Whenever I (Jennifer) ask people if they play mixed doubles with their spouse, the usual response I get is a chuckle and something on the lines of “It’s best if we want to stay married that we don’t.” They are usually surprised when they find out Clayton and I are married and are playing together.
Clayton and I are unique as we both grew up playing competitive tennis, so transitioning to pickleball was pretty easy. Clayton introduced me to pickleball when we first dating in October 2015, and a married couple was the first ones that played with us – so we thought it was normal for a husband/wife team to be playing together.
The beginning of our relationship on the pickleball court was challenging – I didn’t understand why Clayton wanted to be on my side of the court and take my shots. But now that we have been playing at a higher competitive level, I just stay out of the way and just do my job – dink and set up the points.
Playing together is not always easy, but it has been rewarding and has strengthened our relationship. We enjoy getting to compete and travel together for tournaments. Also, it is nice having a forever mixed doubles and practice partner. Playing with your spouse may not be for everyone, but for those who do, here are some tips we wanted to share.
5 Tips Playing Pickleball with your Spouse
- Start each game with a sign of affection. We start off before each match with a hug. If you’re less socially inhibited or want to psych out of your opponents, you can go in for a big sloppy kiss.
- Take Time Outs. If one or both of you start getting mad, take a time out.
- Most teams will try to pick on one player. Make a game plan of stacking or when to poach to help avoid a player being isolated.
- Even just 1 day a week can improve your game significantly. Practice dinking, 3rd shot drops, or where else you think you need work. Make a dinking game with a friendly wager.
- Remember it’s just Pickleball. Even at a tournament, it’s still a silly game with a silly name. Remember that your partner is your spouse that you love and you must spend time with after the game. Often the best parts of pickleball tournaments are the time off the court, meeting friends and traveling to new places together.