Play in More Tournaments to Become a Better Pickleball Player

This letter is from Dick and Lawana Johnson. In it they talk about the best way a pickleball player can become an even better pickleball player.

DLJRecently, I enjoyed reading with great interest the two articles written by Silvino (Sill) Lyra about his participation in the Tournament of Champions. He was joined at that tournament by a small group of other Treasure Valley Pickleball players. Congratulations to all of them for, as they reported, their willingness to stretch themselves out of their comfort zone to play a bigger & tougher tourney. And, special congratulations to Sue & Kristi for bringing home a Gold Medal!

I also really emphasized with them on their heartfelt feelings and benefits from playing in such tourneys. I’ve been blessed to do well in many tourneys outside of Idaho, including many regionals and all the senior majors, during my 5 years in our wonderful game. And, I remember very well how tough, AND, discouraging it sometimes was, especially at first. But, like our fellow club members described in their articles, I also remember how beneficial and great fun it always was (and, still is!).

Earlier this week, I provided a free clinic for about 15 people, including Brian & Kalen McNatt, who played the tourney in the recent articles. Besides stroke & strategy improvement, the clinic included my thoughts about the importance and great value of playing as many tourneys as they could, especially those outside of our area. Emphasis was given that they would learn many valuable things that would greatly improve their stroke skills, strategy development, match & tournament preparation & toughness, etc. And, I told them that, in many ways, much of it could only be learned by actually playing tournaments. After all, why are some players called, “Tournament Tough,” and able to play very well, especially in difficult medal competition, as opposed to just playing socially when nothing is on the line, win or lose?

So, I guess my advice for folks wanting to really improve their games to an even higher level is for them to play more & tougher tourneys. Besides, they are great fun, both for skill improvement, making new friends, and social interaction. On the other hand, as we all know, our great sport is also lots of fun for those who just want to have a super time and build their skills along the way, without being involved too much in serious competition. It truly is a marvelous activity for all!!!

Pickleball has become a major highlight and one of the greatest blessings of Lawana’s and my life, especially as we’ve entered our sunset years. It literally helped me control my pretty serious diabetes condition, and, despite old age and injuries that have come with the game, it continues to help me be much more healthy. We continue very grateful for many wonderful people in our local pickleball world who originally got us started, continue to help us along the way, and contribute so much service to the sport.

Dick & Lawana Johnson