Summer Skills Series: Communication
For instance, there’s the classic "I thought you had it" dilemma, where both players assume the other will take responsibility for the ball, which leads to neither of them taking the shot.
And the “Marriage Shot,” where both players assume it’s their ball, which leads them to both swing, clink paddles, and send the ball to who knows where.
Behind both issues is a failure to communicate. And a lot of assumptions. But the worst communication is that which never happens.
Here’s some free relational advice to use on and off the court: If an expectation is not expressed, then it’s not fair to hold your partner to it.
Good communication is centered around clear expectations. To create clear expectations, you should voice your expectations and agree on them. Here are four steps to help you communicate better.
Communicate Your Intentions: You can solve key problems before you ever face them. Before the first serve, answer a few of these questions: who takes the middle? Are we opening up with drives or drops? Who are we returning the ball to?
Assign shots: During the point, "mine" and "yours" are magic words that prevent ambiguity. Clearly express your intentions to avoid any last-minute confusion that could turn your point into a pickle. There is no such thing as overcommunication on the pickleball court, especially when you’re playing with someone new and don’t know their style of play.
Keep Calm and Communicate On: When the game gets intense, it's easy to let emotions take the wheel. However, frantically shouting and scrambling will not do any good for your partnership. Stay calm and communicate with composure by focusing on your breathing and reminding yourself you’re playing for fun. Calmness and anxiety are contagious. It’s up to you to choose which tone you’ll spread.
Embrace Positive Reinforcement: Gratitude that isn’t expressed is like buying a gift but never giving it to the person. You should be generous with your compliments and encouragements on the court. Positive energy translates into better performance and a more enjoyable game.
Don’t let ambiguity beat you. Communication can be your second teammate that elevates your game. Because communication creates clarity. And clarity is kindness — something we all need on and off the court.