Thursday, April 24, 2014

Exhibition Play at Villages Florida April 2014

In the Fall of 2013, at the USAPA Nationals Tournament In Arizona, the winning team in Open Men's came from the Villages in Florida.  It was the team of Phil Bagley age 45, and Brian Staub, age 51.  They beat Tim Nelson age 24 from Seattle, in Washington State and his partner Billy Jacobsen (51).

The exhibition video attached has 3/4 of a rematch.  In this match up though, Tim Nelson is paired with 51 year old Michael Gates from California.  Michael Gates is no slouch either as he teamed at Nationals with a Canadian lady, Luba Zhekhovskaya, age 53 from Surrey BC) to win the Gold Medal in Mixed Doubles .

The linked video includes two games to 15 with Staub/Bagley losing the first game to Nelson/Gates and winning the second one.  There is also about 10 minutes of singles play with a 19 year old against a 41 year old.

Focusing on the doubles matches, I mentioned the ages of the participants, because some of the things that these players did we older folks should not try at home.  Younger players have faster minds and hands than us seniors.  That does not mean that younger players will necessarily beat us, but playing them requires a different strategy, than some of the ones seen in this video.

In that all 4 doubles players are very experienced 5.0 players, they play a very good short game.  Third shot drops are almost always just over the net.

To start, in the two games there was ONE missed serve, and that was a clear concentration error.  None of the serves were fancy, just putting the ball in play.

Second shots were almost always reasonably deep.  That allowed the returning team to get to the net and be set before the third shot drop.

The serving team was often kept back from the non-volley line by good play from the return team who were already at the net.  But, the serving team did not take being away from the net as a disadvantage and pressed themselves on to the net by smart short play.

There was  also a lot of aggressive hard volleying at the net, and most of the time the volleys were able to be slowed down by the opposition to keep the ball in play.  There is one 46 shot rally starting about the 8:30 mark with multiple sets of hard volleys followed by side to side dink shots.

The most successful hard shots were placement shots that followed a ball hit to the backhand of one of the players, which was returned across the net to the opposite player who was able to drill a shot low over the net just past the forehand side of the player who had hit the backhand earlier.  When a player is on his backhand, there is a small space and time gap because of the amount of time it takes for that player to return to a neutral position able to hit either a forehand or backhand shot.

An interesting strategy was targeting of a player.  Tim Nelson is known as a quick handed smart player, so Staub/Bagley hit a large percentage of their shots to Michael Gates intentionally.  Michael Gates is an excellent player, but lacks a bit of the speed of Nelson, and might be a bit shorter on savvy.  He is also more than twice the age of Tim Nelson, and that was certainly a factor.  This was not a specific targeting to his backhand or his forehand because it might have been weaker, but a targeting of him period.

Targeting one opponent can be a very successful strategy, particularly if you target that player's greatest weakness, which is usually the backhand.

I did not see evidence that Nelson/Gates targeted Staub/Bagley at any time.  My logic in that would be that you would be picking your poison.  Both Staub/Bagley are very effective on forehand and backhand shots. They are the only team I have watched who consistently hit backhand returns of serve.  Most of us will move around a served ball to deliver a forehand return.  These two don't and don't need to.

For tips on effective backhands, Brain Staub is a good person to watch and learn from.  In any backhand shots of substance, by that I mean other than the little ticky tacky dink shots, if you watch Staub you will notice that as his right paddle hand moves into the ball and away from his body, his left non paddle hand moves away from the body as well.

For the fun of it, stand up and pretend that you have a paddle in your playing hand.move that hand across and away from your body as you would taking a backhand shot.  Notice that your upper body moved a bit, or possibly a lot.  Now try the same movement, but also do the same motion with your non paddle hand. Notice that your upper body was more stationary the second time than the first time.

One of the things that hurts most people's backhands is that the upper body is not quiet.  Consequently, you were planning on hitting the ball at a certain point, and find that because of the movement of your body that the ball does not go where you want it to.  There is far better control of the body and the ball if you use a technique like Brian Staub does with his backhands.

Well, enough analysis, watch the video and see if you pick up things that can be added to your arsenal.

Here is the link to it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Early Thoughts on Scheduling for 2014-2015

It is really too early and things are too uncertain for us to schedule play for next year, but the questions being raised by some of you are sufficient enough and significant enough that I thought I could outline where I think we will be heading to allay anxieties.  Pickleball is so much fun that about the last thing we need to do is have anxiety about it.

For those who have played here over the last several years, we have had 4 courts available.  We usually show up between 8:30 and 9:30 and play with whoever is available until 10:00 or 11:30, usually until we get tired.

Until last year, we actually only did this on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  It was only last year that we went to 6 days a week, and this year some people showed up to play on Sundays as well.  This year we added in some Beginner clinics and Skills clinics on some afternoons.  In short, the courts were seriously underused, but crowded at particular times.

For next year, we will have 8 courts available to us to play on.  So, unless people come knocking on the RCW doorstep, RV in tow, and paddles in hand, we are likely to have still more available court time.  That is one of the reasons that I have indicated that we will plan on bringing in members of other clubs at particular times to raise the competition level and to introduce other people to Rincon, and us to them.  The invitations are likely to be reciprocal.

But, the purpose of forming the pickleball club was to move past the status quo and make ourselves a more competitive club, while honoring beginners, and those who are happy just playing friendly games.  We have had many occasions here where the better players cannot get a game with other better players, since they have to play whoever is waiting (which is fair under the circumstances).  As well, weaker players have often gotten over matched because the better players were who was available at the time.

So, our first priority in any given day will be Open Play.  That is basically what we have done all along. Open play is likely to take place from 8-10 am every day.  So, for those for whom pickleball is not the primary thing in their life, they can have a few games and go and do some of the many other things that Rincon and Tucson have to offer.

For those who enjoy the Open Play format, we are likely to have a second two hour block of time in the afternoon set aside for this style of play.

Open play can include concepts like Challenges.  On courts where challenges are being played, the losing team leaves and the next team that has challenged in to the court takes their place.  Winners stay, and losers move on to challenge on some other court.  I saw this working at Palm Creek and it was an effective way for people to get good competitive experience at little emotional cost.

We might then have the time slot of 10-12 for round robin or shootout play for more advanced players, depending on the numbers, and possibly for invitees as well.  Whereas the Open Play that begins the day will be on all courts, advanced play will be on only those courts required based on numbers for advanced play. We will know in advance what the numbers are, and courts not required for this play will be released to Open Play.

Essentially, any court not required for a particular event will be available for Open Play.

Here is an example of the court schedule at Palm Creek for this past winter.  It is relevant to note that Palm Creek has 24 courts and over 700 playing members, so is not a perfect comparison.  But, the concept of booking the courts for 2 hour blocks of time is pertinent to what we want to accomplish.

Scheduled events can include Round Robins, where several pairs will sign up to play against other pairs, and may over time play one game against each signed up team in their bracket.  An objective is to have a winning team in the bracket, but the bigger objective is to get pairs competition in a relaxed atmosphere.

Another event is Shootouts.  In shootouts, players play as individuals, and play one game paired with each of the other 3 players on their court.  Each individual carries the score of his team in the game over the three games.  The one or two with the least points move down a court, and the two winners of the next court down move up for the next round of play.

In shootouts, the objective is in part to get people playing at their own levels, which occurs over time, but also allows the best two of any group of four to move up to the next court to get to play against better players.  Shootouts become very dynamic, and provide lots of challenge in a fun environment.

We will also schedule coaching sessions to allow beginners and advanced players to build up their pickleball skill set.  Other clubs have arranged for either Mark Friedenberg, one of the founders of the USAPA, and one of the best players, even at 67, in the country, or Prem Carnot, who is called the Pickleball Guru to give coaching sessions at a level far beyond what we are capable of doing, and we will be looking into that for next year as well.

Hopefully this gives you some thoughts on how we might be doing things next year.  Nothing is cast in stone yet, but these are a few of the ideas that have been bandied about.

The Fall will likely be heavily Open Play oriented since numbers are limited at that time.  But, by January we will focus on having a schedule that works for all.

Friday, April 18, 2014

First RCW Video Effort

In 2012, Allan was thinking ahead, and was trying to move us into technology.  His first idea was to use the Apple iMovie application and create a short video of pickleball here at Rincon West.

In trying to update this blog today, we came across and decided to share it with you.

Here it is.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Playing Pickleball at RCW Fall 2014 - Spring 2015

Playing pickleball is a lot of fun.  There is the play aspect, where we are out there getting exercise in the Arizona sunshine, and that is hard to beat.  The people we meet at pickleball are relaxed, and enjoying their winter retreat.  First of all, the people that are here are either retired or taking retirement for a test drive.  So, the toughest decisions of our day are what time to take a nap, or whether to play pickleball, go hiking, biking or to the wood shop, or maybe a sightseeing or shopping expedition.  For the more adventurous, maybe doing a few of these things or some others as well fits the bill.  The people here can also afford to be here.  It is not terribly expensive, especially for those who have purchased a “can”dominium here, and so we should all be walking around with a “pinch me, I must be dreaming” attitude of gratitude for being able to be here.  There are many others who cannot afford to quit their jobs, or who are living in poverty.

Many of you might say that pickleball was a lot of fun before we started organizing our RCW Pickleball Club, so why change?  Also, what changes are in store for next year?

In fact, over the last few years, Rincon Country West RV Resort has fallen behind the pickleball curve.  At least some of you would say: “So what?”


Well, the “So What” is kind of important to us, and is behind the move to bolster our club.  While Rincon has had courts for 5 years or so, other places like Palm Creek and Voyager, as well as a large number of the other RV Resorts have gotten into pickleball in a big way.  What this has meant for their parks has been a large increase in people making these parks into their winter home.  Those people did not come to Rincon Country West or East for that matter, and though George and the O’Leary family have maintained the parks very well, a large contingent of people looking for pickleball in the winter have gone elsewhere.  For those of us who own metal mansions here, our property value has decreased, and cannot be excused just by a recession, since that is not what is being seen at parks that have stressed pickleball.

A couple of years ago, we would go to the pickleball courts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, and play for a few hours.  Then we went to daily play here, still only a few hours in the morning.  Now, we have some instruction at other times, and some people wander down to play or drill as they choose.

We have 4 courts, and are promised to have 4 new courts by the Fall with the original 4 being refurbished with proper nets as you would find on the best courts in the land.  To a certain extent George O’Leary, our park owner is doing this to keep up with the Joneses.  But, for us in the pickleball club, this is an opportunity to do some new things, and to make advances like other clubs have done.  If we do not do our part, then George’s investment in new courts, which equates to about $25,000 per court will be wasted, and I believe that we will suffer further deterioration of our property values.  No other activity at the park is likely to bring a significant number of new people to the park, and keep them here.

I like it here, and at 64 years of age, want to be here for a lot of years, and I want to see more younger people come to the park so that there will be a park when we are gone, that remains vibrant and growing.  That, for me is the “So What”.

But what are the actual whats and how do they affect each of us going forward?  That is the $64,000 question.  A number of concerns have been raised by members lately and they are all valid, and so I am attempting to address them in this posting.

Open Play

Open Play is the opportunity for anybody to come and have a game on the pickleball courts.  Open Play is the mainstay of every pickleball club.  It is how people are introduced to this great game we play.
Open Play means that at Open Play scheduled times of the day, anybody can come to the court and have a game with people they want to play with and who want to play with them.  That does not require you to play with anybody in particular, nor them with you.  Every club I have seen maintains a significant amount of court time for Open Play.

We intend to maintain 8-10 am as Open Play times, and may add another two hour window later in the day, based on demand.

Remember that to date we have only been able to keep 4 courts busy 2 hours a day, and unless we have a giant influx of people banging at the gate on November 1 will have court time available for the foreseeable future.

There is no plan whatsoever, nor will there ever be, to prevent people from playing pickleball at whatever level they are currently at or aspire to.

Skill Level Rating

The USAPA (USA Pickleball Association) provides rating categories for pickleball players.  This allows players to be grouped for competitive play.  It allows really good players to know who the other really good players are, and to arrange games with them either in Open Play or in particular scheduled play during the day.  It also helps people to find partners for tournaments.

Nobody has to be rated to play Pickleball at Rincon or at any other club of which I am aware.
As we get more and better players here, which is one of our goals, these players will be able to congregate for Round Robins, Shootouts, and other in house competitions, at times and courts that are designated for that purpose.

Good clubs see what the demand is for competitive play and for Open play and arrange schedules during the day to accommodate both types of play and players.

This might result in us having some or all of our courts scheduled for Round Robins from 10-12 am, if the demand exists, and possibly at other times.

What we will see in all likelihood, as other parks have seen, is that the better players come down at 9 am or so, and play a couple of games with less experienced players to help those who wish to improve their games, and to warm up for more competitive games later.

But, being rated is not a requirement here, and again at any park of which I have knowledge.  If the demand exists, then we will arrange to rate players who wish it.


One of the things that we will be doing is requiring that all people who play with us join the Pickleball Club as members.  This is not a lot different from any other club that is active here in the park, and is long overdue.
Pickleball is a much easier game to start playing than say tennis, for example.  Someone with little to no court experience can have a lot of fun picking up a new game, and meeting new friends.  But, there are risks involved, and we have not managed or mitigated these risks in the past.

Recently, we had a new player bang his head, resulting in a trip to the Clinic and an MRI.  Another pulled a hamstring, and from time to time others have hurt themselves, me included.  It is easy to get into the game, and for lack of experience and knowledge make our bodies do things they might have done years ago, and they provide resistance that was unexpected.  It reminds me of a paraphrase of an old adage that I heard one time and have used myself.  It is: “Men will be boys.”  There are times particularly with men, that we just think we are 20 again, and try to do things that our bodies just cannot do anymore.  That is when we get hurt.

Part of our membership will be to have players sign a waiver of liability to exonerate Rincon in case of an accident.  If you choose to play pickleball, you should be aware of any inherent risks, and should be prepared to take the responsibility for accepting those risks upon yourself.

Members will be able to sign up for play at any scheduled time or come to the courts and play in Open Play.
Anyone who is not a member of the Club may not participate in group play on the Club courts.  If someone chooses not to be a member, they may bring their own balls and paddles to the court when there are no events scheduled and play to their heart’s content.  However, anyone playing on the courts must have signed a waiver of liability.

Cost of Membership

Starting with 2014-2015, we will be charging for membership.  We will no longer be doing a spaghetti fundraiser, unless we do it to raise funds for a specific purpose, and the membership dues will take the place of that.

As Bert Coates and I explained to George in a recent meeting, we wish to change our focus from inward to outward to draw others to Rincon Country West.  To that end, we will be arranging visitor play for round robins, shootouts, and we hope tournaments during the coming years. 

There will be a couple of aspects to these events.  We want others to come and play with us, and we want to entertain them and ourselves.  So, we will be arranging small pot lucks or BBQs to go along with groups coming in, and all members will be invited.  Members may participate in the events, or may choose to come only for viewing or for the social aspect.

Members will be charged $20 for the year, and for those who come for shorter spans, may choose to pay $5 per month.  For those who are new to the park, we will be giving a 1 week free membership so that they can try out the game, or try the game in this park, and see if it something they want to participate in.


In the past, we have provided paddles for a couple of reasons.  When we were getting started, paddles were hard to come by.  Also, none of us were committed enough to the game to buy our own.  Since then, our paddles have deteriorated, and are in need of replacement.  We will be giving most of the existing paddles a proper burial, with or without a memorial service.

The park will provide us with 4 new paddles for the Fall, and will stock similar paddles in the on site store for those who are looking to buy a paddle.  We will also post on this site locations where paddles can be purchased either online or in retail locations.

Paddles are for new users who have not committed to play the game.  Members will be expected to acquire their own paddles.

These are all changes from how things have been handled in the past, and we acknowledge that not every step we take will be applauded, nor appreciated.  The steps we are taking are to provide a better, more professional and growing environment for us all to enjoy the game at whatever stage of life or play we are at.
Please feel free to comment on changes you like or do not like.

You may contact me directly with any questions or comments that you have.  Or you may contact any of the other directors of the pickleball club with your questions or concerns.

Michael Brandon

Bert Coates
Vice President

Don Heimke
Vice President

Sally Lyddon
Vice President
Dave Lyddon

Allan Schreiber
Director Communications

Mike Wood

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pickleball - Hit 'em Where They Ain't

 William Henry Keeler was one of the best baseball players in professional baseball in the 1800’s.  He was probably good enough that he would have been a pretty good ball player in the last century as well.  But, one thing that was distinctive about him was that he was diminutive, so he had to be better than most just to play.  He stood 5’4 ½”, and weighed in at a hefty 140 pounds.  Hence, he carried around the moniker, “Wee Willie Keeler.”

Wee Willie was a pure hitter.  He was what ball fans would call a contact hitter.  He is in the Hall of Fame, but he is probably best known for the advice he gave to hitters, which is why I brought him up.  He said: “Keep your eye clear, and hit ‘em where they ain’t.”  Okay, so you retired school teachers out there might want to critique his grammar, but the man was, in fact, articulate and erudite.

Ball players of the modern age would do well to take his advice to heart, but I contend that pickleball players would also gain by pondering and appropriating his words.

Anybody who has played pickleball has noticed that their game improves with more play.  However, they will also note that there comes a time when play alone will no longer make their game much better.  There is a diminishing return to the benefits gained from more games played.

So, those wishing to improve their game are likely to then spend time on skill building drills and exercises that they find published somewhere, or that they create themselves.  One of my friends spends a lot of time in a year hitting balls up against a wall, and this has given him a very fast paddle hand.  Other friends have focused on dinking drills, serving drills, lobbing drills, all of which are readily available and which can be practiced though usually with at least one willing partner.

But, there is only so far you can go with your game by building skills, just as at a lower level of competence, there was only so far you could go just playing more games.

Most of us like to go out to the courts with our group of players, take a few warm-up shots, and then get into a game.  Very few even want to do skills work.  Those who have done the work to build up the skills so they can use them in a game do advance their game much further than those who want to just play.  They don’t necessarily have more fun, and for many fun is just being able to hit the ball and hang around other players who feel the same.

But, this is addressed to those of you who want to get to another, higher level of play.  Maybe you have watched some 5.0’s play in tournaments either live or on YouTube videos, or have watched some better players in your own club, and contemplated that you could do that, whatever that is.

Well, before we breakdown Wee Willie’s quote, let’s take two from another more famous ball player, cum philosopher, that great New York Yankee catcher of the mid twentieth century, Yogi Berra.

Yogi had two things to say that are pertinent to this discussion.  Many other bons mots that he offered to the world have at least humorous value, but often held a gem of wisdom.  First he said: “You can observe a lot by watching.”  As well, he famously said: “Baseball is 90% mental.  The other half is physical.”

You Can Observe a Lot by Watching

Pickleball players are a lot like everybody else.  We tend to see the world and what’s in it not as it is, but as we are (Anais Nin/Stephen Covery et al).  We bring our history to the game, and it tends to permeate our play.  Tennis players make good pickleball players, but they often end up being pickleball playing tennis players, instead of pickleball players.  Some will wonder why that long looping forehand is not as successful as it was when they first started playing pickleball.  You can pick out the tennis players who have not yet become pickleball players by watching them.

The same is true for former squash players like me, racquetball players and badminton players.  Those of us who have come from another racquet discipline see the pickleball world through the glasses of our racquet experiences, and it is challenging to go in a different direction, which is necessary to advance our game.
One of my favorite players never played a racquet sport before his 60’s.  He had worked in construction so he knew how to hold a hammer, and a set of pliers, which amazingly translated into a continental grip, which is one of the racquet grips suitable for pickleball.

But, as well, we would be playing a game and he would come to me and tell me to play one of the opposition players in a certain way.  And, invariably he would be right.

You see, he was watching and was observing tendencies, and then would capitalize on them during the game.  I was too busy hitting the ball to notice.

He is a proof to me that to advance your game beyond just skills, you need first to be observing what is going on around you with a fresh set of eyes, not tainted by past history, but with a childlike wonder at what is going on.

Baseball is 90% mental.  The other half is physical.

So, let’s take a look at Yogi’s other quote before we look to Wee Willie.  Baseball is one American pastime that has been analyzed statistically to death. There are stats for most things that happen in a baseball game, and that fascination with statistics tends to override the reality that baseball is a cerebral game, like every game of skill.

Many years ago, I did work for the Toronto Blue Jays, and was trying to introduce them to a statistical measuring computer system to assist them in dugout decisions.  To my surprise initially, the field manager at the time, and the General Manager were concerned that the computer would make them less reliant on their gut feelings that were the basis of so many of their on field decisions.  I assured them that although the statistics did not lie, they were not required to make a decision based on the stats, but could still use their intuition.

They knew what I did not at the time, being a 30 something wet behind the ear pseudo computer geek, that intuition is a powerful tool in sport decision making.  It is the essence of the cerebral.
Pickleball, played at advanced levels is a very cerebral game.  If you are getting to play pickleball at a high level and are not using your head for more than a hat rack, then you are losing a lot of games, many more than you should.

Let me give an example of using your head in pickleball.  One day this winter, my partner John Szabo and I were up at Palm Creek preparing for a tournament there that weekend.  We were playing a game against two guys we had met over the last year and both were rated at a higher level than we were.  In this particular game, we got up 10-4, and were cruising to a victory.  After we got our 10th point, we were at the net, and one of our opponents, who has a good sense of humor, said to us: “You know that 11th point is the hardest one to get.”  Well, we did get the 11th point, but it was not enough since they got 13.  He got in our heads that game, and every game since where we have gotten a good lead and had that 10th point, I have had his voice in my head.  Our opponent used his head and got into our heads.

So, on to Wee Willie’s advice, but we will break it down into its two components.

Keep Your Eye Clear

Keep your eye clear is more metaphorical than actual in the sense that there is a tendency in playing pickleball to focus on the ball coming to you or going from you, and not seeing the rest of the play, not seeing the forest for the trees.

Some times in pickleball, the ball is coming so fast that you can only react to it, and taking your eye off the ball is bad for business.

But, how often do you actually look at the positioning of your opponents and gauge what opportunities that leaves for your shots?  How often do you even notice that one of your opponents is left handed, or that one tends to stay back from the non-volley line a step or two?  Do you see how they communicate or don’t and how they handle shots down the middle?

Wayne Gretsky and Gordie Howe were two of the best hockey players of the 20th Century.  They shared one thing in common that was uncommon among their peers.  They had great peripheral vision, and could see the play unfolding before it did.  Gordie Howe never seemed to move in his later years, but was always where the puck was.  Wayne Gretsky could thread a needle with a pass.

In skilled pickleball, you have to be thinking at least two shots ahead of the current shot.  So often in pickleball, when one partner misses a shot, he does so because his partner put a weak shot to the opposition who, in turn, gave that other partner less opportunity to make a good shot than was needed at the time.  A forced error often develops over 3 or 4 shots.

So, keeping your eye clear is about seeing how the play is developing, and what opportunities and challenges that means for you and your partner.  This then allows you to be proactive in handling the situation and turn disadvantages into advantages.

Most players play the balls that come to them.  In fact, that seems intuitive, but is a defensive stance to play.  What if you look for the opportunities to play your opponents’ weaknesses that you are already aware of or are gathering more awareness of, and seek to capitalize on?  What if you take a strategic look, not just a 
tactical look?

Hit ‘em Where They Ain’t

Talk about something that is intuitive.  Of course, we want to hit them where they can’t get them.
We may want to do that, but how many of us hit shot after shot right on to the paddle of our opponent?  The other day, I hit three shots right on to the paddle of our opposition.  All shots were at their feet, but so were their paddles, and so for three shots I made them look good.  It was not until the 4th shot that I went down the middle. That was an eye opener for me.  I had time to set up each shot, and each time I hit for their feet, which is normally a good idea, but I did not take into account where they were positioned on the court or their hand position, and made it a lot harder than it had to be.  I risked an unforced error on my part by not hitting to the holes on the court.

It is important to focus on the ball, so that you can get to where it is going if it is for you to play.  But, focus on the ball should not imply ignoring everything else that is going on on the court.
Here are a few things to see out of the periphery that are to be stored for later use, or put to more immediate use in the rally.

When you served to the backhand of the opponent, did he/she move around the ball to be able to hit you a forehand in return?  For an opponent to turn an obvious backhand into a forehand tells you a couple of things.  First, the obvious is that like most other people the opponent is not as comfortable with his backhand.  But, second, it means that the opponent has wheels, and the ability to move quickly on the court, that is an advantage for him/her but can be stored up and used later by you.

Were your opponents returns of your serve deep, and where were they deep to?  Were they deep to your or your partner’s backhands, or were they shallow?  Was your opponent just putting the ball in play or was there a strategic advantage he/she was looking for?

Was your opponent able to put the third shot just over the net into the non volley zone accurately and consistently?  Where did he/she go for in the non-volley zone, the center, or the sides or nowhere in particular?

Were your opponents lurching for the ball at the net, or were they consistently in position for your shots and patient in looking for an opportunity to take the point?

The various phases and components of the game should raise questions for you about the play of your opponents.  Watching how they handle the components and phases should give you food for thought, and opportunities to capitalize on gaps.

When you see what the gaps in their play are, then you can become aware of where the gaps are on the court, and you can Hit ‘em where they ain’t.

Good players get to a place in their game where the game slows down for them, and they have time to observe their opponent, and adjust their play accordingly.  This means that they have more than one way of playing any particular shot, even though they might have preferences.

You cannot get to this style of play without having learned the basics of the game, and developed the composite skills necessary to handle the ball in all circumstances.  But, this is where the game gets even better, and more fun.

News report on Pickleball

This is an interesting report on the increasing popularity of Pickleball