• Beverly Craddock

Mental Performance for Pickleball?


Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. While it took off with aging baby boomers as a lower-impact alternative to tennis, the game has become hyper-competitive as others have taken the equipment technology and training to professional levels. Whether you’re learning the game or etching out your career path as a pro pickleballer, it is really helpful to have solid mental performance training.


With the small court, pickleball moves fast. Thinking about pickleball does not move fast. The thinking mind can only accomplish about six things at a time and there are too many muscles at work for the brain to get all of them going quickly. What you really need is some help from the powerful subconscious mind - that can do about a billion (!) things at a time. But how do we get pickleball to be subconscious? The answer is that you can do the same thing that athletes in other sports do - train. Repetition is one of the best ways to drill actions into the subconscious mind. While training is super important, there are some other ways to help your mind play the game faster.


The easiest ‘brain hack’ is to start each point from a relaxed body position. Relaxed muscle moves faster, is less fatigued, and is more consistently accurate. The best way to relax instantly is to relax your feet. This sends a series of nerve communications between the feet and the brain, basically traveling the nerve network of the whole body. If you can relax your feet, you can immediately relax everything else.


One other quick tip is to play with confidence. Winners are confident, right? But do you have to win first before you can be confident? The simple answer is “no”. While many people base their confidence on past performance, it is not a requirement for confidence. Think about the confidence of a six-year-old. They aren’t confident because they’ve done it before, they’re confident because they haven’t achieved enough failure to know any better. Play with the confidence of a six-year-old.


Be confident and relax your feet - the two instant brain changes that you can make to succeed at pickleball and everything else in your life. Good luck!

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