I have been struggling a bit with our play together because of your kindly supportive comments on my pickleball play. I thought perhaps I could clarify what’s going on for me on court, which may help you understand my experience.
In fact, I’m almost never just playing pickleball. I am working on various projects in order to advance my play. What that means is that I have a lot going on internally when I’m playing, even in these casual matches. When you start mentioning things that you’ve noticed about my game as well it’s rather jarring, because I have an agenda for what I’m trying to do and your suggestions introduce other elements or suggested priorities. So, I am torn between what you feel I should be doing and what I am actually trying to do.
Even more concerning is that sometimes I’m actually hoping to empty the mind, not analyze what I’m doing and be in the moment, and when you introduce something for me to think about it replaces my empty mind agenda with analysis that I’m hoping to avoid.
I am aware that I have some habits on the court that may be disconcerting at times. For example, I’ve noted that I have a tendency to hang back a bit in third shot drop situations. While I am pondering that and considering solutions I must report that I am shocked at times at the degree to which people slam the ball and rush to the kitchen line without any attempt to hit a third shot drop. This tendency has prompted me to hang back at times because I think that a kamikaze rush to the net is a low percentage behavior, tactically speaking, and someone has to play the prudent role.
One other factor in this discussion is that it’s rather unsettling for me to feel like my partner is scrutinizing my play. I am trying to stay in the moment, let go of judgment and focus on fundamental actions that contribute to success. If I feel like my partner is distracted from her/his own play to the point of having to direct mine then I feel that the partnership has broken down.
To me the doubles situation on court is more about creating cameraderie and support rather than scrutiny and potential instruction between partners. A contradictory element is that I do find the journey of getting better at pickleball a conundrum at times and I’m constantly trying to figure out how to improve, so your comments regarding my play are intrinsically welcome and valuable. I simply can’t see what I’m doing as well as an experienced observer. However, the best time for this sort of thing is between matches. During the match IMHO it’s best to restrict comments to supportive remarks or else tactical observations regarding our opponents.
But I’d love to discuss such things at any other time.
In any case I thought to share these thoughts so that we can enjoy each other on court as much as we do in other contexts.
All the best,
photo by Jay Devillier