By DJ Howard, Contracted Player
With the U.S. Open coming right up, it is important to be well prepared. Hopefully you have been preparing to play well by practicing. If not, you have limited time left, but it’s still not a bad idea to get some good repetitions in and participate in some competitive practice games over the next few weeks!
Other than getting some practice on the court to hone your skills, what else do you need to do to be as well prepared as possible? The following thoughts should help.
Prepare your mind. Think positive thoughts. Remind yourself why you play, and focus on those things. Maybe you play for fun, the social aspect, exercise, or to feel the thrill of competition. Take some time to remind yourself of each area in which you find the most enjoyment and tell yourself you will succeed at those aspects. Believe it or not, your body will respond positively to what your brain tells it. In addition, think pressure-reducing thoughts. There is no need to stress out over what could be (and should be!) a tremendously valuable and memorable experience regardless of the number of wins or losses you end up with. Thoughts like, “I am so grateful I get to participate in the world’s largest pickleball event,” could go a long way to helping you relax your mind and body before and during your matches.
Prepare your stuff. Pack all the necessary items you will need for performing your best on the court. The last thing you want to deal with is the stress of forgetting an essential item while trying to stay focused on playing well. Some items you will definitely need to pack are: paddle, overgrips (GAMMA!), hand towel, sunscreen or other form of skin protection, sunglasses, water or other drinks (I recommend Liquid IV or Pedialyte powder packs which can be mixed with water as they are full of electrolytes and have far less sugar than sports drinks), lip balm, and small snacks, among other items you may want or need. This is not an exhaustive list, but goes to show you need to prepare in advance. Do not wait until the last minute to just throw stuff together and hope you get it all, or else you may forget something important you wish you had.
Remember, Naples is typically very hot and humid this time of year, so prepare for the weather accordingly. You may even want to spend some time in a steam room for several minutes a day to grow accustomed to the Florida heat and humidity!
Prepare yourself for a great time at the US Open this year by planning ahead. I look forward to seeing you there!