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My Pickleball Pet Peeve — Tossing Me a Ball that’s not Ours When our Ball Goes into Your Court!

Please indulge me momentarily as I get something off my chest. Many will likely roll their eyes – but the fact is, it bothers me. I mean it really bothers me. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves on the pickleball courts. My guess is it happens 30% of the time – it’s likely even more frequent than that.

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Selecting the “Perfect” Ball Prior to the Match

Prior to starting a pickleball rec game with your foursome, as a group you will likely spend considerable time meticulously inspecting and “negotiating” for the “best” pickleball available. You’re likely looking for a ball that has a little zip – but not too much as to render the dinks and short game ineffective. You will likely squeeze four or five balls – and pick the “perfect” one for the match – one that will satisfy the playing styles and preferences for all four players.

Hitting the Ball into the Adjacent Court

And then, the unthinkable happens. You hit the ball into an adjacent court. However, instead of retrieving the ball that just came flying onto their court – that “perfect” ball that your foursome spent so much time testing and negotiating for – one of the well-intentioned players from this neighboring court tosses you the ball that they have been playing with. Egad! So now, both your court and this neighboring court are playing with different balls – balls that will come off the paddle differently, bounce differently and just feel differently.

What Do You Do?

So what does one do?  Here’s what I do — especially if we’re in the middle of a 9-9, knock-down-drag-out match:  I toss the ball back to them and ask them for the original ball we were playing with.  And I’m pretty sure my request generates eye-rolls!

Who else feel my “pain?”  Or perhaps you have a different pet peeve on the pickleball courts! Please let me know in the comments below.  See you on the courts!

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Coach Todd
About Todd

Todd is the talent behind PickleballMAX. He knows pickleball and demonstrates it on the court as a 4.5 – 5.0 player. In addition to creating content and running the PickleballMAX business, Todd is IPTPA Level II certified. As an instructor at the Ohio Pickleball Academy, he instructs students and runs adult and youth clinics. He also manages tournament desks throughout the tri state for tournaments ranging from 100-500 participants.

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  1. My #1 pet peeve, well maybe my second after serving side not calling the score! My friends lovingly call me the ball snob. And I am an intermediate beginner but it still bothers me like nothing else on the court. Give us our ball!! lol!

  2. Balls….I’m a vet of this game of about 6 months. Still working towards being a legend.
    One thing I haven’t noticed is the difference in balls. Help me on this so I can repeat some knowledgeable insight about this topic.
    I only know that there are indoor and outdoor balls. Lots of holes in the outdoor balls and maybe harder? They sometimes sound different….I think. That’s about it. Oh yea, the day glow yellow balls are tough to judge…a depth perception thing. What am I missing?

  3. Should have said this before, but didn’t. I play at multiple sites, some indoor some out. Some courts are 10 to 15 feet apart but on one, half the time, I either yelling “Ball on the court” or hearing it yelled by one of the other three.

    Bottom line is….some things you just have to deal with. If the courts are too close together then find other alternatives. I say, if you are that particular about the balls you play with….find another place where everybody shares your groups concerns. Everyone on adjoining courts need to have the same understanding about how it works with stray balls and such. Being an outlier causes ruffled feathers. But…..I could be wrong.

  4. My pet peeve is when all the balls roll down hill, gravity, and collect in the corner behind Randy and Ronnie with multiple balls in their pockets. I’m two courts away, uphill, and have to make the occasional journey down to that corner to collect 5 or 6 balls for all the players playing at the higher altitudes. I’ve never suggested that the lower altitude players should be a bit more aware or maybe more considerate, fear, but after Alice ripped into me for running behind her opponent last Friday….maybe I need to. (Names have been changed to protect ME)

  5. Both teams use the same ball… We have used broom sticks for bats and duct tape on a wiffle ball. It doesn’t matter what ball you use, you will adapt.

  6. haha!! My pet peeve is when my partner hits a winner right as a neighboring court hits an errant ball onto our court. Nothing worse than a do-over when you know you had the point won. What’s even worse is losing the do-over point. lol

  7. being fairly new to this wonderful game, I had no idea that people are so meticulous about ball selection. I play at a Rec centre and we just use the balls provided. Guess I have a lot to learn!

    1. Hi Barb, Welcome to pickleball!!! What a great game!!! Perhaps I used just a bit of hyperbole to make my point. It’s unlikely that we inspect the balls to the degree I illustrated in the post.

    2. Not necessarily…Our group has 3 side by side courts with an errant hit crossing over pretty regularly. We play out of a bucket of club balls, all the same brand/model. We have all levels of players. We have never had a concern over getting the same ball back.

  8. A pet peeve, that should be an adopted rule. Preventing players from holding a spare ball in their free hand while the game is in progress. Old time tennis players are accustomed to holding a spare ball in their free hand rather than using their pocket. Many pickleballs have a neon coloring. During fast volleys the sight of another neon pickleball in the free hand of an opponent with flailing arms is distracting to the players across the net. This would almost never happen in tournament play with a referee, but is very common in recreational play — even with advanced players. I’ve been told by opponents, “there’s no rule against it, so they see no reason to refrain” even when politely asked not to do it.

  9. I’ve never observed any players inspecting and testing for the “best” ball prior to playing. I agree your ball should be returned to you, hence, initial your balls. However, the emphasis on all the work that goes into ball selection is foreign to me.

  10. I play at a senior center. A handful of players are awesome. (They play multiple places during the week.) Some of us are awesome at times …still figuring it all out. A few are slower. We have two Bob’s. Young Bob and old Bob. We ARE at a senior center…he is kind and well-liked. My pet peeve is the really good players hit the ball in places Bob could NEVER get to. Come on! I feel when he plays opposite me it is a good time to focus on placing the ball…yep…to his right lobed nice and slow. The game doesn’t go any longer and then he sits and rests a few games. Everyone takes turns playing with Bob. Just irritates me when the better players decide to practice their most challenging shots on Bob!

      1. THAT is the attitude all players should have Lori. Pickleball is just like society… a cross section of all types of personalities and attitudes.

        Yours is the one I prefer…..

    1. Ha, we, too, have a 90-plus year-old names Bob at our center. We even composed a little primer for newcomers on how to play Bob. “This is Bob. See Bob play. See Bob’s opponent hit Bob a softie. See Bob’s opponent trying to scream and remove ball from his mouth at the same time. Do not underestimate Bob.

  11. Yeah, I do the same thing. I have low need for approval so I don’t really care if people think its anal of me. I’m polite and humorous about it…

    1. I advocate being a good sport. Pick up the errant ball and return it with a toss to the people who need it.
      Where we play, we don’t spend much time selecting the perfect ball, and usually everyone uses the same brand and color, so at times it is just easier to toss a ball that is closest and retain the other.

      We try to keep it friendly and social. Maybe others could try to do the same

  12. I agree with you in wanting to play the whole game with the same ball. I was made fun of when I asked for the ball back. Today I was told that I shouldn’t go on the other court to retrieve my own ball … even though their play was stopped in the neighboring court….. and I had yelled “ball”.

  13. I love this article – it made me giggle- yes you’re right this happens all the time☺️not sure what the solution is except to put your name on the ball?—- I have even funnier stories of when your ball accidently goes on another court and the things people resort to doing🤣 Thanks for giggle Todd!!!

    1. I pick it up quickly and act like it came from an unknown place and put it in my pocket and act like I’m going to play the next point. Then guys like Terry get excited, often shout, and get all bothered. My joke worked and I then return their ball.

  14. My pet peeve is when people won’t pick up the pall and toss it to you and they just kick it or hit it on the ground with their paddle. It goes anywhere and you have to chase it.

    1. Hi Terry, that’s a good idea. However, even if it’s the same brand/colors of balls provided by the club, I still hate to change balls mid-game. I’ve got problems! Ha!

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