What is your pickleball goal? Is it to just play, or do you hope to improve? If you said, just play…that’s fine. However, if your goal is improvement pay attention to these 3 P’s.
Drill, Practice, Play
Most people enjoy playing pickleball. And I suspect, the vast majority of pickleball players only play. However, if you want to improve you must spend time practicing and drilling. Taking time to practice and to drill is important if you want to improve. Since taking court time to drill and practice, limits the amount of time you can enjoy playing…you want to make the most of this time. So let me recommend 3 P’s that are essential to making the most of your practice time.
3 P’s #1: Plan
I used to plan on every Tuesday night practicing with two of my friends. Whether we had all three of us, only two, or more we made a commitment to ourselves and each other to be there every Tuesday night. Throughout the week, when I played, I would think what I would want to work on next Tuesday. What were either the things I wanted to improve that needed work or what I was good at that I wanted to expand upon. The important thing was to have a plan for that week’s session, to plan what drills we would do. This naturally led to the second P.
3 P’s #2: Purpose
Purpose is narrowing down the plan to a specific item. Saying I want to get better is pretty broad. Even saying I want to improve my dinking is too broad.
- Is it your forehand or backhand?
- Do you want to control the height of the ball over the net?
- Do you want better control of the depth of the ball or the placement (side to side)?
Too often, players are just focused on getting it over the net. When you are practicing effectively you really want to focus on one thing at a time. I’m fortunate because I have the opportunity to watch a lot of video of myself…but you can too. You really don’t need any fancy equipment. All you need is a smart phone, a tripod or a friend that is waiting to get on the court. (Truth be told, all the videos on my YouTube channel were made with my iPhone.) Knowing what you need to work on is the first step. Try to narrow down each practice session to just one item.
3 P’s #3: Perfect
Now you have a plan for your practice session and have narrowed it down to a specific purpose. Now take the time to perfect it. Repetition is important when you want to become comfortable with a new skill. However, you must practice perfectly. Thoughtlessly hitting dinks back and forth for hours on end will not result in improvement. In fact, you will likely only become more consistent in how you hit the ball today.
Create a standard for yourself and focus on hitting each and every shot that way. When you lose focus…stop. When the ball goes off course…catch it and start again. Remember, practice does not make perfect….only perfect practice does.
The Next Time You Drill
The next time you head out with a few friend to practice, I want you to commit to the 3 P’s. Have a plan, and share it with your friends. Define the purpose of your practice as fully and specifically as you can. Then commit to practice it perfectly. Follow these 3 P’s and you are certain to improve.