Well, if you've ever been hit in the back by a ball (as I have) or had a ball SLAMMED at you when it was not in play (as I have) or had a ball roll across your court from another court in the middle of a point (as I have), you know it may not be as easy for some people as it might seem. So here are just a very few observations on how to retrieve and return balls:
1. Return balls nicely to everyone – your partner and your opponents. There is no need to bounce the ball at someone when their back is turned. You don't win points for that and you certainly don't make friends.
2. Bounce, hit or toss the ball to the server (or her partner) gently, in her general direction. You don't have to place it right in her hand but you also don't have to make people run down balls when it doesn't count towards a point.
3. And I don't like when people roll the ball to me. I'm sorry but I just don't want to bend down if I don't have to so if you can bounce the ball over to me, I would appreciate it.
4. Say something, anything, before you return the ball so the other person, whether its your partner or your opponent, knows its coming. Especially if their back is turned. All of these are acceptable: “Ball coming.” “Here's a ball.” “Here's a second (or third).” “Do you need another ball?” “Do you have two?”
5. When your partner is serving, make sure she always has however many balls she wants or needs. Usually this would be two. But some ladies don't have the pockets or shorts to hold a second ball so they will want one and you will have to keep feeding them that second ball when necessary. Some ladies like to hold onto all three balls. Whatever makes your partner most comfortable, make sure she has it.
6. When your ball ends up on another court, wait until the point on that court is over to politely ask for your ball back. Thank them for returning it. Be polite and say thanks every time because your court may slope towards theirs and you may be rolling a lot of balls their way.
7. When someone else's ball ends up on your court, wait until their point is over to politely return the ball back. Let them know the ball is on its way with a simple and audible “Ball coming!” Whatever you do, do NOT roll the ball back to them during a point. At best, it is distracting. At worst, it can be a hazard to the unsuspecting player who steps on that ball.
© Kim Selzman 2009
All Rights Reserved