What Makes a Good Pickleball Partner?

Doubles is even more popular than singles in pickleball, and there are plenty of great reasons why. Teaming up with a partner helps you play longer and more safely since you only need to cover half the court. The game also becomes more exciting and tactical when you have a partner covering your back.

You share the wins, the losses, and best of all, the fun!

Many players enjoy partnering with a friend or family member, and while this is a great place to start, you may be surprised to find that tensions can run high even during casual games.

Everyone wants to be a supportive partner, but at times it can be difficult to remember the original reasons you decided to play when you’re down several points and caught up in the moment—especially if you’re in a competitive tournament.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind to support your partner on and off the courts:

Consider Your Partner’s Goals

Is your partner actively looking to improve their game, or do they just use pickleball to blow off steam at the end of their day? If they are interested in learning new skills, do they appreciate constructive feedback during games or prefer to hear from you in a more relaxed environment?

It’s important to find a balance between your own goals and those of your partner. Most players certainly want to win games when possible, but everyone has a different level of competitiveness and shouldn’t be forced to constantly evaluate their play if they’re just looking to smack a few pickleballs.

If you and your partner have largely different reasons for playing the game, it may cause trouble down the road, so it’s important to ensure you both have the same goals in mind. Otherwise, try to be considerate of what they’re looking to achieve and how you can support their aims.

Stay Positive

Remember that every game is a learning opportunity, even when you’re losing. Try to consciously take in as much of the action as possible so you can replay the points in your mind later. Doing this helps discover areas for improvement and come back even stronger later on.

Sometimes players can get frustrated when they’re at a clear disadvantage. At times like these, it’s important to remember why you started playing pickleball in the first place. Even for those who are competing at high levels, we’re all engaging with the same game… and the goal is fun!

Don’t let an “off” day bring you down. The fact that you’re getting to run around on the courts in the first place is cause enough for celebration.


(Credit: WithoutFlns)

Also consider how your mood affects your partner. When you’re frustrated, they’ll likely pick up on this and their attitude or play can end up suffering as well. On the flipside, if they’re getting down, a kind word or two can do wonders to bring a smile back to their face.

Know Your Team’s Strengths and Weaknesses

We all have our natural strengths. Maybe you have a powerful serve or can out-dink opponents for days. The same goes for your partner. Consider what they’re good at and how you can best leverage their play style. Depending on how your abilities mesh, you can work together to come up with tactics that play to both of your abilities while shoring up any weaknesses.

It can be helpful to read up on tactics like stacking and poaching when you’re ready to give more advanced techniques a shot.


Communication makes a huge difference for everyone involved. It’s nice to be heard! Whether it’s as simple as calling “mine” or “yours” during a lob or center shot, or you’re examining ideas off the court, make sure you’re constantly keeping your partner in the loop.

While the best teams seem to share an almost telepathic connection, you can bet that many hours of practice and discussion have gone into smoothing out their play. You should be allowed to rely on your partner as much as they rely on you, so make sure you go to them if you have any concerns, whether it’s regarding your play or just feeling tension before a game.

Picklers playing together

(Credit: Chad Ryan)

Remembering these points will not only help you stand up to the competition, but have a wonderful experience playing pickleball every time you tackle a new challenge. Your partner will thank you and everyone will walk away happy.

5 thoughts on “What Makes a Good Pickleball Partner?

  1. When you are at the net, should you look back when your opponent serves to help your partner make a possible out of bounds call or to check a lob for the same reason ?

  2. I just started playing the sport. It was all good until I advanced past the beginner level. I am able to play with some of the more advanced players in my club. Since the schedule caters to those who are a 3 and better, it limits my playing time. I joined because I don’t have a partner. The people that run the club hardly speak to me and give me dirty looks when I play with more advanced players. There have even been comments, but the members are ok with playing with me. I progressed a little more quickly because of my tennis skills. They seem to be putting up roadblocks to my progression. Is pickleball always this persnickety, or should I find another club? So much for the social aspect. This is why people avoid team sports.

    • Hi Debbie,

      Pickleball is typically a very welcoming sport, and many players have stories of getting into pickleball due to others inviting them or being won over by the friendly atmosphere. Another player responded to the last comment you left (on “Will the Bangers Win?”) inviting you to play with them should you ever be in the Alberta area.

      It unfortunately sounds like you’ve happened across an oddly elitist group. I don’t know where you live, but I would recommend looking at other clubs in your area via the USAPA’s Places to Play. It’s likely you’ll find a group nearby that is far more agreeable. You could also ask a local USAPA Ambassador for recommendations on clubs that cater to more advanced players but still maintain a laid-back community.

      Good luck and hope you have more fun in the future!

      • Thanks for your reply. The club I am in has hosted the Canadian Nationals these last two years, so now many of them think they are professionals, although there are no restrictions for entry fees to this event. Many of my co-players show up to play and can’t play because of they re novices…even on beginner’s day.
        The president of the club doesn’t even acknowledge the novice players and has made rude comments to me and others. I joined alone, like a few others, and now I am being discluded. I don’t know why people need to know others to join a club. We join clubs to get to know others and have fun. Many of my friends hate sports, so I have nobody to play with. The town I live in is just like this. The town is full of people with money, and too much time on their hands. I am not sure that joining another club is going to be much different. God, do we have to know others to play a sport? I am not a “group” person

        They shouldn’t be preventing me from playing with more advanced players. I have played sports my whole life, and I know you improve faster if you play with people better than you…who cares if you get beaten. You can’t get better until you fail first. Why should I get rated when I only started three months ago? I wouldn’t be fair to myself. I didn’t learn tennis in three months. They expect you to be rated a 3, or you are stuck with beginners. I want to play without being put into a category… until I am good and ready.

        Until such time, I am going back to playing sports that reward your fitness and athletic ability.

      • Hi Laura, I think I know why I have this problem with the club. It used to be an elite badminton club. That explains part of this.
        You know, group dynamics, nobody wants to be alone. I joined alone. Yeah, so what? l am used to solo sports, and if you want to do a sport, you just do it, there are no complications.

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