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Monday, September 23, 2013

California State Games

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com

In my previous post, I mentioned playing Pickleball in the California State Senior Games in Escondido this past weekend.  I had an excellent time, experienced some success, and learned a great deal from fellow participants---through observation and conversation.  Time to share my observations and reiterate important playing/strategy information.

1.  Pickleball players are a class act.  Everyone was very friendly and willing to share information and pointers.  I enjoyed their perspective and suggestions.

2.  These tournament players are a step-up from the social Pickleball players we are accustomed to playing against.  You must bring your 'A' game to tournaments.

3.  22 games (singles and doubles) over two days---and 30 hours is a lot, but also a lot of fun.  The toughest part is the wait in between matches.  Hard to get out of the chair!

4.  Mental toughness and the ability to play "relaxed" are keys to being successful.  Remember, your opponents have the same mental issues you do....know how to go to a comfortable place mentally.  I like to hum a favorite relaxing tune.

5.  Eat right and hydrate.  I mix my own electrolyte drink (easy) and eat properly.....most of the time.

Now, for some technical observations......

6.  The dink is so very important.  You have to 'buy in' to this belief and be ready to execute.

7.  Don't miss serves.  Get them in.  It would be nice to get them deep as well.  It seemed that the most consistent servers won a great deal of their games.  Of course, their third shot, the dink, was more important.

8.  It is important to get to the 7' line, but WORK your way there....and work your way there together!  You cannot rush to the line if you or your partner hits a bad dink, lob, or hard groundstroke.  This is especially true on the third shot of a point (your return of your or your partner's serve).  If you or your partner hits a poor shot, gain a little ground, give yourself some extra room (and time) to hit the next shot and if you hit that good dink in the NVZ, keep gaining ground.

9.  Power shots are hit occasionally.  Most of the time, though, it is about placement and patience.  Success comes from placing balls at your opponent's feet (I know, redundant....but very important).  BTW, I watched one player (who is one of the top 5 players in the U.S.) play for two days.  The only time he hit a power shot was when he had a volley he could put away....and usually he placed it with about "3/4 power."  I didn't see him miss.  I did see him miss a few dinks and lobs.  He is human....and his opponents were doing what needed to be done to make it a little more difficult.   I was told he has been playing Pickleball for 18 years.  Started in his mid-30's.

10.  Remember these two important bits of strategy:  (1) Make your opponents reach. Make them make a mistake. Make them take the extra step. Three of every four points are LOST.  Unforced errors..... (2) learn to not hit "out" balls.  Don't give your opponents the chance to stay in a point by hitting their out shot.

11.  Thought I would keep this to 10 observations, but this one is important.  Don't try to hit a winner off of your opponent's great shot.  Just get it back as best you can.

Hope the ball came off your paddle successfully today....and that you played with patience and placement.



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