The Most Embarrassing Pickleball Moments (and how to avoid them)

No one likes to be embarrassed, especially in front of a crowd. And the thing about being embarrassed on a pickleball court is that the other players are nearby, ready and waiting to laugh. So here are a few ways to embarrass yourself on the pickleball court.

Embarrassing Pickleball Moment #1

Run into the ball. It took six months to happen to me, but when running to grab a lob, I turned my back on the ball, and the ball hit me; guess where: the back! It was awful timing, and I blame fatigue since the incident came near the end of a late night. During a pickleball lesson with a pro, I learned that most injuries happen when you are running backward, hence the move. Needless to say, my courtmates found the rare occurrence amusing.

Solution: Never take your eye off the ball.

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Embarrassing Pickleball Moment #2

Serve into the net. Eminem taught us that “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance.” Since pickleball only offers you a single serve AND you can only score when you serve, you can’t afford to miss it. Blush-inducing serves can include: missing the very first serve of the game, following an awesome service with a horrible serve, hitting your partner while you serve, hitting your opponent who is standing by the net, or by totally blasting the ball long.

Solution: When it comes to the pickleball serve, consistency is king.

Embarrassing Pickleball Moment #3

Clinking Paddles. Pickleball doubles are all about teamwork. But even the best players find themselves meeting in the middle of the court and CLANK–paddles collide. The worst part is that the ball rarely gets where it needs to be when two people are striking it. The result is egg on your face and a lost opportunity. Communication is key. And subsequent paddle collisions are even more embarrassing than the first!

Solution: Map out a game plan with your partner before the game starts. This might include choosing dominant sides or choosing to communicate vocally during the match.

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Embarrassing Pickleball Moment #4

Overmatch and underwhelm. Let’s be honest: no one enjoys pickleball or playing any sport if one side dominates. The best way to avoid this is by playing with people of similar skill levels. And the embarrassment goes both ways: if you dominate, you might be taking advantage of weaker players. If you’re getting crushed, it’s humbling. Most of us have been on both sides of the spectrum. The key is to learn from your pairing mistake. And, if you are supremely better than your opponent, work on your skills rather than choke the life out of them; if not, prepare to be embarrassed as other players mark you for life.

Solution: When playing in a league or an open play, put fun and exercise ahead of competition.

Embarrassing Pickleball Moment #5

Looking the Part but Playing the Fool. I love people who love pickleball. And rocking pickleball accessories is a lot of fun. But you don’t want to be the person who looks like a pickleball player and then fails to deliver. So, if you’ve got the gear, make sure your game is on point, too. I’m talking to you, the player with the high socks, tilted visor, large pickleball bag, in floral shorts. While not unique to pickleball, you’ll want to be sure to avoid a wardrobe malfunction. I actually had my shoe fly off a few weeks back while running for a ball. Lace those shorts and shoes nice and tight, and wear an undershirt if you are prone to sweat.

Solution: All things in moderation.

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Embarrassing Pickleball Moment #6

The whiff. Nothing is worse than swinging at the ball and missing! It’s the ultimate embarrassment. And, if you happen to miss the ball more than once in a row, you might as well pack it up and go home. Because, at that point, you are officially the laughing stock of the pickleball court.

Solution: Whether it’s a groundstroke or an overhead, don’t overthink the shot: just make contact.

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There you have it: a few ways to embarrass yourself on the pickleball court. But don’t worry, we’ve all been there. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and have a sense of humor. So, now it’s your turn. What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on a pickleball court?

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