Why do you play pickleball? Is it the “W”?
We all come to pickleball looking for something. Some of us wanted to exercise or to get out of the house. Others were looking for a social outlet. And yet others play pickleball for a competitive outlet.
Whatever brought you to pickleball, I am pretty sure it was not because you were looking for a bunch of “W”s. What I mean is that when you started playing pickleball you were not looking just to win a bunch of games. It is likely that you were looking for something else.
As we start playing, however, we forget why we came to pickleball to begin with. Our focus shifts to our wins. And our losses.
Let’s unpack this winning more concept a bit. Is it the reason we play pickleball?
Pickleball involves scoring – we keep track of the score. At the end of the game, there will be a winner. And there will be a loser.
We are not tossing a frisbee or playing catch with our friends. By playing pickleball, we are agreeing to keep track of points. Both in our favor and in favor of our opponents.
We are also agreeing that we are playing a game where it is us against two other players who oppose us. We are not playing against a lane (bowling) or course (golf).
Our suggestion is not to ignore the score: it exists and is an integral part of the game while we are playing it. And it is perfectly fine for you to recognize when you win and when you lose. To try to do otherwise is nonsensical. I remember being asked as a youth soccer coach not to discuss the score of a game with the players, which was weird because the kids definitely knew who had 5 and who had 0.
What we are suggesting is to reframe the importance winning given what your objectives are when playing pickleball.
Do you want to reframe your relationship with pickleball? Then listen to the Pickleball Therapy Podcast
Let’s take a concrete example, why does Sam play pickleball?
Sam, first started playing when looking for an activity to get out of the house and hopefully get some exercise. Sam played this morning for 3 hours getting in 8 games. Sam’s record for the day was 2 wins and 6 losses.
That is Sam’s record in terms of games won and lost. That is all. It says nothing about how Sam played that day or the quality of the games. It is just “W”s and “L”s.
But beyond that, this information has nothing to do with Sam’s objective when playing pickleball. What if I told you Sam had gotten a tremendous amount of exercise left and ended the day with a pile of sweaty clothes? What if I added that 3 of the games had taken 20 minutes each – battles out there each one.
Would you say that Sam had a successful or unsuccessful day on the courts? It depends on the metric you are using. If it is straight wins and losses (W/L), then I guess it was unsuccessful. But that is not the correct metric – that is not why Sam plays pickleball.
Remember that the metric is what your mind will use to measure your results. Rather than using score or W/L (neither of which Sam signed up for), Sam would be better off using getting out of the house and exercise as the metrics.
Once the correct metrics are used, it seems pretty clear that Sam’s objectives were achieved. Sam got out of the house and also got plenty of exercise. The scores and winning or losing, while not rendered irrelevant, are recognized as not having the same import as the principal objective of going out to the courts that day.
I do not know of a single pickleball player who is better off because they won 65% of their pickleball games last year. I likewise know of no player who is worse off because they only won 30% of their games during the same time. What I do know are hundreds, if not thousands, of pickleball players whose lives are improved because pickleball is an important part of their weekly schedule.
When you go out to play, keep in mind what is important to you; what pickleball really adds to your life. It is unlikely to be the “W”s. Use this knowledge to reframe your expectations and know that you are, in fact, getting what you wanted from the game.
Ready to take control of your learnng? Check out our post on the Complete Guide to Improvement
Hola. Hello. Konichiwa. After 40 years playing tennis, I am now a full-time pickleball player and professional. As a 5.0 rated Senior Pro Pickleball Player and an IPTPA-certified Master Teaching Professional, my focus is on helping players like you learn to play their best pickleball. In 2016, shortly after starting to play pickleball, my friend Tom and I jumped into the highest division at the first US Open in Naples, Florida. That morning it became clear just how much there is to learn in this seemingly simple sport – a lifetime of learning if you so choose. Since 2018, I have been on a mission to share my knowledge of pickleball so other players can enjoy the game at a higher level and attain their pickleball objectives. When not studying or playing pickleball, I like to travel with my other half, Jill.
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