The missing ingredient to your improvement
Try asking a proficient coach for their help without them ever watching you perform what you’re asking them for help with. How did it go?
Who generally tends to succeed more, those who have a coach or those who don’t?
At the end of the day, what does a coach do for you? They impart their knowledge to you as well as tell you what you’re doing incorrectly. Which is done by just watching. With the blessing of the internet we can find a breadth of knowledge online, but what we are limited to do is being told exactly how to do something based on our physical attributes, experience, and skill level. So when we try to improve at a skill based physical sport like Pickleball, where many of us are going at it alone/without a coach, this is where filming ourselves comes into play.
Look, everyone has a distorted vision/idea of themselves. We either think we are worse than we actually are or better than we actually are. Self-correcting isn’t as easy as we would hope, especially in the middle of a match when your mind is thinking about a million different things. If it were that easy, we wouldn’t be looking up to a 15 year-old phenom.
Recently, I was playing a doubles match and my backhand crosscourt dinks were going into the net. I couldn’t tell if it was the type of ball they were dinking at me, if I was waiting too late or swinging too early, changing my backswing, etc. It wasn’t until my partner pointed out that my backhand crosscourt dink swing finish (try saying that 5x) was finishing slightly downwards instead of horizontally, like moving along with the top of the net. What if my partner wasn’t generous enough to provide feedback?
How do I begin?
Thankfully, most of us own smartphones capable of recording. Therefor, we don’t need the entire Pixar studios to film. You can purchase a tripod or if you play where there are fences, you can put your phone at the top of the fence. There are plenty of DIY ways to do this without needing a ton of equipment.
I would advise not filming every single practice session. Back to my previous article explaining the 2 different states to play in, film the drilling sessions when things are slowed down and you’re focused on a single objective and film the sessions where your only objective and focus is to win, aka matches. We want to watch the drilling sessions so we can see what our technique looks like.
In watching the matches we get to see our “best self”, our realist self. The self that is focused on performing with things like tactics added in the mix, yet has nerves as well. In this footage you may notice you play more stiff in matches than in regular rec play or drilling. This footage can sometimes be different than drilling for a myriad of reasons so both are important. Once your movement and technique in these two sessions begin to look exactly the same, you can move on to the latter.
You can watch the film on your phone, upload it to YouTube, or watch it on QuickTime player. Doesn’t matter, but make notes. While taking notes, make a section for one thing you want to work on and bring with you to practice, and leverage it in your ‘Explore’ state (discussed in previous article).
Don’t let your ego steer you away from what you ultimately need to face which is watching and critiquing yourself.
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