Saturday, October 23, 2021

Settling in for Summer

Coach Wayne’s Corner

Photo by Wayne Clark

In my last column, “In My Own Back Yard,” I discussed hosting the US Open Pickleball Championships, and for me, it seems that “The Open” kind of presents itself as the final chapter to the end of season. No more traffic, no more long lines at the grocery store, no waiting for a table at our favorite restaurants, and unfortunately, not as many pickleball players around either!

As a player and coach, I see the off season as a good time to experiment and work on improving my game. 

This time of year our daily pickleball routine drastically changes. While we don’t have to wait for a court to open up, at the same time, we may have trouble finding three other players to make a foursome! So here are a few recommendations on how to reinvent your game for the off season.

The first thing I suggest is to venture out and play at new places. Go and play at a location somewhere nearby. For instance, if you live in Naples, go down and play at The Marco Island Racquet Center, or if you live on Marco, venture up to East Naples Park. Better yet, make an entire fun day out of it; you can spend the morning playing and making new friends, then go to lunch, and just for fun, maybe do a little shopping for a new outfit. 

FYI, the Pro Shop at East Naples Park now carries a full line of Fila pickleball clothing, shoes and accessories.

Beyond venturing out, making new friends and looking marvelous in your new pickleball duds, the off season is a good time to work on those mid and long term game improvement goals I have written about and here are a few suggestions on that topic.

Seek out a qualified instructor and take either some private or semi-private lessons, or some drills clinics with your spouse or a friend. The instructors at The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida offer daily drills and skills clinics for all level of players.

Begin experimenting with new or advanced strategies like stacking.

Make an effort to learn a variety of spins to apply to your serve.

Add a new stroke to your arsenal, such as learning to hit a solid one handed backhand slice.

Here’s another suggestion, if you are having trouble finding three other players and waiting to get a foursome and there is an open court, play some skinny singles (a game which I will cover in an upcoming column).

And if you are going on vacation, don’t forget to take your paddle with you so you can play if there happens to be pickleball at your vacation destination.

This is also a good time to work on improving your fitness level during the hot and humid months and you will really be in shape, which will result in you being in top notch condition when the weather cools off in the fall.

Lastly and most importantly, pace yourself and stay well hydrated during the hot and humid months.

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