Recently we posted a question to some of our eNewsletter fans: How has your love of pickleball impacted your personal relationships? The answers we got were wonderful and we’ve decided to post some of them this month – with permission of course.
Response posted by Lawrence.
My wife, Cheryl, started pickleballing a year earlier than I, and pretty quickly began entering tournaments. Due to natural ability Cheryl did well, thus by the time I began playing she already had a male doubles partner. So when I began playing tournaments, Cheryl was taken.
Even though I ended up playing with an excellent athlete from Connecticut and doing well, it was apparent that to win the local tournaments I needed to play with Cheryl. As my best friend and practice player Cheryl agreed to tournament play with me. (Yeah!)
However, early on we had a bit of a tough go. During games Cheryl and I are motivated by different emotions, which led to misinterpretation. (Sorry guys and gals: I won’t disclose this, ‘cause I don’t want future partners using our emotions against us). Cheryl would say things to me during a match that I found irritating, and likewise for her. When balls were hit in between us and neither of us swung there would be a discussion with blame assigned. Never a good thing. After scrimmages and match play we’d rehash the play. Again, never a good thing. Our criticisms of each other’s’ games weren’t welcomed, even when they were well intended. Hell, they were always well intended. We stopped playing together for a while, but eventually our competiveness caused us to seek each other out as partners again.
We now have rules and strategies to smooth through the times when balls are hit between us, the errors both physical and mental that we all make, and to handle the differing emotional approaches we carry onto the court.
- Treat your wife/husband as you would any other partner. I rarely say anything to partners I randomly play with, nor does Cheryl. When you’re close to someone it does not proffer a license to treat them differently on the court.
- Of course talk to each other during a match, but about strategy…not about missed shots. I recall Earl Weaver once saying that he never yelled at a baseball player for a physical mistake, because everyone always tries as hard as they can. However, mental mistakes were fair game. Despite this, remember rule #1.
- After game play only offer suggestions if the other partner asks for it. If they say they don’t want a critique then NO MEANS NO.
- We have a special giggle laugh that we use during stressful situations and the other partner might react badly. For example, when a shot goes between us and neither of us swings, we look at each other and giggle. This relaxes us, and interestingly far fewer balls now go between us.
- A new rule we’ve just added: After a few points into a game we conference about strategy (Pat Bernado’s rule). We always begin with a strategy in tournament play, thus often the conference is nothing more than, “Let’s just stay with what we’re doing.”
Our play together has jumped. Last year we won gold in 5 northeastern state tourney’s, silver in the Nevada State Games and Geezer Meister, and gold in the St. George Fall Brawl and the Huntsman 4.0 level. Due to these successes we’ve been moved up to 4.5. I don’t think we’d have made that by bickering on and off the court. Not only that, but the side benefits of getting along aren’t so bad.
See other responses to our question