Speakin’ With Deakin

February 1, 2024

As we are now in the first month of 2024, we wanted to check with Steve to see if he made any New Years Resolutions and what his tournament plans are for the upcoming year.

Do you have any New Years Resolutions, Steve? Why or why not?

I started my New Years Resolution early Sept 2023. It was to work hard off court on my fitness. This has paid off substantially and am seeing some great gains with regards to footwork, reaction time, and shot strength. I think it is always a great idea to set a realistic and attainable resolution that is going help personal growth in the New Year.

How do you stay organized with all the up coming tournaments and events?

I have always been very methodical and organized with the way I handle my schedule. There is a lot to it. Whether it is booking flights, accommodations, figuring out the best partners for my game, etc. The travel schedule is tiring but I feel I have a good handle on it. I have an old school wall calendar in my office where I keep track of everything along with a few notes in my phone. That’s right, I said it. Wall calendar. Haha.

Is there any tournament that you are looking forward to playing in most this year?

I think my two favourites for 2024 will be The Myoflex ® Canadian Nationals in Halifax this August and US Nationals this November which the PPA will attach themselves too again.

Now we turn to some of members for questions they have sent in:

Question #1: Steve ended the December 1, 2023 interview, “Speaking with Deakin” by saying, “It becomes a mental battle, and I like that part.” I’m curious, how do you prepare mentally for a game, or a tournament? Why do you say that you like that part?

There are a couple of things I do prior to a match in an event that help me settle in. One is a visualization technique that I stole from my tennis days that works wonders in PB and another is a breathing technique I implement during pre-match warmup.

I like mental part of the game as I feel every player that calls themself a professional should be able to execute every shot in the book. However, it takes a special athlete to be able to execute under high pressure scenarios. Along with that, dealing with poor weather, court, and lightning conditions, bad opposition line calls, and the pressure in playing in front of fans. All those things must be dealt with a strong mind to keep one’s game solid from 0-0-2 to the end of the match (hopefully with a W beside your name).

Question #2: Is your mental preparation as structured as your physical routine on and off the court?

I am 80% focussed on physical routine and 20% mental at this point in career.

I would say I have been always been strong mentally. However, coming back from a near career ending injury and a changing landscape in professional PB has forced me to deal with a little more adversity in the mental part of the game. My confidence of 2021 shattered with my injury but I am feeling so much better physically since starting my new routine and this has translated to a much more positive outlook mentally. Dealing with bad losses and disappointment is now part of my reality and feel I have a very good handle on this in 2024.

Question #3: What tips, can you share with someone who’s new to pickleball competition?

I think first and foremost pick partners that you have fun with. Don’t jump to the best player that may not necessarily be the best partner. I made this mistake early in my career and it doesn’t always work out the way it should on paper. I find if I am relaxed and comfortable with my partner I will perform better.

Secondly, be humble. You may take some losses early on in your journey. Learn and grow from them. It took me a good year to feel comfortable competing on tour.

Question #4: In the December issue Steve talked about eating a big breakfast and meal after play in preparation for the next day. What sort of things do you eat?

Typical post match dinner

Steak, chicken, pasta, sweet potatoes, salad of some sort followed by yogurt, blueberries, protein powder, drizzle of honey for my sweet tooth dessert.

Typical pre match breakfast

Eggs, bacon, hash browns, sour dough toast, avocado, yogurt, granola, apples, bananas, and coffee.

Question #5: Thank you for your inspiring article. As an intermediate 69-year-old female player in good health I play 3-4 times a week and drill a couple of times but believe the best way for me to improve my game is to do some off court training. I have access to a gym but have not been able to find any specific training recommendations for pickleball. My goal is to compete in the 3.5 level in the June tournament. What would you recommend for off court?

That’s a very good question and I love the fact that you have set a goal for yourself. I am not qualified to offer this type of advice and would suggest you contact a personal trainer that can assess you, any injuries you may have, your goals, and how to become more PB fit. They can then craft an appropriate plan that is customized just for you. For me, I was astonished at how much work goes into putting together a blueprint that caters to each individual’s abilities and goals on and off court. All I can tell you is that being PB fit on court has improved my game substantially. I still have a long way to go but it definitely builds confidence as I can move faster, react quicker, hit harder, and not gas out. Best of luck on your journey and let me know how it goes for you!

Paddle up and have fun!

Do you have a question for Steve Deakin? If so, send it to scoop@pickleballcanada.org and you could see your question in the next issue of the Scoop.