Most sports require either short or prolonged bursts of athleticism where muscles are exercised to their extreme. A few sports, like bowling or archery, demand more finesse than vigor. Perhaps one of the most frustrating and challenging aspects of pickleball is that both vigor and finesse are required within a single point. The third shot dink and most soft kitchen line exchanges require slow, relaxed, and fluid touch with beautiful wrist action. Many players run music through their minds to accomplish this, and they may appear to glide around the court like a Rachmaninov rhapsody.
But the very next stroke might require extraordinarily fast reflexes or a burst of muscle energy to defend or attack. Step aside Rachmaninov and enter the Rolling Stones.
Check out this rally during the mixed doubles finals between Sarah Ansboury/Tony Tollenaar and Christine McGrath/Tyler Wren at the recent Tournament of Champions in Brigham City, Utah.
Embracing this dichotomy of action between a lull and a storm is characteristic of great 5.0 pickleball players. Most of us find it intuitive to bang away, but recognizing those strokes where finesse is required is critical and keeps opponents guessing. As in most classical music, crescendos are preceded and followed by a great deal of serenade. So it is with pickleball.