The USAPA newsletter recently posted an article written by Prem Carnot aka "The Pickleball Guru". He provided some interesting insights on the 'Tip from a Pro' section. The following are his words:
"Playing with better players forces YOU to play at the top of your ability, pay for your mistakes, and fast-tracks you to a higher skill level, but it does almost the OPPOSITE for your opponents. Playing with you keeps them from having to play at the top of their ability or paying for their mistakes.
Whatever your level, how can you graciously get to play with better players so as to improve your game? As a better player, when do you "remember your roots" and when is it fair to ask them to step aside so you can get in some higher level play" Here are some tips ...
To Play with opponents who are STRONGER than you:
- Ask politely and give them an out. "Do you all mind if I get a game in with you, or would you rather play on your own?"
- Ask when they are warming up or cooling down.
- If you do approach in the midst of higher-level play, ask "Hey, do you mind if I get a game in with you all before you quit today?" and let them continue.
- If they do play with you at the beginning of the day, be conscientious about letting them leave. "Hey, I see you can get a good game in against those guys, I'll sit this one out and maybe we can play again later if you have a chance."
- If you ask a stronger player to join a game with you, HIT TO THEM! No one likes to sit on a court watching their partner hit all the balls. They're doing you a favour by playing with you, so hit the ball to them at LEAST half the time. It will make you a better player, make it more interesting for them and more likely that they will play with you again.
- Don't be obnoxious if you beat a stronger player in recreational play. We all play our best when we play with better players. When we play with weaker players, it can be challenging to stay focused, so remember that they may not be playing at the top of their game.
When you play with opponents who are WEAKER than you:
- Remember, someone took you under their wing when you first started playing. Pay it forward and play regularly with players who are weaker than you.
- When you do, let them know in advance how long you're planning to play, you might say, "I'd love to play with you all for a game or two, but then I'd like to get in with those other players."
- Don't be patronizing - or overly aggressive. Pick a shot you want to improve upon and focus on hitting that shot. Or, try to reduce your number of unforced errors. Focus on patience & keeping the ball inn play rather than slamming every put-away shot."