“Stay positive at all times and all ways.”
Research about “peak” sports performance shows that a positive attitude results in greater outcomes. No surprise, right? You’ve probably noticed this already as you play.
You also may have played other sports before and seen this in your previous experience. So here are a few specific tips to help your and your partner’s game.
First, choose your attitude, and re-choose your attitude when it falters. Inner attitudes come out, even when you try to hide it. Have you noticed that?
Second, choose the words you say out loud to your partner very carefully. When they do well, point it out. If they make a mistake, encourage them and don’t let their attitude get down.
Third, if you have feedback or observations that may help your partner, ask for permission to tell them. Say something like, “I’ve got an idea. Would you like to hear it?” If they say yes, give your comments constructively, or positively. If you’ve already been affirming them, what you say will usually be easily, and positively, received. Generally, you don’t want to ever give unwanted advice. This usually goes badly.
Fourth, you can’t always pick your partner in round-robin play. You can, however, pick your partner in tournaments or other organized formats. Try to pick someone who stays positive if this is important to you. That way, win or lose, you will have a good experience during and after the game.
Finally, if you struggle to stay positive, commit to change now. A lighter heart and a smile go a long way to better play and enjoyment. Win or lose, everyone around you will enjoy playing with you.
Now there are plenty of nuances to winning and having fun, too. That’s where informal and professional coaching or lessons help.
Pickleball is the most strategically complicated sport there is. That’s why learning from positive, higher-rated players is invaluable. I have studied with many and continue to learn!
So, if you would like to learn the game, I’m here to help with clinics, coaching, and lessons. Until then, stay positive, have fun, and you will likely win more games—and friends!
Ron Hunt is a 5.0 Robson, USA Pickleball Association legacy player and certified instructor with Professional Pickleball Registry. You may text him or call him at 218-330-5306. His email, if you prefer, is [email protected]