During my business consulting career, I facilitated strategy design workshops for leadership, management, and project teams. I closed these sessions with a conversation about change and resistance to change. I would use this quote to spark a discussion about the courage to change:
“The #1 reason why people resist change is the risk of change is seen as greater than the risk of standing still. Change requires a leap of faith. You must decide to move in the direction of an unknown on the promise that something will be better. But you have no proof. Only courage.”
So, how does this relate to pickleball and the desire of many players to advance to the next skill level or to medal in a tournament?
When someone signs up and prepares for a rating session or tournament, this individual is communicating a desire to test themselves against a set of skill level criteria or against other players. This decision signifies a willingness to “take a risk” and experience the joy of reaching a goal or suffer the emotional pain of failure and loss. There is no guaranteed outcome. The player takes a “leap of faith” that a desired goal will be achieved.
I think anyone who decides to pursue a goal (or a dream) is someone special. It takes courage to step out of one’s comfort zone and learn something new or compete against players you’ve never met before.
To illustrate my point, I’d like to showcase two players and a pickleball club who recently took a “leap of faith” to become a better version of themselves. The players are Colleen Woodall and Polly Jones. The club is the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club in Lincoln, California. All are students or clients of Coach Mark LLC.
Colleen Woodall is a solid 3.0 player who lives part-time in Birch Bay Village, Washington and winters in the warmth of Mexico with her husband Rick Lindner. I play with Rick in a talented group of advanced players during the months they are in the Pacific Northwest. Colleen is a dedicated student of the game, always analyzing and thinking how she can reduce unforced errors and improve her play. So, I was very pleased to learn recently that Colleen had earned a third place medal in recent tournament competition. Don’t you love the smile on Colleen’s face? We all have that smile when we accomplish something important or worthwhile. Job well done Colleen for putting yourself out there on the tournament court!
Polly Jones is an intermediate player I know through the Bellingham, Washington Pickleball Club. Like Colleen, she is an ardent student of the game with a desire to improve. She recently contacted me in Surprise, Arizona where I’m “snowbirding” to practice for the IPTPA skills rating process being implemented at her winter club in Tucson. Polly was determined to achieve a 3.5 rating. So, we have two indicators of courage working here. First, Polly signed up for a rigorous process that tests skill and gameplay performance. Second, she travelled two hours (each way) to workout with me for 2.5 hours to practice the shots she needed to demonstrate. That’s 2.5 hours hitting close to 500+ balls plus 4 hours on the road (with no guarantee she was going to pass the test)! In fact, during a recent practice ratings session, she met the minimum requirements but wanted to do even better. Would you be surprised to know Polly did in fact achieve her goal? She was one of two players that day (out of seven) meeting the 3.5 rating requirements. Congratulations Polly for taking the risk and achieving your goal!
The Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club is located in Lincoln, California just north of Sacramento. The club has 600+ members and is currently implementing a club-specific rating system. There are ten dedicated members of the Lincoln Hills Club who have taken on the responsibility for defining skill-level expectations, creating skill and gameplay rating formats, and designing a process that is fair and equitable for members who want to participate in skill development sessions, instructional clinics, and other club events. This group – the assessment rating team – has stepped up into a leadership role with no guarantee the process will be successful or accepted by other members. They are working very hard to test and implement a value-added system that provides accurate ratings and aligns closely with the suite of skill development activities offered by the club. Talk about stepping into “harms way.” Let’s give a “hooah” for these dedicated and courageous leaders of the Lincoln Hills Pickleball Club!
So, it’s almost 2021 and my question for you is: what “leap of faith” are you planning to take in the new year? Will it be signing up for a ladder or a sanctioned tournament? Will it be volunteering to make something happen in your pickleball club? Or will it be to sign up for an IPTPA or club specific rating? What courageous change will you decide to make to improve your club and/or improve your skills and gameplay performance?