Not Making Progress? It's Okay to be Frustrated.

Not Making Progress? It's Okay to be Frustrated.

Most of us have goals and ambitions in becoming better pickleball players. Whether you are preparing for tournament play, looking to bump up a skill level, or just looking to finally beat that banger who's been harassing you on Thursday nights; we all want to be better players on the court. Outside of what Dayne Gingrich has coined the "hit-and-gigglers," a majority of pickleball players are taking steps to increase their level of play. Through drilling, taking private lessons, studying film, and many more disciplines, pickleballer's all over the country are working hard to be their best. Some of us are under the impression that with this hard work, results will inevitably happen. But it doesn't always work that way. 

It's frustrating when we don't see our hard work paying off. We put in countless hours on our backhand dinks to go out in a match and miss the easiest ones. Of course that's going to be frustrating. But don't be discouraged by what seems to be your lack of improvement. I say "lack" because if you are putting in the work, I do believe at some level you are improving ;) It just may not be evident to the naked eye!

I've had many people tell me and I shouldn't get frustrated when I play and shouldn't take pickleball so seriously. Pickleball is supposed to be fun, right? While I do understand where these people are coming from, they may not always understand where I'm coming from. I want to get better and I put in a lot of work to increase my level of play; hours that they don't see. So don't let anyone tell you how to approach the game and not to take it seriously if you are highly invested in getting better. It's okay to get frustrated when you aren't doing well.

Because I get frustrated often, (because I am highly competitive and strive to be the best) I have developed 3 rules for getting frustrated. These may help you if you find yourself in a similar place.

First Rule, Don't get frustrated over what you aren't working on. I consider my 3rd shot drop to be one of my greatest strengths. It's a shot that I drilled for hours when I first learned the game and it developed into one of my best shots. However, there are days where it just doesn't work for me. I'll find myself making a very low percentage of drops or missing several of them in a row. When this happens, I do two things. First, I keep trying until I get into a groove, eventually getting out of the rut. Second, I remind myself that I don't work on 3rd shot drops very often. If I'm not drilling my 3rd shot drops, how can I be upset about not being as consistent as I would like? This goes for all aspects of our game. If we are drilling and constantly working on a new shot or strategy, it's okay to get frustrated that it isn't working. We're supposed to. They are called growing pains for a reason. Getting frustrated that our shot isn't coming together simply tells us that we expect to be better. We feel like we should be better because we have been putting in the work. But don't get frustrated over the things you aren't practicing. You end up putting more emotional stress on yourself while you play than you should. Leave the frustration to the areas that you are currently highly invested in. 

2nd Rule, Use your frustration as fuel. While it is okay to get frustrated during play, we have to make sure that we are managing that frustration well. I see many players get on the court and get upset about their game not improving after they have worked diligently to get better. I do it often as well, but we can't tell ourselves that we will never be as good as we want to be or that we suck. It's counterproductive. We can be one of the best players on the court, but if we have a negative mindset when we are on the court, we will end up being the one who ends up playing the worst that day. Use your frustration to "zone-in" on that certain area during your play and make the adjustments needed to be efficient. Take notice of the times that you get it right and take that as a small win. When you use your frustration to focus and make some changes instead of beating yourself up, you'll begin seeing small improvements. If for some reason you aren't able to make the adjustments you need, that frustration should fuel you to drill more and work harder. Remember that Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is your pickleball game. The champions of any sport are the ones who are adamant about putting in the work no matter the costs. Get frustrated, but use it to fuel your work ethic, not to tear yourself down. 

Last Rule, Keep your frustration to one thing. If we start bombarding ourselves with multiple frustrations, we will become overwhelmed and begin thinking that we are a terrible player. If my 3rds are off and then I start missing dinks and hitting returns of serve into the net, and then get frustrated about all of those, then I'm going to have a pretty bad day on the courts. If there are multiple areas of your game that seem to be struggling, just pick one and focus on that. Zone everything else out and focus on that one area. Right now I'm constantly getting frustrated about my attacks not being as effective as I want them to be. It's the area that I drill the most in my practice sessions. When I find myself getting uptight about it, I start to tune everything else out. If I miss a dink, I have to remind myself that I'm not focusing on that today and I'm okay with missing a few dinks here or there. If I notice that I'm missing more dinks than I would like, it just tells me I need to drill a little more. But I can't get frustrated about it if I'm focusing on another area. Keep your frustration to one thing instead of overwhelming yourself into believing that you are a bad player. 

Maybe you are someone who doesn't get frustrated that you aren't getting better. And that is perfectly fine too. But for most of us, not seeing progress when we have made extravagant efforts to increase our game can be disheartening and very frustrating. Just remember that getting frustrated isn't a bad thing. It doesn't mean that you have a bad temper or need to take pickleball less seriously. It just means that you expect much more out of yourself and you want to be better than the results you are currently producing. Take solace in that; always expecting more from yourself is at the core of a champion's mindset!

Please feel free to reach out to me with any pickleball questions or if you are interested in taking pickleball lessons in Augusta, Georgia!

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