Have you ever attended a pickleball tournament? I always find the tournament atmosphere invogorating. There is a positive hustle and bustle surrounding pickleball tournaments and it inspires me to play more and and to strive to improve. I believe we can all use a bit more inspiration every now and then.
One thing that was impressed upon me when I attended my first tournament as a spectator was that the top doubles teams call each and every ball. They say “mine.” “yours,” “bounce it,” etc. They constantly communicate in advance of the ball reaching either of them.
One other thing…if my partner calls a ball, I back off even if I think that I have the better shot at it. We can discuss this after the point, but two players going after the same ball is a fast track for an errant shot!
There is one corollary to this rule – If the ball is toward the center of an area we can both cover and my partner calls it, I will try to backup my partner. What that means is, I stay back a bit and let my partner have the ball they “called,” but I keep my eye on the ball and if they miss, I will try to return it instead. This doesn’t always work, but it has saved some points every now-and-then and a point is a point! How many games would you have won if you had one extra point? I know it would have helped me a good number of times.
When I play, I also like to discuss with my partners who is going to cover lobs. I generally like my partner to cover lobs over my head on my side of the court when I am at the net. I find that the diagonal line is easier and provides more opportunity for a successful return. I then cover lobs over their head when they are at the net. I do communicate with my partner(s), but I need to do more of it so that every shot is assigned to my partner or me well before it reaches us.
Don’t forget, if your partner moves to your side of the court, you need to move over to their side to avoid leaving half the court wide open!
I recently played in a round robin tournament at our community center and there were some players I had never seen before. Sarah Ansboury has in interesting article about playing with a new partner and when we play in pickup games, it is as if we are playing with a new partner many times. As anticipated, she also highlights partner-communication and somewhat humorously, compares this to “pickleball speed dating.” Seriously though, she offers some great advice beyond partner-communication which I think can benefit all serious pickleballers. Be sure to check out the other links in her article for even more details!
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