We at Pickleball.Biz wish you and yours a VERY good 2020, a prosperous and healthy New Year! We wish, too, that you’ll enjoy your pickling even more this year, and to help you with that, we offer you your choice of just two pickleball-related New Year’s resolutions. Either of these could (should!) improve your skills and (probably) your game.
I will pick just one thing I’m already good at, and I’ll become better at it.
Working on our strengths is something that few people remember to do. We are all so concerned with improving what we can’t do, (assuming we practice at all), we forget completely about really working the stuff we are good at already. Remember the old expression about “Good, Better, Best”? No? Well, in this case, it’s “Work your good until it’s better, and your better until it’s best!”
For instance – let’s say you serve very well, and by that we mean that you have a good, medium-speed, lofted serve that reliably hits the center of the court 60% of the way back and you seldom have any unforced errors with it. You don’t want to fool with that! Still, you could, for instance, put down small targets slightly to the opponent’s backhand side on their Deuce and Ad courts and hit 100 balls a week at the targets. Eventually it might be second nature to serve to your opponent’s backhand…and just as reliable as before.
Or – you could learn to serve with backspin or develop a consistent backhand serve as a change of pace. Or you could learn to hit with SLIGHTLY more (or less) pace, or, better, learn to loft the serve even a trifle more. (Hint: if you find any of these new serve going back TOO deep in practice, back off. Why? Because, in a competitive game, increased adrenaline may cause you to serve just a little harder, unless you are a VERY relaxed person by nature – and it’s far worse to commit an error by hitting long than it is good to hit a tiny bit faster, slower or deeper). Still, it’s remarkable how many points you can win by changing your serve just slightly, therein making your good shot better.
To make your now-better serve “best” would be the next step, and perhaps that involves lots more practice but could result in hitting serves with slightly more angle or even more (or still less) pace. Or hitting a true lob serve. People who regularly hit very high, soft, lofted serves with some top-spin assure themselves they normally will NOT see an aggressive, properly-placed return (unless they run into the very rare person who can control a short-hopped return, but that’s a different story). But “best” still means “no errors”
We are not suggesting you work on serving; that was only for example. Your strengths are yours. But you get the point. Pick one strong thing. Make it better, then eventually best. Take all year. You’ve got time.
2. I will cut down on my unforced errors in just one area
Unforced errors are the kiss of death. Many detailed studies
have proven that over 70% of points are scored because of an unforced error, not because of a hero shot. And repeatedly making the same mistake costs you confidence, changes how you play with your partners, and turns what is supposed to be a fun game into a nightmare. We know people who count and track all unforced errors. Some of them use clickers, which we’ve done and which work. But if you are like us you don’t normally differentiate. You might make one error one time, another the next time, and you’re suddenly thinking about how poorly you are playing and how shamed you’re gonna be when you lose to that team that never should have even been on the court with you.
But we as humans can’t usefully process all that much stuff. So just take ONE of those errors, perhaps the one the drives you the MOST crazy, and work on getting better at it, both in practice and in play. If you (like A.J.) have a tendency to try to hit balls up into your opponent’s chest from the kitchen line, for instance, and they can easily read that, and they step aside and watch your shot go out, then practice controlling that shot a bit more with top spin or slightly reducing pace – so, when they duck and turn, they see your ball hitting in, not out. By a foot. Driving THEM crazy instead of you – wouldn’t that be nice? And you’ve controlled an unforced error and made something that today is a bit weak into something that’s good.
The trick, again, is only to pick on ONE thing within your strength that’s a bit weaker. Within your skill-group you’re otherwise a pretty OK player, admit it. You don’t have to be the best, and it’s your game and you can choose what you’re gonna work on. Otherwise you are evidencing that old version of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Be kind to yourself. Change doesn’t always come quickly, does it?
Would you like more about serving or any other aspect of pickleball? Please let us know by responding to this post, or by contacting us here. And, again, Happy New Year!