Stepping onto the court with a pickleball partner requires more than just individual skills. It calls for a blend of communication, coordination, understanding, and a healthy heaping of fun to make the experience enjoyable and successful. Whether discussing strategies, celebrating each other’s victories, or simply sharing a snack between matches, every small gesture builds a solid, respectful, and enjoyable partnership. It’s about harnessing collective strengths, covering for each other’s weaknesses, and moving harmoniously against opponents. Being the best doubles partner is a mix of being supportive, staying engaged, appreciating the moment, and always being ready to adapt, all while keeping the fun alive.
I pride myself on being an exemplary pickleball partner, ensuring a strong game and teamwork on and off the court. Here are some things I am committed to bringing to any doubles partnership.
Communicate: Effective communication forms the bedrock of a good partnership on the pickleball court. Discussing our strengths, weaknesses, and preferences helps us play to our advantage. Setting up clear signals for commands like “Take the shot” or “Cover this side” can be game-changing. It removes the guesswork and promotes seamless coordination on the court, often translating to a more robust defense and a more harmonized offense.
Coordinate: Harmony in strategy, positioning, and shot selection is crucial. When we work together on these aspects, it significantly enhances our chances of outplaying the opponents. A little planning to ensure we don’t go for the same shot or cover the court efficiently can make a significant difference in controlling the game.
Compliment: Everyone thrives on positive reinforcement. When my pickleball partner makes a great shot or shows improvement, I acknowledge it. Like the time my partner Dom nailed that tweener! This not only builds their confidence but fosters a supportive and enjoyable game environment. Avoiding criticism and focusing on the positive aspects of our gameplay keeps morale high and the energy positive.
Calm Down: Mistakes are part of the learning curve. When my partner errs, keeping a cool head is vital. Being upset or showing frustration can only sour the partnership and adversely affect the game. A calm demeanor helps maintain a positive atmosphere on the court, enabling us to bounce back faster from setbacks.
Stay Engaged: The game demands our attention even when not directly involved in a point. Staying alert, reading the game, and preparing to act is crucial. This proactive approach ensures I am always ready to contribute, making it difficult for opponents to catch us off guard.
Adjust: Flexibility in our strategy can be a great advantage. If something isn’t yielding the desired results, I am open to suggesting a different formation or strategy. Being willing to switch things up keeps our gameplay unpredictable and adjusts to the game’s flow, which could be our needed edge.
Hustle: Complacency has no place on the pickleball court. Working hard to reach balls and covering my side of the court keeps the pressure on the opponents. This hustle improves our defense and demonstrates a solid commitment to winning the game.
Share: Teamwork shines when we share the responsibilities on the court. Taking turns handling challenging shots like lobs or serve returns eases the pressure off one another. It’s about sharing the load and ensuring neither of us is overwhelmed.
Celebrate: Celebrating each other’s great shots and achievements on the court keeps the energy and spirits high. It’s a way of appreciating the effort and fostering a positive, enjoyable game environment. This camaraderie often translates to better performance and a more enjoyable game experience with your pickleball partner.
Protect: If my partner is caught out of position or is attempting a poach, covering their side and minimizing the exposed weaknesses becomes my priority. This protective stance showcases a united front, making it tough for the opponents to exploit any temporary lapses or force any pickleball injuries.
Focus: Dwelling on past mistakes or letting distractions affect our game is counterproductive. Staying mentally engaged and focused on the current point is crucial. It keeps us in the moment, ready to tackle whatever comes our way with a clear mind.
Have Fun: At the end of the day, pickleball is a game, and enjoying it with my partner is fundamental. Keeping a positive attitude, smiling through the ups and downs, and cherishing the camaraderie makes the game fun. The more we enjoy playing, the better we perform, and often, the team with the most fun emerges victorious.
Bring Snacks: Pickleball can be a calorie-torching activity, and having some energizing snacks on hand is a good idea. When I bring a mix of healthy, tasty snacks for both me and my partner, it keeps our energy levels up and adds a fun, social element to our game. Sharing a laugh over a granola bar or a piece of fruit can lighten the mood and strengthen our partnership.
Have Good Breath: It might sound trivial, but having fresh breath when communicating closely with my partner is courteous. A quick brush or a mint before the game is a small gesture that goes a long way in keeping our interactions pleasant. After all, a happy pickleball partner is a supportive partner, contributing to a positive game environment.
Don’t Dress Obnoxiously: While showing off that loud, patterned outfit is tempting, dressing obnoxiously can be distracting. I opt for comfortable, appropriate attire that adheres to any dress code and shows respect to my partner and opponents. It’s about balancing expressing personal style and maintaining a conducive, respectful atmosphere on the court.
Don’t Argue With Opponents: Arguments with opponents can quickly escalate and sour the experience for everyone involved. I prefer to keep interactions with opponents cordial and disputes to a minimum. If disagreements arise, I aim for a calm, respectful resolution. This approach keeps the game enjoyable and sets a positive example of sportsmanship for all players. Plus, maintaining a friendly rapport with opponents is in the spirit of good competition and the social nature of pickleball. And be sure not to argue with your pickleball partner!
Do Not Coach Mid-Match: It’s essential to remember that as a pickleball partner, mid-match is not the time for coaching or giving unsolicited advice. It can be distracting and may come off as condescending to my partner. If I notice areas for improvement, I save the feedback for a post-match discussion. This way, we can constructively discuss strategies and tips, keeping the game flow smooth and the partnership strong.
Positive Body Language: A lot can be conveyed through body language on the pickleball court. Maintaining a positive stance, even in challenging situations, can boost my partner’s morale and communicate a sense of determination. Gestures of encouragement and a reassuring pat on the back can go a long way in keeping the spirits high and the partnership harmonious.
Be Respectful of Playing Styles: Understanding and respecting my partner’s playing style is crucial for a harmonious doubles partnership. We may have different approaches to the game, but finding common ground and appreciating each other’s strengths and styles fosters a supportive environment. It’s about creating a synergistic gameplay that blends our unique styles effectively, making us a more formidable team on the court.
Be Punctual: Showing up on time for practices and matches is a basic yet crucial aspect of being a reliable partner. Being punctual shows respect for my partner’s time and sets a professional tone for our partnership. It also ensures we have ample time for warm-up, strategy discussions, and to get in the right mindset for the game. Punctuality is a simple way to build trust and demonstrate commitment to our shared goal of improving and performing well in our matches.
Follow-Up: Regardless of the match outcome, touching base with my partner afterward is essential. It’s a chance to discuss what worked well, what didn’t, and how we can improve for the next match. Celebrating our victories or learning from our losses, this follow-up fosters a culture of continuous improvement and mutual respect. It also demonstrates a shared commitment to growing as a team, enhancing our understanding, and fortifying our partnership for the challenges ahead on the pickleball court.
Being an excellent pickleball partner extends beyond the boundaries of the court. It’s a blend of camaraderie, understanding, support, and the shared joy of playing the game. Each point discussed in this article is a stepping stone towards building a stronger, more enjoyable partnership that elevates your game and enriches the overall pickleball experience. So, the next time you step onto the court with your partner, remember the synergy, respect, and shared laughs that often lead to the sweet taste of victory.