Pickleball is a game for anyone willing to pick up a paddle and give it a try. It’s slower paced than tennis and the smaller area of play allows you to stay closer to your partners and opponents–all the better for post-point small talk. Pickleball's community culture and social nature brings players back to the court week in and week out. Some players even bring speakers and dance to their favorite playlists between hits, because why not?
It takes a village to maintain a friendly and inclusive atmosphere, so read up on how to keep the game fun for everyone. With the right attitude, it’s possible–even likely– that you’ll leave your next pickleball outing with more friends than you had going in. Just be yourself, enjoy the game, and avoid the following pickle-behaviors.
Don’t hog the court.
Part of pickleball’s charm is that it’s a casual game that can be played loosely, with players constantly rotating in and out after every game. There’s no one there to enforce who has to play when. But, that’s no reason to stay on the court for multiple games on end when you could be giving another player a chance to get some pickle time in. Likewise, if you’re part of a group and you’re playing at a location where there are suggested limits to how long you can spend on the court, honor those limits and take a breather so the next crew can come in.
Don’t hog the ball, either.
This one goes out to all you doubles players out there. When the ball comes barreling your way, it can be tempting to lunge for it and hit whether it’s on your side of the court or not. But make sure to slow down and take note of where the ball is going. If it’s headed for your partner’s square, let it go, no matter how confident you feel about your ability to return. You’d want your partner to do the same for you if it was your ball to hit.
Don’t swipe strays.
At facilities where there are multiple courts positioned closely to one another, you’ll occasionally have a wayward ball or two fly in your direction from another group’s game. If you’re between points, take a moment to retrieve the ball and return it to its owner, but make sure to do so carefully. Instead of just flinging the ball back to them without looking, make eye contact and give them a verbal heads up so they can be ready to catch it and keep playing.
Don’t be a line-call litigator.
This one is so important, it even made it into the official pickleball rules. If you hit a ball that goes out of bounds, it’s up to the player (or players if you’re playing doubles) on the receiving end to call “out!”. And here’s the thing: you have to take their word for it. Feel like it was a great shot? Or you could have sworn that you saw it hit the line, rather than bounce outside the line? It’s important to give your opponent the benefit of the doubt on their line call and keep it moving. You may have lost this point, but there will always be others.
And as always, be kind to your fellow players.
A well-placed “please,” “thank you,” and “good game” can go a long way, so be courteous in your interactions, particularly while you’re building rapport with new people. If you’re a first-timer joining a group who plays together frequently, thank them for rotating you in; or, if you’re part of a group, be quick to invite solo players to join you for a game. The more people you include, the more people you’ll get to know; and the more people you play with, the better you’ll become as a player. It’s a win-win.
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