Whether it is pickleball social play or competition play, it is important to communicate with your partner from the time you walk on the court.
I am a leftie so I always inform my partner of this. Amazing how many times they will say “so?”. Experienced players will understand the difference because when I am on the right side it means our backhands are to the middle to begin with, placing both of us under more pressure as more people hit to the middle of the court than to the sidelines as the margin of error is less. To overcome two backhands in the middle, a good strategy is to discuss with your partner about stacking.
You need to discuss the following
- Discuss your weaknesses. You may have a mobility issue due to knee problems so you cannot get to net shots quickly from the serviceline. Your partner who may already be at the net can take all the net shots until you come forward.
If you have a weak backhand tell your partner. This means they can take more shots on their forehand side which is your backhand.
- Who will take the down the middle shots? Very important to discuss. Too many times players assume their partner will take the shot and no-one does . The rule usually is, the person with the forehand in the middle will take the shot. If two forehands are in the middle then the stronger player will take the shot or the player in the best position.
- Who will take the lobs? An effective way to deal with a lob is if a lob is hit over your head, then your partner has more chance returning the lob by running across the court, rather than you trying to run backwards. When your partner crosses to your side, you must switch to their side and inline with where they are standing.
- Yell out. If you know you can take the shot, call mine or if you are not in the correct position, call yours. Call yours if you have no intention of hitting the shot. Call out very loudly if you can see your partner is about to hit a ball that you know is going out. Switch is a clever call. Your partner at the back may want you to change sides if you are at the kitchen line.
DO NOT yell out to your partner how to hit the shot or how to move. Example: ‘up’, ‘run’, ‘move’. This is rude. It will put your partner off. It is not for you to tell them how to play the game, unless of course they ask for on court coaching during play!
- Negativity. When you play doubles you are a team. As a team you need to be supportive so showing your frustration towards your partner making mistakes is a reflection of you as a person and you as a poor partner. Soon people will not want you to play with them.
Be known as the positive, supportive partner because in social play, there is no trophy or medal, only your damaged ego if you lose!