3 reasons why pros are pros and amateurs aren’t (yet).

May 05, 2022

I’ll admit it — to write these words on paper is scary.

I want to become a top 10 pickleball player in the world. 

So last week, I did what any person who’d want to do what I want to do would do. (try reading that 3x fast) 😂

I contacted two top five players in the world and one top 50 player and asked them a question.

What separates pros from amateurs?

 

Here are the responses from the three top players:

Player #1

 

“Consistency. This is the absolute biggest difference. Amateur, but VERY GOOD players can hit the same shots we can. It’s being able to hit those shots every single time — especially in high pressure situations where the people on the other side of the net are hitting their best shots at you. In terms of (specific) shots, resets create a pretty big gap. The ability to reset the ball into the kitchen from anywhere on the court.”

(In addition)… I drill in some sort of a 3:1 ratio. For every 3 hours of drilling and training, I PLAY and implement those things for 1 hour. I believe that is one mistake most people make. Being willing to DRILL rather than play.”

Player #2

 

“Better Anticipation = Better defense. Key factor.

Shot Selection: they know when to be offensive, and they can pick spots and hit those spots consistently and precisely.

More in their bag of tricks: 5.0’s are very good at a certain set of shots. Pros have an entire arsenal of shots, so if some shots aren’t working or a certain strategy isn’t working, they can adapt and pull from their arsenal.”

Player #3

 

“Pro’s reset better and see opportunities sooner. Pro’s are more proactive than reactive. And Pros have a higher ratio of drilling to playing.”

 

*When three of the best in the world share their thoughts, it’s worth listening to and thinking about.

So here are three takeaways as you think about how you can improve at your pickleball game…

1. Pros are consistent.

 

Even in pressure situations, they don’t miss. They hit shot after shot, without losing focus and making unforced errors.

2. Pros reset better.

 

Whether it’s a missed (high) dink or you get caught back on the baseline during a point, pros can reset the ball just over the net and re-establish themselves back at the kitchen better than amaeturs.

3. Pros drill more.

 

They isolate skills that happen most in games and rep it out until they’re confident they’ll make those shots (nearly) every time in any circumstance.

 

Bonus: Pros anticipate better — Player #2 and #3 said this one and I see it all the time when watching pro matches. It’s almost like, they see things before they happen, and then respond accordingly.

Which, truthfully, is so hard and they make it look so easy.

Part of why it’s hard is because it requires the ability to notice patterns of play based on your opponent’s body language or understanding the probability of a specific next shot being hit.

And there’s really no way around how to improve that. It takes time, reps, and study.

In closing…

 

Whether you’re trying to be a pro like me, improve a little each day, or you’re just out there to have fun with your friends and get some exercise — there’s always something new to learn in this game.

And isn’t that the beauty of the game?

Shoot, isn’t that the beauty of life?

Until next time,

Kyle

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