If you are much stronger than the other players on the court and you are playing “social tennis,” take some pace off your shots so you all can have fun. That doesn’t mean, don’t try. It means, try to make the game fun!
The man of the team should not hog all the shots in the game, just so you can win. It’s a team sport. If the woman doesn’t hit her fair share of shots during the match, she won’t have a feel for the ball when she is forced to hit a shot. This also applies to a woman who has a weaker man partner. Again. If it is a competitive match, winning becomes the priority and the amount of shots hit go in favor of the stronger player.
The stronger player should serve first on the team. If you don’t do this, your team could be down love two and this isn’t a great way to start the score board.
The stronger player should play the add side of the court in regular scoring games. Close games are decided in the add box.
The stronger player should direct a team’s strategy without creating confusion or delay with his or her partner. Typically the weaker partner already is nervous and has enough self made pressure. A good partner will relax the weaker player using encouragement and confidence. The stronger player can coach on positioning but has to be careful with over-coaching.
No player should blast a ball at an opponent, especially when a player is left defenseless by an easy “set up.” Instead, place the ball to an opening on the court, this avoiding possible injury to an opponent. This also creates respect for the player who has the set up. It shows proper tennis etiquette.
Getting the first serve in greatly improves the chances of holding serve in mixed doubles. Many times a team will break the weaker server only to have their own weaker server broken. This creates an “on break” rotation during the match. Getting that first serve in will help prevent your team from being broken.
Make sure you do not try to “kill” easy serve returns. Get that ball back in play with a percentage shot. Moving in to receive, shortening up on the grip, and taking extra steps will assist a player in returning sliced, knuckle ball, and off pace serves. Since they are seldom practiced they become a sore spot for even the stronger player who is “playing down.”
Consider playing both back against a really tough server. This gives the receiving team more time to defend the court and makes the serving team have to play more shots. This strategy can help the receiving team break the toughest player on the court! Just one break in a tie break can help win a set or the match.
Find the best positioning strategy based upon what your partner can do and what you can do. Focus on adapting to your partner, rather them making them conform to an ideal which may not be possible for them. Balancing your team’s strengths and weaknesses is the best way to “play your best” as a team!
I've played tennis since the age of 10 and started pickleball three years ago. There's many commonalities to both games, the net, defined lines, a ball and a paddle or racquet. Thankfully a pickleball court is easier to cover because of the smaller distance. It's a great game and it's social, just like tennis. In a recreation setting the game is competitive like tennis and requires knowledge, skill, and conditioning to master. In time anyone can become "decent." I'll share with you as much as I can about how to improve and what to look out for in the game of pickleball.
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