Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pickleball Tip of Week #41

Sorry it has been so long , but anita and i have been up in Maryland for the last 4 weeks.

This weeks tip is two fold. First what is one of the best ways to learn quickly??? That would be to watch as many top players play on video since most of us dont have these players local. Go to youtube and in the search line enter " jeff shank  pickleball". I have watched some of these nationals matches 20 times or more.

 This does a couple of things for you. One is you see how YOU should be playing. If the top players are playing a certain way, what makes you think that YOUR way is better? I constantly watch top players and try and emulate them.

Second, you see what shots are possible. If others can make certain shots, with practice, you can also.

Next, you should be PRACTICING. Yes practicing, not just playing. Anita goes to two practive groups a week and i attend one ( not one that i am in charge of or started, but one another advanced player started and i asked if i could come to.). If you dont know anyone that is currently running practice groups, start your own. I would be glad to explain to you some of the drills that we do, and you could use in your practice group.

Next, you should be attending current clinics that are out there. Deb Harrison does one every friday and i do one the first wednesday of the month. Both of ours are at Miona. You can call Miona for more info. And the club has a clinic each Tuesday at Eisenhower in conjunction with club open play.

Lastly , the time to go on the Spain pickleball tour is coming up. There tours are in Sept this year and are very reasonable. I know that several villagers have already signed up. I encourage everyone to check out the info site.....

jeff and anita shank

Pickleball Tip Of Week #40


Today we will have a tip and also will give some recommendations on court etiquette.

Tip. .......

I have discussed before about the Borg. The Borg were a  race of people on Star Trek The Next Generation. You could easily defeat them in the short term. However they were great at closing and changing any weakness that they had and from then on, what you used to overcome them, would no longer work.

This is what you need to do when you play. Adapt to your opponents and overcome. Each time you go on the court, you MUST change your game based on your opponents and to a lesser extent, your partner. I see players come to Miona all the time. They do not realize that what they used against intermediate and low advanced players will get you killed against high advanced players.

For example, hitting a hard shot from low to high against 4.5 and 5.0 players will generally loose you the point as they will just redirect it so quickly back to you that you cant react quick enough. Yes, this same shot may win you points against lower skilled opponents, but you MUST change your game based on your opponents and what will work against them.

When you step up your game and go to play with higher skilled players than yourself, don't get into the mindset that you are going to show the big boys ( girls ) all your tremendous skills. You will just make too many mistakes by hitting balls out and not having patience. Don't be afraid to be humble. When I play with Brian, or Phil, or Robert or Tim etc, as my partner,  I have NO EGO what so ever. I have no problem letting them take as many shots as the want.

Secondly, if I am partnered with one of these top players, our opponents are probably also going to be top advanced players. Probably better skilled than I. Hence my job is to just keep the ball low and in play and NOT make mistakes. I let my much better partner hit the winners, as it is doubly difficult for me to hit a winner against such highly skilled opponents. I am not going to try and prove how I can hit incredible winners. That is not going to pan out. I am just trying to prove that I can hang in there and not get us killed.

Some opponents I play against I can come out of the soft game fairly early and smack a winner at or through them. These are fairly few though. There are some opponents that have such good hand skills that I pretty much have to have a downward hit right at their feet before I will try it just because they will burn us with their return if I smack at them prematurely.

So what I am saying is vary your play according to your opponents . Don't just play the same all the time. Observe what works against certain players and keep that in your head as you play them. Tim Nelson told me to observe how a new person plays in the first point or so and then try and lump them into a category of other players that you have seen in the past and then start playing against them as you would the players you have lumped them into. Then adjust as each point plays out.

Another thing Tim taught me is to praise highly your opponent that makes the hero shot. The shot that they got lucky hitting the winner against you. This will encourage them to keep hitting the stupid hero shots that they will miss a great majority of the time. They will miss three out of four shots, but will only remember the one shot that went in and everyone gasped what a great shot.

Now for some court etiquette.

Don't leave your bag on the benches. These are for people, not bags.

Please throw your paper cups in the trash can.

Don't argue line calls your opponents make. It is their call, not yours.

Don't make line calls while sitting on the bench, even if asked. I can tell you that 40% of the time when I am sitting on a bench with another player, we disagree on whether a ball was in or out.  Players sitting on the bench have NO better idea if a ball is in or not and it is against the rules to consult the bench players.

Don't fight with the court next to you when their ball comes onto your court and they want THAT  ball back, not the one that YOU have been playing with. Most 4.5 and 5.0 players want to continue their game with the ball they started with. They get used to the feel of that ball and they know it is not cracked or lopsided.  
Please move quickly across other courts that have stopped play for you to pass. No you don't have to run, but you are interrupting that game and moving across like a snail is poor form.

thanks, jeff shank