Deepak Chopra said, “The only real time is the here and now.” As I meditated this morning on those words, I thought about pickleball focus. When you are playing are you only focused on the here and now?
Great athletes are mentally tough along with being physically tough. Perhaps one of their greatest gifts is the ability to focus all their energy on the here and now. If you wish to improve your game, you need to work on your pickleball focus.
The great news is that you can improve your pickleball mind regardless of your physical athletic abilities. This was made clear to me as I watched a semi-final from the USAPA Nationals last weekend being streamed live on Facebook. The one team moved like athletes…the other moved awkwardly. Their swings were choppy. Even the way they held the paddle seemed clumsy. As I watched them compete, and nearly win the match, I wondered how they had made it so far. Neither teammate looked like an athlete. Neither displayed perfect form. What was clear to me was that they never gave up. They remained in every point…their pickleball focus remained on the here and now.
Learning Pickleball Focus
Other sports give us the opportunity to learn to focus on the here and now. Even if you are not a golfer, consider reading any of Pia Nilsson’s and Lynn Marriott’s books. Our personal favorites are Every Shot Must Have a Purpose and The Game Before the Game. If you are a golfer, you know that your biggest competitor on the golf course is your mind. There is plenty of time between shots to berate yourself for a poor swing or become consumed by the bad luck of rolling into a divot.
But as Denise reminded us “Attitude” is the “A” in her acronym for the PGA. Our ability to remain positive, and focused on the present is key to success in getting around a golf course or improving our pickleball game. Pia and Lynn write about a drill they created to separate the past and present. Specifically, when you set up behind the ball you may think. (And at times that thinking will include your last shot.) But when you step forward and cross the line to set up to the ball…you turn off that past mind. Your only focus is the present.
You may have noticed that many professional tennis players have adopted this habit. Maria Sharapova is one of many players that turns her back to the court between every point. I suspect that she is getting the last point out of her system. Perhaps analyzing the point, and making a plan for the next. Regardless, when she turns back to the court you can see that her sole focus is the present.
If you have difficulty relating other sports to pickleball, consider the writings of Sarah Ansboury. In the introduction to her second e-book, Be the Best Pickleball Partner You Can Be, she wrote:
I believe free will extends to our thoughts. We make voluntary decisions, choices every minute of every day which determines our perceptions, beliefs, and feelings…with practice, we can learn to manage our thoughts. I believe if you learn to manage your thoughts and your actions on the pickleball court, you will be on your journey to Being the Best Pickleball Doubles Partner You Can Be.
There are times when we are each our biggest opponent on the pickleball court. When this occurs, recall these words “The only real time is the here and now,” and work to improve your pickleball focus.