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by Esmé Gregson

At the paddle tennis courts of Venice Beach, “trash talk” is, for some people, an integral part of their game and something akin to an art form. Perhaps influenced by the nearby basketball courts of Venice Beach, where trash talk is not merely legendary, it has been portrayed memorably in movies like “White Men Can’t Jump” and “American History X” and mimicked by athletes and players of other sports ever since.

Tennis is not a game that encourages (or lends itself to) “trash talk.” It’s just not done by players like Federer or Nadal or the Williams sisters. But paddle tennis is a different sport, and one in which the conditions are occasionally ripe for a bit of trash talking. It’s best used when playing with your “tried and true crew” who know just what buttons to push to “rattle your cage,” but not cross the line. Take, for example, legendary Venice Beach trash talker and singles player, Igor, who will shout, “That’s f***ing right, Cliff!” after hitting a winner past his favorite opponent. Cliff, typically quiet during game play has now become fond of taunting Igor right back with the same “That’s f***ing right, Igor!” after his own (frequently struck) winners. Proving that trash talking isn’t something you’re born with but nurtured into by other capable trash talkers.

Lastly, when it comes to trash talk, cursing isn’t exactly forbidden; however, it’s a lower form of trash talk that’s rarely encouraged or justified. Unless, of course, you’ve just faulted your serve on match point, in which case, it would be considered an insult to your partner if you didn’t curse at yourself for being a colossal idiot!

Below is a list of the most often heard and/or best examples of trash talk* encountered on the Venice Beach paddle tennis courts recently (paired with some helpful context).



“Nobody’s home!”

When one or both players is out of position and the ball is hit to the open court to win the point.

“Don’t even look at it!”

When a ball is hit that’s so clearly out, the speaker of this trash talk is telling their partner not to give the opponent (who struck the out ball) the satisfaction of checking to see if it’s out.

“Net’s lower on that side.”

When one side’s balls keep hitting the tape while the other side’s balls are going over, this is frequently cited as the reason. Said passive-aggressively, as to imply that the shots being made by the winning team are due to the net being “lower” on their side.

“Honey hole!”

When a player makes multiple errors and gives up a lot of points (a.k.a: “honey”), they’re a “honey hole.”


Meaning “Let’s go!” in French, usually shouted to punctuate a well-won point and pump up the team. Employed effectively by French speakers and non-French speakers alike.


Meaning “Power!” Usually shouted to punctuate a well-won point and pump up the team. Employed effectively by Italian speakers; non-Italian speakers, not so much.

“No Wheelz!”

When someone tries to run down a well-struck passing shot but can’t get to it in time.

“Eat it!”


“Get that $#*^ outta here!”






Said by person while in the act of hitting a monster shot that they know is going to be a clean winner.

“Call the police!”

When someone makes a bad call and the person who hit the ball wants to call them out for cheating, without saying that they’re cheating.


Usually said within a point or two by the same player requesting someone “Call the police” when they win a particularly tight point from the team who made the earlier dubious call.

“That’s a LOCAL bounce.”

Said after the ball hits a crack in the court or takes a funny bounce in favor of the team that’s from Venice Beach, implying that the ball cares where the player is from and wants Venetians to win on their home courts.

And the #1 most epic burn heard on the Venice Beach Paddle Tennis Courts for 2022, provided by UCLA alum and popular paddle tennis rallying partner, Budge, who, when asked on his birthday, “What does it mean to turn 84 on the courts at Venice Beach?”

          “It means I have 6 more years before I start playing Pickleball.”

If you have your own trash talk/sick on-court burns we missed here or that you’d like to share with the community, please email us or post a comment here.

*Note: Trash talk should always be used with discretion and is forbidden during tournament match play. Also, language that includes slurs against men, women, slurs against gay or trans people, slurs against any minority is not trash talk. It’s bigotry, it’s racism, it’s sexism, it’s misogyny and it has no place in society, let alone on the paddle tennis courts.



“Trash Talk” art by Leslie Martino