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What's your excuse?

If you had a chance to attend one of Des Hilton's pickleball clinics, he has a saying that the game is about "minimizing mistakes". This means we are all going to make them during a game and those of us that can reduce the number that we make will probably lead to a winning or successful formula.

However, since we all make them, how many of us really own up to them? Do we say, "I wasn't paddle ready therefore I was late in volleying the ball back into play." Or do we make some sort of excuse for our poor play?

Below is a fun list I found on the website of Pickleball Excuses for Every Situation.

Have you used any of these yourself? Feel free to leave comments on any that you've heard that are not listed below:

Pickleball Excuses for Every Situation!

Below is a list of common (and some not-so-common) excuses as to why things may not have gone right in a particular pickleball point or match. Thanks to the many who contributed to this list, and if you have other equally-valid excuses, please submit them to Or go here if you’d like a hard- or soft-copy…yours to use for non-commercial purposes, LOL! From time to time we’ll update this! Again, thanks!

A. Partner issues

  1. Yours!

  2. You should have called that

  3. I thought you called that

  4. You moved for it and faked me out

  5. It was your forehand (occasionally, “your backhand”, overhead or put-away. Sometimes said more sardonically, as “Were you planning to hit that forehand?”, backhand, overhead, etc.)

  6. You’ve been poaching everything else with your backhand; I thought you were going after that one, too

  7. I expected you to poach that

  8. You should have poached that (Editor: Note difference in emphasis from one above)

  9. I expected you to back me up so I let it go through

  10. Usually you get those! What happened?

  11. You’ve got to cover the middle (sideline) better!

  12. You are getting me killed…hit a DROP shot third-shot!

  13. You;ve got to put those away!

  14. I was too far back…you have to slide over and cover!

  15. (Corollary to “middles” – We said we were playing diagonals, not middles!)

  16. You’re playing (the stronger player, the weaker player, too predictably, to his/her backhand, forehand or strongest shot)!

  17. You’ve got to cover the lob on that side (typically, when one side is looking into the sun, but variations do exist)

  18. You’ve got to let ME have those! (Also see Ego-oriented issues…)

  19. I never get a good partner in these Round-Robins

  20. You played lights-out against me just ten minutes ago; what happened?B. Opponent issues

  21. Your shirt (paddle) is so yellow I can’t see the ball coming off

  22. Your serve is illegal (border-line illegal)!

  23. You yelled “Mine!” so loud you distracted me!

  24. Foot-fault! (Typically this is most effective to call when you are back at the baseline and your opponent reaches in and hits a little cut-volley that you couldn’t have gotten 30 years ago…)

  25. That wasn’t even CLOSE to out. Do you need glasses (different glasses)?

  26. That last dink-fest lulled me to sleep

  27. Is that one of those illegal paddles?

  28. Have you ever read the rule-book?

  29. (Corollary: “This isn’t a USAPA tournament, it’s RECREATIONAL play!”)

  30. Are you head-hunting? This is RECREATIONAL play! (Generally said after you’ve been tagged for the fourth time in two games.)

  31. Who said YOU guys could play down to 4.0?

  32. Are you sure you’re both 60?

  33. Sure…just keep lobbing the short girl (guy)!

  34. You served before I was ready!

C. Distractions

  1. That drone buzzed me just as I was about to hit the winner!

  2. There are big lights off there at a distance & I couldn’t see the ball until it was w/in 3 inches of my face ‘cuz of the light in my eyes.

  3. I stopped play; I thought somebody called “ball on court”!

  4. I never heard the referee call the score

  5. They were having such a good game next to us, I wound up watching their point!

  6. Those loudspeakers broke my serving rhythm!

  7. They (opponents, spectators) were talking too loud (on the next court, on the breezeway)

  8. I was admiring his cute shoes/her cute outfit (editors’ note: this is not gender-restricted)

D. Personal Issues

  1. I have drain bramage…….

  2. I could have gotten that (last year, ten years ago, before my open-heart surgery, before the pace-maker was installed)

  3. If I could just learn to keep my head down….

  4. If I could just learn to watch the ball…

  5. If I would just let the ball come up…

  6. If I would just keep my paddle up…

  7. If I would only bend my knees…

  8. That was too deep (short)…I couldn’t take it off the bounce

  9. If I could just stop short-hopping everything….

  10. If I could learn to dink just over the net

  11. If I could learn to dink OVER the net (different than the above)

  12. I missed that ground-stroke because my hand and paddle blocked my view of the ball!

E. Health or physical issues

  1. My back hurts today. (Substitute freely for any relevant body part)

  2. I went to yoga (Pilates) this morning and I feel worse

  3. I just had knee surgery (or a hip or shoulder replaced)

  4. The shot hit my fat stomach

  5. The ball hit my thumb (wrist, hand)

  6. I lost the ball in the lights (glare, shadows, dark

  7. My foot got stuck under the back fence

  8. My pickleball hips (knees, shoulder) emit pain signals before every shot I miss

  9. I had a pacemaker installed to deal with my Afib and haven’t been the same since

  10. I didn’t eat enough (I ate too much) breakfast (lunch)

  11. I didn’t drink enough water (electrolytes) and I got dehydrated (Afib, light-headed)

F. Paddle Issues

  1. Non-verbal (simply stare at your paddle as if it has a hole in it, as if it were a strange alien creature which intentionally missed the shot for you)

  2. I caught the edge-guard on my zipper (court, back fence)

  3. There’s no edge-guard or I would have made that shot

  4. The paddle hit my knee (foot or, more rarely, my chin)

  5. There’s a dead spot on this thing

  6. The whole paddle just died

  7. This grip is too (large, small, sticky, slick), and I need to change it

  8. I changed the grip this morning and now it’s too (large, small, sticky, slick)

  9. I hate this padded (smooth, ribbed, black, white, purple) grip

  10. It’s a new paddle

  11. I hate this paddle

  12. I hate myself for buying this paddle

  13. I hit too (hard or soft) with this paddle

  14. I’m a “feel” player and this paddle hasn’t got any feel.

  15. I forgot to change the paddle when we changed sides, and the wind got me (also see “wind, sun and other conditions)

  16. The handle is octagonal (round, square) and feels funny (weird, terrible)

  17. The paddle is too short (long, narrow, wide, heavy, light, stupid-looking)

  18. I can only (or “can’t) play with a (graphite, composite face, composition-core, aluminum-core)

  19. I forgot my glove (have a new glove, am trying to use a glove)

  20. My glove got stiff when it dried and I can’t “feel” my shots

G. Ball issues

  1. The stupid ball is cracked (out of round, bad)

  2. The seam on this ball is impossible (too high, defective)

  3. We need to replay that point – the ball was funny!

  4. This brand doesn’t bounce true (come up, comes up too high)

  5. This is one of those stupid quiet balls and I can’t judge the speed when I can’t hear it coming off your paddle.

  6. That color is stupid (distracting). Editors note: IOHO this is true about the two-tone balls, no offense to the manufacturer…)

H. Court issues

  1. The ball hit a crack (aka “There are cracks on this court the size of Rhode Island!”)

  2. Some moron left gum on the court and the ball hit it (my shoe stuck to it)

  3. The stupid lines are only 1 7/8”, not 2”. That would have been in, otherwise! (AKA: The lines are too wide, or white, blue, beige or green.The colors of the lines (kitchen, serving areas, outside) are confusing

  4. The net isn’t regulation height (too high, too low, they didn’t measure it…)

  5. I hate playing (on asphalt, on concrete, on gymnasium floors, or outdoors or indoors)

  6. Stupid new (old) courts (nets)

  7. I hate temporary nets!

  8. The courts aren’t (square, the right length)

I. Wind, sun and other conditions

  1. It’s too windy

  2. It’s always windy out here, except today

  3. There was a gust of wind just as I hit that

  4. The wind stopped just as I hit that

  5. They put up the windscreens and didn’t tell us

  6. They took down the windscreens and didn’t tell us

  7. The sun was in my eyes

  8. There are too many shadows on the court on this side

  9. The sun disappeared and the shadows went away just as I hit the ball

  10. It’s too hot (cold)

  11. It’s so cold the ball feels like a piece of ice

  12. There are heat-waves coming off the asphalt (concrete) and I lost the ball in the waves

J. Ego-oriented Issues

  1. I was lulled to sleep watching my partner’s dink fest

  2. I don’t have to keep my paddle up all the time

  3. I catch balls going out to save time

  4. I will never play in a tournament, so why do I need to learn to (dink, place the ball, serve deep, return deep, hit a drop shot)?

  5. I am too good to take a (any, this specific) clinic

  6. I am already good enough to beat everyone here by just banging the ball around

  7. I won’t listen to anyone who isn’t a 5.0 rated player

  8. I don’t have time to practice drills

  9. It is a waste of time to bend my knees and get set

  10. Nobody told me to (cover the middle, hit a third-shot drop, go easy until you have a good opportunity, etc.)

  11. Wow…some of the lame excuses for coaches we get around here….(sometimes this is also heard as “He/she just told me to do that at the clinic!”)

  12. For me this is just too easy, not like (tennis, racquetball, squash, badminton, curling). Those are REAL games!

  13. I can’t take any game played with a plastic ball and an oversized table-tennis paddle seriously.

  14. I’ll get serious about this when I’m (old, older, older than dirt, dead)

  15. I cover the middle with my backhand ‘cuz I’ve got a great backhand!

  16. I’m the stronger player, let me have that! (this normally said by a player who would have to come six feet into your side of the court, thereby exposing their whole backhand side and you to ridicule from your opponents)

  17. Everyone in the whole of the USAPA rules committee has watched my serve and they’ve all told me it’s perfectly legal.

  18. Foot-fault? I NEVER foot-fault!

K. Misc. stupidities

  1. It’s a house rule – we allow you to (catch the ball as it goes out, step on the line on the serve)

  2. The rules clearly say you can (use two paddles, play with any paddle you choose, be anywhere on the court to receive or serve irrespective of score). Editors’ note: The operative phrase here is “rules clearly say”, which is your clue that most probably the rules don’t say that at all and your opponent has never read the rule book.

L. Typically offered in jest, we think….

  1. The ball has a hole in it

  2. The net is too (high, low) on our side

  3. Darn wind took it (this said during indoor play)

  4. The wind (sun) is the same for everybody

  5. The gravity is higher on this side of the net

M. Maxims

  1. No one on a losing team ever is entirely well

  2. It all began when I was born

  3. Perfect touch can only exist in a world where there is also missing on purpose. (We don’t totally understand this one but it certainly…what…somehow Zen-like?)

  4. That wasn’t the plan I had for that shot!

  5. (Directed to A.J.) “You don’t need anyone else’s excuses. You’ve got enough of your own. I just can’t understand Irene’s excuse for picking you.”

  6. if you poach, you must get the shot over the net! and, finally…..

  7. Very few people eat any better because they win or lose a game of pickleball. After all, it’s only pickleball! So, game on!

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