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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

When You are the Better Player

As I previously mentioned, I recently volunteered to manage a pickleball court gymnasium. My focus on the new court practices are to make it a learning environment for players who want to play competitively and advance their games from the 2.5 and levels. This requires some attitude adjustments for many players so I have been researching materials from other who have more experience than I. One article I found is from the RV Picklers called When You are the Better Player.

When You are the Better Pickleball Player

You can learn a lot by watching a better pickleball player. In fact one of the many things we learned when playing with Sarah and Linh over their recent visit, was how to be a better person when you are the better player.

Being the Better Pickleball Player

When the four of us played, even though none of us are pickleball newbies, Sarah was clearly the better player by a significant amount. She was so good, in fact, that she demonstrated a couple of skills all of us can learn from:

  • When she had the opportunity to hit a clear winner, literally smash it down our throats, she intentionally hit it softly so we could return it. Now that’s control! Not only did Sarah get to practice changing the pace and direction of the ball, we all got to practice because the point continued.
  • She allowed everyone to play. Even if you are not doing it consciously, it is likely that you are going to hit the ball to the “weaker” player when you are playing against the National Champion. I was shocked that she didn’t take every return of serve down the middle of the court, or cross in front of her partner to snap an extreme diagonal dink back across the net. She allowed her partner to play, so no one got bored.
  • She ALWAYS congratulated her partner or opponent for a good shot. I hit a shot that, had I been a more skilled player, appeared to be a misdirect that skimmed the outside of the line. It wasn’t intentional, trust me! I mishit, rather than misdirected the ball. But Sarah made me feel great about it. In fact, when we had dinner last night with some friends that came and watched us play, the very first thing they noted was the fact that she always pointed out when someone else hit a great shot.
There will be a time in every player’s life, when they will be the strongest pickleball player on the court. Some people take that opportunity to puff out their chest and show off for the onlookers. Worse, they may pound the ball directly at their weaker opponent. The likely result for this person is that they will win a very short game. They won’t get to practice any shots. No one will leave the court feeling particularly joyful.

Sarah, and others like her, show us that there is a way to be not only be the better player, but the better person.

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