Pickleball is a game that requires quick reflexes, agility, and strategic thinking. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, you are always looking for ways to improve your pickleball play. Fortunately, there is a scientifically proven way to do just that. In this article, we will discuss how practicing the skill of attentional focus can improve your pickleball play.
Understanding Attentional Focus
Attentional focus is the ability to focus your attention on specific aspects of a task while ignoring distractions. In sports, attentional focus can be either internal or external. Internal focus is when you focus on your own movements and body positioning, while external focus is when you focus on external cues such as the ball or your opponent’s movements.
Research has shown that external attentional focus is more effective in improving sports performance than internal attentional focus. This is because external focus directs attention to the relevant information in the environment, allowing the athlete to make quicker and more accurate decisions.
How to Apply Attentional Focus in Pickleball
Now that we understand the importance of external attentional focus, let’s discuss how to apply it in pickleball. There are two ways to do this: broad external focus and narrow external focus.
Broad External Focus
Broad external focus is when you focus on a large area of the court or on the ball’s trajectory. This type of focus allows you to take in information from the entire environment and make quick and accurate decisions.
One way to practice broad external focus is to play games or drills that require you to constantly change your focus. For example, you can play a game where you and your partner hit the ball back and forth, but before hitting the ball, you have to call out a specific color on the court. This will force you to constantly shift your attention and practice broad external focus.
Narrow External Focus
Narrow external focus is when you focus on a specific target or area of the court. This type of focus allows you to fine-tune your shots and make them more accurate.
One way to practice narrow external focus is to use target drills. Set up targets on the court and practice hitting the ball to specific areas. This will help you develop the ability to focus on a specific target and improve your shot accuracy.
Benefits of Attentional Focus Training
Practicing attentional focus can improve your pickleball play in several ways. Here are some of the benefits of attentional focus training:
- Quicker decision making: External focus allows you to quickly take in information from the environment and make decisions accordingly.
- Improved accuracy: Narrow external focus allows you to fine-tune your shots and make them more accurate.
- Reduced distractions: External focus allows you to ignore distractions and focus on the relevant information in the environment.
- Improved performance under pressure: Attentional focus training can help you stay focused and calm under pressure, allowing you to perform at your best when it matters the most.
case studies or examples
Joe’s Improved Shot Accuracy
Joe was an experienced pickleball player, but he had trouble with shot accuracy. He would often hit the ball too hard or too softly, causing it to go out of bounds. Joe decided to work on his attentional focus by using a narrow external focus during his practice sessions.
Joe set up targets on the court and practiced hitting the ball in specific areas. By focusing his attention on the targets, he was able to fine-tune his shots and make them more accurate. After a few weeks of practicing this way, Joe saw a significant improvement in his shot accuracy during games.
Sarah’s Improved Decision Making
Sarah was a beginner pickleball player who often struggled with making quick decisions during games. She would hesitate and second-guess herself, which led to missed shots and lost points. Sarah decided to work on her attentional focus by using a broad external focus during her practice sessions.
Sarah played games and drills that required her to constantly change her focus, such as calling out a specific color on the court before hitting the ball. By doing this, she was able to practice taking in information from the entire environment and making quick and accurate decisions. After a few weeks of practicing this way, Sarah saw a significant improvement in her decision-making during games.
In conclusion, attentional focus training is a scientifically proven way to improve your pickleball play. By practicing broad and narrow external focus, you can improve your decision-making, shot accuracy, and overall performance on the court. Incorporate attentional focus training into your practice routine, and you’ll be sure to see improvements in your pickleball play.