Comfort…Your Key to Better Pickleball

We all play better when we have fun!  We have fun when we are comfortable … with ourselves and the people we are playing with. So it seems, comfort is a key to better pickleball.

key to better pickleball


A woman told me this weekend she doesn’t want to waste her money on tournaments to get a random partner she doesn’t know because they never seem to want the same things or maybe don’t care as much as she does.  My first thought was she was missing out on opportunities to play with different types of players.  Of course, I like having a set partner for most of my events.  However, I would not trade in all of the tournaments I was partnered with someone I didn’t know or someone I never played with before.  I have learned so much from every player I have played with, regardless of our relative skill levels.  I learned that I will never get what I want out of a partner unless I communicate with them.  I learned I need to be comfortable on the court when I am playing so I can make the decisions I want and not let a match just happen to me.

Partner Communication a Key to Better Pickleball

The worst thing that I can do going into a new partnership is not communicate my expectations.  Before playing a competitive match, I will take my new partner aside in a warm-up game and say

  • “These are my strengths and weaknesses.”
  • “If I am on this side, I will hit these shots.”
  • “I prefer you go to the net when I hit my third shot.”

Then I will say, “I want you to feel comfortable telling me if something isn’t working, or you have a better idea.”  I often ask what I can do to make my partner feel comfortable and confident?  We discuss our strategies and I will say, “I trust you to do your job and I don’t want to get in the way of that.”

Of course, sometimes I do get in the way.  I attempt a poach too far into my partner’s side of the court or I forget to call something and it goes floating through the middle. We will always make mistakes!  When I make a mistake I will ask myself;  did I miss that because of a good shot or did I miss because I was doing things I shouldn’t have been doing?  I have a partner I play with sometimes who is a good friend of mine.   She knows me outside of pickleball as well and when she feels I am not trusting her, with her shots, she tells me right away.  She’ll simply say, “Trust me, Sarah.”  I know that to be a good partner I need to take her seriously and make the adjustment right away. In pickleball, you don’t have time to be stubborn about something.
keys to better pickleball

I see partners arguing who’s call was who’s three points prior and it’s still affecting them! That is wasted energy and wasted ego!  No matter who you are playing with you should have the same end goal; to win the match and to have fun doing it.


To do that, you need to communicate with your partner throughout the entire match. You constantly need to check in with each other and get on the same page.   By communicating regularly with your partner you will feel more comfortable.



Being Comfortable is a Key to Better Pickleball

Paddle TapTo make good shots, to make good decisions, you need to be comfortable and confident in yourself as well as your partner.  Sometimes you need to remind yourself it’s about two people, not just one.

Am I saying or doing things that are affecting my partner negatively?  Keep in mind your actions, the inflection of your voice will be remembered long after your partner has forgotten the words.  Always remain positive!  Say, “Nice shot” or  “Good try.”   Tap their paddles as a reminder that you are both doing this together.
Nearly every tournament you will see a team that on paper aren’t as good as their opponents.  But if they work better as a team, in that moment, they will end up winning the match.  Being a unit, having the same goals and effectively executing your strategies will take any team far.   I believe partner communication and comfort are the keys to better pickleball.


I’ve written more about communication and being comfortable in my new eBook called, Being the Best Partner You Can Be.

6 thoughts on “Comfort…Your Key to Better Pickleball

  1. Sarah, just one pet peeve of mine: a local team that works at laughing loudly and inexplicably after almost every point to demonstrate how much fun they are having. Their jocularity is forced, phony, and annoying. I much prefer teams that stay in focus, compete hard, but laugh only at something genuinely funny.

    1. I understand that Keith . I am not at all saying to force that every time but to find a way to relax and be comfortable. If it is being forced every single point that would be a whole other issue. But I do laugh 5-6 times per game but mostly it is because I am enjoying myself. As I am doing this I am focused and competitive.

  2. Cool with that–my wife and I spend a fair amount of each game laughing at ourselves and with our friends. But this other team is just forcing and faking enjoyment, often at their own private jokes.

  3. Good pointers. I find I end up with a better game when following what you suggest, finding my partner’s strengths and playing to those rather than worrying about having a weak partner. When it looks like I’m enjoying the game, my partner can appreciate it too. As to what Keith has mentioned, it’s true my regular mixed doubles partner and I can get carried away and try to watch ourselves so as not to make the other team upset, but we also laugh at each other when we are playing against each other- we both know it’s all in fun.

  4. I’m fortunate enough to have a mixed partner with whom I’m totally comfortable. She never gets upset and is always supportive no matter how well or poorly I play. We both like to win but at the same time realize it’s a game and they’re not going to take away your birthday if you don’t win. There are times when I’ll pop up a shot at the net and get it beat down my throat. I’ll ask my opponent if it was the right height or would they like it a little higher. Good for a laugh.

  5. I am fortunate enough to play with a mixed partner with whom I feel totally comfortable. Weather we win or lose, she is always there there to lend support no matter how I’m playing. With such a situation, you tend to relax and play the game to the best of your ability.

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