CJ Johnson Headshot
CJ Johnson
Tony Roig
Tony Roig

How to Play Pickleball Without Advice from a Partner

If you were like me, you were handed a pickleball paddle, hit a few shots, got a quick rules overview followed buy LOTS and LOTS of FREE advice!

Each new partner dutifully shared their insights on how to play pickleball.

Unfortunately, this meant every time I hit the courts; someone offered some new and often confusing tips to help me get better. I’ve played and coached sports my entire life. Good coaches know that if the student’s confused they can’t perform!

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Sarah Ansboury was an extremely accomplished tennis player/teaching pro before learning to play pickleball. She said that many of her playing and coaching philosophies developed from questioning all the free and conflicting advice she received early on.

As a professional athlete, I applied the lessons learned from dealing with wildly inaccurate information in other sports and used it to my quest to learn and teach pickleball.

Here are five strategies to help you manage free advice

1. Stop getting advice by asking for advice?!

In golf advice-giving was so rampant, I suggested novice players guide the free coaching they were inevitably going to get. “I am taking lessons from a professional, and we are working on my swing. However, I am looking for help with etiquette.” The beginner got pointers they needed, and the advice-giver felt helpful.

Do the same thing in pickleball. Ask players to help you monitor the kitchen line, tell you if you paddle is up or call shots “mine/yours.”

2. Ask WHY

It’s amusing to see people that have been playing pickleball for about a half-hour turn around and share the “tip” they just received like they are now an expert.

If someone can’t tell you why you should do something I’d take that with a grain of salt.

3.  Get a Coach

If you want to improve, get a clear plan from someone who understands how and why. They don’t need to be the best player in the world. In most sports, many of the best athletes are the worst coaches. While they may realize what to do and how to do it, they don’t have a clue how to communicate that to others. Ask around to find someone in your area.

4. Attend a clinic or camp

Several national tournaments and top players offer clinics around the country. Laura Fenton Kovanda was recently on a family vacation in Tahoe when she graciously offered an impromptu clinic. Her instruction was to the point and easy to follow.

5. A picture is worth a thousand words.

No coaches available? Most everyone has a camera on their phone.  Strap it to the fence or get a tripod with a clip and try a little self-analysis. If you can’t see where to improve, you may be interested in Better Pickleball’s video analysis coaching.

Check out the video for my Best Tip on how to deal with Free advice and play better pickleball.


Leave a comment below to let us know how you successfully manage free advice!

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