Honest question. Why do pickleball players keep doing this one thing?Jul 07, 2022
I have a confession to make.
When I hit a ball that grazes the net and results in me winning the point, I’m not sorry.
And for the purposes of this post, let’s call this type of shot a “net chord.”
Now, I’ve always apologized because when I first started playing, that’s what others did.
But I don’t like to live my life by, “that’s what others are doing or that’s how it’s always been done.”
And let’s face it, this net chord phenomenon happens ALL the time. In fact, I’d argue it happens 7x as much in pickleball as it does in tennis.
So I had to ask myself, why are we apologizing? And should we keep doing it?
Think about it like this…
If you top a golf shot and it still goes 200 yards straight down the fairway, no one apologizes.
If a football kicker almost misses short, but it hits the crossbar and bounces in, no one apologizes.
If a basketball player banks in a shot from deep, no one apologizes.
But in tennis and pickleball, if a net chord happens, one party raises both hands in disbelief as if the biggest fluke in sports history just took place. And the other raises one hand to (fake) apologize for winning the point, “that way.”
Now my guess is, you probably apologize for one of these two reasons:
To fit in and not ruffle feathers. Most people expect the apology, especially in rec play with people you may not know. So saying it keeps the peace. I get that.
It’s a long standing tennis tradition to show good sportsmanship. And listen, I’m all about sportsmanship. Let’s applaud good points, tap paddles after, and call lines fairly. But truthfully, this argument is BS. Some would say, “but the opponent didn’t get a fair shot at a reply because you got lucky.” So? Life isn’t fair. Move on. Next point.
But let’s be really honest for a moment. When you win on a net chord, are you really sorry?
Do you actually regret what just happened? Do you wish the ball would have hit the net, landing back on your side?
I doubt it.
And you might be thinking, “No Kyle, I wish the ball wouldn’t have hit the net at all.” To which I’d say, but remember — it’s a part of the game. It’s going to happen a good amount. We can’t wish away a reality that’s inevitable.
I know, I’m getting fired up. Let’s even go one step further…
Does saying sorry actually change anything?
I don’t want to apologize to someone if I don’t actually mean it. I’d feel like a fraud.
Last week, I went grocery shopping at Trader Joes. 2 minutes in, with my basket in hand, I'm walking down the produce aisle looking left and not paying attention.
Suddenly, I collide with someone. I instantly turn and see this 92 year old woman with a walker looking at me like I’m an idiot millennial.
I apologize right away for my lack of awareness. And I truly meant it. I wish I could’ve gone back 30 seconds, payed more attention and not collided with her. (she’s okay btw😉)
I wanted to take my action back.
But when I win on a net chord, I never want to take it back. I’m happy I won the point.
“I know Kyle, but I just didn’t want to win it, that way.”
Again I ask, why?
Because the fact of the matter is, it’s a part of the game. And as I’ve already mentioned more than once, it happens all the time — both ways!
…does the person receiving the apology actually feel better because you said sorry?
Now, they might get pissed if you don’t say sorry because they’ve been programmed to believe that’s what a player does in that situation.
But here’s my final point!
(pun intended, I won the net chord, no apology 😂)
Life isn’t fair.
If you play a lot of pickleball, you’ll lose a LOT of net chord balls. Accept that. Choose your response in advance. Be angry for two seconds, then move on.
Or do what my buddy Joe does (which I love btw). He just says, “smart shot.” And moves on.
And when it happens in your favor, realize fortune favors the brave. Maybe you got a little lucky as you looked to be more aggressive. Maybe it’s the exact spot you were aiming for. (well played😉)
I don’t know.
But I do feel confident saying you don’t really — deep down in your heart — wish you could take it back and replay the point.
You’re a competitor who wants to win. You understand it’s a part of the game. You understand you’ll win some of those bounces and lose some!
So let’s stop apologizing for something we’re not actually sorry for.
Until next time,
PS: Back to that 92 year old woman for a moment. I actually wasn’t that sorry. She almost took the last avocado. I couldn’t let that happen! I even compete in the grocery store.
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