Ask A Coach: Pickleball Practice

I love playing pickleball games but I could really use some focussed work on my volleys and smashes. How do I get other people to practice pickleball and do drills, not only play games?  F. Cable, Sarasota, Florida

As the game of pickleball evolves and enthusiasm builds, many people want to get better. Whether it is so they can move up their club's ladder or prepare for an upcoming tournament, many people are looking to solidify current skills and gain new ones.

But some people aren't. 

For some, playing pickleball is purely a social pastime; like going out for lunch with a friend. For this group, getting better at pickleball is about as high a priority as "getting better at eating". Their pleasure comes from playing the game and being with others, not from seeing their abilities improve. And while it's nice to play well, their performance doesn't have a big impact on their overall well-being.

You are unlikely to find much enthusiasm for your practice sessions with this group of players. What you need is someone who shares your motivations. You need to find someone who is not only willing to work on their weaknesses, but keen to do so. You need someone about the same level as you both in terms of skill and fitness. You need a training partner!

My suggestion is that you talk with the people around you. Perhaps there are others who would like to train before they play. Maybe there is a Facebook group for pickleball in your area and you can post something to the effect of: “Hi. I’m a 3.0 player who wants to get better. I like playing games but I’m keen to practice and do some drills. Anyone out there interested?” and see what happens.

Another option is to find a coach you think you can trust. Whether it is privately or in a group, they might run training sessions that meet your needs. Be sure to tell them about what you are looking for so that everyone is on the same page. And of course, you can always have me come for a visit!


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