Take a second and reflect back on your playing - at any level and in any format - do you have an idea how you spend your time between rallies?
For the most part, I think that people are prone to reflect on the rally that just finished - the thoughts of “what did I do wrong” or “can’t believe I missed that shot” kind of thing; players can become distracted by their surroundings, the score and then possibly get an urge to finish the point quickly which causes them to rush through that next rally.
But how many take those few seconds between rallies to clear their mind or think positively about the next point? That time between rallies is valuable and when used “properly” can help make you a stronger player.
This week we delve into a few suggestions to consider...
Quick Tips To Get Started...
- Take your time: I’m not suggesting that you delay the game and catch yourself a warning but don’t rush into the next point, it’s a good thing to take a few extra seconds to compose yourself, especially after a significant or long rally
- Stay in the moment: being present and intentional is extremely difficult in pickleball because it’s a game of margins. Focus can slip easily especially when fatigue or hunger sets in
- Refocus and relax: help yourself ward off the pressures of the game and other things you can’t control
- Turn around: at the end of a rally many players will walk backwards but by turning around, I really think you’re closing off the previous point and moving forward into the next; doing this will also slow you down instead of rushing into the next rally
- Focus on the point ahead and let go of the past rallies and the outcome of each one
- Strategize: use the time to positively and strategically communicate with your partner - you can prepare to make some in the moment adjustments if you perhaps picked up on a weakness or gap in the other teams’ game
Image credit: Sarah Ansboury
Become a Stronger Player
When playing under pressure you gain valuable experience, more than you initially realize; it’s the type of experience and knowledge that comes once you’ve decompressed and had time to reflect on the event.
The more competitive scenarios you allow yourself to have the calmer you’ll be in tight situations.
The variety of competitive scenarios will also reflect in that experience - for example, playing mixed, gender doubles singles, team format, single elimination, double elimination, round robin… the list goes on, but playing in any or all of these scenarios will build your confidence and knowledge in the game.
How does it go: spend 10,000 hours on something and you become an expert at it? Pretty sure I know too many people who are well on their way to becoming (or already are) an expert in pickleball.
Pro Tip: reminder that you cannot be coached by someone between rallies - you must use an official timeout to receive coaching.
So, you want to treat the time between rallies in a smart way and you’ve decided what you think might work for you.
Although the intent might be there, if you get caught up in the game and can’t remember to think about focusing, a good place to start is to figure out a way to remind yourself this is the intention.
Here are some examples that have helped me in the past or some of my peers:
- Elastic band: wear a band around your wrist and give it a little snap, it’s something you have to be present for in order to remind yourself to do it - the significance behind is that you’re telling yourself to focus
- Choose a word: in tournaments, some players will have a keyword in mind something that stands out to them that reminds them to do a mental and physical check-in between rallies
- The ol’ towel trick: some players bring a towel to the court and wipe their faces between every rally - this happens in other racquet sports too, this simply buys them time
The consistent message with each of these suggestions is to find something consistent for yourself that can continuously keep you in a present mindset, rather than allowing distractions to take your mind elsewhere.
Staying sharp in pickleball is essential for a winning outcome.
Image credit: Sara McInnes
What Are the Opponents Doing?
Believe it or not but some teams will play a certain strategy of really slowing down in between points to slowly and subtly aggravate the other team. The impatience that builds between the rallies can translate to rushed decisions during play.
I’ve definitely played against teams that talk between points, so intentionally they make it look like our team doesn’t exist. they laugh, chat behind their paddle.
One great thing about taking your time is that you can actually swing the momentum in your favour.
Teams who are on the verge of winning or are on a hot streak will want to rush into the next point, getting ahead of themselves and can feel the excitement of likely winning the game.
This article was taken from our 'Control the Kitchen' Newsletter, if you're interested in receiving more content like this, please feel free to sign up using the subscribe section located at the bottom left of this page (or underneath the article if you're on mobile), thanks!