Pickleball is an amazing sport. The problem is you have to play with other people and that's when it gets complicated. When you first start playing you are bright eyed and bushy tailed. Happy to be playing with anyone. If you have not had any introductory lessons, you are most likely being told aka coached on where to stand, and other strategies.
If you are dropping in to a group where you are lucky enough not to have to pay any fee, count yourself fortunate. However, keep in mind pickleballs cost money and they break. So even though there is no fee, either chip in by bringing your own balls and sharing, or giving someone a few bucks each time you play towards the expense of the balls. You want to be known as a generous player with good pickleball etiquette.
Next, where you play- do they have permanent pickleball nets or are they set up each time your group plays? If you are new to a group, it will be noticed if you show up to play and leave afterwards, without helping set up or take down nets. These details may sound trivial, but someone took the time to get the place you are playing to set up pickleball so everyone else could enjoy playing. It just takes a few minutes when you arrive or on your way out to take the portable pickleball net down and put it in the bag.
Basic in play stuff. I don't care if you are playing at the lowest level, or in a highly competitive game, CALL THE SCORE before loudly enough before you serve please. Whispering it so your doubles partner "thinks" they heard it, is not good enough. Use your outside voice and make sure the other team hears you. Then you have up to 10 seconds before serving. This will give the team across the net the chance to correct the score, or ask about the score.
I get annoyed when someone calls the score as they are hitting the serve. There should be no rush in serving. Make sure everyone is where they need to be. Then call the score, then breathe(better serves happen when you breathe before you serve), then serve.
Take your time. Also, if you are not sure about the score, ask your partner first. Do not yell across the court asking what the score is. Ask your partner first, they are right next to you and probably know. If they don't know, then ask the opposition.
Line calls, this should always be a gentle persons sport. Line calls are frustrating some times because players do not understand the rules. I will not go into the rules as you can find them on YouTube and/or online with your local pickleball governing body.
Here is what I will say- when in doubt, do not call the oppositions ball out. If you and your partner could not see where the ball landed, then you have two options. You can assume it was in and give the point to your opposition. Or you can ask the opposition what they thought. This is the way you must handle a ball you did not see.
I never want to win a game with bad calls or cheating. It ruins the game when certain players are known for questionable calls all the time. If you are the partner of someone who does this, call them out nicely, overrule the call when warranted. Most players are honest and play with the highest of ethics.
When you are playing and your pickleball goes into another court, you must yell BALL loudly. This is not optional, someone could get seriously hurt by falling on the ball. When you call BALL, the game on the other court should stop. They will retrieve your ball and get it back to you.
Not calling BALL is annoying if you are on the court the ball rolls onto. It creates confusion in when the point you were playing should end. You then have to ask each other, did that affect you... blah blah blah. Just call BALL loudly as soon as your ball is going onto another court, and the players will stop playing. They will replay the point- simple.
Have fun on the courts! David, www.thirdshotdrop.ca
When you are first starting out as a pickleball player, you may have just used a shared paddle from your local group or club. Some new players borrow a friends, but things have changed with Covid19. Everyone should be making sure they play safe now so they can enjoy the game and limit risk.
In our area, we set up a pop up store courtside and let players try before they buy, www.thirdshotdrop.ca. If you are a club anywhere near Kingston, Ontario, you can email email@example.com to request a visit from our store to your group. If you do not live near us, then ask around your group. There may be a local player or store that comes to the courts and sets up with demo paddles like we do.
I bought my first pickleball paddle in Hilton Head Island South Carolina and while it did the job, I had no way to try it out. Eventually I decided to get into the business myself and offer up demo paddles. When buying a paddle you want to make sure the grip is comfortable. You also want a paddle that is not too heavy when you swing, and not too light. Your paddle is your most important decision when you play.
Grip or handle size. You want to find a paddle with a grip that feels good in your hand. Not too small where your fingers are bunching up. Not too large where you cannot get your whole hand around it.
A grip that is too big can fly out of your hand while you are playing. This could cause injury to you or another player. The positive of a large grip is you should experience more stability. A smaller sized grip is good for putting a little wrist into your shots, and gives you more control and spin.
The last point I will mention is about the actual grip. Some grips have little holes in them which allows your hand to breathe. Some do not have this, but offer a very comfortable padded feel. You can also change your grip whenever you like. If you are playing 2-3x a week, you may want to change out your grip every few months. You will notice the difference. You can do it yourself by going on Youtube and following an easy instructional video. If you need to buy a grip, you can usually find one at your local racquet store. If you live in our area, Kingston and surroundings, we sell grips.
For weight, a light paddle traditionally would be between 6.9 ounces to about 7.3 ounces. A lighter paddle offers you more control on your shots but obviously not as much power. A heavier paddle offers more pace on the ball when you hit it, but not as much control. Keep in mind a paddle that weighs more may result in elbow issues and bother your arm after a while, where it will feel tired.
I recommend a mid weight paddle from 7.5 ounces to maybe 8.1 ounces. I think you can also determine how heavy a paddle should be for you, by your height and weight. For example if you are a 6"4 individual weighing over 200 pounds, you will feel pretty comfortable with an 8.1-8.5 ounce paddle.
For most players I find they really like the Onix Graphite Z5 paddle. It has a medium grip and is a medium weight paddle. It has a wide body paddle face. It is USAPA approved, and comes in many colours. If you are in Canada and want to order, visit our site, and order. https://www.thirdshotdrop.ca/store/p99/z5graphitepaddlebestprice.html.
If you have a story about picking your first pickleball paddle, and want to share, let us know in the comment section. Hope you have a great day and have fun on the courts.
David Bussiere, www.thirdshotdrop.ca
David Bussiere is a player, an instructor, owner of a pickleball business, a marketing manager for one of the largest pickleball suppliers in the the world, formerly a morning radio host, a high level manager in finance, he now lives and breathes pickleball.