It’s bad when that shot whizzes between you and your partner!
It’s worse when it’s one of the slow pickleballs that kind of dribbles between you and your partner!
After either of those scenarios, it’s certainly too late to discuss who should have taken the ball.
But you can discuss what to do in the future when the same thing happens!
Select a Caller!
Most of the time, it doesn’t work to have both players calling balls.
“Mine!” and “Mine!” or “Yours!” and “Yours!” at the same time puts you and your partner back at Square One!
That’s why I recommend only one person call the shots – there’s much less confusion between the two of you!
You and your partner just need to decide who is going to do all the ‘talking’ on the court! And certainly decide before the game starts!
KISS Those Calls!
Yes, Keep It Super Simple when calling the balls!
I recommend “ME” or “YOU” when calling. The sounds of these words are clear and distinct!
Some players may say, “I go,” or “You go,” but sometimes the player only hears the “GO!” Especially during the heat of a long rally!
And then that ball slips between you and your partner, or the paddles smack together!
Getting Your Partner to Hold Back…
The ball is certainly going to go out and you want your partner to hold off…
Yelling “Noooooooooooo!” is certainly one option!
I personally like “Bounce it!” This communicates to your partner direction and action.
Direction to wait for the ball to bounce, and action to get in position in the event the ball falls in the court.
A Few Final Words on Calling Balls
So you’ve agreed on who is calling the balls!
Now you’ve got to agree to listen to the call!
When your partner calls, “Me!” it’s probably a good idea to not take your partner’s shot!
Some awesome pics of some awesome pickleball players from Sacramento!
You’re headed to the courts for a fun few hours of pickleball – you and three of your best pickleball friends!
And you get to the courts, but only one other player shows up!
You still want to get in some pickleball (not just drilling!), you’re not a huge fan of singles, you were looking forward to some doubles; so what do you and your friend do?
Yes, Singles Is an Option
Many players prefer doubles (including me!) for a number of reasons – you don’t have as much court to cover, you like the more social play, you like the strategy of doubles more.
But ‘regular’ singles is ONE option!
You can certainly use this opportunity to practice those drives and passing shots that you may not be using that often in your doubles game.
But your friend (or you!) grumbles, “I really don’t like playing regular singles…”
If You Don’t Want to Cover ALL that Court
Then you can try skinny singles!
Here’s how it works – you serve cross-court as normal, and your opponent (in this case the one person that was able to make it to the courts!) returns the ball to the court in front of him or her.
And you both keep playing on that half of the court – just remember after serving, you need to quickly move to that side of the court!
You’re only playing on half the court, so the court is now skinny!
You don’t have as much court to cover and you’re still playing pickleball!
If you have some chalk or painter’s tape, you can also extend the center-line up and into the Kitchen so you can better tell if those dinks are out or in!
But When You Really Want that Doubles Experience
When it’s just you and one other player, singles is good, skinny singles may be better, and I think cross-court singles is best.
Cross-court singles is much more like the doubles experience!
You serve cross-court just like you normally would, but your opponent must return into the side of the court that you just served from. Play continues where both of you must place the ball on the cross-court, not on the side of the court in front of you.
Cross-court singles, like skinny singles, means you’re covering only half the court, but it also enables you to practice better placement on your shots!
Even on your return of serve, it forces better placement because you’ve only got half the court, plus it’s a bit more difficult because it’s not the side of the court in front of you.
And all those cross-court dinks that you can’t do in skinny singles? Here’s where you really get to practice those! Just like you were playing doubles!
And like in skinny singles, you can take that tape or chalk to extend that Kitchen line for those in and out calls!
Ready for a Clinic or Bootcamp?
Space is still available for bootcamps in Sacramento in September, and Dallas in October, and the next upcoming clinics are Redmond, Oregon in September and Dallas in October. Hope to see you on the courts at one of those spots!