Goal-Setting in Pickleball

Those of us who have played and competed in other sports have discovered that, if we try to think of too many things at once when correcting an error, nothing is accomplished.  Frustration sets in when nothing seems to work.  To remedy that, set just one goal per day or practice and work towards accomplishing that one goal that day.  For example: concentrate on actually seeing the ball hit the paddle on every single stroke - from the serve to ground strokes to volleys; etc.   Then the next day work on something else - serving to the deep backhand corner of the opponents service court.  If you work on improving your game at this kind of pace and concentration, you will find that at the end of the week your game has improved considerably!  Take it one goal at a time and one day at a time and eventually all of the parts are put together into an improved overall pickleball game!

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Your Role on the Sideline of a Pickleball Match

Playing in a pickleball tournament involves not only being prepared physically, mentally and emotionally to do battle on the court, but also being prepared to spend many hours on the sideline as a spectator.  Most of us are familiar with the special rules, or ethics, that apply to being a spectator at sports like golf and tennis, where quiet in the stands is essential to the success of the golfer getting ready to hit the ball or the tennis player getting ready to serve.  The other extreme in terms of noise level that is acceptable is evident during a boxing match and even a baseball game where yelling at the umpire is standard procedure.  What about being a spectator at a pickleball match?

While positive support of both teams is ideal, in many instances we have a “favorite” who we’d like to see win the match.  Encourage your team in a positive way by complimenting good shots.  If things aren’t going in favor of “your team”, don’t dwell on the errors or make negative comments like: “try harder” (they ARE trying as hard as they can!); or “you can do better than that” (obviously at that particular time they couldn’t); or make any comment that pertains to the intricate mechanics of executing a certain shot (in the “heat of the battle” is NOT the time to correct an error in execution).

Be positive - be complimentary of all players on the court - and never do anything or say anything that might distract a player.  Cheer for good shots - NOT for an easy return of an error by the opponent.  Being a “good spectator” is not necessarily natural for many players.  Be sure that whichever team wins that certain match is truly the best team on the court at that particular time.  You as a spectator should in no way influence that!



A New Pickleball Book - “Pickleball - A Guide for Teaching”

We have decided to combine our two existing books, “Drilling for Success in Pickleball” and “Teaching for Success in Pickleball”.  Our new book, “Pickleball - A Guide for Teaching”, will consist of 110 pages - 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 - and include the following: 

The Game; History and Growth

Warm-up and Stretching

Common Injuries

Teaching Progression

Ball-control Drills

Gamelike Drills for:  Forehand and Backhand Ground Strokes; Serve and Serve Receive; Volley; Lob; Dink; Drop Shot; Smash and Communication

Use of a Ball-Throwing Machine

How to organize Drills

Common Errors and Corrections

Methods to Use for Determining Skill Level

Mental Aspects of Competition

Basic Doubles Strategies

Factors to Consider When Running a Tournament

The book will be available for purchase by September 1, 2009.  It will cost $19.95 plus $2.00 to $4.00 for shipping ($4.00 if going to Canada).  You can order a book by sending an email to us at: sales@pickleballsuccess.com.  While this book is primarily a combination of our two previously written books, there are some changes and additions.  Please contact us if you are interested in obtaining a copy.

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Pickleball Teaching Venues

Pickleball is a sport!  While it is a relatively new sport, it is just as important to pickleball players that they have access to quality teaching and coaching as do players of other sports.  We suggest that the same methods of teaching golf and tennis to players of all skill levels and ages can be used for teaching pickleball skills.  What are those methods and/or learning environments?  Among those are the following:

          1.  One-on-one lessons - one teacher/coach and one player.

          2.  Clinics - groups of players - the number dependent upon the number of courts available, the number of teachers/coaches and the time allotted for the clinic.  A clinic could range in time from 1 hour on 1 day to 4 to 6 hours a day for several days.

          3.  Camps - A location for the camp would include not only a playing facility but also provide for lodging and meals.  Instruction can include time on the courts; time in a classroom and also recreational time.  A camp  provides the setting for the complete focus of the learner to be on pickleball over a 24 hr. period for possibly several days.

It’s time that pickleball is considered to be a sport that is on the same level as all other sports. 


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Our Happenings!

Forgive us for being somewhat passive this past month or so with our blog site!  We have just moved from Apache Junction to the Ahwatukee area in Phoenix.  As I’m sure many of you know, moving is a major production that allows for just one focus - that of surviving!  We intend to continue to add articles of interest to pickleball players so stay with us!

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Pickleball in the Schools

Is pickleball being taught in the schools?  If so, where and at what level?  If you know of this happening, we would greatly appreciate the following information:  name and address of the school; what level is the school; how long pickleball has been taught there; any other information that you feel is pertinent to contributing to a survey of “pickleball in the schools”.  You can send us the information via: info@pickleball.com.   Thanks so much for your help!

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Some Factors to Consider When Running a Pickleball Tournament

It is suggested that the following factors should be considered when organizing and running a pickleball tournament.

1.  How many matches will there be in each division?  Be realistic as to how many matches can be completed in a given amount of time.  Playing a marathon is generally not fun for anyone nor safe.  If all matches cannot realistically be completed in one day, schedule an extra day for the tournament.

2.  How long do you anticipate a match taking?  Keep in mind that, because rallies between advanced teams tend to be longer than rallies between lower-skilled teams, a match between advanced teams will probably be longer than one between lesser-skilled teams.

3.  How many courts do you have available?

4.  Are you going to run all the way through each division including the finals on the same day?

5.  How much time should be given to a team that has just finished a match before they are expected to start another one?  Consider age; weather; playing conditions; how many matches that team has played prior to the current one and gender.

6.  There’s a fine line between allowing “just the right amount of time” for a team to rest and making that team wait hours between matches.  It is safest for players to continue playing while they’re still warm rather than playing with cold muscles and respiratory system.

7.   Try to allow all matches to be played under the same conditions.  For ex. - If you’re running late and have inadequate lightling for a court, those teams playing on that court are not given a fair chance to do well.  In addition it is not safe to play when players are struggling to see the ball.  Their movements are less controlled and more apt to cause injury.


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Pickleball Tournament Structure Should Be Re-evaluated!

Every year there are more and more pickleball tournaments.  Every tournament that we have experienced, both as players and spectators, includes the common divisions of women’s doubles; men’s doubles; mixed doubles; women’s singles; men’s singles; masters and legends.  Some are “skill level” tournaments and some are “age group” tournaments.  The majority of tournaments include a double elimination type of competition if the number of teams entering that division is sufficient.  If there are 4 or fewer teams entering the division,  a round robin competition is generally offered.  We would like to suggest that the following points should be considered when organizing a pickleball tournament:

1.  While skill level tournaments do offer an opportunity for competition for the lesser skilled players, they discourage older players of 4.0 or 4.5 calibre to compete.  A 75-yr. old who is a 4.0 player CANNOT stay with a 55-yr. old 4.0 player on an equal basis over the long run.  Their strength, endurance and speed is NOT comparable.  It’s just a fact of aging.

2.  Oftentimes the same players who compete in men’s and women’s doubles in the 65+ divisions, are the very same players who then compete in the Legends Division.  Why do it twice?!

3.  Instead of running a straight double-elimination for the 70+ and 75+ divisions, it’s suggested that the Bronze medal match be one 15-pt. game instead of the best 2 out of 3 games.  A team of older players who drop down into the loser’s bracket have to play lots of games in order to make it back to the finals.  It’s very trying on these players physically.  Let’s give them a break!  No matter how well conditioned an older player is,  there’s only so much that he should expect from his body.  He should never be subjected to a situation that might cause serious injury or illness.


The Flow of a Pickleball Game

Theoretically, just prior to the first serve of the first game of a match, both teams are even.  The score is 0 to 0.  One team, the serving team, serves the ball and one player on the receiving team returns the serve.  So far it’s still even.  The receiving team gets to the net first because of the two-bounce rule.  Assuming that the serving team executes an offensive shot as a return of the return of the serve, there are now all four players at the net.  It’s dink - dink - dink - until a player errs and dinks the ball too high and too far.  THAT is the turning point of that sequence of shots - or at least it should be the turning point.  Whichever player is in the strongest position to hit that high dink down and hard into the opponents court, should “put the ball away” - the end of the rally and either point or sideout.  It’s offense vs. offense until a player errs - makes a defensive or a bad shot - and then it becomes offense vs. defense.  Be patient and wait for an opening that allows you or your team to take the offensive!

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Pickleball Officiating - “Are we there yet?’

An ongoing problem of running a pickleball tournament of any size is finding enough “qualified” referees.  What inevitably happens is that those players who are spectators are called upon to officiate matches.  The efforts of all of those volunteers have been greatly appreciated. Someday, the status of a pickleball referee needs to be elevated to the same level as that of referees in other competitive sports.  Are we there yet?!

The following is a suggested recommendation for training USAPA officials: 1) designate one or two people who have this same dream and are capable of training officials; 2) establish a list of potential officials within each state; 3) offer training sessions within the each state; 4) observe potential officials, offer a written test and award a rating to those who qualify as a “USAPA Picklebal Rated Official”.

The goal would be to provide USAPA rated officials for all sanctioned tournaments.  Officials would be provided with a USAPA white shirt with a logo indicating that person has completed the training and is a USAPA rated official.  The second goal would be to eventually pay a minimal fee and/or mileage to officiate USAPA sanctioned tournaments.

Are you a potential USAPA rated official?  The following checklist provides you with a few characteristics of a good official.  1) A genuine interest in the sport; 2) Confidence; 3) Good communication and interpersonal skills; 4) The ability to remain focused on the competition; 4) The ability to remain calm under pressure; and 5) The ability to maintain control of a match.  An official is a person who can be placed into a position of authority and can handle the responsibilities without being over-bearing.  As a pickleball official, you are in charge, however, it is the players who the fans have come to watch, not YOU!!


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