How to Play Better Pickleball from a 4x US Open Champ-Part 1


Think you might be able to learn something
about pickleball from a four time US Open Champion. Stay tuned. Hey everybody. It’s CJ Johnson. You can learn so much from getting inside
the mind of a champion and I realized that some of you may never have
the opportunity to do that. That’s why when four time US Open
champion Laura Fenton Kovanda and I were putting the final touches on her
upcoming Tahoe pickleball camp, I decided to turn the cameras on. There were so many nuggets in that footage
that I’ve decided to turn it into a series of videos. Additionally, if you’re already part of the
better pickleball community, you’ve received a special link just for
you where Laura talks about the mental game and guess what? There’s a
couple more pieces coming your way, so make sure to check your inbox. If you’re not already part of
the better pickleball community, stick around to the end and I’ll show
you how to join us. In today’s video. Laura is going to share with us the
biggest mistakes that she sees players of different levels make on the pickle
ball courts and what you can do to play better pickleball. Welcome
Laura Fenton Kovanda 4 Time US Open champion. How are you doing Laura?
I am doing fabulous. Thank you CJ. I am actually, I’m thrilled to be
back with you. Wow. Welcome back. It’s been way too long. Now, some of you may not be familiar with
Laura, you’ve probably seen her play, but you may not know a lot about
her as a person or as a teacher. So we’re going to play
a quick little game. I like to call this 60
seconds to get to know Laura. So I’m going to shoot some questions
at you Laura and you’re going to answer these within. Hey, it’s a minute.
You’re on the clock girl. Oh boy. You know how I talk, a lot. Okay,
I’ll do my best. Here we go. Okay, here we go. Current
residence? Surprise Arizona. Sports before pickleball? Oh, basketball, softball,
volleyball, hockey, golf, tennis. Racquetball She didn’t tell
you be cause she’s trying to be short , but she was a very decorated
racquetball player. Google her. Why pickleball? Uh, honestly the best answer I can give to
that because it was probably one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever had in
a sport to try and get to the top. Practice to play ratio. I probably have a 70 30 practice, 70% play, 30% Favorite skill to teach a three
five or below level player? Oh, easy. Proper footwork, footwork, footwork. She is the footwear queen. Favorite skills to teach a
four oh or above level player? Resetting balls that are hit at your
feet and at your body when you’re in the middle of the court. What is the number one mistake that
you see the three five and below player making when they’re playing
pickleball across the country? I come across this a lot when I am
a teaching the clinic or a camp, many people have been taught that if
they don’t get the return of serve to get to that kitchen line as fast as possible.
So when I’m teaching this and I say, okay, timeout, let’s talk about this and
why that’s not a good idea, right? There’s always has to
be a why in how we fix it. But if your partner goes running to the
kitchen line and you’re about to hit that third shot, number one, they
have no idea where your shot’s going. Number two, if the shot goes up high, they’re about to get blasted
in the face or anywhere. And that’s not fun for
anybody. And number three, you’ve created this huge hole
in the middle of the court, so you’re completely staggered now versus
you have to learn how to come into the court together, side by side, and who covers what shots down the
middle to the angles, the drop shot. So court positioning is really, really imperative when you’re
learning at the 3.0-3.5 level. Well, okay, 4.0 and above
best. 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0so that’s a kind of a big span here, but I’m going to kind of
focus on the 4.0, 4.5 and the lower 5.0. I think
the biggest mistake, actually I have to answer that with
two. I should say why, but two of those, number one, they’re trying to win the point every
time they hit the ball versus setting the point up and having patience
in maneuvering your opponents. I think that’s probably the
biggest one. Number two, when you watch some of the, let’s say the 20-30 year olds who
come from Division One tennis, Oh actually there’s some 50 year olds too. There’s two ladies I play
against that are phenomenal. That can drive balls with topspin
and they keep the ball in the court. The 4.0 and 4.5 want
to play that same way, but they don’t have that skill to do it
unless you go take some lessons or you drill the heck out of that
until you can perfect, and hit 80 90% of your
shots in the court, fine, but from the middle of the court, when you have less reaction
time coming from your opponents, a ball comes to the middle of that court.
Lot of people want to drive that ball. And that is probably the biggest mistake
in the game because now you have less time. Your partner’s going to
get killed. You can’t move in. You’re not making any ground
here. You’re not gaining anything. It’s fun to rip the ball. Yeah. But you
don’t win very many points doing that. I have to laugh because you see it on
youtube and then you see it at the courts and they are two different results. And every so often, you know, i play in
open play. I mean, yeah, that’s fine. So I do it too, but I very
rarely win that point, You know, CJ, I still take lessons. There’s always something to add to
your game. So you know, at our camps, I have to take into mind, are they
30 are they 40 are they 50, 60, 70. You know, there’s a,
there’s a lot of teachers, a lot of good teachers out there. Um, but you can’t teach a 50, 60, 70, 80 year old the same way
you teach the 30 year old. There’s just certain things
we can’t do. You know, some of the things that
we cover in my camps, we cover everything that
has to do with the game. How do we read the opponent’s feet or
hips? Where should our paddle position be? How do we cover without lob? Or how can I improve my
topspin stroke or my slice, my return serve? Whatever it is, I have to take that person individually.
Even though we have groups of people, I’ve taken that individual right where
they’re at cause I want to improve their game. One of the best parts about taking
a pickleball camp in Lake Tahoe is when you’re not on the pickle ball
courts. You can be hiking, mountain biking or laying on the beach. If you’d like more information
on Laura’s upcoming camp, click on the link below. Until
then, let’s train smart, live bold, and AGE-WELL.

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