in ,

How to Gracefully End a Pickleball Partnership That Isn’t Working

Ending a pickleball partnership can be challenging, especially when you respect your partner but find that your competitive synergy is lacking. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to navigate this delicate situation.

Insights from the Pickleball Community

A Recent Dilemma

A fellow pickleball player recently shared their frustration about a tournament where they barely got to hit the ball. Their partner, a genuinely nice person, suggested entering more tournaments but at a lower level. This idea didn’t sit well with my friend, who also didn’t have another partner lined up, making the decision even more complicated.

Should You Continue Playing with Your Partner?

Deciding whether to stick with a partner when you’re not winning can be tough. It ultimately depends on your goals in pickleball.

  • Competitive Focus: If your aim is to improve your ranking and compete at higher levels, finding a partner who matches your skill and competitive drive is essential.
  • Recreational Play: If you’re playing for fun, social interaction, or fitness, the competitive aspect might not be as crucial.

Communication and Chemistry

  • Skill Improvement: Sometimes, a less skilled partner can improve significantly with practice and feedback. If you both enjoy playing together, investing time in joint training sessions could enhance your teamwork.
  • Frustration vs. Fun: If playing together is more frustrating than enjoyable, it might be time to explore other partnerships. However, if you find joy in the game and see potential for growth, it might be worth sticking it out.

How to Break the News to Your Pickleball Partner

Telling your pickleball partner that you’d prefer not to play together anymore can be difficult, especially if you value the relationship. Here’s how to handle it:

Choose the Right Moment

Find a quiet time to talk privately, ideally not right before or after a game when emotions might be high.

Be Honest and Direct

Clearly communicate your intentions. You might say, “I’ve been thinking about our games and feel that I need to try a different partnership to better match my playing style.”

Be Respectful and Kind

Frame your decision around your needs rather than your partner’s shortcomings. For example, “I appreciate our time playing together, but I’m looking for a different experience on the court.”

Offer Alternatives

Suggest other ways to stay connected, such as playing in larger groups or meeting up for practice without competing in tournaments. “Maybe we could join a group play session or just hit some balls for fun?”

Listen to Their Perspective

Allow your partner to express their feelings about your decision. They might offer insights or suggestions that could lead to a compromise.

End on a Positive Note

Try to leave the conversation on good terms. “I’m glad we had this talk and hope we can continue playing pickleball in a way that’s enjoyable for both of us.”

Community Insights and Advice

Heartfelt Approach

One player recommended a heartfelt approach: “Hey, thanks for the games. I enjoyed playing, but I feel we’re not quite matched for competitive play. I’m looking to push myself more. Maybe we can play some recreational games sometime?”

Direct Conversation

Others advised being direct. It’s important to be upfront about wanting a partner who matches your competitive and skill level to avoid ongoing frustration.


Consider whether you’re also contributing to the problem. Are you practicing enough? Is it really just your partner, or do you also need to improve?

Finding Your Ideal Pickleball Partner

Evaluate Your Goals

Clearly define what you’re looking for—fun, fitness, or competition—and assess your skill level.

Attend Clinics and Workshops

These events are great for improving your skills and connecting with serious players.

Watch Tournaments

Observing players in tournaments can give you insights into their playing style and competitiveness.


Ask coaches or club members for partner recommendations.

Try Round Robins

Participate in round robin sessions to play with various players, which helps in assessing compatibility.

Communicate and Trial

Discuss your goals with potential partners and play a few trial games to gauge compatibility.

Be Patient

Finding the perfect partner might require playing with several people, so stay open to learning from each pairing.

Ending a pickleball partnership gracefully involves respect, honesty, and tact. Openly discuss your feelings, consider your partner’s perspective, and remember that maintaining good personal relations is just as important as succeeding in your competitive endeavors.


Ending a pickleball partnership is never easy, but it’s a necessary step when your goals and playing styles no longer align. By approaching the situation with honesty, respect, and clear communication, you can ensure that both you and your partner part ways amicably. Remember, the ultimate goal is to enjoy the game and grow as a player, whether that means finding a new partner or improving your skills with your current one.


Q. How do I know if it’s time to end my pickleball partnership?

If you find that playing with your partner is more frustrating than enjoyable, or if your goals and skill levels are significantly misaligned, it might be time to consider a change. Reflect on your experiences and communicate openly with your partner to determine the best course of action.

Q. What should I say to my partner when ending the partnership?

Be honest and direct, but also kind and respectful. Explain your reasons for wanting to try a different partnership and focus on your needs rather than your partner’s shortcomings. Offer alternatives to stay connected, such as playing in larger groups or meeting up for practice.

Q. How can I find a new pickleball partner?

Attend clinics and workshops, watch tournaments, network with coaches and club members, and participate in round robin sessions. Communicate your goals with potential partners and play a few trial games to gauge compatibility.

Q. Can a less skilled partner improve with practice?

Yes, a less skilled partner can improve significantly with practice and feedback. If you both enjoy playing together, investing time in joint training sessions can enhance your teamwork and performance.

Q. How do I maintain good personal relations after ending a pickleball partnership?

Approach the conversation with honesty, respect, and tact. Listen to your partner’s perspective and try to end on a positive note. Suggest other ways to stay connected and continue enjoying the game together in a different capacity.

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

Finding the Right Balance: How Much Pickleball Should You Play Each Week?

Breaking the Stigma: Rethinking the Perceptions of Bangers in the Pickleball Community