Recently, I've had trouble sleeping. That happens when I have too many things on my mind. But I've learned a method that helps me get past all the stuff in my brain: I concentrate on my breathing and count while I inhale and exhale.*
I only have to do this about ten times. By then I'm asleep, or I’ve allowed my mind to wander into dreams. This method works because I stop thinking about trying to sleep and focus my attention on just one thing.
Why am I telling you about sleeping in a pickleball blog?
I approached a coach one day when it seemed like I could do nothing right on the court. I kept missing my targets. My shots went into the net or too long. The more I tried to fix my game, the worse it got.
He said, "Pick something to concentrate on. Watch the ball and see your paddle hit it. The rest of your game will fall into place."
In our efforts to make the best shots, or to break bad habits, or to try new techniques, our minds become overfull with information that is often at odds. How can you relax and still be ready to spring into action on the balls of your feet? How can you shadow your partner and watch the ball and your opponent at the same time? How can you anticipate your opponent's next shot and think ahead to your best reply?
At times like that, focus on just one thing. Watch the ball, or concentrate only on shot placement. Concentrate on your footwork. Watch your opponent to anticipate her shot. Let the rest go, and, surprisingly, you should find that your body "knows" how to play pickleball when you get your thinking out of the way.
*Take a long, slow breath in through your nose and count (roughly by seconds) to five—or whatever fills your lungs. Hold that breath calmly while you count to seven. Then let it out slowly through pursed lips for a count of six. Vary the numbers for what works for you, but it's best if they're all different.