The space between your ears
To understand where you can go with pickleball, you must first understand yourself. It all begins with that little space between your ears called the mind.
Don't worry, I'm not going to go out into woo-woo land. But I highly recommend that you take a good look at this stuff. If you don't know who you are as an individual and what your tendencies are, then it's going to be difficult to know yourself on the court.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you know your pickleball self?
- Do you know what you're good at?
- Do you know what you're bad at?
- Do you know how you affect other people on the court?
- Do you know what your true skill rating is?
- Do you have your ego in check?
If you don't know the answers to any of these questions, then it's going to be difficult partnering up and getting anywhere in pickleball. I'm not trying to say it's impossible, but it's difficult.
Pickleball is all about give and take. It's a two-way street. In a competitive match, you have to be willing to sacrifice a little to get your team to win. I know those 3rd shot drives are fun to do, but if they're not working, you're going to lose. But if you truly know yourself, and you have your ego in check, you'll be able to put that 3rd shot drive on the shelf and use something that's more accurate.
This is one example of many.
Knowing yourself also makes it significantly easier to talk honestly with your partner. The best pickleball partnerships are the ones where you can talk opening with your partner without anybody's toes being stepped on.
Always remember, you are not pickleball. Pickleball is not you. If your pickleball skill is being criticized, that doesn't mean that you are being criticized.
Look, I do this stuff for a living. Pickleball is my life and I don't even take it that seriously.
Having that self-knowledge and being able to leave your ego (I have one too, don't worry) will help you in more ways than one on the court.
2 steps for frustration.
It's easy to get frustrated on the court. I get frustrated too sometimes. Here are some ideas on how to curb the anger.
1. Create perspective by using contrast
We all get mad at ourselves when we're playing bad pickleball. It happens to all of us. But if you let this frustration and anger get out of control, it can not only negatively impact yourself, but the people around you.
Calming yourself down is a deliberate process that takes time and practice. But it starts with perspective.
If you haven't listened to Ep. 55 of my podcast with Kory Kelly, you really need to. That podcast was all about perspective in life.
Kory is a veteran who deals with severe PTSD. He came onto my show to talk about it and how pickleball has changed his life.
In the episode, Kory talks about a time where he got pegged hard by a pickleball. It was unintentional, but that happens in pickleball.
The guy on the other side of the net apologized profusely. Of course, Kory accepted the apology and it wasn't a big deal. But he also added on this gem, "At least it wasn't a bullet."
That phrase has stuck with me ever sense I heard him say it.
Kory has been in situations where it could have been a bullet and he wouldn't be here to tell his story.
Having that kind of contrast in his life is what allows him to stay calm on the court and keep things in check.
2. Use perspective to calm yourself down
The extreme contrast between being hit by a bullet and being hit by a pickleball has created a tremendous amount of perspective for Kory.
Now you have to do the same. What's your perspective on things? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does NOT winning this match negatively impact my life or my loved ones?
- Does playing pickleball poorly negatively impact my life or my loved ones?
- Do I, or will I soon, be making a living playing pickleball competitively?
If you answered "no" to all these questions then that's the perspective that you have to have about pickleball. Figure out your own perspective and you can use that mindset strategy to calm yourself down.