Pickleball Etiquette Tips

If you come from a racquet sport background, you most likely have good on-court etiquette. Here are tips so not to get the opponents cranky during social play. It is all about manners on the court.

  1. Arrive before the start time to help set up. The same goes for finishing up and help where you can. Your host will let you know what you need to do such as taping or marking courts, using the blower on the court, assembling nets, taking player registrations and fees to play. Also welcome the new players as they arrive.

  2. Introduce yourself to everyone before you start playing. You need to know everyone’s name because at some point in the game, you need to address the person example “Joe serves next”. Saying “you serve next” is a little awkward and confusing if you do not have that player’s attention.

  3. There is no place for mobile phones when you are playing. Yes it happens; people will stop to answer their phone. Always have your phone on silent so not to annoy people playing. DO NOT check your smart watch during a game as well.

  4. Warming up is to just do that, warm up by hitting to each other; it is not the time to win the warm up. If a player has not had the opportunity to warm up, allow them to do so.

  5. Social play should be social where you have fun, it is not a time to be so competitive that you forget to interact with the other players. If your ego does not allow this, it is better to not participate socially because everyone else is there yes to play their best but to have an enjoyable time. Nothing worse than leaving a social session to feel down because no-one was being friendly or had a laugh on the court.

    We do try to match up player abilities and it is great to be competitive when players are of a similar ability. In the event a strong player is playing with beginner players, please consider that the beginners are developing their skills. The stronger player can use this time to work on improving their dinking and soft serve, two elements of the game that is often overlooked. Just remember, everyone was a beginner at some point in time.

  6. When a ball rolls onto another court yell “ball on court”. Do not go onto this court to retrieve your ball. Wait for the ball to be returned to you.

  7. Returning ball to your opponents or on another court should be done by either hitting, rolling or throwing the ball DIRECT to the player. Do not kick the ball to them. It helps if the server raises their paddle so you know who to return the ball to.

  8. Do not hold a spare ball in your hand. It is distracting and can confuse players to who is about to serve.

  9. If your opponent has a mobility issue you need to consider this in social play. Play fair and reasonably or it will be reflected upon you as a person. A good idea is to always match the stronger more athletic player with the player with mobility issues. They will more than likely be able to get to the shots the weaker player cannot get to. NEVER lob balls when the opposition are unable to get to the ball if they also have mobility issues.

  10. Do not serve the ball until everyone is ready. If the receiver (especially) is not ready, wait. As a receiver if you are not ready, raise your hand or turn your back to the net. Always play fair!

  11. This is in the rule book. Always call the serve loudly before you serve the ball. If you cannot call loudly, your partner can call it on your behalf. We all muck up the score during the game so don’t worry you may get it wrong.

  12. In social play, praise good shots, even if it is for the opposition. That means everyone on the court. Nothing worse when a player will praise one opponent and not the other. This happens often.

  13. Coaching your partner during a social game is a no-no unless your partner asks for help. It can be taken as aggressive and can be off-putting. If you want to be coached, tell your partner to remind you what you should be doing. Beginners tend to forget game strategies like moving up to the kitchen line and usually stand back.

  14. Say sorry and mean it if you hit your opponent with the ball. NO EXCEPTIONS! Do not raise your hand as the apology.

  15. Never move between courts when a court is in the middle of play. Wait for the point then quickly move through. I mean QUICKLY!

  16. When the game finishes meet at the net and gently touch (kiss) paddles or handle ends. In pickleball you do not shake hands. I have never read why you do not shake, but I believe it is due to cultural differences; some cultures do not allow for skin contact. I have since been told that due to the SARS epidemic, handshaking stopped. Now in 2020, we have experienced COVID-19 and all the more reason not to shake hands.

  17. If you need to get a drink off court, ask all the other players if it is ok, otherwise take your drink with you and place at the back fence.

  18. Read the rules. The pickleball rules summary is here, and the latest rule book can be found here. There is no excuse for not knowing the rules when you play on a regular basis.
  19. Round robins take a lot of planning. If you have put your name down for a round robin:
    – Arrive before start time, if you are running late send a txt
    – Do not leave early, it is better to cancel the day before if you have an appointment
    – If you cannot attend, please send a txt at least 2 hours before play commences

  20. The last most important thing to remember. If in doubt, the point is always IN. If everyone plays this way then it is fair. Unfortunately too many points are called out when no-one on the court easily saw where the ball landed. You cannot call the point when the ball has not landed on your side, however if your opponents ask you, then you can tell them in or out. If a player and their partner, have different calls, the call that stands will be in. You can call a fault on yourself when it differs from your opponents call. Everything about calling points is written in the rule book.

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