Well, there could be WAY more than 3 reasons, but I wanted to pick out 3 common reasons I see players not making the strides they want to make in their pickleball games.
(If you missed it, check out our initial 3 reasons your skills might be plateauing here):
–Patience: simply, a lot of players want to force the action and try to end the point before there’s a proper ball to do so. I see players try to attack from a clear “Red Light” position, or repeatedly try to drive a ball against an advanced player that is set up to handle it, or try to hit a super-precise winner down the line when it’s a low percentage shot.
While there is a time and place for all of those shots, we need to be mindful about the chances we take as players. Simply, the vast majority of the time, the balls we try to put away for winners should be obvious, and when there’s not an obviously put-away shot presented to us, our goal should be to return the ball to our opponents in a non-attackable fashion. When that’s our focus, you’re going to be surprised the number of times our opponents are the ones that make the mistakes by hitting the ball long, into the net, or a pop-up that we can attack.
–Strategy: more to the point- a lack thereof. If you’re reading this, you’re probably an advanced enough pickleballer that you generally are playing to win and want to improve. However, do you have a plan with what you’re trying to do? Who is the weaker player that you need to target during crunch time? Who has a weak backhand that you want to expose? Did you communicate your Erne strategy to your partner so that she (or he) knows to pinch to the middle when an opponent might be vulnerable?
While you might not need a pre-game X and O session prior to the start of the game, if you’re not at least thinking about some strategic plays before you yell “0-0-2,” you’re likely leaving some points on the table.
–Predictability: we all go to the shots we’re comfortable hitting, and by and large, that’s a good thing. However, if our range of shots comfortably is limited, it starts to get easier for our opponents to know what we’re going to do, and it’s then easier for them to combat our shots.
So, if you’ve mastered the 3rd shot drop, are you ever driving the ball from the baseline? Do you ever hit a backhand with pace? Do you ever speed the ball up after a high-ish dink from your opponent? Do you have a 2nd (or 3rd) serve that you can mix in?
Frankly, these are good reminders for any of us, and it’s healthy for always to look at our games to see where we might improve.