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Why your pickleball shots need to be PAMPERed

When working with some new coaching clients recently, one player mentioned that they hit a great shot then admire it, not expecting it to come back. A bit like a nice straight drive off the tee in golf. With pickleball, it most often does come back, as the ball doesn’t fly like a tennis ball or wait for its next shot in golf. So I was able to explain my acronym of PAMPER for the sequence of every single shot in pickleball. You need to go through the following phases:

Prepare: you need to get in a good athletic ready position, a neutral grip pressure on your paddle, focus on the ball and players on the other side of the net. 

Assess: as your opponent hits the ball, you need to assess the direction where the ball is going, how fast it’s travelling, what spin does the ball have?  Absorb as much information as you can about what is going to happen next.

Move: move to where the ball is going to be and get there as early as possible. This may be a tiny movement if it’s coming straight to you or a small lean or body weight shift, rather than an actual change of depth or width on court.  

Perform: play your chosen shot to the best of your ability. You can think of this as Play rather than Perform: I honk that perform adds a level of quality to this rather than “just” playing a ball. If we want to maximise our success and outcomes, a performance focussed mindset is beneficial.

Enhance: enhance your position based upon the shot you just played.  If you’ve hit a perfect drop shot, come on in. If it’s a solid dink, find your optimum position to be positive. If it’s a very attackable ball, enhance your position by recovering backwards, getting low and bracing for the attack. Enhancing means the best chance of playing your next shot, not just coming forwards to attack if your team’s shot is poor. 

Repeat: once you’ve enhanced your chances of playing the next ball, start at prepare again

If you’re admiring that shot after hitting it, you’re being a parent on court as your acronym is more like PAPA: Prepare, Assess, Perform, Admire. That’s the route to a hurried, badly set up shot and not success. The PAMPER sequence happens so rapidly that you can’t really be fully active on each part but simply understanding the process helps you be more aware across the elements. Assess and move pretty much just happen but being conscious that you need to do both helps you make better decisions. Prepare and enhance are where people get lazy or need to actively focus their attention: these are all the stages that really elevate your ability to play your next shot well. Perform lets you really be mindful of making the effort for a strong, consistent outcome.

Be good to your game, book into the pickleball spa and PAMPER yourself. You’ll find your are much more ready to face what comes to you and will start to control more rallies.

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