Be Stingy with Compliments

By Mark Renneson

When I coach pickleball, I often hear people say "nice shot" to their opponents. And as far as I am concerned, that's just fine -- when it is deserved. If your opponent hits a great passing shot or an amazing volley, please give them the compliment. 

The trouble comes when people praise their opponents for making a good shot when, in fact, it wasn't really a good shot at all; it was mediocre or even poor shot that just wasn't handled well.

If your opponent puts up a short lob and you swing and miss, no, it was not a "good shot" by them. Similarly, a standard return of serve that lands in the middle of the court is not typically worth of praise after you bury the drop in the net.

Instead of letting yourself off the hook by saying “good shot” to your opponent, take responsibility for your errors.

Instead of letting yourself off the hook by saying “good shot” to your opponent, take responsibility for your errors.

Why does this matter? Because by suggesting that your error was actually the result of your opponent's well hit ball, you are removing your own culpability from the situation. Mistakes are part of pickleball. But by praising the opponent when they don't deserve it, you aren't taking responsibility for your error and giving yourself the slap on the wrist that might motivate you to be better next time.  

So please... When your opponents hit a terrific slice or beautiful lob, heap the praise on them all you want. But if their shot was just so-so and you blew it, take responsibility. Something like, "Wow. I've got to make that" will do more to help you than insincere compliments aimed across the net.

Mark RennesonComment