Thursday, January 27, 2022

Formula 1 Pickleball

Coach Wayne’s Corner

Many different sports correlate, relate and connect with one another. Whenever I compete in a sport, I like to compare and utilize knowledge which I have gained from other sports and apply those strategies to whatever game I am playing.

While I have never had the privilege of being personally or professionally involved with Formula 1 racing, I have been a fan of the sport since childhood. My understanding and comprehension of Formula 1 is derived from many years of watching races and reading interviews with drivers. The mental and physical conditioning that is required of these drivers/athletes is amazing.

One of my bucket list items is to one day challenge my driving skills on the road course at Nurburgring. It does not matter what kind of car you are in or how fast you are driving, the Nurburgring course is designed to challenge a driver’s skills, abilities and nerves.

Ok, so enough about me and my pipedreams. The question here is, what in the world do the sport of pickleball and the sport of Formula 1 racing have in common with one another?

Let’s compare the two sports.

Formula 1 drivers must always be assessing and reassessing everything that is going on around them, both inside and outside of their cars. Adjustments to their strategic game plans, as well as to the performance and handling of their cars are being made on a minute by minute/second by second timeframe. While all of this is going on, they are focusing on where they are on the race course, what gear they are in, what speed they are going, as well as how to set up for, go into/find the apex of and exit turns. In addition to all of that, these highly competitive athletes remain constantly aware of any opportunity to gain an advantage on other drivers.

All of the above constitute a wide variety of mental and physical challenges occurring all at the same time!

Like Formula 1 racing, there are a wide variety of challenges occurring all at the same time when we are competing in the sport of pickleball. We must always be assessing and reassessing everything that is going on around us. We must make minute by minute/second by second adjustments to our strategic game plans, while focusing on where we are in our course action. We are constantly dealing with issues related to different speeds on the ball, at different (sometimes) extreme angles, which requires us to find and create the correct apex of the flight of the ball to get it to land precisely where we want on our opponents side of the court. And most importantly, we must always be aware of any opportunity to gain an advantage on our opponents!

Just like Formula 1 drivers dealing with different speeds, gears and turns, as pickleball players, we need to know when to hold off and wait for the right opportunity to put the pedal to the metal and successfully/safely, (aka high percentage play), pass the car in front of us. We also need to know when to play strategically sound defense and try to prevent another driver from passing us.

So as a pickleball player, when you are competing in a point, battling it out at the kitchen line and having to deal with soft dinks, followed by speed volley exchanges and then back to soft dinks, be like a Formula 1 driver; know when to change gears, when to drive fast, when to drive slow and when to pass the driver in front of you, (aka, put the point away) and win the race!

Wayne Clark is a certified professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction. Contact Coach Wayne by email at or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.

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