“Are you pranking me?”
That’s the question I get once I finish a game with a new pickleball player and lead them to the center of the court for what I call “the most important unwritten rule” in pickleball: the paddle touch.
Once you finish a pickleball game, you should go to the center of the court and touch paddles with all players. It’s a tradition that signals sportsmanship. At the end of the game, regardless of how anyone performed, you’re choosing to respect everyone who played.
After some games it’s hard to make the short walk to the net and come that close to someone who just defeated you or annoyed you (with lobs). But the act of touching paddles will move your body and mind in the right direction of being grateful for the game and the people you play it with.
While nearly everyone agrees you should touch paddles after a pickleball game, not everyone agrees on if you should tap paddle heads or handles. Which one is correct?
Well, there isn’t a “correct” answer. It comes down to preference.
During COVID-19, many players resorted to touching paddle heads as a way to avoid swapping sweat through handles. Now, many players prefer touching handles as a way to protect the head of their paddle. There isn’t a right or wrong. The only wrong decision is to choose nothing.
If you’re new to a pickleball community, a good rule of thumb is this: follow the crowd. Are people touching paddle heads or handles after games? Do the same as the majority.
What does your pickleball community do after a game: paddle heads or handles?