Making Your Recreation Play More Competitive
I love a competitive game of pickleball! How about you? But when playing recreation pickleball, it’s not possible to get those games as often as you would like. It took me a while to figure out that that winning isn’t always the goal, particularly in recreational play. Here’s what I do to try to make a game of mis-matched players more even. (NOTE: I’ve been the goat in many a pickleball game, but with all modesty, I’m writing this from the perspective of not being the goat.)
Weaker player on the other team:
- Huddle with your partner and set some guidelines.
- Don’t worry about winning. We all like to win, but this is recreational play.
- No smashes to the weak player. (I’ve been guilty of smashing when I shouldn’t in my earlier play…)
- Identify a shot where you are weak or that needs some work and direct that shot to the weaker player.
- Hit the more difficult shots to the strong player on the other side.
- Don’t go easy on all of your shots! You develop bad habits doing so.
- Identify one or two things that the weaker player could work on (position or strategy is a good place to start) and pass that along to them. As the player across the court, you can identify issues quicker than their partner can.
- Compliment good shots.
- At the end of a point, discuss what happened – and why.
- Don’t let the weaker player get down on himself.
All are weaker players:
- Let the weakest player, play with you – and NO POACHING!
- Work on a really difficult shot that you haven’t mastered yet.
- Play a couple of games with the same people, but rotate sides.
- Offer suggestions for improvement. Pick one or two items they could work on.
- Try to re-create an earlier teaching moment situation to see if the lesson was learned. If not, reinforce it.
- Have fun!