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How tapping paddles between points can impact every shot you make in doubles

You’ll notice lots of established pickleball teams tap paddles after every point, whether they win the point or not. There’s a number of reasons they do this, and not all of those reasons are apparently obvious at first glance.

The most common reason given to tap paddles is to connect with your partner after every rally. If you make it a routine, win or lose the point, you tap paddles, you can form that connection that you are one team whatever the outcome.  It gives you a reason to get together physically, regroup and reset. It is your physical and mental reset button.  It could be a hand tap, a fist bump but there’s another reason for the paddle tap that isn’t so obvious. 

There are two kinds of paddle tappers: the tappers and the smackers.  The first type make a tiny impact between the paddles. The second type tend to get amped up and if it’s a positive outcome in the point, give the paddles a real clatter.  Now I’ve had my paddle edge guards start to wobble after a “tap” so I’ve made sure to establish a gentle tap with any new partner. Partly to save my paddle’s lifespan but also for another hidden reason. 

The biggest killer of stroke production is tension in the body. If you aren’t loose and flowing, things get jerky, stabby and unreliable. Those are not good adjectives for a shot. If you have to gently tap paddles with a loose grip, it forces you to relax your arm, your grip and prepare for the next point in a less tense physical state.  You may still be anxious, nervous and hyped up but you have made a physical change to your body. 

If you can start with a relaxed grip, it releases the tension in your arm, it can trigger a response in other parts of your body and be part or the start of a mental checklist to get ready for the next point. Between the physical change it can create in your body, the mental change it can trigger in your mindset and the benefits to your team work, it’s a valuable technique to try.  Teamwork, partnership, connection and communication on court are so vital to matchplay success, any small little advantages you can develop are worth working on 

If you’ve never tried this before or fallen off the wagon of doing it, give it a try for a game with a new or existing partner.  Pay close attention to how you feel both mentally and physically. Scan your body for tension. How relaxed are you? See how you feel about the game in your head, how are you handling your emotions? How connected do you feel to your partner: is coming together every point making you a team and play the next point, putting the learning from previous points into play but throwing the outcome away.  Other methods can help with connection with your partner but the soft tap is a great way to reset your grip and tension before each point. 

You might be surprised how much this tiny routine can positively impact your play. 

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