As a pickleball coach with over 15 years of experience, I've seen it all. The good, the bad, and the downright hilarious. One of the most common and comical mistakes I see on the court is players switching sides at the wrong time. Let me tell you, it can lead to some confusion, embarrassment, and even laughter. So, let's talk about when to switch sides in pickleball and how to avoid some common mishaps.
The Rules of Switching Sides
First things first, let's talk about the rules of switching sides in pickleball. According to the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) rules, players must switch sides after the first server loses their serve in each game, and then again after each subsequent odd number of points (i.e., 1, 3, 5, 7, etc.). In other words, if you start on the right side of the court, you will switch to the left side after the first server on your team loses their serve, and then switch back to the right side after the next odd number of points.
Now, this may seem simple enough, but trust me, it can get confusing in the heat of the game. I've seen players switch sides after every point, switch sides mid-point, and even switch sides before the game has even started. Yes, I've seen it all. But let me tell you a funny story about a time when even I got confused.
The Time I Got Confused
I was coaching a doubles game at a local tournament, and the score was tied 6-6. The players were evenly matched, and it was a tight game. Suddenly, one of the players called a timeout and asked me when they should switch sides. I confidently told them that they should switch sides after the next point, as it was an even number of points.
They both nodded and went back on the court. The serve was returned, and they played a few rallies, and then one of the players hit a shot out of bounds. The score was now 7-6, and the player who lost the point came up to me and asked if they should switch sides. I confidently told them that they should switch sides now, as it was an odd number of points.
They both looked at me like I was crazy and said, "No, it's not. It's an even number of points." I was so embarrassed. I had completely lost track of the score and the number of points. We all had a good laugh about it, and I learned my lesson to always pay attention to the score and the number of points.
Avoiding Confusion and EmbarrassmentSo, how can you avoid confusion and embarrassment when switching sides in pickleball? Here are a few tips:
1. Pay attention to the score and the number of points. This may seem obvious, but it's easy to get caught up in the game and lose track of the score. Make sure you know when to switch sides by keeping an eye on the score and the number of points.
2. Communicate with your partner. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to switching sides. Discuss when you will switch sides and make sure you both understand the rules.
3. Don't switch sides mid-point. This may seem obvious, but I've seen players switch sides mid-point because they forgot the rules. Remember, you must wait until the point is over and then switch sides.
4. Don't switch sides before the game has started. I've seen this happen more times than I care to admit. Players get so excited to start