For those pickleball players who enjoy singles, they don’t tournaments have to worry about the dilemma of picking partners. Purely based on numbers, pickleball is really a doubles sport, and, as much so, a mixed doubles sport. One question then is how do you pick a mixed partner, and do you stay with one partner or switch with multiple partners? Following are a few terms that are becoming more common in the pickleball world.
Pickleball Marriage: an exclusive arrangement between two players that they will only play with the other.
Pickleball Break-Up/Divorce: when a Pickleball Marriage ends.
Pickle-lygomist: a player who plays with multiple partners and is not tied to any one exclusively.
Players have different philosophies on how to deal with the ever-increasing difficulty of finding partners that they match well with. Some players will quickly find a partner that they like and decide on a Pickleball Marriage, while others play with multiple partners, never tying themselves to any one partner. Here are a few pros and cons about each of the philosophies.
In a Pickleball Marriage, you don’t have to worry about finding a partner for each tournament. For many players, signing up for a tournament without a partner is something they try to avoid at all costs. Who knows who you may end up with? But in a Pickleball Marriage, you have the understanding that when you and your partner play in a tournament, it will be together. That may cause trouble if one player wants to play in a tournament and the other can’t or doesn’t want to. Sometimes this can lead to a Pickleball Divorce.
A Pickleball Marriage also allows both players to get comfortable and familiar with the other player’s playing style. This can be incredibly helpful. Knowing who covers the middle, who gets the overheads, who runs back for lobs, knowing when to cover more court if the partner is pulled off, and being familiar with your partner’s shot selections are all huge advantages that longtime partners have over a team that is playing together for the first time.
Unfortunately, players can grow apart in their Pickleball Marriage. This can lead to Pickleball Divorce, which can either be a mutual decision or one-sided. When a partnership breaks up, it can be hard. Some players will just stop playing tournaments. Others will try to find new partners. It can be daunting for many players to find new partners after playing with someone else for so long, but the best way to do it is get out there and play! Pick-up games are a great way to play with people before deciding to partner with them in a tournament.
For some players, having a routine partner is not important. These players have several partners they play with, and there is no exclusivity. These “Pickle-lygomists” have the option of playing with different partners each tournament, if they want. This is not a very common practice for several reasons. Most people want a partner they can rely on to play with in multiple tournaments, mainly for the reasons listed above. It also requires the player to find new partners each time. This can be hard, as many players prefer to stick with one partner. There is also the possibility that a player switches partners frequently because the player is hard to play with. If that is the case, and that becomes that player’s reputation, it can become even harder to find new partners. While it may be fun playing with different partners in each tournament, players should be careful not to hurt their partner’s feelings and should be clear that they are not looking for a Pickleball Marriage!
Some people have said, “Never play with your significant other.” Others say they will never play with anyone but their significant other. What is right for you? There are several factors involved with deciding to play with your significant other. Are you both at a comparable level? In tournaments, players can always play in a division above their rating, but they can’t play below. If you are a 4.5 and your spouse is a 3.0, your spouse would have to join you in playing in the 4.5 bracket. That would be hard for him/her, as well as for you both as a team. Another important thing to consider is whether you both want to play with each other. Would the partnership be because of a desire to play together, or an obligation? If it is an obligation, there is the potential for resentment, which could lead to Pickleball Divorce. Also, a team off the court may not necessarily work well ON the court. Ask yourselves, “Do we play well together?” Are your playing styles complimentary? And most importantly, do you have fun playing together?
No matter what your own philosophy is, be it a Pickleball Marriage, Pickle-lygomy, or if you do decide to choose your real-life partner to be your pickleball partner, it is important to discuss how you hope things will work with your partner, before the tournament starts, so that everyone has fun and your partnership never ends up in a Pickleball Divorce!