Jimmy T Tran

July 3, 2022

Here's what I learned from playing 1 Year of Pickleball

It's just about 1 year of playing pickleball on a regular basis (3 days a week minimum for at least 2 hours, so 6 hours a week). But, if I do a true tally, it's more like 10 hours a week, now including Saturdays. Shout out to the Dars and where it all started: Booker T Anderson Park in Richmond.

At first, of course I wasn't great. I don't even have tennis experience. I did pick up Ping Pong experience in Viet Nam. I've had some folks comment on that, though I do have long shots that seem like I have tennis experience.

Friends have said I'm a 3.5ish (after playing for 10 hours a week for a year). I still haven't even looked into what that means, and I've seen 1-2 videos on Pickleball stuff, but not much. I learn everything in real-time play, on court.

Off the top, here's some things I remember learning:
  • When it comes to returning the pickleball, you have more time than you think
  • Beware of happy feet, you can return shots with better accuracy with still feet
  • Pretend you need to stretch a rubber band between you and your partner: If they move to the right, you move to the left, etc. (you want to cover as much of the court as a pair)
  • Always have the paddle held with the face, perpendicular to your feet (so you are always ready to either forehand, or backhand)
  • Your grip should be so loose, someone can pull your paddle from your grip easily (for adaptability, depending on what kind of return you need to employ)
  • Like a professional basketball player's free throw attempt: have a routine you do every single time you serve the pickleball
  • Switching the paddle between your hands is legal, unlike in tennis (this is what I do)
  • You can jump diagonally across the kitchen (when the ball hasn't bounced in), to the outer boundary
  • 65% of the times at the kitchen line, I can just hold my paddle there, and return [a return shot] with no effort, other than a decent return angle
  • Old-timers can be amazing, youngings can suck: always be ready for the challenge, not judgemental
  • With the high-falling shots, be like that desk-toy bird that bows their head at a continually revolving 90 degree angle
  • No lead is safe [rally on the 10], you can always make a comeback. be confident in yourself
  • When you raise your partner's confidence, your chances of winning are always better (and the match is always more fun)
  • Keep it low, and slow
  • Lobs towards the backline are actually the most gratifying (though kill shots get all the glory). Backline lobs are like Steph Curry 3s. Kill shots are like Michael Jordan dunks.
  • Wear sunscreen, eat a banana, drink water
  • My 3 highly recommended workouts: squats, jumping squats and suicide runs