Make Rules, Break Rules

Make Rules, Break Rules

“The truth is that many people make rules so they don’t have to make decisions.” - Coach K

If you’ve spent any time with me on a drilling or teaching court, you have heard me talk about good decision making. “When do we drive and when do we drop? Should I speed this ball up or should I dink it back?” There are many decisions that we have to make in the heat of the moment during a pickleball match. Here’s why keeping rules can be a good thing, and why it can be a bad thing.

One of my rules is that I never drive the ball twice. If I drive my third shot and it comes back to me, I know I am looking to put my next ball into my opponents kitchen so I can get up to the kitchen line. I like to play the percentages, and I know by keeping this rule, the percentages favor me getting to the kitchen line vs. making a poor shot on my fifth ball…wrong decision averted. There are other rules that I keep that help me simplify my decision making process while playing, allowing me to keep my unforced errors down. But what about the situations where the decision making process isn’t so cut and dry?

Some people may disagree with this logic, but pickleball is an art form. We have to be able to get creative and bend the rules when it’s necessary. This allows us to play with some individuality and change our game plans and rules to gain an advantage over our opponents.

For instance, I love abiding by my never drive twice rule. I also love breaking it! I know that living by this rule is a standard for me, but some rules are meant to be broken. If I’m playing against a team that I find out doesn’t do well with added pressure, when the right 5 ball comes to me, I may decide to drive it to keep the pressure on and force an error from them. But this decision is well off the beaten path for me. But I need to be willing to break that rule when needed to maximize my effectiveness.

Rules are so good to have in pickleball, and they are also good to break. Make sure when you come up with your own rules, that you have a process and good reason to break them. I often find that if I go out looking to break my rules just for fun or with no strategy involved with it, I end up on the losing end.

Have rules…but be flexible enough to break them when it is necessary!
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