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8 Keys to Getting the Most out of Pickleball

The Art of Pickleball Coach Jerry Jaffe

Jerry Jaffe

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I think of pickleball as a great metaphor for life. No matter how much we play, there’s always more we can learn. We continue to grow our games, just like we hopefully continue to grow in life.

Pickleball is also an excellent way to meet new people. It’s very social. That’s one of its major advantages over other activities.

To help you get even more enjoyment from the game and give yourself the best chance to improve, I have compiled eight tips from my experience as a player. Hope you find them useful!

  1. Do more drills. Most people love to play but rarely spend time drilling. They hit for 5 minutes, take a few volleys and drops and say, “Let’s play!” Then they wonder why their game is not improving at the rate they’d hoped.
  2. Practice with purpose. I include drilling and social games in this category. Every time you hit a pickleball, it’s an opportunity to refine your technique and shot selection. Make your time on the court count.
  3. Have a plan. Decide what you want to work on. Worry less about the score and more about your game. If you keep improving, your results will follow. Players who are obsessed with winning every practice game will probably never reach their full potential. Remember this: It’s the journey, not the destination. If you enjoy and embrace the journey, you’ll have a better chance of reaching your destination.
  4. Remember why you play this game. Most people play games to have fun. It doesn’t matter what the game is. If it isn’t fun, why play? Nerves often come into play when we focus too much on the outcome. We worry that if we try a certain shot and miss, perhaps we will lose. If you lose, so what? The world will not end, and the results will probably not be posted on social media. So what is there to be afraid of? If you don’t practice your shots, they will probably never get better. Embrace the opportunity to try new shots. Enjoy the feeling of mastering different skills and strategies.
  5. Keep losses in perspective. Nobody likes to lose. However, in every game, there’s a winning team and a losing team. Notice that I did not say winners and losers. Losing a pickleball game doesn’t make you a loser. It just means you lost a particular game. You don’t need to enjoy losing, but just keep in mind that we only become losers if we fail to learn from our mistakes.
  6. Remember that mistakes or errors are neither good nor bad. We need to view them with less passion and emotion. Be objective when analyzing errors. Sometimes, we hit a really good shot and it just misses. I call this a good miss. Maybe next time we just need to have a little more margin of error. Sometimes, we hit a poor shot yet still win the point. Winning the point doesn’t change the fact that we hit a poor shot. Focus on correct execution, not the outcome.
  7. Take up journaling. It’s a great way to improve your game. Write down: How you played, what you did well, what you need to work on. Maybe you want to improve your technique or a particular strategy, or perhaps a combination of both. By journaling, you can clearly identify what you’d like to improve, and then you can set up a plan.
  8. Be realistic and objective when analyzing your game. It’s hard to improve in anything if you cannot be honest with yourself. Recognize where your game is today and work to make it better tomorrow!