Playing with Your Pickleball Spouse

This weekend I saw a mother and son team, at least three pickleball spouse teams, and a grandmother and grandson team.   At one point, the young boy playing with his grandmother looks at me and said, “Can you please tell her we need to dink!”  I couldn’t help but laugh.

pickleball spouse
Pickleball Spouses…a Different Feel

When I see families playing together it often has a whole different feel.  Perhaps because we can say things to family that we would NEVER say to anyone else. I can’t believe some of the names I’ve heard people call each other or the looks they unconsciously give to one another.

I’ve worked with a lot of pickleball spouse teams and they always have a million things the other person needs to work on.  After they rattle these off, I ask them to tell me something the other could do to help them feel more comfortable.  In addition, I might say, “What do you need from her so that you can be a better partner?”

It’s Not Just What You Say

Of course, most of our communication is non-verbal.  So we need to be very conscious of our pickleball tipsbody language.  I am a big believer in “paddle taps”!  When you tap paddles you don’t have to say anything.  You are connecting!  You may also be slowing down the pace a bit…resetting the pace for you and your partner.  Eye contact, if only for a few moments is very important.

It is very important that we acknowledge when our partner does something well, as well as acknowledge that it is ok if something didn’t go as planned.

We Tend to Demand More

We have a tendency to demand so much more from our spouses or family…and sometimes our manners go out the window.   Of course, anger and resentment will not promote success on the court!  It is hard to work on how you and your spouse communicate and act with each other on the court, but it is worth it.

pickleball spousePlaying with a spouse or family member can be great fun.   My wife and I play recreationally.  It is hard at times because it puts added pressure on both of us…probably more her because of our skill levels.  And though I feel like I can communicate and support all of my partners, when playing with Linh I often feel like a beginner.  My typical partner body language and tone of voice changes.  Linh’s tendency is to get frustrated and just hold it in.  It has taken a lot of conversation to understand what we both need and want from one another.

I have heard people say, “Never play with your spouse.”  And I certainly understand why some would say that.  But if you want to…try it out.  You just have a little more work to do to make sure what happens on the court, stays on the court!

8 thoughts on “Playing with Your Pickleball Spouse

  1. This is and can be such an issue when playing with our spouses. My spouse and I tried to play together a few times and it just didn’t work for us. I don’t want our relationship to suffer because we are trying to force the issue of playing doubles together. My hat is definitely off for those who can make this work. Thanks for another fabulous article! You are not only a phenomenal player and teacher but you are so knowledgeable and intuitive about all aspects of the game!

  2. I had a terrible time playing with my husband, but once her realized he did actually make faces or grunt at me he finally changed. He has for played 3 years, and I only a year and a half. It didn’t happen over night, I actually refused to play with him for a couple of months. But now we are having fun together , especially drilling. I’ve also taught him a lot through your videos, he is now a fan 😀

  3. People are surprised when they find out I’ve played (and won) tournaments with my ex husband. What the heck, it’s not like he can divorce me again.

  4. LOVED this one, Sarah! My husband, Jack, and I are doubles partners. Our biggest challenge is that he doesn’t get to play nearly as much as I do (someone has to work to support my addiction 😉) as well as not enough doubles practice time. But he’s a good athlete and a tremendous partner, both on and off the court. I’m careful to be really supportive when he hits a “I can’t believe you just missed that” shot and he works so hard to help me to just relax and play my game. And although our tournament outings have not brought us many wins, yet 🙂 (balance, breathe , BELIEVE), the people we compete against always tell us how much fun we are to play against . . . . guess that’s a pretty great compliment and a testament to our partnering and relationship.

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