I love pickleball. I am crazy about this sport, as most of you are. One of the biggest things I love about pickleball is how much I can still learn and grow. However, at times I feel like I hit a wall…I feel stuck. Does this ever happen to you?
Growing up in Tennis
Most of my life was spent on a tennis court. When I was a baby my mom would have a play pin in the corner of her court while she played. As soon as I could hold a racquet I was learning and started playing in tournaments at 7. My last few years playing tennis I was honestly getting kind of bored. I was playing tournaments but tournaments had such small draws. I wasn’t old enough for senior play, but too old for most open play. I honestly got tired of going to Nationals and playing kids right out of college. (I realize many senior pickleball players have the same
complaint…going to a tournament when you are in your 70’s and being lumped into the 55+ division. So even though I am not yet your age…I understand the feeling.)
It was exhausting. But at the same time, the teacher in me always wanted to learn and improve. And often, I didn’t feel I was being challenged by the sport anymore. I felt stuck.. there seemed to be no room for creativity when it came to shots and such.
Taking Up Pickleball
When I started pickleball everything was new and there was so much to learn. How to score, how brackets worked, the whole back draw situation. My first tournament I had won the main bracket in singles and the tournament was really really behind. I had to wait about 4-5 hours to play the for the gold medal and I was tired and frustrated. I ended up losing in a close one. I absolutely didn’t understand the whole idea of coming back.
I had a lot of great mentors when I started and they gave me an appreciation for all these new things. Now I see how important coming back through the back draw can be. Not only is it the tradition of pickleball but it makes the finals that much better. Double elimination makes it exciting for players and the spectators. No one likes to watch a beat down in the final. Close matches are exciting. And double elimination assures that.
We all have a bad match or game sometimes. Pickleball strategy
is such an important part of this game. A team that loses to another team in the first round has the opportunity to come back with a new game plan if and when they meet again.
The rate at which this sport is growing is amazing. Not only are there more players, but the speed and athleticism of these players have increased over the last year. While I have been in Austin I have played with a lot of the locals. It is fun…just playing and not thinking so much. I try to challenge myself to try new shots or strategies every time I have two new players on the other side regardless of their skill level. I need to challenge myself to find something I can do to help my game.
Hitting a Wall…Feeling Stuck
However, my schedule and sometimes the resources available to me at a location leave me feeling a little stuck.
When I was in the northwest, I had a ton of players that I could count on regularly to challenge me. On the road, this is often not the case. Also, practice and working on my game just hasn’t been a priority. I could play…but not feel challenged enough to excel.
I suspect a lot of people hit this wall in their game…they don’t feel like they are improving anymore. When this happens, we often get bored. I caught myself recently just going through the motions of playing. For me, that is not what I want out of my game.
Making Changes When You Hit a Wall
To continue to improve, I need to focus more on my own game. This has led us to ease up a bit. We decided we wanted to be in one place for a while so I could get back into a routine, focusing on what I wanted rather than teaching all the time. I found some new practice partners that I not only enjoy playing with but enable me to find ways to be challenged. I have changed my workouts so I don’t get bored…and focus now on those areas that will most improve my game.
I have adjusted my tournament schedule so I can practice with some of my friends that I know will be good for me. I have asked for help when I needed it.
If like me, you have hit a wall I think you need to decide what the wall is to you and what you need to do to break through it and be better. When you know what you need to continue growing, find a way to make it happen. Should you take some lessons? Is it drilling more? Do you need to focus on your fitness? Once you know, ask yourself if you are willing to make it happen?
We all lead such busy lives and we don’t always put ourselves first. Rather than going out earlier to drill, maybe you decide you need to run some errands or take care of something for a family member. I want to encourage you to put yourself first, even if that requires some change or sacrifices.
I can’t find anyone that wants to drill or play pickleball in Texas in the middle of the day. I have had to set my alarm and give up some sleep-time so that I get to the courts early. Much earlier than frankly, I want to! But I always feel better afterward. Same goes for my workouts. I may not always feel like doing it, but I know the rewards are worth it.
If you feel like you have hit a wall, I hope you will think about putting yourself first. Identify the issues, and then decide if you are willing to make the commitment to make the changes necessary to battle through.