Pickleball Improvement: Focus on this ONE thing for maximum improvement
Think back on the last few times you’ve been out on the court; how many of those pickleball games have you won based on some fancy shot? It’s exciting when you hit an ATP, or someone does an Erne some weird serve that wins the rally. But really, how many games are won that way? How many times have you left the court and said to yourself, “I really won that game because I was able to do hit a double reverse topspin lob shot?”
Probably not many. But you can definitely come off the court and say, “I probably could have done better that game if I had not missed the return of Serve if I had made sure I got to the non-volley zone if I had tried to neutralize the advantage of the return team when I’m on the Serve team if I had really understood the role of a serve team versus a returning team and vice versa.”
The end result of a game is dictated not by the exciting shot that everybody goes nuts about. It is dictated by the boring stuff. Who just played a better return side and things like that.
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So if you really want to improve as a pickleball player, then what you really have to focus on are the fundamentals and the basics. You have to avoid chasing red herrings – items or things that are fancy or shiny that look like something I want to go after.
Let’s say, for example, you’re hitting a 100 mile an hour return to Serve but not making it up to the non-volley zone line, then that’s really not a good strategy to play with. You’re better off hitting a 20 mile an hour return, a return that is high and deep, and getting up to the non-volley zone line. Whenever I’m watching video matches, I’ll notice players who have fundamentally sound games and do not. My money will always be on the fundamentally sound player to win that game.
The team that’s doing the exciting things and hitting hard balls and things like that will sometimes win. But my money generally is going to be on the team that’s just playing a fundamentally sound pickleball game: hitting consistent returns when they’re on the return side, getting up to the non-volley zone, locking it down, denying the other team the opportunity to come forward, and letting out balls go. Then on the Serve side, trying to neutralize the return team’s advantage, get up to the non-volley zone line in a nice, calm fashion. And then once up there trying to play the best rally to try and win it.
Sometimes players will get distracted from following the straight path to becoming a better player. They take their eye off the ball in terms of the fundamentals. And they chase after something like a hard reserve or cool spins, trying to add too much variety to their game, as opposed to really locking down the fundamentals.
Until you have the basics down, there really doesn’t make sense to add another thing on top of it. Think of it like building a pyramid. You start with a wide foundation, which is a basic fundamental play. And then you add a little bit on top of that, a little on top of that. And eventually, maybe you make it to where you’re doing ATP’s and hitting fancier shots and spinning the ball and whatever. But if you don’t have that good, solid foundation, then the rest will not give you the results you’re hoping for.
The moral of the story in this podcast is to keep your eye on the fundamentals. You have to understand where you’re at in the game in terms of your personal development. This is a very personal sport to everybody regarding where you’re at versus where I’m at versus where John or Mary or whomever. You really want to figure out where you’re at and what you need to be working on to improve the pickleball game and then stick to the fundamentals.
Once you’ve gotten that that fundamental layer down and you’re solid with it, and you’re good with it, then you can start adding on top of it and keep on building your game to get to where you want to get to.
Good luck out there.
In2Pickle Player Development
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