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Pickleball Tournament Learning

The weekend of May 12, 13, 14, 2023 Hannah, Gary and I played in the Pickleball Ontario Western Regional Series qualifier in Barrie. Gary and I played 50+ Men’s Doubles, 3.0. Hannah and I played Mixed Doubles 19 – 49, 3.0. Gary and I played in the Bronze Medal match and lost best of 3 to a team that also beat us in the round robin. Hannah and I won Bronze, winning two games straight. We're on the right in the photo above. (people kept asking what our relationship was; we settled on old person and care giver!)

On the drive home Hannah and I had some time to chat about our pickleball tournament learning. Here are our thoughts.

1. Most important pickleball tournament learning - competitions are fun!

They are an interesting challenge of skill, nerves, and consistency. The people are great. Also, you cannot judge a pickleball book by its cover. Gender, fitness, age, attire, # of paddles, bag size, etc are irrelevant when it comes to playing the game competitively.

2. Third shot drop from anywhere is THE most important shot in Pickleball.

It was really obvious at our level and other levels that being able to reset up to the net is key to slowing down the game and winning. At our level (3.0 – 3.5) lots of people are struggling with drop shots and dinking (honestly, I think Hannah and I are starting to figure it out!) and that is a big advantage.

3. Bangers don’t have a chance against teams that can control the speed and reset to the net.

They lose points two ways: by hitting into the net and hitting out. Also, they get frustrated. It's not their game and it seems that the more points they miss, the harder they hit.

4. Consistency is everything.

The team Gary and I lost to in the bronze medal match did NOTHING fancy. They had no hard serves. No hard shots. No unique strategy. They just got the ball in all the time. They were always there. They were thoughtful. They took their time. I really enjoyed playing them and give them tons of credit for how they played. I felt I really learned something.

5. On a related thought, I think almost everyone in a competition loses at least one game to a team they know they could have beaten.

The difference isn’t skill, it’s consistency in that particular game.

6. Everyone is nervous and it affects how you play.

I lost my serve for the entire weekend. Hannah coached me into using the bounce serve and it worked (almost) perfectly. To keep ourselves calm, Hannah and I stayed away from the competition between games. We kept it light and fun while we were playing. In one game we came back from being down 11-2. No question it helped to just keep playing and having fun. (note: the round robin games this weekend were to 15 which was kind of cool – it is a bit like two games in one – up to 11, and after 11).

7. Playing with the same partner and developing as a team is fun!

In some ways, it’s easier because you get to know each other. No question that to win you have to play well together as a team.

8. Pickleball scoring really IS too complicated 😊 (and not just for seniors!).

We played in two games this weekend that were refereed. In both games, the refs got the score wrong!?. Thanks to both Hannah and Gary who are really good at scoring for getting things straightened out. Getting it wrong could have easily messed up both games. (in both cases, the mistakes came after a time out – I guess it’s really important to agree the score prior to the timeout).

9. We got a ton of followers and support through Spond and texts all weekend.

It was incredibly meaningful. It helped calm us and inspire us. It made us feel proud and I think it really worked in our favour. Thank you! We look forward to cheering others on!!!

We REALLY enjoyed the tournament competition. We've got the bug and will be searching for more pickleball tournament opportunities. If you haven't tried tournament play, just do it!!