Dancing with your partner is typically when the A-HA moment happens at bootcamp!
This is when we really get into the strategies of partner play – “Where do I stand when my partner does this?” and “What should my partner do when I do that?”
And at almost every bootcamp, I get the following question:
“I don’t have a consistent partner! How do I get my partner to dance with me during rec play?”
That’s a tough one! But there are some things that you can do when your partner won’t do the jitterbug (or twist!) with you!
It can be very frustrating when you have a not-so-willing dancing partner! (Or a partner who won’t replace the toilet paper, or who is always late, or trying to teach a cat to come when you call it, or, well, you get the idea!)
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot YOU can do to change your partner’s habits! Especially in the short span of a rec game.
Yes, it’s frustrating, but you can make it a bit easier on your partner (and on yourself!).
Imagine that you have a partner that doesn’t move side to side – he or she plants himself or herself in the middle of the box at the line (Yes! The old this is my half of the court and that’s your half strategy!).
Because you like hitting cross-court dinks, you begin to notice that your partner isn’t covering that third alley, and your partner is getting burned time and time again!
So you have some options – you could talk to your partner, you could call a time out and discuss movement and positioning, you could certainly roll your eyes…
And as you already guessed, these probably wouldn’t be very productive!
You can only control the controllables! There’s a good chance you’re not going to change your partner’s habits or strategies in an 11 point rec game!
But here’s what you can do – you can control your game to make it a bit easier for your partner, and as an added bonus, get less frustrated!
In this example, consider your partner – maybe their movement isn’t as good as yours, maybe they don’t understand how the court is divided into three alleys instead of two boxes – whatever the case, you can control only what you can control, not your partner!
Try shortening up those cross-court dinks so they are more to the middle of the court or at least in front of your partner. This way, your partner will be less out of position (and maybe less frustrated, too!).
And some final words about partner rec play…
It’s super easy to get frustrated and annoyed when your partner is having a bad game!
And again, you can control only what you can control. Try being more encouraging during the game – if your partner sees the eye rolls and hears the sighs of annoyance, their game will probably get worse.
No one comes out to the pickleball court with the intent of playing poorly! And when they’re having a bad game, they know it more than you do!
Stay positive for you and your partner. When they make a good shot, let them know it! When they make a bad shot, don’t discourage and move on to the next point (trust me, there’ll be plenty more!).
After all, it’s only pickleball!
How to Grip Your Pickleball Paddle!
A number of years ago, I put out an article on how to grip your paddle.
Even though it’s a pretty in depth article about the different grips (e.g., the handshake grip, the claw grip), there’s more to talk about when gripping your paddle!
If the claw grip works for you, keep using it! Same for the handshake grip!
Because it doesn’t stop there – depending on the situation, there’s a bit more information about grips other than which one you use! Including what you can do to prevent those dreaded pop-ups!
On a Scale of 1 to 10…
At both clinics and bootcamps, during the session on the drop shot I’ll ask what type of grip should you use.
But I’m not referring to the handshake or claw grips!
I clarify my question – “On scale of 1 to 10, with a 1 about to fall out of your hand, and a 10 being the death grip, how strong should you be gripping your paddle?”
I typically recommend somewhere around a four or five for the drop shots.
When you use that death grip, holding onto the paddle for all that it’s worth, that strength and power is transferred to your paddle!
Often resulting in popping the ball up for an awesome putaway by your opponent!
Keeping the grip at a four or five softens the strike on the ball, giving it the opportunity to fall into the Kitchen!
Getting Even Lower
You may need to adjust your grip further depending on the situation!
I ask the same question when we’re about to get to dinking.
No one volunteers that the death grip is recommended for dinking!
At the line during dinking rallies, I recommend that the grip be even softer, somewhere around a 3 on our scale of 1 to 10.
A soft grip helps you make those unattackable dinks!
BONUS! How to Prevent the Death Grip!
Move your feet!
“Excuse me – I thought we were talking about how to grip your paddle?”
We are! Especially when dinking, I recommend moving to get in front of the ball.
If you plant yourself in the center of your side of the court and don’t move side to side, there’s a good chance you may be stretching or reaching for the ball.
Stretching that arm out makes that grip even tighter, resulting in, you guessed it, a dreaded popup!
Moving side to side and getting in front of the ball prevents you from reaching for the ball, which also helps in controlling that nice, soft grip that you’ve developed for your dinks!
HELP! I Can’t Seem to Loosen My Grip!
So you keep popping the ball up, and you know it’s because of how tight you’re holding the paddle.
But you can’t seem to loosen that grip!
Here’s a couple of tricks you can try!
First, try taking your thumb off the paddle!
If that feels too awkward (like it seems if the paddle will fall out of your hand!), you can try a grip where your thumb is on the side of the handle.
When you put your thumb on the side, or completely off the paddle, it’s very difficult to tighten your grip, so your strike on the ball is much softer!
Want to Have an Amazing Pickleball Experience?
I just completed another successful bootcamp in Tucson, and the eight participants were thrilled! Not only did they love how their games improved, they had such a great time and lots of fun! One participant stated this was the BEST holiday she ever had! If you’re ready to experience yourself how to play smarter, get a perfect drop shot, unattackable dinks, dance with your partner, and have a super fun time, sign up for a bootcamp today!