Hitting an Opponent

hit girlTagging is hitting an opponent on purpose to win a point. The knee jerk reaction at nearly all levels of play is “Tagging is just part of the game.”  And, of course, hitting opponents with hard shots is part of the game.  I have been hit many times.  Conversely, I have nailed good friends in the sternum many times myself.

But last week was a different experience altogether.  My normal tactic if I spot an opponent at the kitchen line during a dinking rally with said player’s paddle at waist height or lower is to wrist flip any slightly high ball at the center of the torso.  Last week I spotted a new woman player (an aggressive 3.5) with her paddle down low, so I ripped a nice high ball with a hard topspin forehand right at her sternum.

And nailed her in the face!  Her glasses went askew, and her eyes wobbled.  Her paddle fell to the court.  I was horrified and apologized profusely.  She said she was okay and resumed pickleball play after a drink of water.

In the very next rally, I thumped her in her tummy as she ran forward to the kitchen with her paddle below her waist.  I felt like a complete jerk, but I had not consciously thought about hitting her.  I saw an opening and my subconscious took its best shot.

This gal did not play for five days, and when she did, she showed me the faint remnant of a fairly decent black eye!

Is it okay to power a juicy poach at your opponent’s chest?  But is it not okay to “go headhunting”?  Do you apologize every time you hit an adversary, even in a tournament?  What do you do when an opponent nails you?

What is your opinion about tagging or hitting an opponent?


296 comments on “Hitting an Opponent”

  1. During a league match today, an opposing player got upset after a hands battle and said she felt that the ball was going towards her head. She was hit in the chest. It looked to me that she was frustrated. This player had executed zero drops and constantly drove the ball, every shot. The problem is that I get to the kitchen quickly and have a very low stance and was able to return her drives with punch returns. The exchange that sent her into upset was her 3rd shot drive with me at the kitchen, it was a rocket, I punched it back to her rt, she returned, I punched it to her left, she returned, I had my paddle out and punched it straight into her chest. She was shaken. Was I aiming for her chest? No. Have I hit someone in the face during a hands battle? Never. Or, not yet and I hope to never do so. Players, there is always someone faster. I am usually faster. Except, I developed this hand speed in an odd way, defending against bangers. They rarely drop, and when the ball comes back and they are still resetting from that too big swing, I am set and punching it back. I dink until a mistake, cannot execute a speedup, so have learned to defend those, too. I 3rd shot drop every time, no drives it is a lukewarm strategy and if tbey target my partner as they often do, I try to keep them safe. Just sharing that if you get hit and you are hitting drives or speedups to people at the kitchen, be prepared for a strong return. It might be your mistake, a 3rd shot drop changes the game entirely. Also, I played above my level recently, but could still beat them at the line, they simply lobbed me and kept me off the line, it worked I got beat handily. Fun game, adore all aspects!

    1. These are the people if you give em an cream puff they rifle it back at you not realizing you did not tag them. So Swing away.

  2. So I’ve been playing (it’s called playing) pickleball for about 8 months. I’m 68 years old, Played tennis only casually in college 45+ years ago so I’m not very good. Back surgeries, shoulders, knees, feet surgeries all slow me down. I started playing pickle ball because it was good exercise for an old fart. Designed for children, it was never meant to be a combative sport. There’s never an issue playing with the regulars no matter how much better they are. Unless they are practicing for a tournament, they will modify their play so that they beat you soundly but everyone has fun. If practicing for a tournament, they will set up a challenge court and play with people of their own skill levels. Of course, these are mature individuals who realize this is a game, once again, designed for children but taken up by older individuals who are unable to play tennis or racket ball.

    We get some younger players, college age that are playing tennis in college, who come in once in a while when school is out. Most of these folks are okay, especially the women but a handful of the “boys” behave at a very immature level. Jumping in on older folks games and basically just blast the ball. It’s obvious they have little experience playing this game but their tennis background aids them greatly in hitting the ball with tremendous velocity. You can see by some of the remarks made on this post just how immature some of these players can be. It delights them to try and injure the other player. That’s fine if your opponent is into that but basically it’s these bullies that come in and pick on the 60 through 80 year olds that really need to pull their head out and go and join a boxing club or at least tennis or racket ball. Something that can satisfy their high T levels and immature cranial development.

    I played three games throughout the morning with one of these jerks and yes, got hit by the ball several times throughout the matches, as did my partners, two who were women, one in her 70’s. Okay, the guy was a jerk, and really, to make matters worse, after each game, walking off the court, he would gleefully comment, oh sorry about accidentally hitting you guys. The last game, I was done. I cornered him against the wall and told him if he was going play like that against old folks, at least don’t add insult to injury by lying about his motives. He started to puff up and I told him “let’s step outside if you want some real contact sport”. Of course, he declined and left. Haven’t seen him since.

    My point, if you younger folks just have to take on a game designed for children that old folks can play and if banging, hitting, being a jerk, makes you feel superior, then at least don’t prey on those way way below your physical prowess. There is no honor or accolades in that. You’re just being a bully.

    1. I’m 75 ,tennis and table tennis, and can bang, roll, flick from below the net. Played 10yrs and spent money on camps, well worth it. If you hit a high ball it’s body bag time, cuz I gotta save my body. New equipment has evolved the game. I would only hit you once or twice before I would take pity on you. If your being hit the best skill you can learn to backup when you or your partner hit bonehead smashable balls.

  3. toppickleballneeds

    Strategically aiming for an opponent’s chest is generally accepted in sports like pickleball. However, targeting the face or head intentionally is considered unsportsmanlike. Apologizing for accidental hits, even in tournaments, is a sign of good sportsmanship. Mutual respect is crucial when dealing with such situations on the court.

  4. Easy, if someone hit my face if i’m able to react and get my paddle on it, it will comeback to your face harder, I promise.

    1. I’m about a 3.0 player. I still work, so I only play on Saturdays and Sundays. I look forward to playing. However, lately the name of the game has been how hard can you hit the ball. The constant banging leads to a lot of people being hit by their opponent due to the popping up of the ball. I watched many games today in which the same player used this over and over. He was a tall man and was able to reach just about anything. I’ve tolerated and accepted being hit but it just seems to be a constant game of self-defense. The first game I played this morning was competitive and close. Both sides hit hard but also used skill. No one was hit during the play or had the ball drilled at their feet. In the second game ,the player I had observed earlier not only hit my partner but also aimed and drilled to ball at my shin, hitting me. His partner asked if I was ok but the other player did not acknowledge the hit. I said was fine but did not appreciate being hit as there were plenty of other places for the ball to go. I know this probably sounds like sour grapes but at some point there has to be an understanding that not everyone is there to kill and it’s supposed to be fun. Since this was open play and there are players of all ages and abilities this type of play should be curtailed. Save it for the leagues where the players are of equal skill level.

  5. Never be looking at your partner. Big Mistake. Always keep you eyes on your opponent. Protect yourself at all times. Never target someone’s face. That is just wrong. God is keeping score. Just not the game score. Pickleball is a competitive SOCIAL activity. Respect your opponent. Be Nice. Put the ball in play. Move your feet. Relax, take a deep breath and be alert. Forget the past. HAVE FUN. These are the rules. Simple.

    1. you better look at your partner cuz if your partner hits a bonehead shot high shot and you do not get back, your toast!

  6. I come from a tennis background and started playing pickleball a couple years ago. I am disappointed in the sportsmanship at higher levels. I never try to hit someone. I try to hit to their backhands or to their feet. To me, tagging a person is cheap. There are other options. Another example is in a ladder league I played in last night. It was outdoors and the courts have lights. A few guys asked me to play and then proceeded to lob the ball up in the lights 5-6 times in a row on a single point. It was clearly intentional as they repeated this strategy on additional points. At that point I don’t understand what joy you get out of playing the game. We can do better people.

    1. I think the hitting depends upon skill, gender, and intensity. If you were playing a casual Sunday game of golf, you’d probably not call that someone touched a ball before they putted. At recreational levels, I think most women try to avoid hitting other women.

      It changes with intensity. In a competitive group, I think that hitting at someone at net is part of the game.

        1. Sadly the game has changed to an aggressive slug match. Just check out the instructional videos. Speedups, Body bag, 3rd short drive, no more soft hands to block at the kitchen. In singles Johns will be the last guy with a soft game.

          1. Don,

            While all the bangers and speed-up players are becoming more prevalent, Ben Johns remains number one and GOAT by playing chess while the
            bangers are playing checkers. In the long run, finesse, control, and quick, careful thinking based on focus and concentration and quickness and intelligence will carry the day

    2. You probably lobbed it back 5-6 times in a row too instead of dropping it. Players are taught to “keep em back”, if you are too good at it, one lobs, an easy way out. So you are probably causing the lobs. Just like if you hit a good deep return of serve, you probably forced em into a lob.

  7. We do it all the time!
    Of course, we knew each other well in our pb group and we even try to tag opponents at the net on serves.

    I wear shatter-resistant prescription glasses that also serve as eye protection. I also wear a long-billed hat that saved my face from errant balls or purposely directed hits many times!

  8. As a 4.0 player we do not purposely tag people above the shoulder. Just because your a 4.0 does not mean you have a perfect aim, trust me we don’t.. I never purposely head hunt and agree those who do are not demonstrating good sportsmanship. Hitting anywhere else on the body is acceptable. I actually smile after I get hit, it gets the adrenaline going just like if you were playing paint ball. I have been tagged in the face multiple times and the other player profusely apologized and I believed their sincerity. You know when someone is a jerk and head hunting. Based on my experience there are only a handful of those types in any organization and most people do not like to play with them anyways. Don’t take it personal 99% of the time. The other 1% just walk away and ostricize them.

    1. The roll shot at the kitchen is always gonna hit someone shoulder high or higher. If they are in an athletic stance, its their face. Roll shot should be outlawed.

  9. PickleBall McDinkle

    Two things:
    1) When you are playing on a group of equal ability, you only get hit, when YOU make a mistake.

    2) Is there any research on this… when a ball is hit at a player hard and fast, does a player more than 50% of the time, turn to their paddle side or the opposite side.

    1. It’s very simple don’t come to the kitchen if you don’t want to eat my ball . My game is to keep you on the baseline , etc a good deep serve so you don’t come to the net . I watch people all day long that think dinks and dunks are cute and fun foe beginners and elderly sure . After I hit you a few time you will think twice about playing paddy cakes at the net . If I want exercise I would go swim laps , I’m here to win and stay on the court

      1. wow, Jeff your attitude is very unsportsman-like, for most people, but not all. i know one or two who think like you, but on the whole many don’t like to play with your kind.

        1. Nah, I’m here to get a good workout, Jeff wants some trash-talking I don’t mind. If its too casual, so Jane like your dress, great seeing you John, you don’t push yourself. So I personally don’t mind, l think about an 8 of 10 on intensity is good, too much can be mad, you don’t want a neighbor upset if he loses, they’re re hopefully friends but you do want to compete.

      2. Most non-athletic players seem to think the game is how many times can you hit the ball back and forth at one times. The more this is done the more excited they get!
        Don’t comprehend that points ate the reason the score is kept. I have NEVER aimed at anyone’s head. That would be stupid. It would be too hard to hit and it would sail out of bounds. Makes no sense.
        I do aim at them directly at their trunk because it is hard for them to react quickly enough and awkward for them to return. It is also difficult to judge a ball coming straight at you.
        Even highly skilled players make mistakes and the ball doesn’t go where they want. There are going to be errant shots that are unintentional.
        The ball is soft plastic. I’ve been hit many times . I accept it as part of the game. I need to be aware of getting out of the way as MY responsibility.
        Instead of being upset at being slammed by someone, be upset at your partner or yourself for popping up a return that gets smashed at you!
        If you are that concerned about getting hit then try improving YOUR skill level instead of dragging your opponent to your level. You can also invest in protective glasses to wear.
        Better yet, don’t get into games that are over your head.
        If all that happens to me in life is to get “tagged” by a whiffle ball every now and then, that’s pretty easy to take. Not like breaking a bone or giving birth!

  10. If you are good enough to aim at and hit an opponent you are good enough to aim elsewhere and hit that location. If you aim for above the neck then I feel that the enjoyment has been removed from the sport and it is now a battle.

    1. That’s exactly right. If you are good enough to purposely hit someone, then you are good enough to aim for their feet instead. I’m always embarrassed if I hit someone high up, or they have to duck to avoid being hit. The only exception is if someone has blasted a ball at me that probably should have been dinked, and I don’t have enough time to do anything but slam it back.

  11. I’m a little better then a 3.0, I was recently playing in a 3.5 competitive situation. I was obviously the weakest player playing against a player that was almost a 4.0. His strategy to win was to constantly target me sending every return to me. I’m fine with that, it will make me a better player. This player has very good aim. What I take issue with is that he constantly aimed for my head. It was so many shots that it was not just one or two accidental hits. I’m pretty quick and managed to block the shots with my paddle (but not good enough to direct the ball just good enough to protect my face) and not quick enough to routinely duck. When I was able to duck the shots went out. I’m not the type to be scared playing with good players and will get right up to the kitchen. Im not bothered by shots below the shoulders that hit my body, I just don’t want to lose an eye! Being new to pickleball I just wonder if this is how 4.0 players and above play. I have played a good amount of higher level players and never had this issue. This same player was reprimanded several times during this event for illegal serving. I’m relatively new to the sport so I just want to hear thoughts on this.

    1. hi,
      I am in the same boat. there are one or two headhunters in a group of 3.5 and 4.0’s . There is almost no such thing as an accident with these players as they have a long history of going for the face. So when they do it for the umpteenth time in their umpteenth game, then it clearly isn’t an accident. It is a long standing behavioral pattern. it got to the point when if you said that you get hit in the head the other day , other people would ask ” was it by Bob? ”
      the penalty from the player not bringing his/her paddle up should not be a shot to the face. it has led to some nasty altercations. it became a battle ground to be honest- as someone else has said in their comment on here. People sniping for the other’s face and then the walk over the net to firmly discuss the situation with the offending player.
      Oddly enough, I have not seen the headhunting so much at the professional level yet in the 4.0 and over at
      my local group.
      Since it ia mostly a recereational sport- there doesn’t seem to be much in the way to stop this person’s behavior since it is part o ftheir personality. Having a deduction of 5 points from their score won’t do anything as they don’t overly worry much about the score. I imagine that head hunters are more motivated by something else other than outright winning. you can’t kick them out of the league . and if it is casual walk on tupe of play, you may not be able to sort out who can play and who can’t.
      the one thing that I do is simply tell them, “nope. not playing with that that guy /girl.” and /or pull my paddle out of the line up until they are gone.
      People talk about fining them or pressing charges but that is not likely to happen.. for reasons that are listed elsewhere on this page.
      it is such a shame as it is such a fun sport. Yet for me, all it does is slow down the time for my next game as I wait for the headhunter to play someone else.
      all the best to you.

    2. I’m a supporter of just refusing to play with headhunters. I’ve done this in tennis when I encounter an opponent who regularly calls balls when they are in, or argues if I call one of his shots out. Eventually others will refuse to play with a headhunter; however I realize that this probably makes no difference to the headhunter. But at least I get to have fun playing with considerate people.

  12. IMO, someone who intentionally hits a hard shot directly at you when there are other easy options to win the point is showing poor sportsmanship. He/she should be warned and then penalized for another occurance.

    1. Right now, Charles, there are no rules prohibiting tagging. At the pro level, hitting an opponent when he or she is in an awkward position is a higher percentage shot as there is less risk of a hard drive sailing out of bounds. It is customary to putatively apologize with a often perfunctory wave of the hand or paddle. However, highly skilled players go for the tag when the odds favor it. At the recreational level, tagging is poor sportsmanship if the opponent is much less skilled than you are (for example, you are a 4.5 nd your opponent is a 3.0). Still, tagging is not illegal as it requires reading a player’s mind whether your are an official or an opponent. Tagging, right now, is simply a part of the game.

      1. Right, Keith, I get that tagging is legal and part of the game. This situation is similar to tennis, and there are less similar “plays” in every other sport, e.g., the hard slide in baseball, undercutting in basketball, etc. My point is that you don’t do these things when there are other easy options and when you are playing against a much lower level player. If someone wants to prove how tough and aggressive. they are, take up boxing. Thnx for your reply.

        1. if you’ve read my responses over they years you know where I stand and I haven’t changed my thinking on tagging. it needs to go! – barb

      2. There are rules then there are morals. Take a look at the YouTube instruction, lots of how to speed up surprise(tagging). I have been hit when the ball bounced off my partners paddle at the net.

      3. It damages such a fun sport for all ages when a skilled player intentionally takes a shot to hurt someone during recreational play. Basically, it’s taking advantage of the loose rules on tagging for one’s own sick benefit. Not okay!

        1. I’m more of a surprise “quick pop” kinda person. But just a quick pop and always below the neck. Most of the time it’s a forehand roll past the shoulder, instead of targeting. But my suggestion is learn to dodge because it isn’t going anywhere lol

  13. I have a paddle in my hand, so if I get hit with the ball (excluding head shots) then I blame myself for not using it. It’s no-one’s fault but my own. However, should I hit an opponent, I usually apologise. It’s the courteous and sporting thing to do.

    1. Simon, you are exactly right. It’s rude to headhunt, but your court and paddle placement should not be so poor that you are getting hit regularly. If it is, you should probably be playing with less skilled opponents.

    2. If you are at the kitchen line, and your opponent is at the kitchen line, and they are a male, a smash at you will leave you less than a quarter of a second to get the paddle in the position. That is assuming that you react instantaneously. You won’t. It doesn’t matter where you are holding your paddle. A 50 mph pickleball can do considerable damage.

  14. I agree with those who’ve stated ‘all’s been said’. I agree. And my favorite comment was Michael’s. Does anyone know the process for submitting a rules change idea for USAPA?

    Rec play. Implement a rule its very simple! Aggressive targeting warning and removed if
    Not stopped! Banned from playing at that venue!

    Competitive play – intentional targeting should be the ref stopping play and addressing the attitude!!! No rule needs to be implemented! It is a sportmanship warning!!!
    Point awarded to opposing player if warranted or ejection if ref deems necessary !!! Safety is key!!!

    1. Nobody is targeting nobody! Sportsmanship? Absurd. The whole game is built upon the idea of hitting hard, spin, lobbing, slice, overhead smashing, and dinking the ball to the other side so that the opponent can’t return the ball. You are at war with your opponent who wants to shoot most difficult tricky nasty shots at you in a tight space with little bigger than ping pong paddle hitting bright green or yellow balls five times bigger than ping pong ball. Of course you will be very aggressive and tricky with the ball. Where else you could hit the ball other than to your opponent? You can’t always hit the ball in the middle or to the extreme sides. Two huge bodies are in front of you only 7 feet away! Are you saying amateur 3.5 level has a skill to aim at the opponent’s head with a fast flying ball at the net? The players do not target at their opponents. You happen to be there and able or unable to hit the ball back. A simple physics. they hit the ball hard at the opponents just like tennis or ping pong. I had bruises on my upper body but I would never characterize it as the result of targeting. Pickleball is Inherently a nasty game, not gentlemen’s game. A player in my group boasts about not hitting at the opponents. He missed 8-10 shots per game. A nice guy but a lousy player frustrating me.

      1. EG – I play with people who admit/say they target people, because it is allowed. And yes, I’d bet that most players do as you say – don’t intentionally target but because the size of the courts is limited – as in un-intentionally hit opponents. My argument has always been: so what? In most other sports, it would be ludicrous to allow intentional targeting ABOVE THE WAIST at least. I unintentionally hit people, and we’re trained to hit at opponent’s feet or near their lower body but not AT them.

      2. Please, I played pickleball for the first time. If I wanted to score regularly, believe me, I would aggressively hit the ball right at your body at a velocity that couldn’t be returned. That’s why it’s illegal.

      3. EG…Totally agree…That’s why you have a paddle…to protect and attack…..no one wants to hurt anyone…they just want to win the point….

    2. I agree there needs to Implement a rule on Aggressive targeting, the person needs to be removed and banned from playing for a set time period. NO ONE SHOULD BE A TARGET. It used to be you had to hit at the feet area but now it has gotten out of hand and the USA Pickleball association needs to put a STOP to Aggressive Targeting.

      1. Hi Norm, Keith James post of 3/11/21 gets the Gold on this Blog site concerning this issue. #No targeting rule in Pickleball. Thanks for your comments. 🙂

      2. I am a 5 foot tall woman (60), in reasonably good shape and was playing in a social game with a man who had very good placement. He chose to bang a return centered on my face. Thankfully it was 2-3″ above my head. I was very rattled.

        He could have easily won the shot by placing it at my feet.

        Was this tactic necessary? Was it intended? If so should it be allowed.

        1. IMO, someone who intentionally hits a hard shot directly at you when there are other easy options to win the point is showing poor sportsmanship. He/she should be warned and then penalized for another occurance.

    3. This is not going to work. As more and more young athletes get into the sport, this high energy, hit ’em in the face – it ain’t knitting! ‘ sort of mentality seems to be taking over. I was reading elsewhere of how players at the 5.0 level target other players , seemingly allowing it at that level but not at lower ones. I saw it a few weeks ago at a tournament being done by the 3.0’s.
      Regardless of how often the tough guys/girls say ” BRING IT ON! “, having a game turn into a shooting match is going to takes it’s toll on the players as well as the game. of course, the it doesn’t exactly hurt if its at your belly or chest. it depends on how hard it was smacked at you.
      I still have some covid face shields left over so when I am at my next tournament I will be wearing that when I play certain teams…lol

  15. Hi Jennifer and all players, After 205 comments, we have heard both sides of the ‘targeting’ issue. Hopefully, we will all continue to “Go Play” and continue to love and enjoy playing. USAPA is in charge as are the Certified Referees in our magnificent Pro Division play. Thanks for all comments. 🙂

    1. 206 comments on social media just is not a sugnificant number. On NextDoor lost dog gets more hits. I have to admit I hit someone by accident the other day. Was just about 3 milliseconds late! Im getting a Ben Johns paddle since its faster.

      1. Hi Barb E and thanks for the personal reply. I’m sure the USAPA / IFP is listening and watching. Also respect your intent to seek a change in this issue. Just cannot see having certified Refs being in charge of targeting penalties especially in APP & PPA or sanctioned play with Refs. Local gym, YMCA, and club play have members sign waivers for injury. I know there are exceptions if these facilities are at fault for negligence. Suffering an injury due to a pickleball rally would involve proving your opponents motive, intent (video coverage if available), witnesses, filing a report of assault with local police and then finding a judge that would hear the case if the issue would reach the courts. “Go Play”. 🙂

  16. So I hear everyone saying it’s perfectly find to tag someone or I’ll say target them with the ball. I am a powerful hitting 4.0 player. I hit my shots down and away….and I control my hard shots. If I didn’t, someone would get hurt and hurt bad. The comes so fast, you will not have time to react…you will not get your paddle up in time…and even if it’s up, your going to get hurt. Safety glasses won’t help you with a shot to your neck, temple, forehead and any other part of your body. You will not be happy. The rules of the this aggressive game do not provide for the safety of the players. “Part of the game” BS…..it’s using a plastic ball as a weapon. There should be no intentional hard shots to the body. Sure accidents happen, but targeting a player to win a point…nonsense. In football today, the player who targets another with his helmet is removed from the game. Everything is just fine until someone gets seriously hurt. You want to live the rest of your life that you knowingly targeted someone and injured them for life. I don’t want to be that person. Modify the rules and eliminate “tagging” or targeting. Make safety a priority.

    1. Wow so glad to have you commented so thoughtfully Dr Jeffries. I will not let this topic go, there is something amiss with people who believe in tagging at all. It’s just poor sportsmanship. And the person who mentioned about playing badminton and hitting people in the face that’s terrible. I’m tired of being in the gray about this, it’s black and white, the game needs to stop allowing intentional tagging at least above the waist. I’ll make that compromise but that’s as far as I would go. I’ll bet if more of us spoke our mind you would agree with me and Dr Jeffries that intentional tagging in the game of pickleball needs to go. Full stop.

      1. I see players that have not learned a simple lesson, watch YOUR partners shot. If it is high and short, you better be moving back. Plenty of time if you are watching your partner. Also nothing wrong with turning your back and living to fight another day if you pick it up late.

        If you get hit when someone is rolling the ball from the kitchen line, nothing you can do about that except say nice shot and keep your racquet up.

        1. You are not getting my point. I am not talking about unintentional shots that hit an opponent. I am talking about intentionally tagging the other team. It’s cheap. Learn to play with greater finesse. I never tag someone intentionally. It’s dirty ball. Sorry, I know many don’t agree, but I stand by my style. I work on making it equal and competitive. Playing dirty to win is lame/easy. When you are watching the pros play, do you see intentional tagging? No! So what’s that tell you. Learn how to hit the ball ‘where they ain’t’ and with strategy and you never need to intentionally hit your opponent to have success. But until those that make the rules get it right, we will have to have this discussion! Said with love my friend.

          1. “When you are watching the pros play, do you see intentional tagging?”


            Alex Hamner even bet Chris Miller he could not tag her. The wager? He would have to wear her floppy hat that he had been mocking all day long. The pros tag each other with great gusto and glee—but not to the head, of course.

          2. One cannot depend on the other person doing the right thing. If you are going to put yourself in harm’s way with just stand in there mentality well…..The roll shot from below the net comes over about face level. Should that shot be outlawed too?

          3. I would urge those pro-tagging to read this post: https://blog.pickleballcentral.com/2016/07/19/pickleball-a-contact-sport/

            I think then there has to be either communication right on the court or rules for rec/non-pro play: I don’t want to tag others and I don’t want to be tagged. I think, as many have said on here and when the subject is discussed elsewhere that tagging is a problem.

            Perhaps there is a compromise in there somewhere and I hope that USAPA will consider that in the future when making the rules. Speaking of which, could there be 2 sets of rules: one for tournament play/ 4.0 plus play and rules for under 4.0/rec play? Why not?

          4. Hello Barb, I just replied on that YouTube video because I am friends with all four of those guys and they LOVE tagging each other.

          5. Michael Wilkins

            Rec play.
            Implement a rule its very
            Aggressive targeting
            warning and removed if
            Not stopped! Banned from playing at that venue!

            Competitive play intentional targeting should be the ref stopping play and addressing the attitude!!! No rule needs to be implemented! It is a sportmanship warning!!!
            Point awarded to opposing player if warranted or ejection if ref deems necessary !!! Saftey is key!!!

          6. Yep! It’s not hockey. It unintentional, great. If you want to ‘check’ people intentionally, that’s a different sport.

          7. I’m somewhat new to the game.
            Here’s my question: When I’m in No Man’s Land and the opposing team is at the no volley zone line, and they hit a shot that I’m set up for a hard forehand, wouldn’t it be advantageous to hit at the opponent? For two reasons–less time to react (thus making mistake), and the ball being hit so hard towards opponent, that even if ball was to be going out, the opponents initial reaction is to play the ball?

          8. I totally agree with you . I’m 73-year-old women athlete that played many sports at a high level . Pickleball is my first sport where players get few feet away from you and hit as hard as they can. I finally confronted a guy ,he was honest. He said intimidation. My come back .. then you lake the skills at our level to play the sport correctly. Pickleball to me is a combination of finesse, quickness, placement and power.

    2. You forgot about that humans like a target. The game has evolved to the hard game. No longer the elegant chess match at lower levels. Here is the joke, to play the soft game you have to hit a soft shot!

      1. I disagree that the game has evolved only to be ‘hard’. There are plenty of us who are actually walking away from the game due to the cliques and the bangers. There has to be a way for the finesse players to find each other. Maybe I’ll go out and start another Facebook group LOL~

        1. agreed. Or like hockey, you have ‘checking’ hockey, or no checking allowed. For people who want a much harder, contact like game, great. For those who want to play more strategy and positioning instead of a contact sport, maybe there needs to be 2 levels.

        2. I just had this discussion with a friend 20 minutes ago! While we get that there is a time and a place for quick hard shots we much prefer the finesse of dinking once we’re at the NVZ and waiting for the right opportunity to use more aggressive shots.

    3. I’m inclined to fully agree with you. There are a lot more skills to tap into in PB. If not you need to tap into them. I do not intentionally tag anyone except the one that tries to tag me, and revenge (vendetta) is always ‘sweet’. Perhaps only with the intent to teach them a lesson. If you accomplish your mission it is highly unlikely that the ‘behavior’ won’t change for the better. For you as well as for the sport of Pickleball.

        1. Hi again Don and ‘ditto’ from my reply to you on 5/23/19. Only takes 2 seconds to watch your partners return and you have about same amount of time to decide what to do. Thanks for your comments.

    4. I am a D1 National Women’s Lacrosse official, coach, and athlete. Every sport has rules to prevent targeting except pickleball. Rules are built into sports to protect and prevent injury. Elite athletes use common sense to prevent injury. If you are playing PB at a high level and have high level skill and ability you have enough opportunity to hit down and away from an opponent. Even less skilled people can sense when someone is targeting them. The game usually ends in animosity. To become a national lacrosse official it was my job to make the call. The athletes who continued to check at the head or body needed to be policed. This has to be executed through rule change to prevent those who think they are funny or can break the rules to be penalized. Imagine playing a man down. That would fix um!

      1. Roberta thank you for sharing. I am tired of fighting this fight on here. 95% of those on this thread think it’s great or fine to tag. It’s weird. Like you said every other sport has rules to prevent tagging/targeting except pickleball. I don’t get it – even Jennifer Lucore’s response to my comment was not helpful. She’s all for tagging apparently. Luckily most I play with aren’t in the habit of tagging thankfully. I actually ran a league where I didn’t allow it above the waist. It was well received, esp. by the women. I guess I will chalk it up to pickleball being a young/still ‘immature’ game. I do believe tagging will some day soon go the way of the dinosaur but sadly only after some serious injuries. Be sure to look me up on the senior women’s pickleball players facebook page, link below, if you are interested.

        1. Hello Barb, thanks for joining the discussion. You share I am “all for tagging” I want to clarify that is incorrect. Take care 🙂

        2. I am a tennis now pickleball player. Only played 5 months and have been targeted hit in face twice, once in eye in and in ear in last month. I’m 510 so either these are deliberate face shots or these players can’t control there shots. I have never gotten injured in 30 years of tennis. My opinion is “targeting and head hunting” above waist should be banned or you lose the point which would be a deterrent. Skilled players aim for openings not at opponents.

      2. Hi Roberta, Nice to have a Div 1 coach, official and Pball player introduce comments. I share in your Pball level of play after 4 years of play. Am replying to possibly of including ‘targeting’ into Pball rulebook. Would not like to see in the Pro Division as a rule. The men and women Pro players have extreme reflex skills. Heated rallies may end up in a player being hit, especially when back and forth at the line. Having a targeting rule would be very subjective. Thanks for your comments.

        1. The only rule for tagging in any rulebook needs to say: tagging above the waist – at least for rec play – is outlawed. Make the responsibility for responsible skill and play be put on the offensive player not the defensive ones.

    5. I cannot believe that this string is still growing. The challenge with any rule banning tagging is it requires that an official mind reads the player’s intentions. If a player at the line snaps a hard shot at an opponent and said opponent does not get his or her paddle up in time and said shot hits the player in the torso, what does an official do? Reward the team whose player was too slow in reacting to the challenging shot? In other words, reward a point for ineptitude? The rules committee banned let serves this year to prevent any possibility of players cheating. Imagine the latent cheating embedded in a tagging ban. All an unscrupulous player would have to do is let a ball hit him or her on purpose, fall down in mock agony (as some thespians do in soccer), and then look with woeful eyes for the official to reward his or her bad performance. This is a disaster from the get go. As for Jennifer Lucore’s comment, she said she knew OTHER players who relished tagging each other, not that she herself did so. Be careful, Barb, about attacking a hall of fame player, a sportswoman without peer, and a friend.

      1. Hey Keith, I’ll bet Jennifer can handle her own and doesn’t need your protection. Also, I as a player and former ambassador I am no less than a pro in this game, as far as the respect I deserve. I am not criticizing anyone personally on here, I am just continuing to share an important point on behaviors that will one day be evolved into the game, I believe. Right now PB is young and a bit immature. If/when PB matures into a finesse game (I sure hope in my lifetime), tagging will go the way of the dinosaur. Yes, USAPA shies away from outlawing tagging because it ‘fears’ people can’t manage that. I disagree. We are adults, not children. We can figure this out. Any adult with empathy and with skill knows they don’t for the most part need to make the mistake of hitting people hard above the waist. It’s just not necessary to play a skilled, fun and competitive game. Yes, here and there we do this to each other unintentionally but that shouldn’t matter. After all if the rule says ‘don’t do it or you pay’, you learn very quickly just not to do it. Signed proudly, Barb Elgin

        1. Dear Barb,

          Comparing yourself to Jennifer Lucore, even tangentially, is not a wise move. In addition, your response did not address my argument. Any rule banning tagging forces the referee to perform a Svengali mind reading feat. Why not argue the issues rationally and objectively? And if you do not have a reasonable counter argument, pontificating from the proverbial high horse only obfuscates the issue and lays bare the weak underpinnings of your rhetoric.

          Finally, you are right. Jennifer does not need my protection, no more than an Olympic deity needs protection from a flea.

          Keith James

        2. Hi Barb E from 3/14/21. You are very adamant about the ‘targeting’ issue and that’s ok. I’ve been enjoying this segment of Jen’s Blog. My comments vs targeting have been pointed specifically ‘a no go rule’ to the Open Pro level and Pro sanctioned play. Rec play is different as you know. YMCA’s and PB clubs have Program Directors that can deal with intentional targeting. I ref and play at a YMCA and we get hit occasionally. PB is and has been one of the most courteous and friendly games since 1965. Have viewed many Pro events on my PC and ‘a bit immature’ not there. They all have certified Refs that control the game. Thanks for your comments. 🙂

      2. Hi Keith from 3/11/21. 201 hits here and growing! I figured it would become so. Anyway, you definitely hit ‘the nail on the head’ with your comments! And thanks for supporting Jennifer and her many accomplishments including keeping this Blog alive and well. #No targeting rule in pickleball. Thanks Keith 🙂

    6. Dr Jeffries it is part of the game. if you dont like that part, you should play with like minded players. Do you honestly think no would could defend or move from your shot? or someone would be hurt ba

    7. Bogart of Norwich

      I come from playing racketball (in my 20’s & 30’s). We constantly went home with racketball sized bruises and welts. Now THOSE hurt!!

      I’m now 66 and getting hit by a pickleball, even getting hit “hard” by a young 3.5 – 4.0 player is nothing. I guess it’s all what your used to.

    8. Lol legend in own mind! Go to a real competition and see how it works out! Please publish the results! What happens when you are fee milliseconds late! You need to play up instead of down!

    9. I’d gladly stand up to your 4.0 “power shot.” I’m a 4.0 who likes that the game has sped up somewhat. If you tag me, I might tag you next time. That’s part of the game. If someone doesn’t like the speed of play, play with another group. If you’re a banger and in a less-experienced group, courtesy dictates slowing it down a bit (maybe work on the soft game). If someone is being a jerk (a 4.0 banger hitting at a 3.0’s face would certainly qualify), tell them to stop. What we don’t need is another rule – especially one that will make the fast game less fun.

    10. I appreciate your stance on this. I was just slammed in the neck by a man who always line drives the ball hard. My partner put up a high short ball on game point and this jerk wailed it into my neck. The muscle is really sore, but other than that I think I will be okay. This same guy was talking to the bench when I was about to serve and when he was finished told me to go ahead. Should this kind of rudeness be tolerated? We are rec players, playing inside at the Y.

    11. Exactly right. I took a hard hit to the wrist and did some research. A smash can be 50 mph leaving 2 players at the kitchen .25sec away. Can’t react that fast. A 50mph ball can damage lots of body parts.

    1. It is funny how entertaining these threads can be.
      Here is how I approach it. 4.0 level play and above, tag away. If you are playing on a 4.0 court you need to accept that part of the game. 3.5 courts and below (including mixed play) I will only intentionally tag players who are OK with it. I will not treat the men and women differently, to me this type of sexism just limits peoples ability to play as equals. Why can’t a woman (or older player for that matter) want to play with tagging. Individual players get to choose and communicate their desires. If tagging makes you uncomfortable speak up for yourself and stick to 3.5 and below courts. I never aim directly for the face. It is not considerate of the other player, but it is also very bad strategy. A head shot is hard to hit (small target), and easy to dodge (almost all head shots are going out)
      On apologizing; I always apologize if the hit was one that might of hurt, but if the hit did not endanger the player, they are OK, and I have a solid rapport with them, then banter is sometimes more fun that an apology.

      1. I am a 4.0/4.5 player. I hope your wife plays because when a man hits me I always ask where their wife is, so my 6’0 205lb husband can hit her in return. If you are hitting your opponents you have little to no skill and poor shot selection. If you have enough time to hit someone you have enough time to direct the ball with speed and power down and away from their feet between your opponents or to a sideline. Hitting someone is a choice. Pickleball is a defensive game and played to generate forced errors and winners, not a beating.

          1. Pete it’s the intent. You can see it in their eyes, facial expression, body language before and after the over head smash and forehand drive. I don’t consider a punch shot to the body and a hard drive from mid court at a player targeting. Those shots are defendable! It’s the over head and forehand where you can go anywhere with skill and power and don’t. I’m usually able to defend against those shots too but again it’s the intent and shear joy 1% of the time and the disappointment 99% that I observe as the opponent when you miss your intended target. As a National and Collegiate women’s lacrosse official or any official, especially football, soccer, and basketball, we are trained to observe intent of contact and incidental. If you’re a student of the game or any game you will understand where I’m coming from.

        1. I have to agree with you; Andrew is simply wrong. I come from a racquetball background as well, and hitting the player was never a strategy. Pickleball-the same. To intentionally hit someone is simply a payback maneuver. I’ve fought in the ring, played football, wrestled, etc. all the contact sports. Now at my age I want to jplay hard, competitively and do it for fun.

          1. The sport instruction caused this issue. Beginner 101, hit to the opponents feet! You off by a few milliseconds they get it in the face. So you are tutored to not hit to the open area!
            Also the basic geometry the easiest hit is back to the person who hit it. You wanna play with the big girls, you gotta learn just not to stand there and take it in the face. No glory in that. Remember your partner can be your worst enemy watch your partners shot! You never hear about this is singles!!

  17. The topic that never ends…tagging an opponent ad infinitum….
    If I can “handcuff” my opponent by placing a short fast punch volley to their hip or knee then why not? Happened just the other day when one of our opponents put up a 3rd shot short, floater. The other opponent at the non-volley line PROBABLY should’ve moved back to give themselves more time to react. So I hit a crisp backhand into his hip thigh area (i was actually going for his lower leg). As long as your shot is not a deliberate one to the face/head area, again why not? That is part of the game. Someone commented earlier that no other game does this, but it occurs in tennis especially in doubles.

  18. thanks for writing this blog post. I was kind of wondering how do you play at the NVZ against lower level players. my friend is actually more experienced and similar level but I think his reflexes are not as fast if I try to volley toward his body. so should I just volley down towards his sides or just try to avoid volleying at his body altogether. is there something I should practice as alternative to volleying towards the body? thanks.

    1. Hi Lizardwalks, If you volley back towards the body, there’s a good chance it’s coming back at you. Given the opportunity, smack it back to either side of your opponent to an opening or right at their feet. Have fun and “Go Play” says Jen & Alex !

  19. I got hit right between the eyes once. I told my very apologetic opponent not to worry, that it was my fault for not having my paddle up (we were equal abilities). AND I had eye protection on. If you don’t wear eye pro you are an idiot waiting for an accident to happen. I won’t play against anybody who doesn’t wear eye pro.

    1. Elizabeth Heyenga

      I agree it is just not smart not to wear some eye protection if you value your sight. People get snarky about it, but it seems pretty basic to me.

  20. @Jms Agree with your comment 110%:
    Pickleball is not an expensive sport re equipment purchases prior to engaging in the sport, eg. playing golf, hockey etc. So why not spend some $$$ to invest in some quality eyewear to protect your eyes.
    Players need to be educated about taking personal responsibility for the protection of their eyes. It is not their opponent’s responsibility.
    That being said, Tagging should only be done between Players of equal skill levels or in Tournaments

  21. Hi Don from 5/23/19. Your post is spot on. Many players never look back when they are at the line when ball served to their partner, or during play after second bounce. To all players: Watch Jen & Alex ’15 shots to the kitchen’ video. Jen looks back every time ball is hit to Alex and vice versa. They both had to play back until a chance came to work up to the line.

  22. I think the cause of this is that players are taught to run to the kitchen line, blindless!!. Most never learn that you have to watch your partners or your shot (yes you have a partner) to see if the shot good enough for you to move in without getting smashed. Don’t be a sitting duck. Probably 40% of 3rd shots even if you are good are too high. If you dont have a soft shot you have to wait till you get a short ball to come in on. Even when you are at the net on the return team, if your partner hits a short return, you better be backing up!

  23. I love this thread and glad people still comment on it. I no longer run a play club so I focus more now on playing myself and wonder: is the fact I wear glasses to see enough to protect my eyes while playing? Should I still get protective glasses that GO OVER my glasses? How about the idea I saw posted about using any frame (w/o lenses), do I put a pair of frames w/o lenses over my glasses?

    Interesting – thanks for sharing Jeffrey C. on your experience. I also don’t disagree with Neal’s recent remark: it is so thoughtful and I appreciated it. I will share with my fellow players here who may not know that a pickleball to the eye will likely make permanent damage. not enough folks wear eye protection at all.

    xoxo, barb elgin

  24. Thank you to those who are speaking up about the potential for eye injuries playing pickleball. I believe if players were more MINDFUL about where and how they are hitting the ball (considering injury first always) then we would be left with the ‘accidental’ hits which can still lead to injury, reminding all of us that eye protection is a good idea.

    The MINDFUL part is tougher, esp. I’ve noticed more often w/the guys. For some reason they remain HARDHEADED (and it’s evident in their posts on here) about the potential for injuries and it’s not true that people are shunned, particularly in rec play where it tends to be smaller groups with the same players. For ex, we have some 6 foot plus men in our programs and they sometimes forget how big and strong they are. They need to remember this esp. when playing people of lesser levels and esp. when playing women.

    Thanks again for this forum to share thoughts.

  25. Wow, can’t believe I’ve been following this particular post for over 2.5 years. Since that time….I’ve done a 180 on my views since my first comment in February 2016. Now I realize it is the norm for 4.0 and up players to tag each other. Even when they do it’s more a short body shot….not meant to cripple….simply meant to defeat reaction time. This type of tagging I’m fine with….it’s simply good strategy. Overhead smashes intentionally into someone’s into the person, I’m still not a fan of……because the force used can seriously injure a person. I’ve really never witness top players doing . In Pickleball you are going to get hit, A quick shot across the net is acceptable, but a slam to the face never should be. Now I expect to be hit once or more in every game. Most Players doing the hitting always apologize….I’ve learned to laugh at it and tell them I hope to return the favor. . The Intentional shot with force, I play through. Over time I’ve learned to avoid players who can’t or won’t control their shots. You will learn in Rec play in the Pickleball world…. Players who can’t control their actions are pretty much shunned by all good players.

  26. Jeff, I have seen that ricochet off the paddle several times and seen it also hit a partner in the face. I would not believe it was possible till I saw it happen!

  27. Jeffrey L Clarkson

    This comment is not so much about tagging as protective eyewear. I have a permanent injury to my left eye — a scar on my retina that obscures my vision — from being hit in the eye with a pickleball. The ball ricocheted off my paddle into my eye so quickly, I didn’t even had a chance to blink. I no longer play without protective eyewear. The other day I got a shot to my eye from another player, but luckily the eyewear protected me. I preach the “wear eyewear” sermon to others, but I see too many players playing without the proper protection. For me, protective eyewear is as basic to pickleball as a paddle.

  28. If she wears either contacts or glasses she just needs a frame that’ll protect her eyes/face. I’ve used large pairs of sunglasses with lens popped out. The frame goes over the glasses or contacts. It’s that simple.

  29. we had a gal the other night hit right above the eye (no protection). it scared her pretty good and I suggested she wear eye protection as she is a contact wearer.

  30. Keith,

    I’m sure that scenario has played out over many a pickleball courts around the country! I suggest at your next PB holiday party, someone present Dave with a cup protector as a good gag gift 🙂

    On a related note, the average weight of a pickleball is 0.84 ounce. Most volleys at the kitchen line are somewhere between 30-40 mph. So using an impact force calculator, the result produced is 1.8 ounces at impact (for less than one ).

  31. Ro Gal,

    Last week, my partner delivered a real low blow when he nailed one of my best friends directly in the chimichangas.

    For five minutes, Dave called the score in falsetto!

    In keeping with the spirit of our regular group, catcalls and giggles emanated from those in the peanut gallery waiting to play.


  32. I always thought there should be gimmes . Why should someone have to smash an overhead when you are close to the kitchen line, where my opponent did not have the good sense to back up after hitting a high bonehead shot.

  33. Watch 41 seconds of this YouTube video ( 2:40 through 3:21). If you’re purely playing socially with friends then you may not want to tag or it is understood between your particular group, However, even with friends in our community groups who are competitive, body tagging isn’t frowned upon between equally matched players. Of course we never try to aim at the head/face/neck area, that is akin to a “low blow” in boxing.


  34. wow Ted, I assume you said above in jest? LOL.

    I also would like to add to the comment above: some care about the game and others only care about the score

    I would like to say first and foremost we should care about the people playing not the game or the score.

    watch the pros, they don’t often tag or hit people in the face or above the waist or to gain an easy point.

  35. PB is touted as a social game (why?) but that seems to go away fast until you find your clic. Keep your paddle up! You need the bangers to develop your blocking skills, so seek them out!

  36. I agree with many on this forum that one must always apologize when hitting an opponent.I recently took advanced pickleball lessons from a veteran tournament player and learned a lot about tagging. He explained the key to affective tagging is aiming for your opponents testicals if male and eyes if human. He taught me to slam the ball at an opponent when I am at the kitchen line to cause as much injury as possible. This is key because if the opponent is injured and must leave the match, then they automatically forfeit the match. Therefore, the goal is not to score points in pickleball so much as the goal is to physically disable your opponents by smashing them in the crotch and face as often and as hard as possible. This realization changed my strategy completely. I normally never use this strategy unless i’m playing aganst elderly players. Younger players move too fast to hit, unfortunately. Pickleball is a great game. Be sure to wear glasses, otherwise you may find your eyes have been popped out by players like me. And a crotch guard wouldn’t hurt either. All the best!

    1. Your mentor is a real sick cookie! Hopefully he plays against others with the same attitude! Yes I have seen that play guess it’s the gladiator coming out.

  37. great point Mike – also stupid pickleball rule #2: when you are hit you lose the serve or point! who ever came up with such a stupid rule. When you are inaccurate enough – purposeful or not – to hit your opponent YOU should lose the serve or point not the other team you hit.

  38. Mike,

    Threatening to assault someone over a strategy employed by the world’s best players is not cool. I had a friend who punched an opponent in an adult soccer game—and was sued (and lost) for grievous bodily harm. He also was charged with and pled guilty to assault and battery. He was heavily fined and spent two years on probation, during which time he was unable to practice law (the guy was an attorney, believe it or not).

    Be careful with your language and what you threaten, especially in writing.

    That said, I will sssume you were exaggerating to make a point—and that the name calling reflects either a lack of education or poor training in civilized discourse.

  39. Mike, some care about the game and others only care about the score. If you don’t know the other people watch them for a game and it will soon become clear which they are. If you have not notice the 3rd shot drive is now an acceptable option. Even people who just want the game wanna keep score. I try to give people who just hit a bonehead shot on a return a let, know how many take me up on it zero!

  40. Tag me on purpose and I’m coming over the the net to punch your lights out…so, go ahead…win that point any way you can you jerk. This tactic should NOT be part of this game. It was enacted to accommodate accidental body contact, NOT an offensive strategy…in my opinion.

    1. If an opponent is at the kitchen and a floater pops up, its going right to them, mid body hip area, in order to handcuff them from returning the ball. Look forward to a knuckle head like you being that opponent. My attorney and I will make good use of the settlement award.

  41. Yes, Marc agreed. I think too from hearing instructors talk, one of the issues bangers will sometimes have is control of the ball. During instruction drills teach players to control – speed, direction, aim, etc., this comes easier to some than others. I’ve found esp. women who weren’t athletes or who were tennis players have one hit when they begin. With time they can grow their array of shots, usually by observing video, other players, etc.

  42. I don’t think anyone is advocating intentionally trying to hit someone in the face with the ball. If you have time on a high lob, you can aim at the feet or angle it short in the court so that it is unreturnable. However, during a fast-paced point with many volleys, you don’t always have time to aim the shot exactly, and that may result in tagging someone in the torso. I don’t think anyone would get upset at that, and I don’t believe that it is a shot that you practice or that represents the majority of your shot selections.

  43. As Ro Gal so perfectly said, this is a topic bound to go on and on. It’s so funny – from being an asshole to showing respect for your opponent (and everything in between)~anyone else reading this thread want to chime in LOL.

  44. Anyone that intentionally hits a ball at their opponents head, or above the waist no matter what your excuse is, is an asshole. End of sort.

  45. Barb, those that tag is usually the core of their game, that’s what they do by reflex. If you every tried to suggest something to someone 99% of the time they don’t want to hear it! You gonna suggest to someone not to hit their best shot?

  46. I would imagine this topic will continue for some time given all the opinions out there. The reason I may choose to hit an opponent is simple, if the ball hits their arm, hip, knee or elsewhere (except the face), that means the point is over. It’s a pickleball, the only thing lighter is a ping pong ball.

  47. Accelerating a popped up ball directly at your opponent and thereby testing your opponent’s reflexes—as long as the ball is not intentionally aimed at the opponent’s face—is not only fair and acceptable, but also shows respect for your opponent. Otherwise, you are treating your opponent as too slow and inept to deal with up tempo play—and denying her or him the satisfaction of calmly blocking fast balls for clean winners.

  48. Thank you Michile for your feedback. See folks, there is a way to play and enjoy the game without hitting an opponent. I really don’t care that it’s legal in tennis, we are not tennis. To me it’s much more challenging to ‘hit it where they ain’t than hit them.

    In many other sports if you intentionally use the ball to hit an opponent it’s a problem and not legal. In baseball, as long as runner stays in his lane, and doesn’t intentionally block ball and is hit, he isn’t out. In racquetball if it comes off the wall and hits opponent, you aren’t rewarded it’s just a dead ball/point or advantage to no one and if you hit your opponent trying to hit the ball into the wall you lose the rally.

    In basketball, you can legally hit other team w/ball but there is leeway on referee’s part to call unsportsmanlike conduct.

    I really suspect gender differences here. And while many men believe this aggression is part of the game, women tend to be on a continuum. I am more aggressive on the court (w/o using tagging) than a lot of women and then there are women more aggressive than me.

    The only sport (which by the way I love) where it is the point of the game to try and hit your opponent with the ball is dodge ball!!!

    Again, I stand by the etiquette of being sure your opponents are ok with tagging and hitting hard above the waist before you do it. Can’t we all get along and come to this sort of understanding?

    For those to insist they want to do it when their opponents don’t? I think that’s poor sportsmanship. I don’t want to be injured by the ball and the ball does and has injured players.

  49. Intentional hitting is poor sportsmanship either in tennis or Pickleball. Ball placement on the court requires more skill. Try it, you will win more games and matches. I’ve ducked at headshots and reciprocated with groin shots that hit the target.
    Gladiator Pickleball…Bring it on! If that’s what we want to teach and play.
    I play both tennis and Pickleball for the thrill of competition and the skill development required, not for intentionally hitting my opponent .
    …and I like the social – off the court. But after a successful groin shot, my opponent is not interested in social interaction. He usually has a sour attitude and needs an ice pack.

    1. love your take Pam, if only most would see it as we do. I wonder if anyone injured by the pickleball still believes a pickleball is too soft to injure! Or, I wonder if those who’ve hurt others care? It seems some here would actually hurt an opponent and literally blame the opponent for ‘not being skilled enough to block the ball’. crazy.

  50. Though it is a great tactic of winning, I used to do that but once I was in a similar situation as you are written. And I immediately came up with a decision, that I won’t use it ever.

    Actually, thing is that We are in a world where we appreciating FairPlay.

    So now I use different tactics than hitting on someone’s body. The fact is My game is improving much than the before.

    Now I concentrate on many tactics than one I used to do earlier.

  51. No Barb and Pam. The USAPA rules are not backward. Even in tennis, a person hit with a ball loses the point. And a tennis ball hurts way more than a pickleball. It’s considered a valid shot in tennis if you go right at the body of the net player. Why should it be any different in pickleball, where the ball doesn’t do nearly as much damage?

  52. glad to finally meet a kindred spirit here Pam. Current USAPA rules have it backwards imho: Hit your opponent – intentional or not – and it’s THEIR loss of serve/point/etc./fault? Crazy isn’t it? Should it not be that when you hit your opponent – intentional or not that it’s YOUR loss of serve/point/fault???

  53. Tagging (or intentionally hitting an opponent) should be considered a fault. It is poor sportsmanship and isn’t part of the game’s intention. I am offended by it and if it isn’t addressed in the rules, it will become meaner and more harmful. Get a grip folks, play pickleball as it is intended. Develop rules for safety if the bullies can’t control themselves. Otherwise, the sport will likely decline because it WILL NOT appeal to the masses who are playing for health, social contact and friendly competition. Then, where will the money be made?

    1. Friendly competition? If you are keeping score its not friendly. Problem is Pickleball looks like smashball tennis if that is all the skill you have. The worse partner you can have is one playing for health and social contact if you are keeping score.

      1. I disagree. I think outlawing tagging above the waist is still an excellent idea. Would reduce injuries and force players to be more skillful. Now, there will still be accidents. Too bad. If you hit a player above the waist you lose a point on your score. This would force less aggression and more finesse.

        Again, why is it that no other sports that I know of – other than dodge ball – allow you to intentionally use the ball to ‘tag’ the other team. Just doesn’t happen.

  54. Interesting thread. I try to avoid tagging, preferring to aim at the left foot for a winner. I have read in multiple places that it is considered poor etiquette for a male to tag a female ANYWHERE on the body. As Jennifer points at in her post the subconscious often takes over and a tag shot results if one is practiced in the shot. If one practices tagging a day will come when the subconscious takes over and he tags a female and injury results. Thus I avoid it. Just my opinion. I have been tagged often by both men and women and am not offended. But I now wear protective eye wear after being tagged on the cheek by a female banger.

  55. Hey, I think it’s all part of the fun and enjoyment of Pickleball. If you consider the shift in momentum from dinks to powerful body line shots or other passing shots then there’s a likelihood. After all soft dink shot rallies are so that you find that one slightly higher return you can try to put away. Now getting tagged or lobbed are all options players have.and often use. Everyone reserves the right to exploit the opponent in whatever way they can, without intentionally tagging at the face. Also as someone earlier said, directed at the nether region or Southern Hemisphere or south of the border etc. lol!
    I like how in Pickleball you can change the momentum with soft drops or hard drives and use all the angles to place the ball. Positioning yourself properly does give you so many options but you have to anticipate early enough in order to accomplish that. I try to run the opponent as long as they’re willing and then find that major gap to place the ball. Hate to see them run into each another though and that happens occasionally with weaker players. The ones I like to exploit are the heavy bangers with that monodimensional approach. Love seeing them run out of gas and exasperated. Most 4.0 and above men and women play a varied game and it’s nice to see the transition of each rally, culminating in some extraordinary play and athleticism. Cheers!

    1. Keith, There is a shot called a “roll” where one can attack a dink or a 3rd shot and it will hit you in the chest or face if you are not fast enough. I have this shot from my ping pong days, the Selkirk Amped is great for this shot. The velocity doesn’t bruise anyone and is different then the banger shot. Ben Johns has a video out on how he hits it from the air. I hit mine on the bounce in the kitchen. Also if you get out of the way, it usually goes in due to the topspin. Works great when someone dinks to your supposedly weak backhand.

      1. Don, i see you mentioned a shot callled the ‘roll’. I sometimes hit a shot that lingers longer on the paddle, kinda like a ‘loop’ shot in Table Tennis (pingpong). I just call it a ‘sling shot’ because of the way it comes off the paddle. At times I inadvertantly do it on the backhand serve. Other times I happen to do it on a regular groundstroke or a volley, also more from the backhand side than the forehand.
        I have to see video of someone of Ben Johns caliber where he intentionally propels the ball this way and try to slow motion it on play back. That’ll tell me the mechanics of how exactly it occurs.
        Maybe you can explain it here and see if it’s the same thing I’m referring to. Thx!

      2. Thanks Don. I do have that shot on my forehand side (one of my favorites, actually, as it works down the middle, too) and am working on the backhand after watching the Ben Johns’ video you mentioned. I’m still learning.

  56. Look, I am a former very good tennis player who has been playing pickleball for five years now. I am a 4.5 and still very powerful at age 73. In those five years of playing pickleball three to five times a week for two hours each session, I have hit one player (ONE) in the face as explained in the post that began this thread. That incident was non intentional. Hitting another player is not cool and poor tactics, too. In the time since this whole brouhaha began, I have tagged opponent’s maybe ten times, all to the torso and all without injury. Have I ever tagged another buddy on purpose? Yes, I have. And some of my best pals have tagged me, too. And then we laugh and trash talk away. I do not intentionally target women, but I did unintentionally nail a good woman friend in the arm two weeks ago. But she is a lawyer, so I got a round of applause from the stands from folks waiting to play

    1. Keith,
      I agree with your examples, and actually think it is somewhat difficult to hit someone in the face/head during a fast paced rally point at the kitchen line. However, why not a hit a “handcuff” shot to your opponents hip or mid torso? It usually results in the opponent making an error! Besides, a pickle ball does not hurt nearly as much compared to a tennis ball.

  57. Great video! One day I was at an indoor sports complex and an older man (70’s) asked if I’d like to play.
    Well, I was 33 at the time and a strong 3.5 tennis player. Though my badminton skill was limited to backyard picnics, I thought I’d have no problem and actually felt sorry for the gentlemen but figured I’d play some anyway. The first game was 21-7, and the second 21-8. Needless to say I learned a lesson that day, that finesse and experience trumps athletics and youth!

  58. I played USTA 4.0, accomplished snow skier, ping- pong geek, 4.0 PBall player. I am not painting every Tennis player as a banger but the ones you see who are the head hunters, well you don’t develop those banging skills and attitudes, from someone who just is learning the short game. If you have experience in other sports, you know what you see when winning is everything. I personally keep track of the score with my unforced errors not the game score (I dont care), leave that for the bangers and the double prize money daz. If you don’t make unforced errors you win lots!
    I have seen no one hit in the face when the ball is pounded down from the kitchen, but those base line/midcourt bangers a different issue. Your not playing with guys who hit it hard if you think that ball won’t bruise you up if you miss a block or its too fast and hits you in the face.

  59. By the way, if you can make the time Google ‘This is Badminton’. I’d like to get feedback after you really watch it uninterrupted. Thanks!

  60. Don, I am a former tennis player, and I am now a reasonably skilled pickleball player, even though it took a couple of years. I do not remember either hitting an opponent or getting hit by an opponent in tennis. As a matter of fact, I have seen pros have fist fights if a man hits a woman in mixed competition. The difference, the balls, my man. A tennis ball can cause very serious injuries, but a plastic ball with holes in it, not so much harm, really. So former tennis players have not ruined pickleball, at all.

    Two examples, Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner—two of the most celebrated pickleballers in the world and both superb former tennis players.

  61. I think the one common thread throughout all our discussion is that each of us needs to play with those similar to how we like to play. And when that isn’t possible, be mindful and respectful of your opponents. I have to defend Don’s comment: it’s true that tennis players when they are new to pickleball tend to be smashers, which bothers some of the more experienced pickleball players. I like some of my cohorts from tennis to death, but many of them are still playing pickleball like tennis. And there isn’t an awareness or interest in getting some lessons to improve. Oh well. I remain firm on safety first most of all!

  62. Just the facts, keep track of the baseline bangers, and the head hunters. You will easily see the connection to where the biggest offenders come from the modern bashing tennis game!

  63. Really Don? I hope you’re kidding, because that is a horribly close-minded and untrue statement. I’m a tennis player (still play 3 times a week), but I love pickleball….started playing 2 years ago and now I play 4 times a week (and 7 days a week in the summer). My tennis game enabled me to pick up pickleball quickly, especially the backhand and volleys. I don’t think I’ve ruined the game for anybody. We have loads of fun on the court, and even though we are competitive and enjoy winning sometimes, we are always laughing and joking with each other on and off the court. The best games are those that are really close (I had one that other day that went to 19-17….my team won). Those games are much more fun than the blowouts when you are playing against a very weak team.

  64. I got hit in the eye last week by a power player and it broke my expensive Oakley sunglasses and it still hurts. I know getting hit is part of the game, but using that much force seems ridiculous to me.

    1. Petra – hence why I am on this thread. I run my group to learn to be more mindful of smashing the ball above the waist of opponents. Mostly it’s women who don’t like it and most men don’t mind. Because I run groups I am concerned about safety as our play is recreational.

      1. This all began with the crossover tennis players. Like snowboarders ruin skiing, tennis players ruin the enjoyment of the sport!

        1. That’s quite an elitist comment. What about badminton or racquetball players, martial arts, tall people like basketball players constantly creaming overhead smashes? Are they all ruining it to various degrees? Actually, I think your comment is more out of ignorance and minimal exposure to playing other sports.

          1. Ro Gal,I quite see it very much the same way as you do. Playing Tennis for years and accidentally tripping over Badminton one day has given me a sort of confidence, if you will. It’s a quiet and unassuming understanding and confidence of using all of the ammunition from those experiences. Table Tennis also has helped.
            When I happened upon a Badminton tournament one day I witnessed something that has stayed with me to this day. It’s the sheer variety of touch, power and speed that takes a lot of work and drilling to peak your game. For one thing, my footwork and reaction time (reflexes). which was already good, got much better. That improved my Tennis game but I had to separate the two mentally for fear of injury. It took some coaching and techniques to accomplish that. Now in Pickleball, I find myself having a blast. So I can’t help but think that we have brought even more depth and allure to it, having come from other racket/paddle sports. So, well said you guys, Don may need some help getting out of the mundane perspective he offered. Lack of experience? Maybe! Keep having fun and stay injury free. Cheers!

  65. Your confusion is understandable but semantical. The term “fault” in this context means an action that results in the other team winning the rally. For example, hitting the ball out of bounds, into the net, or missing it altogether are all faults. Add getting hit by an opponent’s shot whether in bounds or out is thus a “fault,” too. The term does not mean to blame, as you use it in your comment. Finally, “point” means the indivisible point in question. Whether in constitutes a point added to the score depends on which team served.

    Ain’t language something? So ambiguous!

  66. I am confused. I have read a Pickleball rule that states ” if a ball hits a player or his/her clothing, while standing on or off the court during a rally, this is a fault and a point for the opponents ” First of all, does this mean that the person/ team that has been hit by the ball, is at fault or the person who hit them is at fault. Since it is only the serving team that can win points, how can it be a point for the opponent unless the opponent is the serving team?
    Like I said, I am confused.
    Thanks for your iinput

  67. I like the thought that each of us needs to speak up if we are having an issue with aggressive play on the other side (or even with our partner). I like the age restriction Khan mentions above but not all over 60’s folks agree with that idea and may even find it age-ist! LOL. As in life in general, communication is key.

    So if I am having issue with someones shots at my head, I will either mention it or not play with them. Some might say “what about tournaments then?” well I don’t play tournaments much but the ones I’ve been in aren’t an issue. Better players who don’t use a lot of power to win play tournaments. That’s what I’ve experience.

    wink wink, pickleball isn’t tennis or racquetball. For most it’s a more finesse game.

  68. I’m 65 this year, and still play with 5.0 players several decades my junior. I do not want to be treated differently because I’m chronologically older. Part of the fun for me is hanging in there with people so much younger when it gets competitive.That means I get tagged sometimes. And that’s totally ok with me. Look, every group is free to make their own local rules, including no tagging. But please don’t impose them on others. I hope I’m getting tagged well into my 70s, and beyond.

  69. Dear Kharto,

    I am 73 and compete regularly against opponents forty or fifty years younger than I. They accelerate the ball at me from point blank range all the time, and I relish the challlenge of soft blocking the return to their feet (sometimes making them hop). That said, I do ease up on both men and women who are not as skilled—except if they are revoltingly young.

    Then, bombs away!

    1. Think of the physical and psychological impact that could have on young ones. They could carry that as they would injuries into adulthood with the rest of their lives ahead of them. I mean, that’s someone’s son or daughter, lol!

  70. Khato, if you show up at Del Webb, we are all over 60,65,70. You better keep your paddle up! Tagging has nothing to do with age, its about attitude, especially among Previously Important People retired.Tagging is done mostly by those here that have little skills and they look at it a cheap way to win a point. When I play outside of the hood, “Y”, Public courts, things are more civilized.

  71. To tagging please when it is pure recreational play. No tagging please if opponent is over 60 even if it is competitive play. Period once and period twice. Thanks

    1. Now its an age thing! Forget about age and make it purely play level. A suggestion might be in recreational play to agree before game play if intentionally hitting a ball at a player is acceptable? Tagging can be the result of poor reflexes on both the hitter and the receiver. It happens so lets not make tagging about hitting a player. its about hitting at a player who fails to reflexively stop the ball from hitting them.

      I do agree that if there is a large gap in ranks discretion is advisable. I had a personal experience this past weekend. Was playing a couple who was very good and I had a weaker partner who was being targeted. When the opportunity came for an overhead smash winner I took it. It happened to hit the female player three times. For me overheads are instinctual and I generally aim opposite deep corners. In all three instances the female opponent was in the path. In doubles it would be rare to have a clear free zone to hit to. Well to say she was upset was an understatement.

      I do see where discretion can be applied in non tournament play with mixed skill players. In fact to keep the peace I think it is a requirement.

      MY 2 cents..

  72. Dear Ro Gal,

    Even players with impeccable sportsmanship sometimes hit opponents accidentally, including in the face or in the “Southern Hemisphere” of guys. Again, I assert that testing someone’s reflexes by accelerating the ball from the kitchen line is simply a standard tactical option, even during recreational play.

  73. Being a former tennis player I know that a hard hit ball can be painful almost anywhere on the body and especially “below the belt” or a face shot. When playing tennis I only drilled my opponents if they played close and aggressive at the net. Never did I try to hit them in the face or head. Fast forward to Pickleball where almost any body shot with the PB no matter how hard hit is much less painful than a tennis ball. Therefore I say a blazing forehand shot to my opponents hip or waist area will often handcuff them, and a knee or foot target is also very difficult for them to return. However, never ever aim for the head or face. I think it is actually difficult to hit a face shot on your opponent and almost has to be done purposely to accomplish, which is it is very tell tale. PS. I play the same way against women rated at my level or higher 🙂

  74. I am trying to find out if a player on the opposite team is hit in the chest or shoulder with the ball and the ball deflects off of them is the other team member then allowed to hit the ball back over the net keeping it in play?

    1. Hey Floyd, no continued play after someone is hit with the ball… unless it is their hand, then that is part of the paddle and play continues.

  75. What Barb is saying might be true in her circles, but it’s by no means universal, and is definitely not true at higher levels of the sport. We tag all the time. No one is thought of as a jerk. In fact, I remember a video of an elite championship match when the two teams were ribbing each other about making successful tags. In other words, they were laughing (together) about it. Again, it’s part of the game and there’s nothing wrong with it. If you think there is, fine. Play with people who agree with you.

  76. When I am referring to hitting a weaker opponent I am not referring to unintentionally hitting them. I am talking about the intentional, above the waste tagging that could hurt a player, including the eye area, most importantly.

    I am not here to put a damper on great competition. Ask anyone – I am a great competitor. I am not a wuss _ compete and beat most of the men I play. AND, because I am an experienced enough player I think it important to educate beginners on the potential of eye injuries and how to avoid hurting your opponents, intentionally and not.

  77. Barb, even a beginner is capable of uncorking a hard shot. It’s then reflex volley time when your brain isn’t involved. Easy to say tough to do! The prematatated is the only thing one can control. If your gonna go out practice for hours to make your reflex to the open court your a 5.0!

    1. Part of the problem is a poor paddle ready position. In Jennifer’s article the reason she targeted the player in the first place is because the player’s ready position too low. Jenifer used the quick shot to show her student that her paddle was too low.

  78. Agree Keith – punch your winner to an open space, not the body of your opponent! It’s not necessary to hit/tag your opponents to win and be competitive. In fact I have never played that style. Recreationally, if you do this you will be thought of as a jerk. Tournament-wise, I’ve played in league tournaments and senior olympics and people DON’T tag opponents.

  79. Thanks for your comments. I agree with most of them. Since I don’t play tournaments, that doesn’t apply to me. We have a mixed gender group of about 50 players here. We get about 30 out every morning for play. I don’t consciously target the weaker player, especially when it is a woman on a mixed team. But I will often use a soft slice shot which she won’t be able to handle. When the play is fast and furious, I’m really just playing the ball and looking for openings on the court. You don’t have time to think about who you’re hitting it to. That being said, last month I had two teams complain to me that I was targeting the female. I was not conscious of doing that, but have made an effort to be more equal in my play, but when you have the stronger player at the net, and poaching, you try to keep it away from him. I do like a nice friendly game, but it’s nice to win once in a while! I have lost games simply because I was trying to be fair and hit to both players equally. That’s no fun either! All of this is true even in an all male game, when one player is weaker than the other. I love the games where all 4 players are pretty much the same level, and when the game is close and competitive, but that doesn’t happen often in a group like ours. We play round robins, and it’s not always possible to choose the group you play in. That being said, there are quite a few females in the group who play as well or better than many of the males.

    1. I always thought there should be gimmes in pickleball. Some players are clueless, when you give them softball from way above the net when normally would have been a smash overhead in the shoe. They think you just hit a bad shot.

    2. Marc,
      I agree with you but I feel targeting the weaker opponent should be left for tournaments. The (somewhat) less competitive “community play” should be about trying to hit to both opponents as equally as possible. This way BOTH of them get their fair share of shots so BOTH of them can improve their game.

      I’ve been in many “community play” games where my weaker opponent has gotten 80+% of the shots hit back at him/her. Many times I even see “offenders” contorting their bodies in strange ways just to hit a shot at the weaker player.

      Targeting in community play happens when someone’s personality is “I have to win any “legal” way I can!”…yes, competition is fun and a BIG part of the game but that mentality should be left to the tourneys….IMHO. Others?

      1. Thanks for your comment Frank. Most of the players in our group play to win. That means being competitive, but not “cut-throat.” If I have to think about who I’m going to hit a ball to, I will more than likely lose the game. The points are too fast to always think about that….I’m looking for an open spot where the other players can’t get to the ball, regardless of which player it is. BTW, I just won a bronze medal in men’s doubles in my first tournament.

  80. I noticed something the other day playing with the women and was just a bang the ball around but they were keeping score. I do play the soft until a high ball. When one of them would slam a high ball at me I just would reflex and slam it back without thinking. OOPS. When you can control every shot all the time your a 5. But for the rest us its reflex self defense.

  81. Marc,

    Going after the smallest guppy in the pond is standard tactics in tournament play, but in recreational play, I think distributing the ball more evenly makes more sense. After all, no one likes to have almost no balls to hit. Also, hitting to a stronger player means you have a chance to improve your skills. For me, winning or losing in recreational play is not not nearly as important as having fun and learning. Finally, I like Alex Hamner’s approach to newbies: move them around with soft placements and then punch a winner to an open space. They learn, and you further hone your talents.

  82. I agree with most of what you’ve stated here. I’ve often been in the position of having a weaker male or female partner. Invariably I find that they tend to deliberately target my partner. Not so much to tag them but to capitalize on the opportunity to win easy points. Yes, sometimes they induce a weak return they can easily put away unless they hit it at me. Consequently the numbers indicate that I’ve only had a chance to hit about 25% of the balls played. That’s even if I’m forced to poach effectively w/o my partner reciprocating most of the time and leaving my half of the court open. In doing so the opponent must realize they’re limiting themselves to playing only half the court. Their odds of hitting outside the court are greater but they’d rather do that than engage me since I’m the stronger player on our team.
    After all is said and done it so happens that my partner ends up getting tagged at the outset and they play defensively. Now they have a psychological edge already, and so I’m fighting all of this after getting tagged as well. It’s not a fun place to be as I’m sure all of you know if you’ve been in the same situation.
    I’ve come to grips with the fact that some opponents make it their sole strategy to target the weaker player. Yes, it’s a smart thing to do, if it works. It does most of the time. Now I’m a little reluctant to partner with anyone who is not the same skill level as I am. It’s always nice to have someone on your team who understands your game and can play in harmony with you. Then win or lose, I can either give the credit to my partner or the opponents for playing well enough to win. Obviously I’d rather give my partner credit for helping us win. Thanks and Cheers!

  83. So, like your question, perhaps my answer belongs in a different forum, but I’ll put it my two cents anyway.

    In a tournament setting, your objective is to win, and it’s routine – in fact it’s a key part of strategy – to identify and target the weaker player.

    In a non-tournament setting, where you are balancing competitiveness with having fun and trying to improve, I would suggest, perhaps counter-intuitively, that you direct a lot of your shots to the stronger opponent. You will improve more by giving yourself more of a challenge. You also want to give both opponents a chance to actively participate in the game, IMO. Of course, having said that, when it’s 10-10, and the winning team stays on the court, most of us will target the weaker player.

  84. Hitting/tagging an opponent happens more often than one would think. Most are unintentional but quite a few are intended. Not so much to hurt the opponent but to induce a weak return if any. Often they are point winners. People react differently to both hitting someone or being hit. It’s sort of a subtle thing to tag or get tagged. In competitive Badminton I’ve done a fair share of it. Usually happens at net and extremely quickly and hard. And yes, it can cause injuries of sorts. Retina separations, busted noses and various soft tissue injuries. When you get on the court you have to know there is a likelihood of a variety of injuries. Some of those caused by opponents and if you don’t use your racket/paddle as somewhat of a shield then you’re not using it fully. Practice standing all the way up at net in the NV zone (kitchen) and have partner hit it hard at you. It should improve your reaction time and ability to protect yourself while doing a good volley. Now move back out of the kitchen and do the same. You’ll see your proficiency at volleying is crisper and safer and the likelihood of getting tagged is reduced. The player Jennifer mentioned here appears to have had her paddle too low as mentioned here. Cheers!

  85. Maybe this should be in a different forum, but my question concerns playing against a team where one player is weaker than the other, especially in mixed. Forget tagging the weaker player, my question is whether or not it is appropriate to target the weaker player on the opposing team more than the stronger player.

  86. The one time I hit someone in the head – actually on the frame of his glasses – it was on a mishit overhead. I wasn’t aiming to hit him but I did. Good thing he had glasses on. The no tag rule would not have protected him. His glasses did.

    If safety first is really the goal – not what people are comfortable with – than protective eye wear would be the best policy.

  87. Dear Barb,

    Just a quick correction: I wrote the article that broached the tagging topic, not Jen, after Jennifer generously invited me to be an ongoing contributor to her blog, Furthermore, the incident above marks the only time I have tagged a female opponent. I challenge my buddies all the time, most of whose capacious tummies could not be harmed by a shotput, let alone a glorified whiffle ball!


  88. To add to above: I run a play group of over 130 people and I look at each person as a member of my ‘pickleball family’. I would make wearing eye guards a requirement but it won’t be very popular. Even so, I want to promote safety first at all time and that’s why I as the group organizer made the rule ‘no tagging’. Folks who run their own league or play group can do whatever they wish, but when you are the leader you worry about silly things like ‘safety’.

    I think my head and heart are in the right place so I fully stand behind every thing I’ve said on this thread.

  89. You are welcome to have your own opinion, Jim, and I mine. 99% of pickleball players do NOT wear eye gear. Which says to me, safety first. Even if they have eye guards on safety first – that doesn’t give someone license to ‘fire away’ – you can still get hurt in the eyes WITH eye guards on. I’m curious Jim, have you played any other team sports and if so which ones?

    If you think I am drawing a red line on this topic it’s because I am. I would urge others on this thread to share their thoughts on the ‘if a player gets hit in the eye it’s their fault’ argument. A ball that bounces off a defender’s paddle and then hits a person in the eye is yes an issue, but slamming a ball even like Jennifer said to start this thread I think is inappropriate and I’ll bet since she hurt her opponent she is more conscious of where she’s hitting balls, including less of tagging on her part you can bet!

    Thanks to Jennifer for allowing this very important discussion.

  90. A couple of thoughts … A great tip I heard from a top player is that if you want to improve your game, hit the ball to the stronger opposing player. Playing the weaker opponent will win you more points but won’t challenge you as much. Perhaps the guys who formerly were taggers could have this mentioned to them.

    The other thing is that the worst I’ve been hurt on a pickleball court was from my partner, not my opponent. I’ve been hit on my paddle-hand fingers on balls up the middle when both of us have swung. You can’t make any sport completely safe.

    Barb, you continue to make accusations that are inappropriate. If someone gets hit in the eye, it IS their fault if they don’t have protective eyewear on. And it’s really unfair of you to suggest that people who disagree with you on this issue are somehow part of the “violence in America” problem.

  91. I agree with you Barb. The sport seems to covet and draws those that have a tennis or racquet ball background, bang bang games. So the game is ruined by its own success at times.
    I think you lumped every hard hit ball as banging but it is not the case. Bangers are a special breed who swing for the fences from the baseline mostly on every shot. You never get hit in the shins from a banger.

  92. It’s black and white for me when I play any sport. Safety – for myself and my opponents, partners, etc. – FIRST! Also – it concerns me the attitude – if the person ‘gets hurt’ THEY must’ve done something wrong. Wow – I can see why we have such an issue with violence and frankly ‘abuse’ in our culture.

  93. BTW Jay and Don if you read previous responses and you listen to the pros, you will learn that what I am saying is correct: it’s good sportsmanship to be aware of the type of players you are playing. If you aren’t playing taggers don’t tag, for example. I don’t understand why this is such an ‘issue’ – usually for men. I suspect it’s a real ‘gender divide’.

  94. No Don, it’s that they play 2 bangers and the wife gets targeted because the husband is better. Our outlawing of tagging is working great. No need to be SO aggressive when playing that you bruise (or worse) your opponents.

  95. Agreeing with Jim. For me tagging does not involve an aggressive play. Volleying or blocking a ball back where it came from is solid Pb strategy and high percentage play. If you let your paddle down after you block or volley a ball over the net? So Barb Elgin, have you outlawed blocking? Volleying? If so your ‘practice group” of 120 people are not being taught now to play smart pickleball. Tags can be well controlled soft shots easily defeated by good stance, focus, and paddle position. I’m not a banger by any stretch and I believe tagging is part of the game. A good part of it.

  96. I will bet that the good couple rush to the net blindly rather then being aware of the shot that they hit or partners causing the problem mostly. Players are fooled by watching video and don’t realize that it’s the shot before you come to the net is the money ball.

  97. Barb, I guess to me it comes down to “mutually consenting adults”. If all parties in a game are ok with tagging, then there is no issue. And if parties disagree, then maybe they just shouldn’t play together. I would add that if you enter a tournament, you are giving your consent to any legal play by your opponents. I also don’t like introducing judgment calls into the sport. I don’t think it’s always possible to determine whether someone hits someone else on purpose.

  98. I don’t disagree with your logic Jim, IF you are playing with 3 other players who play the same. But many of us don’t want to play this aggressively. IMHO – and I’m a USAPA ambassador – I’d prefer it if the USAPA would outlaw the practice. I run a practice group of 120 plus and I’ve instituted a ‘no tagging’ rule. people accept and respect it and are honing their skills so that aggression is not so severely needed.

    we have a nice couple who are very good – the wife is constantly getting hit and bruised in the shins because they play other male teams who are ‘bangers’. she has been told to wear shin guards. sad but that’s the price of playing the bangers/advanced league around here. i play her often and never resort to hitting her. so go figure.

  99. There is a lot of self-righteousness here among the anti-taggers. If someone gets hit in the eye, the primary blame is on them for not being smart enough to wear eye protection – which we should all always do. If you protect your eyes there is no reason to be afraid of getting tagged. It may sting but it’s not going to injure you unless you have underlying health issues, and if that’s the case, don’t play with people who tag you. But please stop with the self-righteous comments that people who tag are not smart enough to understand the injuries they could cause to others. It’s part of the game, and among players of equal ability, there is nothing wrong with it. I get tagged all the time, often hard, and I never blame my opponent – who has merely executed a good shot. In my group tagging is common, but it’s never done to weaker players, and I think that is the key point. And I don’t know anyone who has ever aimed at someone’s head.

    1. Agree Jim, thinking back I would hit to the “open court” but when both teams are at the net, there is no open court. I always thought there should be gimme shot like in golf. Also, how about that bone head lob shot your partner always hits to the person in front of you.
      In golf, a gimme is a shot that the other players agree can count automatically without being played. When a player has only a very short putt left to play, other players may grant a gimme (i.e., one stroke is counted), but the ball is not played Ie: a sure thing.
      Though when I bring it up I get laughed at, so bombs away with my goggles on, it’s the Hunger Games.

  100. The tennis-crossover player is the worst offender. Since it seems like mini tennis to them, run around bash the ball, wins the point. If you never played tennis you don’t have those instincts.
    Since like at our club , probably like most, there is a steady stream of beginners works 99% of the time. Why change?

  101. A top player, especially a tennis-crossover player, should have the placement skill to win a volley point without resorting to tagging (hitting their opponent)..although targeting an opponent’s legs and feet is an effective, and generally harmless, play.

    The most egregious violation of safety and humanity in pickleball is when a good player purposely crushes a volley from near shoulder height at his/her opponent’s high torso. That shot would be a winner if hit past the opponent , at their feet, or anywhere on the court ( the possible landing area for such a shot is about 400 square feet and doesn’t have to endanger the head and face of one of your opponents). Is one point worth the loss of an eye or the loss of personal respect by your fellow competitors? It is also an open invitation to get hammered every chance others get in the future…if that is what the initiator is seeking.

    Tagging in top tourney matches is perhaps more acceptable, but high volleys aimed near the head and face should be penalized…even if the lame excuse is , “I wasn’t aiming at your face, or “I can’t control where I hit it.” The people who get hit in the head/face, or almost do, know better.

    Now, a couple of p.s.’s:
    1) Any strong male player who tags a female player in non-tournament games has a serious values issue they need to correct;
    2) In defense of tennis players (above alleged to be the most egregious perps of tagging), good tennis players are loathe to “tag” or even come close to hitting an opponent with any volley or overhead in tennis…it’s just plain uncivilized. That tendency carries over into PB. Also, tennis players typically are not wild swingers and are used to placing shots, not relying solely on power. They tend to look for and try to hit “where their opponents are not” instead of hitting through their opposiition’s body.

  102. I do not believe in tagging. I don’t want to be a part of playing when it involves intentionally hitting a ball at an opponent. There are many sports including racquetball, baseball, etc., where it is unthinkable to intentionally try to hit an opponent and there are penalties if done so.

    I always hit it where they ain’t if at all possible. That’s skill not slamming it at someone. I may unintentionally hit it near a person or even hit a person, but again not intentionally.

  103. On the opposite side of the issue, there was a woman at an indoor place I have played occasionally, who rather consistently accused various men of purposely hitting her in the breasts, even though their shots seldom came even above her waist. We were respectful to this woman, but found her rather amusing.
    – Jeff, PickleballStrategy.com

  104. Those of you that are dinkers (the good doubles players) know that any ball in the kitchen thats bounces above the net, needs to be put away, but at least you hit someone in the chest and not the face.

  105. Christina Mullin

    I envy those who can hit clean winners to an empty spot of the court and frankly I’d rather they hit at me so I have a better chance of getting the ball back. The bad news for me, it’s easier for me to go for a target…Lower body parts is plan A, the open court is not a natural target for me and the chance of mishitting would increase. I hope that more court time will give me better instincts so people don’t think I’m a big meanie. I say sorry even though I meant to tag someone for the point.

  106. In competitive/tournament play, I don’t see a problem with tagging an opponent (and I don’t have a problem when it happens to me). I never try to hit anyone in the head, and I really try not to hit lower skilled players, but sometimes it happens. A shot to the head is a poor shot, since it will go out if it doesn’t hit your opponent, so that’s poor strategy, as well as being poor sportsmanship.

    I agree that eye protection should be worn. I think I’ll go get something suitable in the next day or two.

    Great post, btw!

  107. I would not intentionally ‘tag’ anyone that is significantly lower skill than I and definitely not, if a woman;
    however, if I know the person well enough, male or female, and skill level is similar, I believe that ‘tagging’ would be acceptable on both sides of the court. An apology is always appropriate…..just to let them know that you had no intentions to hurt them.

  108. I’ve only encountered one player that I thought was out of line with his tagging. When there are continuously better options on high hit balls and the player is blasting shots at the female player in mixed play it is out of line.

  109. I have been hit twice in the eye. The first time was a deflection off my paddle that resulted in internal bleeding. The second time I was wearing safety glasses however they were not a full rim and the protective lens popped out with the force of the impact. I learned my lesson and now have invested in a good quality safety frame with cushioning to protect from a detached retinal with the force of impact along good visual quality protective lens (Zeiss). Pickleball is not an expensive sport re equipment purchases prior to engaging in the sport, eg. playing golf, hockey etc. So why not spend some $$$ to invest in some quality eyewear to protect your eyes.
    Players need to be educated about taking personal responsibility for the protection of their eyes. It is not their opponent’s responsibility.

  110. I understand it’s part of A tournament, but when your opponent in mixed hits you at least 7 times while poaching and aiming right at you instead of an opening on the court, it gets a little old and the I’m sorry no longer sounds sincere!

  111. recently played in a 4.0 tournament where one of my opponents was 6’6″ tall and what seemed like a 10′ wing span. I have found really tall players have two problems getting down for a low ball and covering a ball hit at there chest. needless to say he got tagged a half dozen times ( all chest or lower) and no “I’m sorry” given…….. non tournament- or with weaker opponents, not a good idea…..

  112. If i could control all my shots I’d be a world class player! Over a year ago was playing a slammer he hit me in the eye knock out my contact lens we found it went to a mirror to put back in saw a bruise forming quit playing and iced it lucky no black eye! no hard feelings it’s part of game ! I try not to slam against lower level players but in the heat of the game I slip up some times LOL always apologize!

    1. Thanks for the encouraging shout out, Doug. I do have some ideas for future postings, so my thanks to the bodacious Jennifer for providing me with such a cool forum for my modest ruminations.

  113. I think it’s part of the game but if it’s a man tagging a woman or a much lower skill player on purpose then it’s a no. That simply means you win by overpowering a weakling and not by besting the best player, the man. My husband never hit a woman player on purpose as part of his strategy. He will spin dink or spin lob her but never hit her. He simply consider it good sportsmanship

  114. I am a 5.0 player that has never intentionally tried to hit anybody above the torso. Yes, there are bang-bang plays in which someone is hit in the face, but for me it has always been an accident. Regarding hitting the body of an opponent, I believe it is part of the game. I also aim as low as possible to avoid high torso shots. However, too many times I have seen a disparity of players on the court and the stronger player dominates with their game play, and also continuously hits the weaker players’ body. I have seen this happen too frequently with guys hitting weaker women players in the body or the face. That is not cool and in my book borders on poor sportsmanship. I have walked up to games when I see that happen and requested the stronger player to come over to my game and challenge on the court with stronger players.

  115. It kind of goes along with the idea of overhead smashes. Smashes are of course a grand idea when a good player pops the ball up or lobs too close to the kitchen. Not so great to return a beginner’s high ball as a smash. Oh, if you’re sure you can hit that player’s feet, it might be a good lesson at some point, but what if you slip, and the ball goes high?

  116. This is a good strategy against a slower player or one who is expecting you to dink.
    If used all the time, it will be anticipated. Definitely a part of the game. An apology should always be offered!

  117. Tagging is part of the game but should be used appropriately. I often ‘soft tag’ by students as a way of letting them know their paddle is down. In “gorilla-ball” and tournament play, its really part of the game and acceptable. So my opinion is that its a really situational shot and should be part of the control we need to exercise. I check that someone is ‘ok’ after I tag them on purpose but not apologize for something I mean to do. I do apologize for hitting or coming too close to hitting an opponent when I didn’t mean to do it.

  118. It is never perfectly acceptable to hit (tag, if you prefer) anyone with anything. If you are so poor a player that you need to attack (tag) your opponent in the face or chest so hard you leave bruises then you are not someone I would like to play with or against. When did ball sports, any of ’em, become blood sports? Just saying

    1. Felicia Moscatelli

      I think you are right. It is not worth hitting someone and seeing them get hurt. But I don’t think we should not hold back from playing well. If we are playing with less skilled players then I can still challenge myself with shots to the feet. If I am playing with equal skilled players then I avoid shots above the stenum at all costs.

  119. I have a friend who was getting a reputation for this especially when playing mixed doubles. I said something to him about this practice which he denied. It eventually took several gals refusing to play with him to settle things down.

  120. Though trying to be a good doobie,beginners don’t get it, that they need to keep the paddle up to defend themselves. PBall mostly becomes the Hunger Games sadly to say!

  121. Having thought about this for a while and considering that pickleball’s rules have always been made so the game is fun for a wide range of talent – I think hitting an opponent in the head should be treated as if the ball was hit out of bounds. The opponent should be required however to make a reasonable attempt to avoid being hit)
    This would not stop all body shots but would nudge the game away from an opponent playing in “self defense” or worse – in fear.

  122. Last week I was the only woman on my court and got ‘tagged’ in the lip. Needless to say I had a big lip when I got home but I did not make a big deal of it on the court, I just turned my back and walked back to my position. In most cases, I say “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen”. (I wasn’t really in the kitchen, tho I was at the line). It’s a game of reflexes! Keep those paddles up! An apology was accepted.

  123. hard Tagging is not appropriate when your opponent is a beginner and still trying to get confidence in their game or older (maybe frailer) players. I play with some 80 plus year olds where i’ll go for foot shots but never body shots. on the save vein there are some slammer guys I know who love to execute the overhead slam at upper torsos. they don’t care if your heat or face gets smashed….they are playing cut-throat racket ball! they will do it again for apparent sport. these people aren’t worth having on the court and take the fun away from everyone else.

      1. Prem Carnot has some good advice on this too. In summary, hard intentional tagging is fine in tournament and high level play. But is RUDE in recreational settings when executed by a much stronger player against a weaker, less experienced one. Suggestion for a response when you are the victim: After the point plays out , or after the game —With a big smile yell, “WOW THAT WAS SOME RUDE TAG HIT”.

  124. If you’re playing at this level glasses or safety glasses are imperative!!!

    A friend of mine, a Pickleball Ambassador suffered a ruptured at theVillages a few years ago when the ball hit his eye. Quick action and an excellent medical resource safes the eye and sight, but the message from this event is clear.

  125. I never try to tag anyone, but then again I’m not a 4-5 player and I’m not playing tournament play. Still even if I was, I might tag in response to someone tagging me intentionally, . While it may call it strategy, I view it differently. This type of play is not much different than a chop blocking, clipping, spearing with the helmet or face-masking in football, except in Pickleball tagging is legal. I don’t think the founders of the game would have ever viewed it as a good means to score. Instead I think they it would be viewed more of incidental contact, instead of intentional contact. Someone can and will get hurt, if this is promoted as permissible intentional play instead of incidental play . I know tagging occurs more at courts where you have the highest levels of play. When you swim with sharks, it is a shame you have to become one yourself If I happen to find myself in shark infested waters, I will do what I have to do to survive, but I will also make it a point not to go back in those same waters. Even though tagging is legal, I not going to tout it as being a good strategy.

    1. Having come from the more violent sports like football, I don’t think the analogies apply here. The likelihood that the tagging event can cause serious injury is not in the same statistical category as football offenses. Yes a shot to the face or specifically the eye can cause injury, but that would truly be an “sports accidental injury”. Tagging is “surprising you opponent” by hitting a ball unexpectantly at them -> with the target begin the torso. Hitting the face is never the intention, and quite honestly a bad point decision since the opponent can more easily dunk and let the ball go out then move their entire body in time.

      The suggestion to not tag lower level players during recreational play is a great idea. Just know that if you do play with a high level player they train for the sport, and part of the training is taking the best shot possible. With enough training it become instinct not a intentional play to tag someone when it is the best shot. So please accept their apologies and be proud of the war wounds you can display and tell your friends you got when challenging champion players!

  126. Tagging is part of game in my opinion, though I do agree amongst evenly skilled players only for a smash but a lower level player you could humiliate in many other ways such as a simple little soft touch down the middle between opponents. Yes, I do apologize to my opponent should I hit them hard and unintentionally above the sternum. Happy Pickleballing!!!

  127. I see nothing wrong with it.. I often where yellow safety glasses when the light is dim in a gym and they are great eye protection, but I know my risks when I play so, YES, certainly apologize but it’s part of the game. I do the same to attack the opponent when I have a chance but again, there is no intent to harm, I never purposely aim for the head, WOO that’s not cool either way, but a clear body shot is in within the bound of play. It’s part of the game and ALL should be aware of any safety issues. She can now say she took a shot by one of the best in the biz. Playing any sport has risks and with Pickleball and body shots come into play more often then we would like when we are only 14′ away from one another in the heat of the battle. Hope she learned her lesson t get the paddle up. I call it my force field and shield as I go to battle at the front line. Paddle’s UP! or be hit. ……….Be well Jennifer

  128. Scott, I agree. The disparity in our skill levels is why I felt so flummoxed and bad, especially after I bopped her the second time (even though the second tag was really a soft floater). In the future, I will heed Alex Hamner’s advice when playing much less skilled opponents: run them around and then hit to the open court!

  129. Tagging is perfectly acceptable in Tournament play. Tagging is also acceptable when all players on the court are of relatively equal playing ability.

    Tagging is NOT acceptable when skill level on the court is drastically different.

    1. Scott, I’m so glad you wrote what you did. We always encourage players to consider the well-being of their opponents and partners when there is a real discrepancy in skill levels on the court. Tagging against equal or better players, totally cool (though I’d cringe too if I knocked someone’s glasses off).

      Great article Jennifer, love that you brought this up.

    2. Controlling/placement of the ball is the goal of this sport. Why would anyone “want” to tag someone ….are there intentions to harm? Why “tag” someone when you can place the ball with strategy skills. There’s drills that can help that choice and play safe and everyone has safe – fun – skilled games!
      Think about it ….. Do you really want a point verses someone’s eye site. ??

      Perhaps those that “tag” and aim for the head//sternum and other body parts need a different sport – like boxing !

      1. Dear Jean,

        Thank you for your comment. I agree that no one wants to tag an opponent, certainly never in the head area. But I really see nothing wrong with aiming directly at the center of the torso to challenge the opponent’s reflexes. If he or she returns the shot, fair enough. If he or she cannot get the paddle on the ball, fair enough, too.

        In tennis, where the ball can do more damage by far, tagging an opponent is much more rare. In pickleball, tagging is a part of the game. For example, let’s say I am facing an opponent on my right side of the court and both of us are at the line. Let’s also say said opponent is blocking the sideline, and her partner is squeezing off the middle. If I want to go on the offensive, I can try to hook a dink sharply to the left to the space left open by the opponent squeezing the middle–risky and a low percentage shot. Or I can try an offensive top spin lob. I have this shot and like it, but it is another high skill/risk shot. Or I can dink directly at either opponent–but eventually someone has to go upscale to win the point.

        Or I can accelerate the ball at an easy target–the player right in front of me. If I hit him or her in the chest or tummy, our point and no real harm. I accept such challenges to my reflexes as part of the skill set of a strong player. I have also been hit many, many times without any transient, let alone permanent, effect. It’s a part of playing with the strongest players–running with the big dogs, so to speak. Meeting such challenges is great fun, too.



        1. I think the first instruction given 99% of the time is to hit it at the opponents feet. Course that takes practice, if you are a little off somedays, it goes a little high. Also the crossover tennis players think are the biggest offenders, only have the one shot to begin with and think the game is swing as hard as you can at the person closest to you. Think the open nature of Pickleball causes its own problems. I now wear eye protection all the time.

    3. I was taught to always aim for the face and use maximum power when slamming a human face. I don’t normally use spin, just a very heavy paddle and a massive amount of power. One time, I accidentally hit an opponent in the eye and his entire eye popped out and he was getting all upset. I told him to calm down and read my t-shirt that said, “Can you see me now?” Then he grabbed his paddle and threw it at me, which I ducked. At this point, his face is covered in blood and he is screaming uncontrollably so I began laughing hysterically. Now we are best friends and I even bought him a patch for his empty eye socket.

      1. In response to Dr Smith, I assume when he threw his paddle at you and missed it was because his vision depth of field was affected by his eyeball hanging out. Tagging is part of the game. I regularly play against a friend who is a stronger player than I am, I even the court a bit so to speak by tagging him. I will get him 2 – 3 times a game. I apologize because I am Canadian. He does not apologize when he wins.

      2. That was so lame! You should write for SNL, that is about the quality of comedy writing going on there presently.

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