Journey To Pro Pickleball – Part 7

Pro Tournaments Are Back

September 1, 2020

It’s been a couple months since I last wrote. 

Time is flying. You’ll be happy to hear that we haven’t moved. 

Impressive, I know.

 

Although we moved to Florida in the heat of the summer, it’s been really great for practice. 

Dekel Bar has been here for most of the summer doing school online and practicing. 

Ben Johns was here for a few weeks to hang out and practice.

Simone is here full-time when she’s not traveling for tournaments. Catherine Parenteau is here full-time, but has been gone the last month or so teaching clinics all over the country.

Kyle Yates is here full-time when he’s not traveling for tournaments.

I drill with Vivienne David indoors at the Pickleball Global store in Bonita Springs several days each week.

It’s nice that there are a couple spots to play indoors here on quality courts. Playing outside in this heat and humidity just absolutely drains me. Playing indoors gives me a longer practice so I can hit more balls and get more reps. 

Journey to Pro Pickleball – Overall Progress

It’s easy to get lost in this journey of playing pro pickleball and not step back and look at the progress.

I first touched a paddle about this time last year.

Jack and I went to New Zealand and then Europe for about a month at the end of 2019 and then I was out nearly two to three months in 2020 with a torn meniscus. Taking into account the time away for travel and injury, I’ve been playing regularly for about ten months up to this point. 

Obviously this year has been a bit of a bust in terms of tournaments, but it hasn’t slowed me down from working to get better. I’ve sought out great practice and it’s helped me improve quicker. 

The one thing you can’t replicate is playing with better players.

They give you a smaller window to dink/drop into. They disguise their attacks really well. They can reset nearly anything.

The last couple of months have been invaluable being able to drill with Dekel, Simone and Vivienne. Dekel beats the crap out of the ball, Simone never misses and I love talking strategy with Vivienne. 

Dekel has helped me get accustomed to the speed of the men’s game and also see more of the high level, disguised attacks. 

There are a number of factors that have helped me in this challenge of Beginner to Pro in one year.

Here are a few…

Flexible work that allows me to play a lot

I usually work for a couple hours after I wake up. I then go practice for a couple hours and then work the rest of the day. Having work flexibility has always been a goal of mine, and I’ve worked hard to be able to have a flexible schedule.

Flexible work so that I can live near great practice

I know not everyone has this luxury, and I’m very grateful that my work only requires an internet connection. This means we aren’t tied down to any particular location, so that’s allowed us to live and experience many different places. It’s also allowed us to land in SW Florida for the next year to see how good I can get at pickleball.

Enough money to play and travel until I get sponsorship help

This is a tough one just coming into the sport. I had no idea that it would be so expensive to play pro tournaments. 

We’re talking almost $500 per tournament in entry fees if you play all three pro events. Adding flights, lodging and food is easily another $500, and this is just one tournament. There’s a pro tournament nearly every week. 

Playing with better players early on

I’ve heard a fair amount of stories of good tennis players coming into pickleball but only being able to play with 4.0/4.5 groups starting out.

I was fortunate to be able to play 5.0+ pickleball from early on. It was a few weeks of learning the game and rules and getting my face kicked in, but that’s how you get better. If you’re coming from a high-level tennis background and winning against 4.0s in your first few months, you’re really not going to be improving.

Drilling and drilling and drilling

Joel Waiwaiole and I would have two to three-hour drilling sessions in Austin working on dinks and drops. I was able to get a ton of reps in a short amount of time. I was able to build confidence in my shots. I now do the same in Florida.

If you don’t drill, go drill. 

It makes the days that you do play doubles, way more fun.

Upcoming Schedule

9/4/2020 – Chicago Open partnering with Patrick Smith and Vivienne David

9/19/2020 – Georgia Open partnering with Rafael Array and Vivienne David

10/1/2020 – Texas Open partnering with Brandon French and Darija Klaic

10/9/2020 – World Pickleball Day Event – Dreamland in Austin, TX

10/24/2020 – Vegas PPA Championship partnering with Joey Farias and TBD for mixed

Injury Update

I have been playing without a brace for a couple weeks now and the knee is feeling pretty good. I still get some soreness and it’s not fully 100% strong, but it’s great progress.

The only other issue is that I’ve been battling a nagging calf strain that’s in this cyclical pattern of feeling better and then flaring up. I’m icing, compressing, foam rolling, massaging and doing everything I’m supposed to be doing. I’m hoping the little flare-ups don’t actually keep me out of tournaments, so I’m really listening to my body and taking care of it like I should be (at my age!).

Sponsorship Update

Big news coming soon, hopefully 🙂

Gear That I Use

Thanks, as always, for your support and for following along with my journey.

Best,

Rob

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