Pickleball Loss

My Pickleball Journal – Day 17: A Rollercoaster of Emotions

Pickleball is a sport that requires skill, strategy, and persistence. As I continue to improve and learn more about the game, each day brings new challenges and opportunities for growth. Day 17 of my pickleball journal was no exception.

Drills and Games

Warm-up and Dinking Drills

I arrived at Pontiff around 5:30 PM, ready to practice and play. AJ was already on the court playing a match, so I began stretching and preparing for our drills. We focused on dinking, working on keeping the ball low to the net while dropping it into the kitchen. I also focused on keeping my paddle up and out in front of me.

I also realized that I still need to improve my footwork. But after doing these drills I was excited because I was consistently getting many more dinks over the net at the correct height. I am more consistent when I dink back straight, and make more errors when attempting to change the angle of the dink to the sidelines. AJ and I were just about to start another drill . We were practicing dropping the return from the baseline into the kitchen, when Pat asked us to play the next game on the other court.

Competitive Games with Partners

We played some games, and I was feeling more limber and nimble than before. I played well with my partner Patrick, and we beat AJ and Tuna in the first match 11 to 7. In the next match, AJ and I faced off against Patrick and Tim. While I made a few errors, I quickly identified them and tried not to repeat them. We had some intense volleys at the net, but ultimately we won 11 to 9.

The next match was AJ and Tim against Me and Patrick. During the match I still made a few errors (7 to be exact), but I quickly identified them and attempted to not repeat them. AJ and I actually got into two firefights at the net and I surprisingly held my own for 4 or 5 volleys during each, but eventually he put the ball away. This match was fun and pretty even, and we ended up winning 11 to 9.

Casual Games with Austin and Tuna

After this match there were other players waiting to play, so I sat and watched for a few minutes. Austin and another guy arrived, so we started another game on the other court. Austin and I played against Tuna and the other player for 2 matches, and these were more casual. I was trying not to slam the ball too hard, but Tuna set me up for quite a few easy slams.

During these matches Austin stated that he was breaking in his new paddle, which was the same as mine. I then noticed Tuna’s paddle, and told her to try my Ben Johns Hyperion. She was playing with a cutting board type hard paddle. She immediately noticed the difference, and said that she needed to buy a new paddle for her and Dev.

Austin and I ended up losing both games 9 to 11. But they were long games with serve switching frequently. These games were fun, and I felt like I was playing with people on my current level.

Backhand Return Drills

There was a match being played on one court, but the other was empty. I took a break for a few matches, then AJ and I started doing more drills on the open court. We began working on my backhand returns and I asked plenty of questions about how deep to send the ball, and how high to hit the return. This drill morphed into climbing the mountain two steps each time that I hit a good return that dropped into the kitchen.

After about 20 minutes, a couple showed up that AJ had played with a few months ago, and we started to play a match. AJ and I against the couple. During the match, the guy complimented AJ on his improvement since the last time they had played. We won the match easily 11 to 2, and I was feeling confident and proud of my skills.

Unexpected Emotions

AJ then decided that he was done playing, but I still wanted to play one more match. So I teamed up with the guy that we were just playing against. His partner teamed up with her friend that had just arrived. I hit some great dinks during this game, and put the ball away a few times on high hanging returns. We played very well together, and won the match 11 to 5.

Arrival of New Players

Many of the other players had left, but At 8 PM two 4.0 players that were visiting New Orleans for a conference arrived at Pontiff to play. AJ had just changed his shoes and we were about to go home for dinner.

Austin and Tim Play Against Visitors

We watched as Austin and Tim played these visiting players, and in my opinion they seemed to pick on Tim’s hurt ankle, causing him to reach, move, and stretch for balls which he couldn’t do with his injury. I could see it in AJ’s eyes that he wanted to play another game against them. I told AJ that I was okay with staying for a bit longer so that we could play a game against these guys. We sat and watched the rest of the match, and the visitors won 11 to 2.

Feeling Left Out

This was when I received a dose of humility. AJ stood up to play the next game and said that he was going to play with Tim as his partner. Dejected, I simply replied Okay and watched them play the match. I was genuinely upset and my feelings were hurt. No disrespect to Tim, but I felt like the last kid picked in a pickup basketball game (or the odd kid out that didn’t get picked). Tim is currently dealing with a sprained ankle and limited mobility. If he were at 100%, I probably wouldn’t have taken it so hard, because he has far more experience than I do.

Although I know that my level of play isn’t close to 4.0 yet, I assumed that I was now a decent player, and that AJ shared my opinion. I realized that he did not, and that really stung. AJ and Tim lost the match 5 to 11. After the game they decided that they were about to play another match, but I was ready to go home.

After discovering that my new found confidence was probably a false view of my skills, and the little aches that my body is feeling, I’m no longer excited about playing tomorrow, and will probably take a few days off to rest.

Reflecting on Emotional Resilience

As I reflect on Day 17 of my pickleball journey, I realize that the sport is not just about physical skill, but also emotional resilience. Each day presents new challenges, and it’s important to stay humble and open to learning. While I may have experienced a moment of disappointment, I know that I will continue to improve and grow in the game. And maybe one day I’ll be good enough in my son’s eyes to play in a competitive match as his partner.

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