Many sports require bursts of athleticism where muscles are exercised to their extreme. Other sports demand finesse and precision. Perhaps the most frustrating yet fascinating characteristic of pickleball is that both vigor and finesse are required in turn within a short rally.
When you watch a pickleball game you will notice good players switch between these modes to settle into a certain “flow.” With practice and some helpful music, you can learn to get into this fluid state of mind and improve your game as well.
Third shot dinks, soft kitchen exchanges and low defensive shots demand relaxed, precise and fluid muscle motion. But the very next sequence of shots may call for instinctive, lightning fast reflexes. Embracing this dichotomy of motion between a lull and a storm, between a lullaby and an overture, is characteristic of great 5.0 pickleball players.
This video segment is from the mixed doubles final of the Tournament of Champions a few weeks ago in Brigham City, Utah. Watch how Christine, Sarah, Tony and Tyler transition between finesse and fire in this long rally. This is pickleball rhythm!
Why do we get the hard shots and blow the soft ones? Because the soft shots are not as easy as they look. When the smartest shot demands finesse, we want to bang away because our muscles are not yet fluid. Good players must learn to harness the desire to drive a ball that needs to be caressed. People often play their best pickleball when the serious competition is over, they’re completely relaxed and just goofing around.
While a long warm up can help get your muscles firing in a fluid fashion, many top players also use music to relax and get into a rhythm. This is why so many young players have ear buds on while playing; they are using music to develop their rhythm and enter the pickleball mojo. When the tournament begins, the ear buds come out, but the music remains in their minds.
Use music that suits your mood and the play. You may need calming or firing up; the rhythm matters most. Let the melody govern most of your play. But when a winning shot presents itself, let Beethoven step aside and enter the Beatles.