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Friday, August 18, 2017

Peaked Peformance - an Update

The worst thing most of us do is aim too low...

I posted an article called Peaked Performance back in February. The following is a re-post of much of that article with a couple of additions based on some new and interesting information.

Readers might be wondering what in the world the title of this post means. People may have heard of "peak performance" but have certainly never heard of "peaked performance". That is because I just coined the phrase.

Peak performance is defined online as:
...the zone of optimal functioning and flow. It refers to a moment when an individual puts it all together, when they are in the zone, when everything flows, and when they achieve an exceptional performance.
In other words, peak performance can be attained at any point in life...when skill and luck coincide to create a situation where a player performs as well as he can - given his talent and condition. That doesn't mean that a player has peaked, though. A variable like technique can be improved through study and practice. A variable like conditioning can be improved through diet and exercise.

The bottom line on peak performance is that it can be attained in the moment - when everything goes right.

In contrast, peaked performance is the lifetime high point of performance...when a player was never better and never again will be better. This is a tough thing for many to face. But it happens to all of us. It will happen to the best in the game as well as those who struggle at the 2.5 level.

Everyone's physical abilities deteriorate. Some can compensate by improving skills and strategic awareness. Some will reconcile themselves to their fate and just be happy playing the game. Others will be frustrated and walk away from the game disappointed at their loss of status.

That sounds awfully depressing, right? It is not intended to be. The reality is that many players have started playing pickleball only recently and in their retirement years. That means that we have yet to reach our peak. We can still learn more about the game and adapt to better manage physical limitations. But it is not an easy journey. It is full of plateaus and pitfalls.

The Pickleball Forum has had ongoing discussions about re-ratings for players as they age. A side discussion was related to the age at which pickleballers reach peaked performance compared to other sports. Someone included the following chart.

Check out age 58 - "Peak Pickleball". Before going further, I need to say that this appears to photoshopped into the original chart from Business Insider.  At least I could not find an original that included pickleball. But it still raises an interesting discussion. At what age does a pickleball player reach his optimum performance?

I do not believe that 58 is anywhere close to the right answer. Athletes peak well before that age. My guess would be somewhere in the early 30's for an average player.  That seems to account for increased knowledge of the game offsetting some minor diminishing of athleticism.

But what about those of us who never even took up the game until retirement? For example, I started playing at 58. My athleticism has declined a little due to bad knees but my knowledge has exponentially offset the loss of athleticism. In fact, I still think I am improving and have yet to reach the top of my game. But let me be honest - I'll likely never move beyond the 4.0 my peak is near.

The good news is that our learning doesn't end as we age. We can always learn new strategies and techniques to compensate for losses in other areas, at least until those losses get too great. In other words, almost all of us can look forward to improving our games if we want to put in the effort.

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