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Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket: Before We Play, Partner, Please Sign This…

Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket Frank Cerabino 04-17-2023

Dear ____________,

Congratulations for (volunteering / being told) that we would be partners for the next pickleball game.

In an attempt to make this joint arrangement as amiable as possible, please take the next few minutes to read carefully this pregame document I have drawn up for our approaching partnership.

After you agree to each item and affix your notarized signature at the bottom, we are hereby invested by the powers of pickleball to have our shared scores tallied “til 11 do we part.”

Should you take issue with any of the following 10 items, speak up now, or forever hold your serve (for those new to Murmurs, this is a humorous tongue-and-cheek opinion piece – don’t take us too seriously… we are trying to have fun, just like we do on the pickleball court).


1. We will both say “sorry” to each other before the start of the game. This declaration of future regret will cover all actions during the course of said game.

This will save time and a lot of awkward moments during the match when one of us flubs an easy put-away volley, hits a dink into the net, or makes any of the other unforced errors that we commit on a regular basis.


2. We shall respect and obey each other – especially on balls hit between us down the middle.

If communication breaks down and it results in a lost rally, consult Item No. 1.


3. Nothing in this agreement prohibits an occasional “poach” from the NVZ line by either of the parties.

However, excessive poaching that ultimately fails to produce winners, and leaves opponents with easy opportunities to hit winners on the part of the court vacated by the poacher, may result in a brief team meeting at the baseline, leading to a mutual agreement to knock it off.


4. No coaching during the game.

If one of us is better than the other, at no point during the game will    the more skilled player say to his or her partner, “You wanna know what you’re doing wrong?”


5. Establishing boundaries on balls that land close to the line

If we think one of our opponents’ balls lands out of bounds, but our partner calls out “in”, we will silently abide by the judgment of our partner.

But if this happens more than once, we will be allowed to say in a respectful whisper, “Whose side are you on, pal?”


6. Playing with the partner’s balls

If one of us doesn’t like the equipment being used by the partner, especially balls of an unusual color or quality, we will do your best to accommodate the partner, and not say anything derogatory, such as, “I can’t believe you want me to play with it.”


7. Talking during a rally

If one of the partner’s likes to talk during play, by saying things such as “nice get!” while the rally is still continuing, or grunting, he or she will be cognizant of the partners’ preference for silence.


8. Stopping the game to consult your phone to read the USA Pickleball rules.

If during the course of a game, there’s a question about a line call, a potential foot fault, or some other situation, you will, under no circumstances, stop the game and say, “Let’s see what the rules say.” 

Realizing that you are playing a recreational-level game, you agree to quickly resolve all disputes, even if it means going along with your partner or opponents, if they say something like, “Let’s just play the point over again.” 

This means that you will refrain from saying, “I’m pretty sure the rules don’t allow a do-over in this situation,” and then as you walk to your phone in your equipment bag, add, “Look, I’ll show you.”


9. We will say “good game” and paddle tap at the end of every game

We agree to this even when it wasn’t a good game, because it produced a lopsided result due to us being the wrong partners for each other.

We will hide this disappointment from each other and part ways.


10. Nothing in this agreement compels either party to play additional games with each other

However, if at the end of the game, your partner asks you for your phone number for future games, you will out of courtesy provide the other player with a working phone number.

It may or may not be your number, but under no circumstances should it be the number for “Dial a Prayer.” 



Read past editions of Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket, including:

Frank Cerabino is a long-time columnist for the Palm Beach Post in Florida, a pickleball addict like the rest of us, and a newly published author. Check out Frank’s newly released book, I Dink, Therefore I Am: Coming to Grips with My Pickleball Addiction (available on Amazon and a great read (or gift!) for any pickleball player), for pickleball tips and laughs!

I Dink, Therefore I Am | Frank Cerabino


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