A friend commented recently that I wasn’t playing like I was teaching at the past Nationals. So I took a step back and did some analysis. Today I’ll share with you the pickleball lessons I learned in the process.
Pickleball Lessons Learned: Start with Analysis
We all have a tendency to forget the basics…forget the things that enabled us to have success. So when several different people commented that they didn’t see me doing the things in competition, that I emphasized in my lessons and clinics; I had to do some analysis. Fortunately, it is pretty easy for me to find videos of my tournament play so it is just a matter of having the courage and taking the time to do the analysis.
I took some time in early December to analyze the video…comparing my play in April 2016 with that from this past fall. It isn’t always fun to do this. Frankly, it is easier to spot weaknesses in someone else than in yourself. But it is critical if you want to maintain what is working, and improve in other areas.
Pickleball Lessons Learned
The first thing I noticed was my body. I was much stronger at the beginning of last year. I was just in better shape. So in December, I started forcing myself to workout more. To get my body stronger, to improve my stamina and flexibility. By remaining committed to this fitness routine, I will be better prepared to weather those long tournament weeks.
When I am teaching, I focus so much on body mechanics and how to use your body properly. It was frustrating to watch myself not using my body effectively. I wasn’t using my legs enough and not tracking the ball as well as I should. I always tell my students to capitalize on their strengths. In my case, this is my forehand and by staying offensive. What I observed was I was taking away my own forehand, and separating my feet from the ground too much. This prevented me from remaining balanced and caused me to make too many mistakes.
Frankly, I hated every moment of the analysis because I know better. I know I should take care of myself, I know how to set up points. I know what I want to do…but I saw myself unfocused and off balance too often.
One Step Backward, Two Steps Forward
In some ways it made me feel better that I now knew why I wasn’t playing as well as I could, but it was also frustrating. I was disappointed that I didn’t take care of it sooner. However, I have learned that this is not an uncommon process. In fact, we often lose something before we can get better. The road to mastery is not a consistent incline, but rather a path with peaks and valleys.
We need to learn something every time we go on the court. The question is, “are we asking the right questions?” We may not always like to see our faults but we also need to learn how to problem solve on the court and in matches. I also noticed that sometimes I got upset with myself. I know that is also not a good thing for me. I need to stay motivated and I need to be able to problem solve on the court, during a match. I can only do this if I remain focused and positive.
Your Pickleball Lessons
Not everyone has videos of their matches on Youtube, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do this sort of analysis. A Go-Pro camera mounted on the back fence does a great job of capturing the entire court. But if you don’t have a Go-Pro, use the camera in your smartphone. (All my YouTube videos are made with the video camera in my iPhone.)
Ask a friend to video a match. Take the time to analyze what you did well, and why you missed a shot. Watch your body…are you in control, are you balanced? Take the time to stop and look at yourself. We all have pickleball lessons we can learn.