The Growing Pains of Learning New Skills

The Growing Pains of Learning New Skills

With pickleball growing and a jolt of energy being brought into the sport with new players, the game is evolving and taking on a life within itself. New shots, new strategies, new paddles and a never ending revolving door of rules and adjustments. The way that I started playing the game and the way that I play now are very different, and it's safe to say I probably won't be playing the same way in the next 3 years. With that comes the openness and willingness to learn new things and incorporate different shots and strategies into my play. I know if I don't, I'm going to fall behind; as a player and as a coach. 

I was working with a group of ladies this afternoon and we started with a warm up game. As I was watching, I caught on to several different patterns and tendencies these ladies were using in their play. The most obvious however was that none of them were actively looking to put the ball in their opponents kitchen, often leading to attackable balls and unforced errors. After a quick pow wow and a 3rd shot drop/transition drilling session. We were ready to try again with a different mental approach to the game; get the ball in the kitchen so you can control the point. 

The last game of the session was much cleaner and had better patterns of point construction. The ball was going into the kitchen and placement was a priority over power, but these ladies were still a little uncomfortable. It wasn't their style of play (even though they all did it really well) and they all had natural tendencies to be aggressive with every ball that they had to fight off. Here are the 3 things that I told them about incorporating new things into their games. 

You aren't going to win with new tools right away - When we learn something new, we aren't going to be very good at it. That's the case with anything that we do. Learning to play guitar, photography and even a new job all require skills at the beginning that we aren't comfortable with. The only way that we can get good at something is to suck at it for a little while first. Soon we start figuring some things out and gain confidence in what we are learning. Slowly you will turn those new shots and strategies into tools that you can use to eventually beat your opponents. 

Mastering a new skill doesn't happen in rec play - When we go straight from lessons to rec play, it's easy to revert back to old habits and the way that we know "we can win." The only way we can master skills and strategies is through drilling and practice. When we play games, especially competitive or tournament play, we don't really want to think too much about incorporating new stuff. We need to make new skills second nature in our drilling session so they come to us naturally in our matches. 

Don't give up...whatever you do, don't give up - Learning new skills is frustrating. We aren't comfortable, what we are learning is hard, and ultimately, it's easy to abandon them because we don't feel like they are working. But by sticking with it and working to master these new skills, no mater what, you will be one of the top players that reaches the next level. Champions and gold medal winners have this determination about them where they never give up and they work until they get it right. As frustrating as a new skill may be, you'll be glad that you don't give up! 

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have! I am certified teaching pro in Augusta, GA and I help students improve their skills every day! If you would like me to help me with your game, please reach out me about my video analysis services so we can get your game headed in the right direction!

Back to blog

Leave a comment