The Strategy of Letting Go

There are a lot of things I need to let go but this post is going to focus specifically on out balls, or balls that are most likely going to land out. I have a huge problem with this. Sometimes I just can’t help myself and I engage in balls that I shouldn’t. I often joke that my paddle is a ball magnet (balls just somehow find their way to my paddle sometimes whether or not I want to hit them). Maybe my reflexes are just too good and I react too quickly before my mind can even register that the ball is likely to go out. I have lots of excuses I can provide but, honestly, I think the main culprit is my lack of discipline. No matter how fun it is to engage and hit those balls, I need to learn to let them go.

After a play session (or sometimes even immediately after the rally), I end up kicking myself for hitting so many potentially out balls. I guess we will never know because the ball made contact with my paddle. If this is you, then you’ll want to listen to the latest episode of Tony Roig’s Pickleball Therapy podcast.

The most recent episode talks about how to deal with these out balls. I think the most important take away I got is that you can’t judge these after they land because some of them might land in. You’ll be tempted to second guess your decision and think, “I probably should have hit that.” Just because the ball landed in doesn’t mean that you made the wrong the decision. As I train myself to let these balls go, this is probably something that I will have to constantly have to remind myself.

This podcast episode also reminded me of Tony Roig’s “Defusing the Banger Decision Tree,” which is one of my most favorite things he’s published. Any time you can support your claims with some math, I am all ears. I am also quite fond of diagrams and decision trees so Tony immediately got my attention.

Decision Tree

I actually want you to read, print, and save this decision tree (maybe put it on your fridge or something) so I won’t tell you everything it says here word for word but I will share my key takeaways:

  • If it’s a drive from the baseline – you have to deal with it. It is likely going to land in so go ahead and engage.
  • If it’s a drive from the transition zone – try to avoid it, if you can. This ball is likely to go out and if you engage, unless you are really good, your success rate will be lower.

Anyway, I know this information and I have looked at this decision tree multiple times but I still hit out balls. Maybe my paddle really is a ball magnet. Seriously though, we all just need reminding sometimes.

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