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Recreational Play Choose Your Battles

Instructional Article

What to do in various playing situations

By Jennifer Lucore & Alex Hamner 

Over the years we’ve been asked for advice on what to do in various playing situations—and how to best navigate them. Let’s start with the big picture. If we irritate Joe or Mary too much, they may not show up, and we need four to play doubles. It’s always more fun to play than not to play! To keep the love going during recreational play, we must choose our battles carefully— and these choices often have nothing to do with points. 

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We’re talking about the challenges of social play and how to work through conflicting personalities from time to time. 

Playing pickleball is about healthy social recreation, free of conflict. And even though we hope for a perfect playing experience, here are some examples of potential battles: 

John always hits the ball hard, but you want to dink. 

Joe forgets to say the score every time before he serves—it’s the rule, but should you call him out? 

Mary is always bossy. 

Kevin doesn’t want to play with so-and-so, which messes up the rotation. 

Suzy won’t keep score. 

Mike always hangs back and leaves you alone at the kitchen line. 

This court is for 4.0, but Stacy is definitely a 3.0. Should you ask her not to play? 

“Your serve is illegal! You were in the kitchen!”— Richard, the bogus referee. 

Kelly always coaches, even though she’s a shameless duffer herself. 

Some complaints are worth mentioning, but some are not. Let good cheer, good fun, good friends and a good attitude be your guide. 

The fundamental appeal of pickleball remains social interaction, exercise and the simple joys of athletic competition—so choose your battles wisely. 

Note: Special thanks to our friend Keith in Gig Harbor, WA, for his insights on indoor rec play and more. 

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