Pickleball Performance: A Step-by-Step Guide For Cultivating A Winning Stress Mindset

AIM7
March 28, 2024

In competitive pickleball, stress is a given. But stress doesn’t have to debilitate your performance. It can actually facilitate it.

Winning between the ears starts with the mindset you cultivate.

Winning matters. Being your best matters. Otherwise, you wouldn’t feel stressed. The problem is many pickleball players view stress as the enemy. It’s not the enemy. It’s the gateway to growth!

When you adopt the right mindset, you can overcome fear, embrace challenges, and unlock your potential. But you must pass through stress to achieve what you want.

There are four stress mindsets, each with its own challenges and opportunities. But there is one that, if you adopt it, will empower you to embrace challenges and overcome fear. Let’s dig in.

Stress Mindset #1: Stress is Debilitating.

Does that ring a bell? This is where we view stress as our mortal enemy, something to escape from at any cost.

But what if we told you stress is just your body preparing you for a challenge?

Instead of fleeing from stress, see it as a signal that you're about to do something effortful. Let’s get real for a moment. Nothing great has ever been accomplished without facing significant difficulty.

To take on difficult challenges, your body has a hard-wired stress response that prepares you for action. Lean into it, embrace it. Because uncomfortable thoughts, emotions, and feelings are often what you need to rise to the occasion.

Stress Mindset #2: Stress is to be Willed Through.

This mindset views stress as something that can be overcome by sheer willpower.

Have you ever heard of David Goggins? Yep, the former Navy Seal who runs bare-chested and calls out your weaknesses. Yeah, that guy.

People with this mindset tend to push through stress just fine, but they oftentimes don’t make great teammates. This is not who you want with you in a competitive doubles match.

While resilience is important, it shouldn’t come at the expense of others. Understand that not everyone may be able to handle stress the same way you do. Try to balance your willpower with understanding and empathy for others.

Stress Mindset #3: Stress is a Learning Opportunity.

This mindset views stress as life’s classroom. This is not ideal.

People with this mindset often focus on the worst possible outcome and rationalize why failing would be OK. This can be detrimental to performance.

In the final moments of a competitive match, you don’t want your teammate to think like this.

Michael Jordan wasn’t looking to learn from failure in the Finals. Rather, he wanted the ball in his hands. He trusted his skills and confidentially took action even in the face of adversity.

While learning from failure is beneficial, you shouldn’t focus on failure during a stressful moment. Instead, shift your attention to what you can control and take confident action.

Stress Mindset #4: Stress is Enhancing.

This is the ideal mindset—viewing stress as a challenge that can enhance one's performance.

This is the optimal mindset where stress is viewed as a challenge or an opportunity. It involves seeing stress as a source of energy that can enhance performance. Remember, stress is your brain and body preparing you to do something effortful.

Stress can either debilitate or facilitate performance and by leveraging this mindset, you can use the extra energy generated by stress to perform to your potential.

To build a winning stress mindset, you need to reframe stress as enhancing. That means seeing stress as:

  • A sign you care
  • Excitement
  • Determination
  • A challenge or opportunity

So, take a moment and think about how you approach stress. If you aren’t in the right mindset, just know that mindsets aren’t fixed. With practice and awareness, your perspective can change.

Ready to Take Action?

Ready to take your mental game to the next level? Check out AIM7, the ultimate pickleball trainer, and its masterclass library of content on developing mental fitness, developed by world-class performance psychologists.

Don't let stress hold you back any longer. Embrace it, harness it, and unleash your full potential on the pickleball court. Start your journey towards a winning stress mindset today with AIM7!

DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating), is the premier global pickleball rating system and technology platform, trusted by the world's leading clubs, tournaments, leagues, and players. DUPR's dynamic rating system unifies pickleball across age, gender, and location by analyzing match results to accurately evaluate all players across a 2.000 - 8.000 scale. Players and operators can visit www.dupr.com to sign up and learn more.

Written By: Alex Auerbach, PhD, and Erik Korem, PhD.

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April 17, 2024

Building Strength and Mobility Off the Court: Exercises to Support Pickleball Performance

The only way to improve your pickleball skills and reach your full potential is through structured practice and consistent competitive play. However, injuries and chronic pain are preventing some pickleball players from reaching their full potential on the court, leading to frustration and missed opportunities to enjoy the game they love.

UBS reports that in 2023 alone, there were almost $400 million in injury claims. But you don’t have to be a statistic. 

Many pickleball players are solely focused on playing, neglecting the importance of off-court training — leading to muscle imbalances, poor movement patterns, and increased risk of injury. Without addressing these underlying issues through targeted strength and mobility training, pickleball players may find themselves sidelined by injuries or unable to improve their skills and perform at their best.

In this article, we'll explore the science-backed benefits of incorporating strength and mobility training into your pickleball routine and provide you with simple and effective steps you can take today to help you reduce injuries, move more efficiently on the court, and unlock your full potential as a player.

The Benefits of Resistance Training for Pickleball Players

Resistance training is essential for global health and wellness, but especially for pickleball players. A well-structured plan builds strength, endurance, and resilience to injury.

Research demonstrates that resistance training:

  • Increases fat-free mass & decreases body fat % 
  • Increases muscle strength and power
  • Improves bone density and balance, reducing the risk of fractures from falls or impacts
  • Strengthens tendons and ligaments, minimizing the risk of overuse & traumatic injuries

By incorporating resistance training at least twice a week, you'll build a strong foundation for your pickleball game and extend your life expectancy. A recent study with over 90,000 participants found a 41% reduction in all-cause mortality when resistance training was combined with at least 150 - 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). 

And yes, pickleball qualifies as MVPA!

Designing a Resistance Training Plan for Pickleball Players

A well-designed resistance plan should target the major movement patterns: push, pull, hinge, squat, twist, and carry. These movements are functional for daily living and are the foundation of many sporting actions.


When designing your resistance training plan, there are a few critical variables to account for:

Intensity

Intensity refers to the weight or resistance you use when performing an exercise. It can come from various sources, such as dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, or even your body weight. The heavier the load, the more challenging the exercise becomes for your muscles.

Intensity Guidelines

Beginner: If you’ve been doing resistance training for less than 6 months, choose a moderate intensity and focus on performing each exercise with good technical proficiency.

Intermediate: If you’ve been resistance training for less than two years, choose an intensity that challenges but doesn’t change your form.

Advanced: If you’ve been resistance training for 2+ years, you’ll need to use higher-intensity loads to continue to see improvement. After several warm-up sets, your primary sets should push you within a few reps of failure while maintaining excellent form.

Volume

Volume refers to the overall workload your muscles handle during a training session or week. It takes into account the number of exercises you perform and the sets and repetitions you complete for each exercise.

A dose of approximately 10 sets per muscle group per week is a general minimum prescription to optimize your workouts. Research indicates there are potential benefits to higher volumes for underdeveloped muscle groups, but you should always progress your volume slowly. 

Avoid increasing your total workout volume by more than 15% per week, or you will dramatically increase your risk for injury.

Frequency 

The US Department of Health & Human Services and the World Health Organization recommend that adults perform at least two total body strengthening sessions per week. 

Rest Interval 

As a general rule, rest periods should last at least 2 minutes when performing multi-joint exercises. Shorter rest periods (60-90 secs) can be employed for single-joint exercises.

The Role of Mobility Training in Pickleball Performance

Research indicates that improving mobility through targeted exercise programs can reduce the risk of injury in various sports. Mobility refers to the ability to move your joints through their full range of motion and to be strong and stable in those positions. 

For instance, a mobile pickleball player should be able to flex their hips, knees, and ankles at the kitchen line to return shots. An immobile player may place undue stress on their lower back from bowing at the waist instead of bending the hips, knees, and ankles to return shots.

There are several areas of the body where poor mobility can lead to pain and injury:

  • Ankles: essential for quick direction changes and to prevent ankle sprains
  • Hips: important hinging, squatting, and rotating 
  • Shoulders: crucial for overhead shots, serving, dinking, and more
  • Knees: critical for squatting and generating force to move quickly

How & When to Train for Mobility

Because mobility training is a low-stress activity on the body, it can be done daily. Incorporating mobility exercises into your warm-up and cool-down routines is an efficient way to incorporate them into your exercise plan, and it can significantly impact your performance and injury resilience. 

Focus on exercises that move your joints through a full range of motion, such as shoulder, elbow, knee, and hip circles. Squatting and lunging patterns, as well as yoga pushups, are exceptional exercises for enhancing mobility.

Here are a few mobility training exercises you can start today that target various muscle groups of the lower body and upper body to improve overall movement quality: 

Cossack Squat

Targeting hips, hamstrings, and adductors/groin
  • Start with your feet wider than your shoulders, toes pointing out. 
  • Lift your arms straight out in front of you, shift your weight onto the right leg, and sit back as if there is a chair behind you. 
  • Keep the other leg straight, bend the right knee, and lower it as far down as you can without lifting the right heel and keeping the chest lifted. 
  • Return to standing and alternate sides until you reach 16-20 repetitions. 

Cat-Cow

Targeting spine mobility and upper back

  • Start on all fours with hands underneath the shoulders, knees underneath the hips, and back straight. 
  • Arch the back, lifting the head and tailbone to the ceiling. 
  • Reverse the movement by rounding the back, tailbone, and shoulders, pulling the belly button towards the spine, and looking towards the hips. 
  • Alternate positions for a total of 8-10 reps in each position. 

90/90 Hip Rotations

Targeting hip joints and glutes

  • Begin sitting on your sit bones with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and knees at a 90-degree angle. 
  • With your back straight and core engaged, you can rest your hands behind you for support (progress to lifting your hands and maintaining balance).
  • Rotate your hips to one side, keep a tall upper body posture, then slowly rotate back to the opposite side, alternating rotations for 8-12 repetitions. 

BONUS:

Here’s a video sequence for improving knee mobility with Dr. Kyle Richmond, a rehab and mobility expert.

Watch video HERE

Integrating Strength and Mobility Training into Your Pickleball Routine

Consistency is key to reap the full benefits of strength and mobility training. 

Aim to incorporate resistance training at least twice weekly, focusing on exercises targeting major movement patterns. Also, consider making mobility training a regular part of your pre-and post-match routine or a regular at-home training program.

Using a personalized training app like AIM7 can help streamline your off-court training. With customized resistance training plans based on your fitness level and available equipment, as well as guided warm-ups, cool-downs, and daily mobility sessions, AIM7 makes it easy to integrate strength and mobility training into your routine.

Get your free 60-day trial by using the code (A760FREE).

Conclusion

Pickleball is a challenging sport that demands a combination of skill, strength, and mobility. By prioritizing off-court training and incorporating resistance and mobility exercises into your routine, you'll reduce your risk of injury and unlock your full potential on the court. 

Remember, the key to success is consistency and a well-designed plan. So grab your weights, resistance bands, and pickleball paddle, and get ready to take your game to the next level!

By Erik Korem, PhD & Susie Reiner, PhD

Educational
Partners
March 25, 2024

Pickleball Performance: A Step-by-Step Guide For Cultivating A Winning Stress Mindset

In competitive pickleball, stress is a given. But stress doesn’t have to debilitate your performance. It can actually facilitate it.

Winning between the ears starts with the mindset you cultivate.

Winning matters. Being your best matters. Otherwise, you wouldn’t feel stressed. The problem is many pickleball players view stress as the enemy. It’s not the enemy. It’s the gateway to growth!

When you adopt the right mindset, you can overcome fear, embrace challenges, and unlock your potential. But you must pass through stress to achieve what you want.

There are four stress mindsets, each with its own challenges and opportunities. But there is one that, if you adopt it, will empower you to embrace challenges and overcome fear. Let’s dig in.

Stress Mindset #1: Stress is Debilitating.

Does that ring a bell? This is where we view stress as our mortal enemy, something to escape from at any cost.

But what if we told you stress is just your body preparing you for a challenge?

Instead of fleeing from stress, see it as a signal that you're about to do something effortful. Let’s get real for a moment. Nothing great has ever been accomplished without facing significant difficulty.

To take on difficult challenges, your body has a hard-wired stress response that prepares you for action. Lean into it, embrace it. Because uncomfortable thoughts, emotions, and feelings are often what you need to rise to the occasion.

Stress Mindset #2: Stress is to be Willed Through.

This mindset views stress as something that can be overcome by sheer willpower.

Have you ever heard of David Goggins? Yep, the former Navy Seal who runs bare-chested and calls out your weaknesses. Yeah, that guy.

People with this mindset tend to push through stress just fine, but they oftentimes don’t make great teammates. This is not who you want with you in a competitive doubles match.

While resilience is important, it shouldn’t come at the expense of others. Understand that not everyone may be able to handle stress the same way you do. Try to balance your willpower with understanding and empathy for others.

Stress Mindset #3: Stress is a Learning Opportunity.

This mindset views stress as life’s classroom. This is not ideal.

People with this mindset often focus on the worst possible outcome and rationalize why failing would be OK. This can be detrimental to performance.

In the final moments of a competitive match, you don’t want your teammate to think like this.

Michael Jordan wasn’t looking to learn from failure in the Finals. Rather, he wanted the ball in his hands. He trusted his skills and confidentially took action even in the face of adversity.

While learning from failure is beneficial, you shouldn’t focus on failure during a stressful moment. Instead, shift your attention to what you can control and take confident action.

Stress Mindset #4: Stress is Enhancing.

This is the ideal mindset—viewing stress as a challenge that can enhance one's performance.

This is the optimal mindset where stress is viewed as a challenge or an opportunity. It involves seeing stress as a source of energy that can enhance performance. Remember, stress is your brain and body preparing you to do something effortful.

Stress can either debilitate or facilitate performance and by leveraging this mindset, you can use the extra energy generated by stress to perform to your potential.

To build a winning stress mindset, you need to reframe stress as enhancing. That means seeing stress as:

  • A sign you care
  • Excitement
  • Determination
  • A challenge or opportunity

So, take a moment and think about how you approach stress. If you aren’t in the right mindset, just know that mindsets aren’t fixed. With practice and awareness, your perspective can change.

Ready to Take Action?

Ready to take your mental game to the next level? Check out AIM7, the ultimate pickleball trainer, and its masterclass library of content on developing mental fitness, developed by world-class performance psychologists.

Don't let stress hold you back any longer. Embrace it, harness it, and unleash your full potential on the pickleball court. Start your journey towards a winning stress mindset today with AIM7!

DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating), is the premier global pickleball rating system and technology platform, trusted by the world's leading clubs, tournaments, leagues, and players. DUPR's dynamic rating system unifies pickleball across age, gender, and location by analyzing match results to accurately evaluate all players across a 2.000 - 8.000 scale. Players and operators can visit www.dupr.com to sign up and learn more.

Written By: Alex Auerbach, PhD, and Erik Korem, PhD.

Educational
March 21, 2024

How the AI Boom Is Making Pickleball a Success

AI’s Pickleball Potential

Sports aren’t typically the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution. However, AI in sports is now synonymous with big business. Estimates value the sports AI market at more than $2 billion, and research suggests that it may reach more than $7 billion by 2027. Currently, AI is being used for everything from training NFL players to shaving time off their 40-yard dash to predicting and preventing injuries on the basketball court. And it’s poised to have a significant impact on the sport of pickleball.

Harnessing the Power of AI for Pickleball

AI systems use mathematical algorithms that generate highly accurate analysis in real time. For pickleball, data can be collected via wearable sensors and high-definition motion capture cameras to record players' footwork, paddle angles, and shot choices. This data can be transformed into a format processed by an algorithm and can be used to train the AI model, allowing it to learn patterns and relationships. The model is then integrated into an application or program and is the basis for making predictions on new data that is collected. The more data it acquires, the more the algorithm adapts and the better its ability to simulate human intelligent processes. Coaches can then reference the data and immediately adjust a player’s mechanics and techniques, repeat the drill or session, and compare results.

But AI isn’t just for pickleball pros. Recreational players are already enjoying the benefits of AI. Training tools like SwingVision and PB Vision bring the power of AI to local courts without the need for high-end equipment or professional-grade video. By uploading footage shot on a smartphone, these systems can analyze player movements, pinpoint problems in swing speed and follow through, and provide suggestions for improvement. In addition, AI is becoming an integral part of emerging pickleball virtual reality (VR) simulations that produce engaging immersive, customized training programs.

In addition, the recent partnership between leading global pickleball rating system DUPR and sport and AI analytics technology pioneers Playsight has opened up new possibilities. PlaySight’s AI automated highlights also allow players to relive their best moments in a match instantly. The collaboration promises to redefine how players experience and interact with the sport.

Preventing Injury and Speeding Recovery

Off the court, AI is showing great benefits in improving player health and conditioning. Systems can evaluate heart rate and joint stress and alert players to potential injury. Next-generation pulse oximeters incorporate AI into handheld devices that measure respiratory rate, temperature, and blood saturation levels. 

AI can also help accelerate recovery times from injuries. Trainers and physical therapists are increasingly relying on AI-generated results to create personalized rehab programs to get players back on the court faster and prevent re-injury.

In addition, manufacturers of pickleball equipment, especially paddle companies, are using AI-powered systems to determine material specifications and performance metrics for the design of their newest products. Because of its ability to perform analysis on a microscopic level, AI can identify the optimal materials for improved power, control, and durability and give manufacturers next-level customization options to develop paddles suited for a variety of playing styles. These advancements are poised to propel paddle sales, which are projected to reach $253.8 million by 2028 and are currently more than $125 million in the US alone.

It's an exciting time for pickleball and AI will continue to play an ever-expanding role in the sport’s future. As more players tap into AI’s ability to achieve better results on the court, it’s likely there’ll be a corresponding increase in their DUPR ratings.

Educational
Data