Differences I’ve Seen Between Recreational and Professional Pickleball Players

pro player hitting a pickleball
Riley Newman (picture Kerry Pittenger)


Many recreational players serve well, keep a rally going, cover court, have a general understanding of the rules, the fundamentals, shots, and court etiquette, all of which is sufficient for this level. The majority of these players will reach this point and be satisfied staying here. 

In MLP and PPA tournaments, professional players cross-court dink with skill, control, pace, and purpose, identify patterns and cover court, set-up shots, reset points, change serves and stacking formations, execute—at the highest level—shot selection, drops, and techniques/strategies for offense and defense, communicate and synchronize with teammates, play both singles and doubles, and, of utmost importance, demonstrate pickleball mastery.


People of all ages and varying degrees of talent and athleticism derive from pickleball a feeling of community and friendly competition. To play either indoors or outdoors in local groups or out of town, recreational players often have to pay for membership. Interacting with serious players, some of whom can be impatient, critical, and controlling, is difficult, especially for beginners.  Such behavior causes friction between players and is detrimental to the group and to the sport. More kindness, consideration, patience, and understanding would make recreational matches altogether better.

In MLP and PPA tournaments, professional players come to court upbeat, energized, communicate a plan, work as a pair, compliment their teammate and even their opponents, and support partners when losing and after a loss.


Some recreational players (again, some) are self-congratulatory and self-serving. More encouragement, less egotism, would draw people to pickleball rather than put up walls, intimidate, or dissuade. From time to time one might hear “nice shot,” “good get” –hardly a remedy for endless scrutiny and shoddy court manners.   Players of this sort could be kinder and friendlier without losing their competitive edge. Everybody wants to win–and plays to win–but only one team can. Always remember that even amateurs pay for that chance. Those who believe themselves superior should enter MLP/PPA tournaments and tangle with the best players in the world, the results of which might humble them. 

In MLP and PPA tournaments, professional players have been known to speak with and show respect and admiration for both their teammates and their opponents before and after matches–and during play!–as well as at the net, in interviews, and online.

Closing comments

I enjoy playing pickleball and I am grateful for how the sport has enriched my life as well as the lives of countless others. However, I’ve been wishing for improvements in recreational competition.  Changes will come before long– I’d like to believe that.  Until then (and even if changes never take root) I’ll keep having fun playing this most entertaining sport called pickleball. 

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About David Boyle

A versatile and diversified writer, David Boyle has written three short story collections, published by independent presses. Though he earned his readership by writing reality-based fiction, Boyle has gained a reputation for literary stories, essays, articles, reviews, interviews, analyses, travel writing, reportage, and poems, a good number of which have appeared in both print and online magazines. Inspired by his wife's passion for the sport, David now loves pickleball and aims to illuminate current pickleball events and subjects with a fresh, creative perspective, offering readers something they can't find anywhere else. | My website | boyled411@gmail.com | My Pickleball Journal

2 thoughts on “Differences I’ve Seen Between Recreational and Professional Pickleball Players”

  1. The ever growing world of Pickle ball. I feel fortunate to have learn the game in a town that was new to it. So it was fun…not discouraging. Pickle ball is very popular where I live now and I can see how it could be challenging to break into a new sport. One place where I play they have 6-8 courts and you constantly switch players, so I have not seen anyone lose patients with a beginner, rather I have seen lots of encouraging advice. This place also keeps one court for super competitors…which is fun to watch. It’s important for good sportsmanship and kindness to prevail. Nice article!

    • Ellen,
      Thanks for commenting and for the kind words. It’s good to hear that you’ve been playing with a supportive group, and I hope that continues for a long time to come. I can tell that you very much enjoy the sport. No doubt that enthusiasm comes through on court and pushes everyone to give their best and be happy playing. Keep it up!
      David Boyle – Pickleball Portal


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