Column: Pickleball Warriors and places open to the public to play

'Paddle Up'

Pickleball warriors are not the average recreational players in the game. They know a lot about advanced strategies and skills and have a special mentality about winning.

Here is an example: Last year at a Prescott Valley tournament, Ruth twisted her knee while competing. She had this happen before. Her partner Ben went out to his truck got some duct tape, came in and taped up her leg and they completed their games. Now that takes a special mental state. I had seen duct tape used for many things in my life, but never a medical remedy.

According to Dr. Dan Burchfield, a local orthopedic surgeon and former Olympic surgeon, the thing that separates ordinary players from Olympic competitors aside from natural physical talent is focus and training. So how does one get focused on competition and avoid the flight and get to the fight position just before a match? Or to put it another way how do these sports warriors get over their nervousness and get focused on the game.

Michael Phelps always tunes into the same songs before every competition. Then his ritual is to step on and off the platform before the match four or five times. Roger Wolfe, a local pickleball competitor, said his ritual is to go out and play a soft game, than a hard warmup game. Than he goes into meditation and starts from the top of a stairwell in his mind, taking one step at a time to the bottom and concentrates on calming himself down so he can become completely focused. I reached out to others but either they did not have a routine, forgot, or wanted to keep theirs secret.

Sounds like that could happen’ with strong competitors. For me, I just played the theme song from the movie Rocky over and over long before I ever learned the game of Pickleball. It got me ramped up and focused on the competition ahead.

This game is easy to learn and does not require a whole lot of sports background. The basic lesson usually takes less than an hour to learn even from experienced coaches. Most of the time the beginning lesson is free to all as far as I know.

The places to learn to play the game are either private HOA’s or public facilities. The facilities that are available to the public for learning are Pioneer Park, Willow Hills Baptist church the Prescott Athletic Club Pronghorn Ranch in Prescott Valley and the YMCA Prescott at this time.

For Pioneer Park, contact the Prescott Pickleball Association online for dates and times. For Willow Hills Pickleball Club and the YMCA Prescott contact Bob as described below. Willow Hills and the Y are both indoor venues if that is important. For the Prescott Athletic Club, www.prescottathleticclub.com. For Pronghorn call Danny at 602-909-4053.

Bob Atherton is the Northern Arizona District Ambassador for the United States Pickleball Association (USAPA) a tier two Pickleball coach and credentialed teacher. You can contact Bob at bobca39@gmail.com or phone 928-499-2498.