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Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Importance of Proper Technique

Hard work and proper technique will beat bad technique every time...

Daniel Joseph (DJ) Howard is an IPTPA instructor in Michigan. He is also a member of the Pickleball Forum where he offers a weekly tip. DJ has kindly agreed to allow me to include his Forum tips on this blog. Last week's tip - "It works for me" - was about the importance of biomechanics. This week's tip takes it to the next level in a discussion of proper technique.

DJ's weekly tip: (FYI, this one is long and I contemplated breaking it into 3 parts, but figured y'all could handle it.)

Tip: Yes, good (proper) technique (still) matters. A lot.

This week's tip is a piggyback of last week's tip on biomechanics being important.

In addition to decreasing the risk for injury, proper technique - yes, there is such a thing as "proper" technique, and that is basically the point of this post - allows for better performance. But how? Why? I mean, seriously, why can't we just agree that whatever technique someone wants to use is fine as long as it "works"? Or are there actual, tangible benefits to better biomechanical processes?

Answer? Of course good biomechanics are highly beneficial - in three particular ways. Good technique is:

  • Proper technique on your footwork, receiving ability, and strokes, to cite a few examples, are far more productive as a whole than inferior techniques. 
  • Efficient footwork patterns get you into position better and more quickly.
  • Balancing your body when receiving a ball allows you to receive the ball with better spacing and control.
  • Good swing mechanics allow you to strike the ball more cleanly and send it more accurately.

If you want to be more effective in your results, fundamentally sound biomechanical technique gives you the best opportunity to do so.

Good technique can be duplicated over and over again. Henceforth, good results can be repeated. A local running store in my area called Playmakers runs what they call "Good Form Running" clinics in which they teach people how to run with the proper cadence and stride technique. Why? It's running, for crying out loud! Doesn't everyone already know how to RUN?! Not with a form that will be repeated consistently time and time again. There is a difference between simply running and running with good form. Once learned, good form running will allow a person to run more consistently, for longer durations, and into more advanced years.

This applies to pickleball in two ways. First, you can reproduce the strokes the same way repeatedly. Ever heard of "muscle memory"? (We could discuss if it is really a thing, but not now). Second, you can get good results repeatedly. In case you were wondering, that's a really good thing.

Good technique produces dependable results. Practiced well and practiced often, you learn to trust your shots. You learn to rely on certain shots even when under pressure. In a heated match, do you want to have to think thru the process of how to hit certain shots? Or do you want to be able to fall back on strong biomechanics without having to think about it? 

Ultimately, it comes down to percentages - sound technique gives you a higher chance of success than poor or less than stellar technique. It's why pro athletes can perform "clutch" under pressure- they rely on the proper technique they have practiced over and over.

Biomechanics matter. Technique matters. Sound fundamentals matter. 

Regardless of which term you prefer, its hard to get around the idea that there is a better way to perform specific physical activities or functions that are supported by science and evidence.

Til next time (in which I'll add to this theme some more), keep reppin'!

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