Whether you’re brand new to the game or a seasoned veteran, here are 19 New Year’s Resolutions that every pickleball player should make for the upcoming year!
1. Teach Your Friends How to Play Pickleball
The reason pickleball has become the the fastest growing sport in America is because so many people are inviting others to play. And as we all know, once you set foot on that court, there’s no going back! This New Year, make it your personal resolution to share your love for this wonderful sport with the people around you.
2. Make New Friends
In case you haven’t realized, pickleball is an incredibly social sport! It’s almost difficult not to find wonderful, fun people when you’re spending your days or spare hours down at the courts. Not only has pickleball spread to all 50 states, but it’s also being played in a growing number of countries around the globe. This means you have so many new friends all over the country and world who you just haven’t met yet!
3. Visit a New State and Play Pickleball
Since there are now venues in every state across America, why not cross off somewhere on your bucket list and while you’re at it, make new friends while playing pickleball? Maybe you’ve always wanted to bask in the Florida sun, gaze at the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, or take in the majestic colors of a Maine Autumn. Well now’s the time to make it happen! And sites such as pickleballhotspot.com and USAPA Places 2 Play are making it easier than ever to find places to play while you’re traveling.
4. Play in Another Country
But now that pickleball has spread beyond our borders, don’t just limit yourself to the US! The ultimate goal is to have pickleball someday be an Olympic sport, but in order to do so there has to be more growth in other countries. You can be a part of making that happen by promoting the game in places such as Canada, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Finland, Italy, Germany, and Spain to name just a few.
5. Join a Pickleball Trip
Sure, you could go on trips by yourself, but where’s the fun in that? One of the best parts of traveling is the lifelong relationships you develop with new friends who share the same passions as you!
6. Spectate at One of the Three ‘Pickleball Majors’
Over the past several years, three tournaments in particular have emerged as the ‘Grandaddies of Pickleball’ where all the big names come out to play. The Minto U.S. Open Championships are held each Spring in Naples, FL from around late April to early May. Brigham City, UT hosts the Tournament of Champions in late August or Early September. Last, but certainly not least, the Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships take place annually in November at the beautiful Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indio, CA. If you’re looking for pickleball inspiration, look no further!
7. Play in a Tournament
Speaking of being inspired, make it a goal yourself to enter a competition and test your mettle against other players. A lot of people think they first have to achieve a certain level or skill set before they’re ready to play tournaments. On the contrary, playing in tournaments and developing the mental aspect of your game will help you reach your desired level!
8. Find a Doubles Partner You Enjoy Playing With
But most importantly, you’ve gotta have fun! And not being able to find someone you really connect with on the court can put a major dampener on your enjoyment of the game. The key here is finding someone you can have a great time with, but also compliments your game. For example, if you have a big forehand and like putting the ball away, seek out a partner who will set you up with an effective soft game.
9. Jump Up to the Next Level
Ratings aren’t everything, but the reason they are important is because they give you a tangible goal when it comes to improvement. Everyone knows that in order to get bumped up, you have to have success in tournaments. So how do you start being successful on a more consistent basis? Keep reading to find out…
10. DRILL, DRILL, DRILL!
You probably don’t want to hear this, but the undoubted, best way to improve your pickleball game is to DRILL. The problem with rec play, although it is fun, is that we often reinforce bad habits when our sole focus is on winning the game. According to professional player and 20+ time national champion Scott Moore, “The best way to drill is by making everything into a game. When you keep score while dinking, hitting third shot drops or working on serves and returns, your competitive juice will start flowing and you won’t even realize you were drilling!”
11. Learn to Beat the ‘Bangers’
Ah the dreaded bangers. Wouldn’t it be great if you could live in a world free from the fear of these big bad pickleball court bullies? Well we do believe in utopias, but in order to create one for yourself, you’re going to have to… (drumroll) Master the next resolution!
12. Develop Your Soft Game
The better you get, the more important the soft game becomes. There’s simply no other way to beat players who are faster, stronger, and probably better-looking than you! Yes, in addition to learning to dink for long periods of time, this does include hitting the anxiety-inducing 3rd shot drop. Now if you consider yourself (or everyone else considers you) a banger and are starting to feel bad about yourself, don’t! There’s nothing wrong with hitting the ball hard. The key is learning to use your power in the right situations.
13. Hit Your First Ernie or Around the Post Shot
Okay, before you dismiss this one as crazy take a deeeeeeeeeeeep breath. Good? Alright. These two shots actually aren’t as difficult as they might seem. The key to the ‘Ernie’ is understanding when to go for it. And then having the body control not to flip over the net into your opponents kitchen… Just kidding! The ‘Around the Post Shot’ is a little harder, but is all about footwork. PrimeTime Pickleball has a great instructional video to get you started.
14. Attend a Camp
Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to becoming a better pickleball player. Just like in any other sport, it takes time, dedication, and lots of practice to improve. But the best way to accelerate your development is to attend an intensive, multi-day camp organized by professional instructors. While you aren’t going to perfect all the material in just a few short days, if you can gain an understanding of what shot you should be hitting in every situation, all future time spent on the courts will be much more intentional and productive.
15. Train Off the Court
If you’re serious about improving on the court, you might want to start putting in a little time off the court as well. But don’t let this scare you! Something as simple as doing a few crunches every day or investing in an agility ladder to work on your footwork can go a long ways.
16. Start Stretching Before and After You Play
Athletes in any other sport would never go out and compete without stretching, but we see it too often in pickleball! Not only is warming up with dynamic or moving stretches essential to the performance of your muscles and joints as you age, it can also lead to better agility as well as quickness on the court. So next time you go out to play, start with a few lunges across the court and some arm circles to get your body going! Don’t let yourself be sidelined by a preventable injury.
17. Eat Healthy
You really are what you eat. Do you think about what you’re putting into your body before and after playing hours of pickleball? If you aren’t providing your body with the fuel it needs, you aren’t going to perform to the best of your ability. It’s especially important to avoid food with large amounts of processed sugar. Your body will thank you later!
18. Watch YouTube
Sounds like a good resolution, right? The internet is a wealth of knowledge so use it to your advantage to get better at pickleball. Whether you’re watching how the pros play the game or checking out tutorials on specific skills you need work on, the possibilities are endless! We’ve already included some great options in the previous sections.
19. Test Out a New Paddle
Finding a new paddle might not automatically take you from a 3.0 to a 5.0, but if you’re on the cusp of greatness, a little boost might be all you need! New technology and years of additional R&D have led to substantial improvements in paddle technology. We’re all about Paddletek’s Bantam Series and Tempest Wave, but there are a constantly growing number of other brands on the market worth trying out.
HAVE THE BEST PICKLEBALL YEAR OF YOUR LIFE
Whatever that means for you, go out there and make it happen! We’ll be cheering for you every step of the way 🙂