I’ve written before about attributing many of the improvements I’ve made in my own game to watching the pro pickleball tour(s). I suppose that makes me a visual learner, but it’s been immensely helpful for me to mimic the moves and strategies of the world’s best. While my overall level is far away from the likes of Ben and Catherine and Tyson and Simone, it’s certainly helped me get the better of Warkittens so far this year.
So after a weekend full of pickleball streaming with the pros split between the dry indoor air of Minnesota and the humid outdoor air of south Florida, I thought I’d share 3 more lessons I took in from watching peak pickleballers:
–How athletic of a position are you actually in?
I’ve spoken before about the value of recording and watching your own matches, but I’m constantly struck with the realization that I’m not in as low an athletic position as I think I am. Which position looks like they’re more ready to handle a shot at their feet or a drop at the net?
(For the record…that’s not me)
But the bigger point: you’re probably playing taller than you realize. Consciously try to sink into your legs more and exaggerate a more ready, athletic position.
–Can you keep your composure?
I’m not sure about you, but when I get into a hands battle at the net, all I can think about is trying to win it with power and put the point away. My speeds in these moments are fast, faster, and fastest.
But the pros? They have as quick of hands as anyone (AJ Koller, anyone?) but in the heat of the moment, they also realize when they’re receiving a ball that isn’t attackable and instead opt to slow everything down.
Check this out from a 2021 match:
When the ball came at Catherine Parentau, she wasn’t in a position to hit it hard back. Instead of forcing a bad shot in the speed of play, she calmly dinked it back over and gave her team a chance to reset their feet and look for the next ball to attack.
We all need experience to remain calm to this degree, but it’s a good reminder that we get into some fast points, our only option DOESN’T have to be a hard shot.
–Never compromise on form, and always get your feet into position
I used to think it was overkill watching pros get into perfect form to hit the simplest of shots. After all, can stand upright and hit accurate dinks…usually.
What I’ve learned about myself in my pickleball journey is that when I hit an errant shot, I usually got lazy with my feet and the quality of my form was compromised because of it.
So it might seem like overkill on some of these shots:
But overkill is a lot better than chunking a dink into the net! I’ve taken it as a challenge to exaggerate getting my feet into position on every shot, and I’ve been amazed how consistent it’s made my form on both the simple and complex shots.