A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the different ways to get a player rating, which had me thinking about how players are choosing to elevate their skill level. Because, whether you’re a player focused on increasing your rating or just interested in becoming a better rec player, everyone wants to improve and becoming stronger… am I right?
Practice and drilling make everything better. Repetitions of a shot will develop your ability to execute at a higher skill level during gameplay. It’s the same in tennis and other racquet sports and pickleball is no exception. The hardest part is finding a drilling partner. During rec play, I would recommend you scout out players of a similar skill level who’ve expressed interest in improving their game. Once you find someone, the easier part is buying multiple balls. Almost any store selling pickleball equipment will also sell balls in bulk. Start off by drilling your forehand and backhand dinks at the non-volley zone, head-on and cross-court. Skinny singles, singles using half of the court, is also a great way to practice.
For the serious player who is willing to invest their money into the game, I would recommend The Pickle or Pickle 2 by Lobster Sports. It’s a ball machine that will seriously challenge you to improve your footwork and shots. For more information check it out here.
Pickleball lessons from a coach or instructor is an effective way to enhance your skill level. Professional coaches have been through the certification process and are qualified to teach and coach the game. There are multiple certification programs, more so in the U.S. and currently one in Canada. Here’s that list:
*I want to make note that this is currently in the process of development and not available but once it’s established it will be the only coaching certification in Canada that is recognizable by Sport Canada. If you have any questions about this program, feel free to leave a comment or email me!
These programs will have various levels of which a coach can instruct for (ie. up to 4.0 skill level). Coaches will more than likely also have tournament achievements and years of playing experience under their belt. They will not only be certified but also have their own insurance.
An instructor will likely have playing and tournament experience, plus should have tournament achievements as their qualifications.
Playing with players better than you is something that doesn’t always happen but if it does, take advantage of it! I’m shocked at how many recreational games I have participated in where a team purposely avoids the “stronger” player. I want to put the question out there: do you think it's because teams are so focused on winning that they lose sight of the opportunity to learn? Why not play the stronger player, observe and absorb the way they play the game? I guess I haven’t figured out why people keep doing this but I can definitely tell you that if you’re someone who does this, I truly believe it’s an opportunity missed. Trust me, if I was playing Simone Jardim in a recreational environment, I’d be hitting my shots to her!
Ok, so who out there is in favour of becoming a better pickleball player? I'm very curious to know how you've chosen to do so and how it's going for you! Be sure to leave us a comment below, and, keep up the good work!