Winning Stress Mindset: A Pickleball Players Guide

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Last Updated:
March 1, 2024

In competitive pickleball, stress is a given. But stress doesn’t have to debilitate your performance. It can actually facilitate it.

Winning between the ears starts with the mindset you cultivate.

Winning matters. Being your best matters. Otherwise, you wouldn’t feel stressed. The problem is many pickleball players view stress as the enemy. It’s not the enemy. It’s the gateway to growth!

When you adopt the right mindset, you can overcome fear, embrace challenges, and unlock your potential. But you must pass through stress to achieve what you want.

There are four stress mindsets, each with its own challenges and opportunities. But there is one that, if you adopt it, will empower you to embrace challenges and overcome fear. Let’s dig in.

Stress Mindset #1: Stress is Debilitating. 

Does that ring a bell? This is where we view stress as our mortal enemy, something to escape from at any cost.

But what if we told you stress is just your body preparing you for a challenge?

Instead of fleeing from stress, see it as a signal that you're about to do something effortful. Let’s get real for a moment. Nothing great has ever been accomplished without facing significant difficulty. 

To take on difficult challenges, your body has a hard-wired stress response that prepares you for action. Lean into it, embrace it. Because uncomfortable thoughts, emotions, and feelings are often what you need to rise to the occasion.

Stress Mindset #2: Stress is to be Willed Through. 

This mindset views stress as something that can be overcome by sheer willpower.

Have you ever heard of David Goggins? Yep, the former Navy Seal who runs barechested and calls out your weaknesses. Yeah, that guy.

People with this mindset tend to push through stress just fine, but they oftentimes don’t make great teammates. This is not who you want with you in a competitive doubles match.

While resilience is important, it shouldn’t come at the expense of others. Understand that not everyone may be able to handle stress the same way you do. Try to balance your willpower with understanding and empathy for others.

Stress Mindset #3: Stress is a Learning Opportunity. 

This mindset views stress as life’s classroom. This is not ideal.

People with this mindset often focus on the worst possible outcome and rationalize why failing would be OK. This can be detrimental to performance.

In the final moments of a competitive match, you don’t want your teammate to think like this. 

Michael Jordan wasn’t looking to learn from failure in the Finals. Rather, he wanted the ball in his hands. He trusted his skills and confidentially took action even in the face of adversity.

While learning from failure is beneficial, you shouldn’t focus on failure during a stressful moment. Instead, shift your attention to what you can control and take confident action.

Stress Mindset #4: Stress is Enhancing. 

This is the ideal mindset—viewing stress as a challenge that can enhance one's performance.

This is the optimal mindset where stress is viewed as a challenge or an opportunity. It involves seeing stress as a source of energy that can enhance performance. Remember, stress is your brain and body preparing you to do something effortful.

Stress can either debilitate or facilitate performance and by leveraging this mindset, you can use the extra energy generated by stress to perform to your potential.

To build a winning stress mindset, you need to reframe stress as enhancing. That means seeing stress as:

  • A sign you care
  • Excitement
  • Determination
  • A challenge or opportunity

So, take a moment and think about how you approach stress. If you aren’t in the right mindset, just know that mindsets aren’t fixed. With practice and awareness, your perspective can change.

Ready to Take Action?

Ready to take your mental game to the next level? Check out AIM7, the ultimate pickleball trainer, and its masterclass library of content on developing mental fitness, developed by world-class performance psychologists. 

Don't let stress hold you back any longer. Embrace it, harness it, and unleash your full potential on the pickleball court. Start your journey towards a winning stress mindset today with AIM7!

DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating), is the premier global pickleball rating system and technology platform, trusted by the world's leading clubs, tournaments, leagues, and players. DUPR's dynamic rating system unifies pickleball across age, gender, and location by analyzing match results to accurately evaluate all players across a 2.000 - 8.000 scale. Players and operators can visit www.dupr.com to sign up and learn more.

Cite this page:

Korem, E. Auerbach, A. “A Pickleball Players Guide For Cultivating A Winning Stress Mindset” AIM7.com, March 1, 2024, www.aim7.com/mental-fitness/4-stress-mindsets

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