Ben Johns: The Journey of a Pickleball Prodigy
Childhood and Early Years
Ben Johns grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in a large family with six siblings. He was homeschooled, allowing his family to spend winters in Florida. During these Florida trips, Ben discovered pickleball, a sport that would shape his future.
The Diverse Roots of Gaithersburg
Johns reflects on his hometown, noting its diverse community and access to various sports, including tennis and baseball. Gaithersburg's proximity to cities like D.C. and Baltimore and its famous Maryland crab cakes contribute to its unique character.
Family Dynamics and Upbringing
Ben credits his parents for managing a household of seven children. He attributes his work ethic, loyalty, and integrity to the values instilled by his parents, who encouraged independence and hard work.
Educational Attitude and Challenges
Despite the challenges of homeschooling, Ben was a dedicated student, aligning well with his instructors' expectations. He advises young listeners to maintain perspective on life's challenges, suggesting that most issues seem less significant as one gains experience.
The Spark of Pickleball
Johns' transition into pickleball came naturally, given his tennis and table tennis background. His love for racket and paddle sports made pickleball an instant attraction, leading to his continuous improvement in the game.
Mental Approach and Training Routine
Unlike popular sports psychology, Ben doesn't heavily engage in visualization or meditation. He focuses on recovery and preparation, including cold plunges and a balanced diet. His typical training day includes hours on the court and in the gym, followed by sauna and cold plunge sessions.
The Role of Mental Toughness
Ben believes that experience and confidence, rather than overt self-assurance, are key to mental toughness in sports. He emphasizes the importance of believing in one's ability to win and learning from each competition.
Handling Pressure and Loss
Johns discusses his approach to nervousness and loss in competitions. He acknowledges the tightness in big moments but avoids overwhelming nervousness. He views losses as learning opportunities, urging young athletes not to dwell on defeats.
Strengths, Weaknesses, and Parental Support
Ben identifies his nonchalant attitude as both a strength and an area for improvement. He praises his parents for their supportive yet hands-off approach, allowing him and his siblings to pursue their interests passionately.
Advice for Aspiring Pros
Johns' primary advice for aspiring athletes is to enjoy the journey towards their goals. He stresses the importance of finding joy in training and striving towards objectives without being overwhelmed by the end result.
The Importance of Balance and Future Goals
Ben doesn't face significant challenges, focusing instead on training and improving in pickleball. He advises athletes to practice their weaknesses and enjoy group learning environments like pickleball retreats.
Personal Interests and Future Aspirations
Outside pickleball, Ben enjoys hiking, weightlifting, and gaming. He dreams of traveling to Dubai and Japan and expresses admiration for Elon Musk. If not a professional athlete, he envisions himself traveling the world or pursuing a career in materials engineering.