Selkirk Sport - We Are Pickleball


Pickleball Tips - Stop Blaming Your Partner!

By Stephen Bass

on Aug 04, 2022

Stop blaming your partner so much! 

by Kyle Koszuta

There, I said it.

Part of me almost didn’t publish this because it now means, I have to practice what I preach. **chuckles**

But honestly, I want that.

I want that ownership and accountability — for my partner and myself.

The truth is, I’ve gotten tired of asking people how they did at a tournament, and hearing their first words be…

“I did well, but my partner _______” (fill in negative comment)

Ever done that before?

I’m guilty of it too.

And here’s what I’ve learned.

We tend to judge others based on the actions they took and results they got. Whereas, when it comes to us — we judge based on the intent we had.

For example, your partner speeds up a ball and you get crushed on a counter-attack. You walk back to the baseline thinking, “that was a dumb choice to attack that ball.”

On the flip side, when we choose to speed up a ball and get crushed on the counter, we walk back to the baseline with a bit more grace thinking, “the opponent just happened to make a great play on my speed up.”

See the difference?

And a quick note. Of course there’s nuance to this whole stop blaming your partner thing. I get that. Some of you are thinking, “no, it actually is my partners fault. This is a 5.0 game, and they’re a 4.0 and can’t hang. And there may be some truth to that! If it’s a tournament, maybe choose a partner more wisely next time, **laughs.** (but I get it, you wanted to play with your friend and didn’t wanna sandbag. Respect!)

Now for me, when I say the word blame, I don’t verbalize it, I typically internalize it.

I’m not over here yelling, “wow you suck, that choice was terrible.” It’s internal, more like, “why did you do that very stupid third shot lob you’ve never once practiced?” **laughs**

And even just spending time between points putting focus toward that isn’t helping your game.

So consider this alternative.

Choose to believe everyone is doing the best they can with what they know. You’re not trying to lose and neither is your partner.

Remember that.

With that being said, what if you chose to take extreme ownership during matches?

And believed everything, was actually your fault.

Because the truth is, it is. As the great Dick DeVenzio said:

When you get to the point in your career when you can walk off the court having emerged a loser, yet have your focus entirely on what you could have done better, you have arrived. You think like a champion.

So If your partner is playing bad, pick them up.

If your partner feels low energy, pick them up,

If your partner misses three backhand dinks in a row, curse at them.

No I’m kidding. 😂 Suggest switching sides to put them in a better position to succeed.

You can always do a little more to help your partner play better. So do more!

Because the reality is…

…when you lose, you both made plenty of mistakes. Typically, our view of our performance, just minutes after the match ends, is way wrong.

So before you walk up to someone and tell them you lost only because of your partner, go watch the replay.

My guess is, there’s A LOT you could have done different in your own game to alter that outcome.

In closing, blaming is easy. Ownership is hard.

But like Monty Williams from the Phoenix Suns said, everything you want is on the other side of hard. So if you’re anything like me, and you want to get better at this game, stop blaming and take responsibility for your game and your attitude and your actions.

In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.

Until next time,


PS: If you want more like this, you can SUBSCRIBE TO KYLE'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER where he shares…

  • tips to improve

  • interesting pickleball stories

  • entertaining pickleball videos

  • and a little about his journey from never playing to pro pickleball in 12 months!

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