My Pickleball Mantra: Balance, Breathe, Believe

I am often asked how I am able to appear so relaxed when I am playing competitive pickleball.  For me, the key is my pickleball mantra…

pickleball mantra


Competing with Your Mind

As I discussed in more depth in my ebook, Be the Best Pickleball Partner You Can Be, we need to learn to control our minds to be successful in pickleball.   It is so easy to lose focus or have difficulty closing out a game.  We get jumbled up with too many choices:  “Should I go for an
easy winner?”, “Should I play it safe?”, “Will they come back?”  Instead of focusing on the game we focus on “what’s if’s”:pickleball mantra

  • What if I lose,
  • What if I mess up,
  • What if my partner loses it…

Our only real competition is ourselves.  And learning to win the competition within our minds takes practice and discipline.  To help me, I have adopted a pickleball mantra.


My Mantra

I have a pickleball mantra that I stick with every time I hit a ball:  Balance, Breathe, Believe

  • Balance:  Before I hit any ball I want to make sure I am balanced.  Balance gives me more control and enables me to hit the ball the way I intended.
  • Breathe:  When I am balanced, I take a breath.  This relaxes my body which is essential to moving more naturally.
  • Belief:  I have to believe that I will execute the shot with the pace, spin and direction that I intend.


pickleball mantraI try to do this on each and every shot I hit.  I know if I am not balanced I won’t have the control to make the choices I want.  If I’m holding my breath, my body will tense up and that stress will have a direct effect on my shot.  Finally, if I don’t believe the ball is not going to go to the target I have chosen.

Instead of focusing on how my opponent is playing, the score or the shot I missed 30 seconds ago, my goal is the focus on my mantra.  My goal is to simplify the process to just three words.

You may think it is impossible to execute your pickleball mantra while playing a match.  If so, focus on a single word….breathe.  Just by being aware of your breathing you will clear your head and relax.  And we all know that we play better when we play loose.

I feel so strongly in my pickleball mantra, that I have even printed it on my new shirts.

15 thoughts on “My Pickleball Mantra: Balance, Breathe, Believe

  1. Sarah, I must admit that watching the intensity of your play in competition I thought you more wired than calm. Also, most mantras are singular , simple, uncluttered. For example, mentally say “hit” when the opponent makes contact with the ball and when you hit the ball–and nothing else. The tennis great Jack Kramer said he played his best tennis when he thought about nothing at all–in the zone.

    1. First, again Congradulations on your wins Sarah!

      Keith, everyone has their own personal mantra. I am sure you don’t mean to tell Sarah what, how many words and/or how to use hers. Also, I think during play she looks focused not wired. Perhaps you really didn’t mean to use “wired”.

  2. I love this Sarah! I have been really working on breathing, and it makes a difference. I’ll get the balance thing yet too! thanks a bunch.

  3. Mantra’s are personal Keith. You can’t possibly know what is going through Sarah’s mind when she is playing. To me she appears focused. Perhaps you meant something else instead of wired.

    Thanks Sarah for sharing your Pickleball Journey with us. Congratulations on your wins in Utah!

  4. “Wired” means “tense with excitement or anticipation, edgy.” Some of the synonyms are: “jazzed,” “pumped-up,” “stimulated,” and “stoked.” Check out Sarah’s reaction to winning gold at last year’s Nationals and compare it to Gigi LeMaster’s reaction. Sarah is an intense and stoked player, not a phlegmatic or a comatose one. No offense intended, just an observation. Also, I happen to be a highly wired player myself, as is the great Dave Weinbach.

  5. These are three powerful words which have helped my game a lot. I appreciate your help with the mental side of the game, as it has been my weak spot. I have observed that you not only play with balance, breath and believe, but you also play with grace, perfect tempo and confidence. I am glad I have found you as my tour guide on this “Pickleball” journey toward finding my personal peak performance as a player. I have a lot to learn from you. See you on the roof-top in Las Vegas next month.

  6. I so enjoyed watching on Facebook the TOC games. The play calling and color were great along with pb guidance. You are such an inspiration to me. Thankyou

  7. Sarah, I love your mantra and I bet it looks great on a shirt!! When I first entered tennis tournament play (about 25 years ago), I was having trouble remaining focused throughout the match, much as you described. I then had a “coach” tell me, “It doesn’t matter what your last shot was…whether a winner or an error…it only matters what your next shot is going to be.” I realized that I was focusing too much on what “had just happened” instead of what was coming next and that does include “winners” as well…think about it!!

  8. Where can I find a t- shirt that says balance breathe and believe? I would like to purchase one…..also, Sarah can you demonstrate how to be disciplined and the right technique for running down a lob.

  9. Can you give me any advice on a video camera to purchase for filming Pickleball for the purpose of studying form and evaluating pros and cons of me making better shots? I have googled research and there are so many. I want a good clear picture but one that is affordable . Thank you and I love your website and all the good tips you provide.

    1. Frankly, I use my iPhone to video the lessons you see on YouTube. There are literally dozens of inexpensive video cameras that will fill the bill. I really don’t think you need to spend a lot of money to get high quality video for this purpose.

  10. Sarah,

    I’ve found the Balance aspect of your mantra, at least for me, has multiple meanings. In addition to physical balance, it reminds me to keep my shot selection in balance so as not to become predictable and keep my mind in balance also while playing.

  11. Sarah, thank you for this mantra. When I read it, I made a decision to believe that games in which my partner and I appear to be hopelessly behind are not already lost, since momentum can shift precariously, often, and seemingly without reason in this game. Even I am stunned by how many comeback wins I’ve been a part of in the last month. I’m not certain what is at work mentally, but this new “believing” mindset has made a significant difference for me, with no signs of backsliding (yet!).

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