As a PGA Professional, Denise taught golf for twenty years. When she retired, she applied these golf lessons to her pickleball game and quickly became an accomplished senior player. We are certain if you apply these golf lessons to your game, you too will improve!
Lesson #1: Posture
Many golf professionals associate the acronym PGA to the 3 most important golf fundamentals one can teach. “P” stands for posture.
- Weight evenly distributed on the balls of the feet,
- Flexed knees,
- Bend forward from the hips,
- Arms relaxed in front of the body, and
- Chest and head up.
The first key to making a powerful and repeatable golf swing is to assume and maintain the correct posture throughout the swing. And, maintaining the correct posture throughout your pickleball game is critical to success on the court.
Lesson #2: Grip
The second letter in the PGA lesson acronym is “G” which stands for grip. While most pickleball professionals recommend a continental grip, the similarities are striking. The proper grip requires you to hold the paddle (or the golf club) firmly in one’s fingers….not in the palm of the hand. Like golf, paradoxically one holds the paddle firmly while maintaining soft hands. Touch at the non-volley zone line, like around the green, is the key to scoring.
Lesson #3: Attitude
Though the “A” in PGA is alignment, when we apply it to pickleball we’ll call it attitude. Specifically, a positive attitude. The ability to stay in the present and stay positive, regardless of the prior shot or point. Anyone who has played golf, or pickleball, for at least a few months knows the feeling of being “in the zone” and conversely the feeling of “the wheels coming off”. Positive attitude, the ability to believe in one’s own ability, the recognition that how one hit the ball 30 seconds ago has no impact on this next shot is critical to your pickleball game.
Lesson #4: Minimize Mistakes
Any serious golfer remembers the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie. That year Jean van de Valde stood on the 18th tee, the 52nd hole of the tournament, with a three-shot lead. He had played error-free golf for four days and had birdied that same hole in two prior rounds. It wasn’t a particularly long hole. He likely could have hit 3 nine irons to the green and two-putted for a win. Instead, he chose to use his driver off the tee and drove the ball to the right of the burn. Somehow he found it, but instead of laying up (just getting out of trouble) he decided to go for the green and ended up hitting the grandstand to the right of the green. It actually got worse after that shot…you can watch what happened below.
The golf lesson one takes from this example and applies to their pickleball game may be referred to as:
- Avoid compounding mistakes;
- Playing within yourself;
- Knowing your strengths and play to them;
- Don’t try to force a shot;
- Play percentage pickleball.
Lesson #5: Practice vs. Play
One of the best golf camps we ever attended was run by Chuck Hogan. About 30 people attended including tour players, NCAA golf coaches, and teaching professionals. Over four of the five-day camp, we sat in a room and talked about playing. During the fifth day, we finally went to the course and played. But it wasn’t a typical round. Instead, we had instructions such as “sing Yippide-Do Da” as you swing….or “quack like a duck” throughout the entire hole. Crazy…yes, but there was a point. To the touring professionals, Mr. Hogan said, “You have played this game for years. You have drilled and practiced, hour after hour, to develop your skill. When it is time to play….play.”
The purpose of training, the purpose of drilling, the purpose of practice is to learn and ingrain a skill. … When we practice and drill, we learn the technique of a particular shot. We drill until we can hit 50 or 100 dinks back to our partner without missing. By doing this, we develop trust in our ability to dink again and again. We train, we drill, we practice so that we trust ourselves. With this trust comes confidence. Our focus is not on missing the shot, but rather on our ability to do it again and again without fail. When we are training, we should be working on improving our technique. However when we are playing, our focus is on trust rather than technique.
We know there are lessons in many different sports one can apply to their pickleball game. We guarantee you will improve, and enjoy the game more if you apply these lessons to every pickleball game you play.