Like any sport, success in pickleball requires a mix of skill, strategy, and practice. In my pursuit of becoming a better pickleball player, I realized that I was making A LOT of unforced errors.
An unforced error is a mistake, it’s a shot that should have been made. It’s giving away free points, and I hate giving away free points - especially on serves (ugh!).
Reminded of Peter Drucker’s mantra “you can’t improve what you don’t measure” I set out to begin tracking my unforced errors. The Unforced Pickleball Apple watch extension made it really easy, but even something as simple as a counter on your finger works.
The immediate benefit I found is that it got me constantly recognizing when I made an unforced error. Previously, I wouldn’t have thought twice but it quickly became a tangible thing I cared about.
The results were eye-opening. There was a clear mis-alignment between what I thought my level of play was vs. the facts. Sure, I hit some great shots throughout a game but until I reigned in my unforced errors I would never advance to the next level.
Tracking this simple metric over time 1. Shined a light on this critical aspect of the game 2. Made me more aware of my shot selection and execution 3. Gave me a measurable goal to work towards.
Now every time I step up to the baseline to serve and that little voice says to ‘give it some extra oomph!’ I err on the side of keeping the ball in play since it’s the most important thing to do. No more freebies.