While some complain that they had difficulty finding a pickleball drill partner, and others express concern that they are practicing properly…neither are these are the most common frustration expressed to me related to pickleball drill practice. Instead, it is the players’ inability to take their improved skills onto the court… to make it happen during a game.
Thinking too Much
For many of us, this occurs because we are thinking too much or about too many different things. During dinking drill sessions you might work on posture, or paddle position, or follow through. But during play, if you are thinking about any of those things (or worse yet all three of them) you won’t have any ability to play the ball that is coming your way.
Panic sets in and your mind starts attempting to figure out, while you are reacting to the ball, what you did wrong;
- Was my paddle down?
- Did I flip my wrist?
- Maybe my backswing was bigger than my followthrough.
When you are Practicing Pickleball Drills…Practice!
By that I mean, practice assuming the correct posture….focus on protecting your bullseye and tracking the ball. On each and every ball, practice making the correct motion with your paddle. Observe how high the ball flies above the net: was it too high? Pick a target to aim out, perhaps at your practice partner’s left heel and evaluate your success.
Give Yourself a Break…Play!
When you are working to improve your game, you may do very well during pickleball drill sessions, but you find that your old habits seem to resurface when you are in recreational or competitive play. Remember, that these ebbs and flows are common, and in fact necessary, on your journey to improvement. You need to give yourself a break! Accept that this is part of the process, and play.
During play, rather than focusing on technical swing thoughts, I want you to think of only three things: balance, strategy, and target. Between points, you may check yourself on these things as well as what you have been practicing:
- Did I select the shot that best supported my strategy for the game?
- If I hit the wrong shot … was there a better target?
- Was I balanced with my paddle in the correct position? If not, commit to correcting it on the next point.
Too often, we rush from point to point and never really understand what went wrong. Get in the habit of learning from each and every point you play. Learn to identify better options for upcoming points. Develop a routine that will enable you to identify your opponents’ tendencies and evaluate how best to respond.
During points focus on adjusting your body and paddle to remain in a balanced position. Between points, you can check in with yourself related to technical issues. Take time to do this between points and between games. You will find you will be better able to take your pickleball drill practice to your next game.