A ball rolls onto your court... how do you respond?

A ball rolls onto your court... how do you respond?

DALLAS, TX — One of my favorite pickleball pastimes is perusing the Pickleball Facebook Forum and reading everything it has to offer - from checking out photos of people’s sweet hometown courts to reading great stories shared by amateurs across the nation.

It's a fascinating section of the Internet. Today, this particular post caught my attention.

“I think the way a person returns a ball that rolls onto their court says a lot about them. When I see a person pick the ball up, look for the person asking for it, then return it to them with a smile, I think that’s someone I’d like to know. They care about someone other than themself,” user Jim Hull wrote in his initial post.

“When I see a person just whack the ball out of ‘their’ court, not caring where it is supposed to go, just that it interrupted ‘their’ game, I think they are self-centered and self-absorbed and I don’t care to know them,” continued Hull.

“Which one are you?” he asked.


The comment section exploded with opinions, hot takes, and debates. A total of 160 comments were posted on the topic, and the majority of them contained some pretty polarizing opinions.

For a sport that’s predominantly community-based, where most courts are next to each other with no fence or barrier for separation, a ball rolling onto a neighboring court is normal pickleball practice.

How players respond to a situation like this, however, varies from person to person.

Some people claim that simply tapping the ball back is the best response. It’s quick, easy, and just basically keeps things flowing for everyone involved with minimal interruption. Others find it best to stop all gameplay for safety reasons, look for the person whose ball it is, and toss it back. This response is predicated on thoughtfulness and positive vibes.

Some commenters joked that if the person is good looking, they throw the ball back with a wink, while others shared that they throw the ball over the fence or crush it under their shoes.

In all seriousness, Hull's post highlighted a pickleball pet peeve for a lot of recreational players who agree that responding by hitting the ball off the court is rude.


A snappy debate emerged when user Shawn Kruger commented: “It’s never dawned on me to judge someone by how they return the ball to my court. I don’t believe in forming wholesale judgments of people from a single interaction, especially one so meaningless.”

Karla Timmons responded: “I make those quick judgements about people that don’t return their shopping carts. It’s the little things that add up to a big thing.”

Timmons and Kruger are both correct. It's those little moments in life that reveal someone’s character. A classic example is how people treat their waiter at a restaurant. If they’re rude or unkind, that reveals something about who they are.

There’s definitely room to give someone a little bit of grace, though, when they’re involved in a very intense match, or worse yet, when it’s match point, the score is 9-10, and they whack the ball out of their court in frustration. That doesn’t mean that person is a jerk. It might simply suggest that tensions are running high.

It seems the best response is to just hit it back, or toss it to the player who’s looking.

Be nice on the community court. It’s a community for a reason. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” as my grandpa would always say.

I think the real winner of this conversation is Don Wesson, who commented: “Hitting the ball back to the person it came from is the most accurate part of my game.”

Now that’s a great outlook.

How do you respond when a ball rolls onto your court? Join the conversation on Instagram and Twitter.