I has the privilege of attending the Pro Pickleball Association (PPA) Championship Tour this past weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was there for two reason first to compete but that will be a post for another time and two was to watch some Pro Pickleball matches.
Once I finished on Saturday I found a great seat and watched some amazing mens and womens matches from bracket play all the way to the finals. It was a whole other level from what I see daily on the courts. It also is so much better in person that watching on TV or YouTube. BUT I also learned some really interesting things while watching these matches and these amazing Pro’s.
The first thing that I learned was Pro players miss some shots too and not just any shots but the same shots that you and I miss on the courts. I watched as serves went out and third shot drops fell short and dinks hit too short and into the net or too high and smashed back. It was so refreshing to see this and know that at least these players were somewhat human. Now keep in mind they made over 90-95% of these shots named above and were very consistent for the most part all day.
The next thing I learned was that these players could get emotional. This was very huge for me personally as I make great efforts to restrain my disappointment and on the other hand excitement when I play especially in some more serious matches. Most of the Pro’s kept their emotions in check but when they had a tense moment or a play that elicited some huge outcome they let the screams and “C’mon’s” fly loud and proud. There was plenty of fist pumps and face in hands with disbelief and of course complete disgust when calls didn’t go their way. Now I know they are professionals but they prove in that moment that they are also very much human just like you and me.
What I am going to mention next is probably a game changer for the rest of us and that is the fact that they did not get down on each other as partners. Let me state before we go any further that in the past I have been guilty of this. Not usually openly or publicly but for sure silently. I watched as these Pro players would get into a big hole with the score or go down a game early and the one thing that I noticed was that even though they called time outs and talked strategy they most importantly picked each other up. When I watched this happen it resonated with something deep inside me and I thought to myself how much we miss this during open play with each of our partners we take the court with each game.
I think of all the things I learned this weekend the last one with the encouragement of your partner was the best. The way I look at it is this way. When we lift up and encourage our partner even if it is for a few points we are using positive reinforcement. We are allowing them to be free as a player and give them the opportunity to play their best game. However, I feel the most important thing we are doing is speaking “Life” into them. We are calling out the best of who they are and challenging them to reach deep inside themselves to find that “player” they are hiding and giving it permission to come out and shine.
This next week on the courts I would challenge each and every one of you to make it a point to lift up and encourage your partner in each new game and see what happens. And remember the one who needs it the most is the one who is struggling or having a rough day on the courts. Sometimes “winning” is getting your partner to believe in themselves on the court regardless of the score.
Have a great week!