bad. I won’t do that again.” or “My fault. I got the next one.” This includes possibly taking blame for a bad shot by your partner. It’s possible that you had a poor shot previously that contributed to your partner’s bad shot. This will help breed positivity as well as establish the lines of communication and build trust between you and your partner.

Be Consistent, Not a Show-Off. Consistency can go a long way. Pickleball is often a game of who makes the least number of unforced errors. Being consistent with your shots and keeping the pickleball in play is sometimes all it takes to win a pickleball game. One fancy shot will not win the match. Be consistent and set you and your partner up for an easy win.

Know Your Partner. It’s important to understand yourself as a pickleball player, but also to know your partner’s strengths and weaknesses, pickleball skills, and personality on the pickleball court. If you really know your partner, you can create synergy between you two. Your pickleball game will be better than the sum of your and your partner’s individual talents. Understanding your partner from a personality and emotional perspective can also help you to deliver the support your partner may need for you to achieve success as a team. If you have never played with your partner, then it will be important to have a quick conversation about your styles of play. Share things such as, “I will drive most third shots,” “I like to speed up the ball,” or “I am known to throw up a lob.” Even a quick discussion can help you and your partner both have some idea of what to expect on the court and not be totally surprised by the shot selection.

Stick Together (in more ways than one). Pay attention to your words and your body language, which can both send a powerful message to your partner on the pickleball court. Remember, no one is ever trying to flub a shot. Remain positive. You are a team; stick together as a team. And, if your partner does make a bad shot, remain positive and build your partner up so that you both are mentally ready to win the next shot. If you are playing with a new partner, be sure that you and your partner are close enough to cover the middle of the pickleball court. New teams are particularly prone to losing points down the middle of the pickleball court. 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. 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.

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, enjoy time with friends (new and old), and make the most of your partnerships with these pickleball tips.

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