Pickleball pro player Tyson McGuffin won his first triple crown at the 2023 Tournament of Champions in Brigham City, Utah. In one of the three events—pro men’s doubles—McGuffin, along with his partner James Ignatowich, was pushed to a five-game championship match. McGuffin and Ignatowich lost the first two games handedly to their opponents Riley Newman and AJ Koller, before staging a comeback starting with an 11-0 win in game 3 of 5. McGuffin attributed their turnaround to playing “uncalculated pickleball.”
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So, what is “uncalculated pickleball”? And, why should you consider adapting this strategy to your pickleball game?
“Uncalculated pickleball” is a term recently used by McGuffin to describe a playing style that involves playing with less tactical precision and more aggression. McGuffin also referred to this pickleball strategy as “playing messy.” This pickleball strategy focuses on hitting the ball hard, aiming for aggressive shots, and putting pressure on the opponents, rather than relying on calculated and controlled shots.
In the context of pickleball, a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, the usual playing style involves careful placement, strategic shots, and controlled rallies. Players often try to place the pickleball precisely in specific areas of the court, in an attempt to outmaneuver their opponents.
However, McGuffin and Ignatowich’s strategy of “uncalculated pickleball” or “messy pickleball” goes against this conventional approach. Instead of focusing on precision, they adopted a more aggressive and fast-paced style, where they play wilder and more unpredictable. Here’s why this pickleball strategy can be effective:
- Disruption: By hitting the pickleball harder and faster, you can disrupt your opponent’s rhythm and force them into defensive positions on the pickleball court. This makes it difficult for the opponents to execute their planned shots and strategies.
- Pressure: Aggressive shots and fast-paced rallies can put pressure on your opponents, forcing them to make quick decisions and potentially make mistakes. This can lead to unforced errors and opportunities for you to capitalize on.
- Confusion: Playing in a less predictable manner with aggressive shots can create confusion for your opponents. Your opponents might struggle to anticipate the trajectory and placement of your shots, which can give you an advantage on the pickleball court.
- Energy and Momentum: Playing aggressively and winning points with powerful shots can boost your energy and morale. As you start to gain momentum, your opponents might feel demoralized and find it challenging to regain control of the game.
- Adaptation: Switching to an aggressive and “messy” style of play can catch your opponents off guard, especially if they are used to facing more controlled players. This can force your opponents to adapt quickly to the new playing style, which might not be their strength.
It’s important to note that this pickleball strategy requires a certain level of skill and confidence. Aggressive shots and a fast-paced style can lead to errors if not executed well. McGuffin and Ignatowich’s success with this pickleball strategy might also be attributed to the fact that they had “nothing to lose,” as they were already down two games and facing defeat, so they could play loose and fast in order to give their opponents a different look on the pickleball court.
Overall, the strategy of “uncalculated pickleball” or “messy pickleball” challenges the conventional norms of the sport and relies on surprising opponents with a high-energy and aggressive approach, which, as seen in McGuffin’s case, can lead to successful comebacks and victories.