Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

Pickleball Strategy: Are You a Good Partner?

One major aspect of this game that is not talked a whole lot is how much being a “good partner” impacts a team’s performance and just the plain enjoyment of the sport.

Difficult Partners

In many clubs or during drop in play, you may get a different partner every match. Hard to build chemistry when they are constantly changing right? Well maybe not, my definition of a strong player is “someone who makes his playing partner better”. Developing racquets skills is one thing, but I have seen great 5.0 players that I would never consider playing with by how they react on the court or how they give the Death Stare to their partner when mistakes are made, or verbally confront their partner over a wrong tactic or a missed shot. I think we have all seen players not react properly on the court to partners mistakes.

If you have the partner that may not be supportive, here is what needs to be done:

  • Ignore their reactions as much as possible
  • Keep your focus on your game
  • Maybe avoid playing with them in the future. That person may eventually get the hint.

Please comment below without giving names to situations you have seen and I will try to share some specific strategies to reduce the disruption caused by these situations.

Mixed Play

Be very aware of your body language and facial expressions as they are powerful communicators to your partner during matches. It is also seldom about the words spoken, always about the tone that conveys the most powerful message.

Tell your partner before the match if you want encouragement or direction during play. Nothing is worse than getting direction on what you should be doing if the opinion is not asked for. Those things should be covered before or after matches, not during play. There is enough going on during play without your partner breaking your concentration with what you should have done when that rally is already in the history books.

A Confident Partner is  a Great Partner

If you are the stronger player of your team, you can help your partner by making them comfortable and confident. How do you do that? A big question so here are some ideas.

  • Take care of your own game first, don’t get too busy trying to cover for your partner or hit winners all the time.
  • Play well and stay focused on what you can do and let go of what your partner does. He or she is doing their best.
  • Give a light smile when a mistake is made by your partner, they feel bad enough, you do not need to pile on.

If you are the weaker player of your team.

  • Don’t carry the weight of the match on your shoulders, stay relaxed and enjoy the experience.
  • Let go of any errors that are made, whether made by you it or your partner.
  • Play safe and smart, don’t try to do too much with the ball, your game is enough. Trust it.
  • Stay confident, being hard on yourself is not a recipe to play better.

Both of you should make an effort to share small phrases of encouragement back of forth between partners.

  • “This rally is ours….”
  • “Stay in the present….”
  • “It is the next shot that matters….”
  • “We are together in this…..”
  • “We got this…..”
  • etc.

Share a comment below if there is are some simple words of encouragement that you like to hear that lift your game.

Couples That Play Together

Yikes! This has the potential to end in an expensive way.

Seriously, some couples are great at being pickleball partners, others are not. If it is causing too much stress, then you do not have to play together. “Pickleball partner” was likely not one of your vows. This nothing to do with having a great marriage or not, it simply shows that some people just should not compete together.

Even if you have been together for a while and know each other well, communication is still the key to success as pickleball partners. Not only on who is playing the ball but what can I do to make you more successful on the court.  This is important for any team but when you are also a team away from the court,  making sure the “do’s” and “don’ts” are clear. That might be something the two of you haven’t chatted about before.

When you start doing that, then you are a good partner.