May 3, 2012

Pickleball Doubles Verbal Communication

"They say 90% of communication is nonverbal."

"Have you thought about the other 10%?"*

I have a book on my shelf titled "Talk Less and Say More". That's a good place for me to start to improve my game. Despite a fairly high IQ, spatial relations aptitude has always eluded me. (That won't come as any surprise to the players that share the courts with me.) I need to be mindful of "Pickleball Doubles Verbal Communication".
  • mine
  • bounce it
  • short
  • switch
  • leave it
What else?!?

I Googled the topic...found most of the helps in the tennis coaching corners....

The Art of Communication in Doubles
By Dave Winship

Communication in doubles is not beneficial in itself - what's required is GOOD communication! Good communication is the special ingredient that helps two individuals think, move, and act as one.

Some of this could take place off the court. For example, you might want to sort out which side you'll play, who will serve first, who will chase the lobs, who will handle the overheads and which of you will take the down-the-middle shots.

Some of the on-court communication is in the form of essential basic instructions (e.g. "Leave!", "Mine!", "Switch!", etc). Some of it is in the form of tactical discussions, such as pre-planning an interception.

Much of the rest of it comes down to establishing the "chemistry" of a good partnership. It takes time and it's not possible to be too prescriptive about it. That's because everyone's different. Some people like to exchange high-fives, some people don't. Some people welcome constructive criticism, others resent it. Some people respond to being gee'd up, others perform better when they're calm. You and your partner need to get to know each other. You need to know what to do when your partner's feeling down or nervous or angry or overconfident. It'll take time before you even get to recognize these things!

In general, it's a good idea to avoid negative talk. Avoid pressuring your partner by saying things like: "don't double fault!", "don't miss this return!" or "we need your first serve here!". Sometimes your partner will have a bad day. Just remember you have them too! You must resist the feeling that you're being handicapped - your partner will sense this and feel alienated. Once that happens, you're both on a slippery slope, heading for disaster. So stay supportive and helpful and positive. Boost your partner with appropriate praise and encouragement. Emphasize the team factor by using the "we" word a lot, e.g. "we'll really focus on this one!", "we're going to turn this around!", etc.

When you've been playing together for a while, you should feel you can discuss some of these issues openly. It will help if you can both identify phrases that annoy you on court. It will certainly help if you and your partner know what to say (or what not to say!) when the other is making mistakes.

Don't underestimate the importance of good communication in doubles. If you communicate well, you're more likely to enjoy the experience. And if you enjoy it, you're far more likely to perform well.

Regards. Dave Winship