Getting Five Percent Better Everyday

(Jim Marshall is one of the Wolverine Pickleball instructors)

Several years ago I read about something called pickleball. We had a vacation home in Lexington, Michigan, a tourist town in the thumb on the shores of Lake Huron. The town has pickleball courts. It seemed like something fun to do while wiling away the hours on sunny, summer weekends. My wife gifted me a “pickleball set.” It included two wood paddles and a ball. 

The next Saturday we walked into the Northville Community Center for open pickleball play. We were armed with our wood paddles, a vague understanding of the rules and high hopes. Our first game we were matched against two 70-something women. I whispered to my wife we should take it easy on them. We lost 11-0. The game lasted all of two minutes. We were humiliated. We brought untold shame to our offspring. But, it was a ton of fun.

People were generally nice. Somebody even took pity on us and loaned us “real” pickleball paddles. They were not made of wood. Admittedly, one game, an old codger was rude due to our lack of complete understanding of the rules and our overall pickleball prowess. I was undeterred. As a matter of fact, I was hooked. I went home that night and vowed to make myself a halfway decent pickleball player. I set a goal to get five percent better every time I played. That way, I could become twice as good every 15 sessions (factoring in compounding gains).

Back then, not a lot of formal options existed for learning pickleball and its strategy. Unfortunately, places like Wolverine Pickleball did not exist. I gleaned what I could from YouTube and more experienced players who were willing to share their knowledge.

Now, I play almost every day. Aside from the physical and social aspects of the sport, I love pickleball because there is so much to it strategically.

If you are just beginning your pickleball journey and are hooked, focus on getting five percent better every time you play. Fortunately, a plethora of options now exist to rapidly escalate your learning curve. If you take advantage of them you can probably even get 10 percent better per session. I highly recommend booking a class with one of the Wolverine instructors. Specifically, “three and a coach” is a phenomenal way to get guidance about understanding pickleball strategy. You can find that option under “lesson types” in the Court Reserve app. I would be thrilled to work with you. See on the courts. 


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