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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Life is Downhill from Here

Reality differs from dreams...

I discussed yesterday that some of us have passed our prime as pickleball players. That isn't a bad thing as long as we recognize it and stay happy while playing the game for fun. The RV Picklers recently discussed the reality that everyone is not capable of attaining an advanced rating.

This may turn out to be a post many readers hate…but I have to say it, “Not everyone is able to achieve an advanced pickleball rating.” I write this having read a number of responses to a Facebook post, of a person I don’t know…have never met…etc… so my comment has nothing to do with her. It is simply to suggest that when it comes to athletic pursuits, life is not always fair.

Ways to Improve Your Pickleball Rating

Before you stop reading, let me suggest that there were many, many excellent suggestions offered in response to her post in which she lamented the fact that she was stuck as a self-rated 3.5 player that desperately wanted to be a 4.0. You can improve your pickleball rating by:
  • Analyzing your game, your individual shots to find strengths and areas for improvement;
  • Establishing a practice plan to address your capabilities;
  • Drill to improve;
  • Find higher skilled players to play with;
  • Travel to find players with different styles to learn new strategies;
  • Play in more tournaments, if you win enough at 3.5…trust me, the USAPA moves you up.
  • Read, watch or take a lesson from skilled instructors.

Perhaps the best advice was to focus on strategy because your mind is your greatest asset and we have all witnessed many matches where the smarter team beat the more physically gifted team.

I Feel for You

Let me also make it clear that “I feel your pain”. I was a 4.0 player that desperately wanted to be a 4.5. Many have suggested that I ask the USAPA to re-rate me 3.5 as I haven’t played pickleball in 30 months due to medical issues. When I start playing again, hopefully soon, I suspect my “pride” won’t allow me to do this even if it is the correct call. Yes, Denise is right:  Whiteman’s lack a patience gene but make up for it with extra stubbornness genes.

But Here’s the Point about Pickleball Ratings

Not everyone has the physical and athletic abilities to compete at the level they wish they could.  I started playing golf at 35. I pretty quickly became a good golfer and at one time sported a mid single-digit handicap. I practiced my short game 60-90 minutes a day to achieve and maintain that level. I spent a fortune on high-quality professional instruction before I started living with a golf professional that is an excellent teacher. I worked to strengthen my core and my legs. I studied video. But regardless of what I did, I never got to be a 1.0 handicap player. I lament the fact that I never struck a golf ball until I was 35….but there is no empirical evidence that this would have made any difference.

Though I fully understand one’s desire to become better and do not intend to squash that desire….perhaps, like me, one peaks. There are many 4.5/5.0 clinics Denise participates in The Villages that I am not permitted to attend. There are people who will invite Denise to play with them on the road, that won’t invite me. So if the issue is that your friends have left you behind, believe me, I get it!

But at some point, there must be acceptance. Acceptance of the best skill level one can achieve. Perhaps it can be fun to play at any skill level.  Perhaps one can compete at any skill level. And if you are still reading, and figured out this acceptance thing…please write me. I could use your advice on accepting my pickleball rating.

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