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? In these times of Covid19, many indoor facilities have designated rules on how many players set up the portable pickleball nets. Regardless, 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 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 give it 3-5 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 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 really believe when players cheat on calling balls in or out and they know they are lying, it is a character flaw. I do not enjoy playing with a partner who cheats. I overrule calls when I have a better view. A good example of a time when this happens is on the serve to my partner. I am watching where the serve will land, and my partner is focused on returning and they try and call it out when it was clearly in- or before the line. 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, overrule the call. 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.
That is all for today. Have fun on the courts!
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.