The 2017 Grand Canyon Games (Arizona State Games) is in the record books. This was my sixth year in a row heading to this tournament. In fact, besides Nationals in the past this was one of the few tournaments that 5.0 competitors would make a point to attend because the competition was so great.
Unfortunately, I arrived with a bad cold and laryngitis – can’t talk… This was interesting because I was playing with two “new” guys in mixed. No not at the same time. Larry Moon – in the senior division was up first. Larry quickly realizes I cannot talk (you can’t get anything past Larry, haha) so we go over the basics, who gets what, how much of the court do we each want and away we go.
This was very interesting to me because this is the first time EVER that I couldn’t communicate during play with my partner. I’m always saying “yours” or “mine” to let my partner know “Yes I am getting that ball” or “No I am not getting that ball” … so you better get it!
My next mixed partner, that young Aussie guy – Morgan Evans. This was the last day of the tournament, and health wise I was going down. Of course, I did not share this with Morgan, I just tried my best. Again, no voice and it was so challenging not being able to communicate – especially not calling the balls. I found myself wondering, how do people play without communicating?
When a short ball drops on the opposite side of me, I routinely get that and my partner crosses behind me to fill in… yet I couldn’t tell them, hey don’t worry I got this one. Instead, lots of extra energy spent and I found myself out of position more. Wow! WORDS could solve so many things and make doubles EASY.
Early on you and your partner need to be open with each other, address each others strengths and weaknesses – both as a team and individually. Share where on the court you are most comfortable, what side you prefer to start, and whether you like to serve first, etc. Yes, talk with your pickleball partner.
You and your pickleball partner need to be vocal with each other throughout the match. Some shots won’t necessitate a call, but make your voice heard if it’s even questionable. Right? Yes, because there are only 11 points in a game – and you can’t afford to screw a few up due to a lack of communication, or even worse miscommunication.
Make sure each other knows what your “communication” means and its always best to give ample notice before you say “yours”. Partners tend not to appreciate when you duck out at the last minute and leave them no chance. Likewise, if its yours say “mine”!
Don’t Call and Then Stall
It’s highly frowned upon to call for the shot and then just watch it go by wondering why the partner didn’t get it. Yes, I have seen this happen. This indecisiveness can create confusion in different stages of the match causing a catastrophic shift in momentum. If you’re in the best position to get it be assertive and call it and if you hear “yours” do the best you can with it.
Now I know what a drag it was to be voiceless and the effect it had on my game. If your voice is working – use it!
Note: Photo taken at The Grand Canyon Games of doubles with Alex Hamner.