- 1. Shoulder high, let it fly
- 2. Down the middle solves the riddle
- 3. Serve and stay, return and run
- 4. Bounce, Bounce, POUNCE!
- 5. At the feet, is pretty sweet
- 6. Laces not faces
- 7. If it’s high, make em’ cry
- 8. Drive for show, drop for dough
- 9. When in doubt, call it out
- 10. No ball is worth the fall
- 11. No!
- 12. Hit it where they ain’t
- 13. If your knuckles are white, your grip is too tight
- 14. Chess not checkers
- 15. If it’s low, hit it slow
- 16. Serve it deep, return it deep, hit it at their feet.
- 17. There’s no sorry in Pickleball
1. Shoulder high, let it fly
Variation: chest high, let it fly.
This is one of the most common sayings I’ve encountered. It’s a great saying to remind us to let the balls our opponent hits fly by us when they are likely going to land out.
I’m not sure whether chest high or shoulder high is more frequently used in the saying, but it’s not an exact science. There’s always some nuance because some balls that are hit at our shoulder height aren’t hit hard enough to go out.
But once you get good at quickly determining what an out ball looks like, you’ll know if you should let it fly, whether it’s chest or shoulder high.
2. Down the middle solves the riddle
This fun phrase highlights a key strategy in pickleball, which is hitting the ball to the middle of the court between your opponents. This shot is hard to hit, especially when its a fast drive, because your opponents will have to determine who’s going to hit the ball in a split second.
It’s also common for the middle of the court to be open due to your opponents not covering the gap well enough.
I’ve also heard someone say Moses! when they hit a drive right down the middle on their opponent, like they were parting the red sea. I got a chuckle out of that one.
3. Serve and stay, return and run
This is a saying that all beginning players would benefit from hearing. It’s an excellent reminder that we should stay back at the line after we serve in anticipation for a deep return, and that we should rush the kitchen net after we’ve hit our return to get in the best position to handle our opponent’s third shot.
4. Bounce, Bounce, POUNCE!
This is my favorite phrase on the list, just because its so funny to say. It’s also a very important rules reminder for beginners that are solidifying their understanding and application of the two-bounce rule.
5. At the feet, is pretty sweet
This phrase is a reminder that hitting at your opponent’s feet is typically an ideal shot choice.
6. Laces not faces
This phrase invokes pretty much the same idea as the last one. Aim at your opponent’s feet when possible and you’ll get a better result than hitting it high towards their head.
7. If it’s high, make em’ cry
This is a funny turn of phrase that’s pretty much giving the green light to smash a ball that your opponent pops up in your direction.
Some might literally invoke this phrase with a straight body-shot drive to their opponent. But it’s usually just meant to say put that ball away when given the easy opportunity via a highball.
8. Drive for show, drop for dough
This phrase echoes the idea of placement over power. Sure a solid drive can be impactful and win you the point, but a good drop and soft game tends to be the bigger money-maker.
9. When in doubt, call it out
This phrase is about line calls. There are a lot of instances in pickleball where it’s hard to know if the ball was in or out. As a rule of thumb, many people decide to give the benefit of the doubt to the out call.
10. No ball is worth the fall
Safety first! Seriously, it doesn’t matter how intensely you want to win a point. If it’s putting you at risk of a fall or other injury, let it go. Stay safe, you can always play the next point.
This is a quick and easy way to exclaim to your partner that a ball is going to go out and that they shouldn’t hit it.
It’s preferred over saying out or leave by many because it’s quicker to say (milliseconds matter in these moments) and is easy to shout loudly.
12. Hit it where they ain’t
This is a simple and straightforward one. Find the open court and hit it there. Make your opponent move and work for the point.
When they’re moving and off-balance, they’re more likely going to mishit and pop up the ball.
13. If your knuckles are white, your grip is too tight
This saying is a reminder to keep your grip loose enough. The way you grip the paddle is important for your control game. A lot of people “white knuckle” their paddle and lose out on consistency and accuracy in the process.
14. Chess not checkers
Pickleball may be easy to pick up , but there’s a huge skill ceiling to the sport. You can get very strategic with this game.
You’ve probably seen elderly players beat up on athletic but inexperienced young players. They’re playing chess while the kids are playing checkers.
15. If it’s low, hit it slow
This phrase addresses dinking at the kitchen. When the ball is hit low, hit it back low and slow. Don’t speed it up! If you do, you’ll set yourself up for a “if it’s high, make em’ cry” moment at your expense.
16. Serve it deep, return it deep, hit it at their feet.
Great advice here. Three excellent tips wrapped into one phrase. Follow this phrase as much as possible.
17. There’s no sorry in Pickleball
You’ve probably heard this one because there’s so many opportunities to say it. People can be very apologetic in pickleball for their mistakes.
But there’s no need to apologize in most instances. Mistakes happen, we all make them. You only need to be sorry if you actually hurt someone, particularly if it was careless or with malice. Otherwise, swing away and play your game.
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