CALLIE JO SMITH
REVEALS THE KEY TO
The Utah-based pro, coach, mom of two, and cofounder of pickleball academy Paddle Up gives us invaluable insight into what makes her a top-ranked player.
What’s the first thing you teach a new pickleball student?
The right contact point and the right footwork—that’s honestly the most important thing in someone’s game. Once you’ve got the control with the contact point—just being able to hit it right to my hand from anywhere on the court—then you improve upon that information and add in a follow-through.
How do you start a game day?
To be honest, I say a prayer. I’ll ask that I play well and feel confident. It starts my morning off well. And I feel like if you start off with a good attitude and get yourself psyched up before the match, it always helps you to play better. Then I make sure I have a good breakfast.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FIRST STEP ON THE COURT?
I like to do a warm-up, [even if] it’s just dinking for five minutes and then working my way back on the court, just to get moving. To me, it’s always been a big deal to warm up first, especially to prevent injury.
What are your tips for keeping up stamina between games?
Fill up your water bottle, get electrolytes in you, and grab a quick snack ’cause you don’t know how long you have before your next one.
WHAT’S A FUN MOVE YOU’VE RECENTLY MASTERED?
The backhand flick. If you’re crosscourt dinking, then you can take it out of the air and flip it right at the person in front of you.
How do you view a loss?
If I lose, it’s a learning experience. Instead of, Oh, I lost, I suck, it’s Okay, why did I lose? Which shots do I need to improve on? Or [was my opponent] just better that day? I try to look at how I can improve my game each time. That’s really helped me a lot. I make it more of a positive.