Whether you just started playing pickleball or you’ve been dinking for some time now, you’re probably trying to figure out what you need to do to take your game to the next level and improve your pickleball skills. You may think that playing against better players is the way to accomplish that goal. While that is one approach, you may not have the caliber of player needed for that. However, in the world of open play, here are a couple of thoughts on improving your game.
- Focus on YOU: I understand there are two players on your side of the net in competition and teamwork is a big component of your game. There are times when you need to be selfish and develop YOUR own skills to improve YOUR game. You should be able to play with any partner and still execute the shots the way you have planned. The goal is not to win or lose the actual match, but to hit the shots exactly how you want every time.
- Switching partners: Yes, many of the top players in the country have their go-to partner for top events. Playing competitively with the same partner can be great when you’re winning and getting better. But it also can be bad, especially if you are plateauing and/or not performing well. If you and your partner are not jiving, spending more time together may not be the answer. You may consider switching it up and playing in tournaments AGAINST each other. You may be able to observe different elements of your game that are not as clear when you’re on the same side of the net.
- Go back to the basics: As your game develops, so does the complexity of your game. Remember, pickleball is not tennis nor is is it racquetball or any other paddle sport. It has it’s own personality and it’s own set of go-to shots that produce winning points. Instead of making the game more complex, consider making it more simple. Complex shots have a higher percentage of not working, but you can still win points with the most basic of dink shots.
These are just a few tips that might help you play better on the courts and boost your pickleball skills. The bonus tip is to keep your mental game in check. Try to be mindful of your thoughts during games. Recognizing the signs that you are getting frustrated is one component of a strong mental game; know what to do when you see the signs is just as important. If you can keep your head in the game, be patient with the course of the match, and remain calm even when the game is on the line, you will begin to see your game move to the next level.