Nationals VIII is now in the history books. Time to reflect on what I observed, and identify areas for my own improvement. I want to share with you the pickleball lessons I’m taking from Casa Grande this year.
It was great to walk around the tournament courts all week long. The Palm Creek venue allows you to easily stroll from court to court, and in many cases watch more than one match at a time. The competition everywhere was really amazing. If you haven’t yet attended a USAPA Nationals event, as a player or spectator, it is worth a trip!
Perhaps the most striking thing I observed, as I watched matches, was just how difficult it can be to close out a match. Many of the finals went to three games. And in many cases, including my own, after coming from the loser’s bracket and winning two games in a row…teams struggled in the third game to 15.
The Big MO
Staying motived and focused throughout a match can be tough. I would watch a player make a few mistakes and suddenly the match is headed in the wrong direction. I also observed a player would get a few big points, and then be stalled when their opponent called a time-out.
Using your time-outs is so important! You should never be afraid to call a time-out to break the other team’s hot streak or break your own cold streak. If things aren’t working, give yourself a second to check in with yourself and your partners and reset your brains. Make certain you are both on the same page.
Pickleball Lesson…What I Will Continue to Work On!
Sometimes the biggest problem when closing out a match is getting motivated to finish it in the first place! I need to work on this! Starting focused, staying focused and finishing focused. A big part of this focus comes down to whether you are using your strategies. We have a tendency to get into a game ready to stick with a plan … the point starts and off goes the plan.
Keeping things as simple as we can whether we are serving, returning, hitting our third shots, etc. Focus on very basic things:
- Your target!;
- Picking up your feet;
Communication and Problem-Solving
Of course, throughout the match we need to continue to communicate with the person next to us. Sometimes we need to ask them for help. If I feel like I’m missing a shot over and over, maybe I will ask my partner to take it for me. Sometimes that is all that is needed to get back into rhythm.
Most importantly, when things are going wrong…look at it as just a problem for which you need to find a solution. If I can take a second to think, and perhaps confer with my partner, perhaps we can find the solution. I’d rather focus on implementing a potentially winning strategy than dwell on negative.