Third shot lobs... Chicken wings... Placement over power... Major comebacks... The Big Mo... Spin serves... Headlines around the court...
We are talking about it all in this edition of the pickleball newsletter. Yes, all of it! Let's dive right in...
#1. THIRD SHOT LOB - GOOD IDEA OR BAD IDEA?
The third shot—which is usually a drive or a drop—is the most critical shot in a pickleball rally, as it is designed to get the serving team into the Kitchen line (where most points are won). One shot that you do not see very often for the third shot is a lob.
Is it a good idea or a bad idea to hit a third shot lob? 🤔 Yes, really... a third shot lob! Click here to learn the answer to this question, as well as give some tips to successfully execute a third shot lob for those daring enough to try it.
#2. HIT YOUR SPOTS! WHY PLACEMENT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN POWER
Everyone loves to hit the pickleball hard. Power is impressive and, let’s admit it, it’s fun, too. However, hitting the pickleball hard can sometimes be counterproductive when you are looking to attack a pickleball. Hitting the pickleball hard without control can lead to hitting the pickleball out of bounds, which will cost you the rally. Hitting the pickleball hard without control can also lead to possibly hitting it in a spot that is easy for your opponents to return. What we propose is more important than power is placement.
Click here to learn key placements of the pickleball when you are on the attack. Attack the pickleball, but attack with precision! Like in real estate, location, location, location! 🎯
#3. WHY PRO PICKLEBALL PLAYER, MARCIN ROZPEDSKI, IS "ON TOP OF THE WORLD"
One of the worst feelings as an athlete is being sidelined due to an injury. Not only can injuries be incredibly painful, but, even worse, is not being able to participate in the game that you love. This is also true of pickleball athletes at any level, including pro pickleball player, Marcin Rozpedski, who was sidelined from the sport for two years due to knee injuries. The pain of not being able to participate and be on the pickleball court due to an injury can be intolerable.
Click here to learn about the incredible (and painful) journey of Rozpedski, including why he says he is "on top of the world" now, as well as his advice to pickleball players that may be experiencing the same dark times that he had.
This one is a must read...
#4. FROM THE ARCHIVES... SAFETY FIRST!
The sport of pickleball is considered friendlier on the body than other sports, such as any contact sport, like football or basketball, or even tennis. However, like any other sport, there is a risk of injury that comes along with playing the game. To help reduce the risk of injury on the pickleball court and play pickleball safely, consider the following pickleball safety tips:
Want more? Click here to dive deeper into pickleball safety tips!
#5. QUICK TIP - GO FOR THE "CHICKEN WING"!
The “chicken wing” occurs when you hit the pickleball toward the shoulder area of the paddle side of your opponent's body. Since this area is in between a backhand and a forehand, it is difficult for your opponent to both (1) determine whether to switch from a backhand to a forehand shot and then (2) to actually do it. The likely result is that your opponent will pull his or her elbow up and out in an effort to reach the pickleball, which results in what looks like a “chicken wing.”
The "chicken wing" will likely cause your opponent to either mishit the pickleball entirely, so that you win the rally, or mishit the pickleball in a way that results in a pop up and easy put away shot for you or your partner.
To put your opponents in an uncomfortable “chicken wing,” pick a spot on your opponents’ shoulder area and aim any drives, speed-up shots, or hard volleys at that spot. Be careful not to hit up too much on the pickleball, causing the pickleball to fly out of bounds. It is a careful balance of placement and power. But, remember, placement is more important than power!
Go for the "chicken wing"! 🐥
#6. RULES REFRESH - BODY PART, PLAY ON?
Let's say you have mastered the art of hitting your opponent’s chicken wing. You hit a beautiful spot, but your opponent is able to return the pickleball with a very lucky fling of the paddle. However, instead of hitting your opponent’s paddle, the pickleball actually hits the back of your opponent’s hand. Is this considered a fault, as the pickleball hit your opponent’s body? Or, is this back of the hand considered part of the paddle, so that the point plays on?
The rules of pickleball have clearly answered this question. After the serve, you may only contact the pickleball with your paddle or your hand in contact with your paddle below your wrist. If you contact the pickleball with any other part of your body (including your hand in contact with your paddle above your wrist), or anything that you are wearing, then you would have committed a fault.
If you are a pickleball player that either changes hands that holds the paddle, or hits a two-handed backhand or other shot, then, as long as both hands are in contact with the paddle, the pickleball may hit either hand below the wrist and still be considered in play. For this exception to apply, both hands must be in contact with your paddle.
Further, to note, if you drop the pickleball before you hit the serve, and the pickleball hits your shoe or other body part, then this is not a fault. This rule only applies after the serve is hit.
Although this rule is easy to understand, it can be difficult to discern exactly where the pickleball hits a player in a fast-paced game. Use your best judgment and be honest out on the pickleball court.
For a deeper breakdown on the rules of pickleball, check out Pickler's Ultimate Guide to the Rules of Pickleball.
Have you had an interesting rules issue on the pickleball court? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can share with the rest of the pickleball community in a future newsletter.
#7. WATERS SPOTLIGHT - ANNA LEIGH'S "IMPRESSIVE" OVERHEAD
Anna Leigh, here! If you have been following me and my mom, Leigh Waters, you might have seen us play at the PPA Underground exhibition event a few weeks ago. One of my takeaways for my personal pickleball game is that I was not anticipating the lob. In fact, I got beat quite a few times on good lobs by my opponents. Note taken...
So, I hit the court with my women's partner, who I call "mom," and worked on my overhead to better attack lobs from my opponents. I realized I was dropping my head and collapsing, so that I would pull the pickleball down into the net. My timing was also off on my jump - in other words, I was jumping too early. Mom helped me realize, and fix, these two issues. She also gave me a great tip - which I wanted to share with you - which is to accelerate up to my point of contact, rather than accelerating down after contact. Lastly, I think just drilling with mom, not only helped me fix a small weakness, but gave me more confidence in attacking the lob with a strong overhead. And, confidence is critical on the pickleball court...
I am happy to report that, thanks to this drilling with mom and a little confidence, my overhead was clutch this weekend at the PPA Tour's Takeya Showcase. In fact, one of the announcers called one of my overheads "impressive"! The lob could not be used against me or us. And, to top it off, I won my FIRST GOLD MEDAL on the PPA Tour, as I won pro women's singles, defeating Catherine Parenteau in a 5-game thriller! 🤩
I hope this inspires you to work on a weakness you may have, so you can be better next time you hit the pickleball court!
Follow Leigh's and Anna Leigh's journey here in Pickler's free pickleball newsletter and on Instagram and Facebook. Also, mark your calendars to watch Leigh and Anna Leigh compete in the Tournament of Champions in Brigham City, Utah, Thursday, August 19th through Saturday, August 21st!
#8. WOMEN'S CORNER - THE WOMAN BEHIND THE TEAM WATERS' WOMEN
One ingredient in the recipe for success is to surround yourself with the best kind of people. In the case of Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters - AKA Team Waters - the best kind of people are also family.
Click here to learn how Ann Eichelberger, Leigh's mother and Anna Leigh's grandmother, helps Team Waters grab success on the pro pickleball tour, as well as Ann's advice to the girls and experience on the pro pickleball circuit.
Bottom line: Most successful people—including professional pickleball players—do not do it alone. They have a team of supporters. Cheers to the supporters that make the big moments even bigger!
#9. HEADLINES FROM THE COURT
In case you missed it, let's serve up some headlines from around the pickleball court...
- Congrats to the winner of our EngagePickleball Camp giveaway, hedlundkim7! And, big congrats to our second prize winner, Tammy Greathouse Jefferson, who won Pickler's online pickleball video collection! Thanks to all that participated in our giveaway that we partnered with EngagePickleball on. If you didn't win, you can still attend an EngagePickleball camp, which are the best valued camps out there (did we mention that you get a free paddle with a 3-day camp?!). Click here to learn more.
- USA Pickleball announced another partnership, as the non-profit organization inked a deal with PickleballCentral as its Official Equipment Retail partner, while the Pro Pickleball Association (PPA) announced Fox Sports as its new broadcast partner, starting in November 2021 and continuing through the end of 2022. Not to be outdone, the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) Tour also had an announcement, in which it will host a "Next Gen Series" in conjunction with Chicken N Pickle. The series will include three-day pickleball tournaments for up-and-coming players, aged 16 to 23, as well as mentoring opportunities with senior pros to help these young players make the next step to the pro pickleball tour.
- For the first time in pickleball history, pro pickleball players on the PPA Tour will receive one challenge per game. Any challenge will result in a review of the play by the referees in the broadcast booth. If a challenge is successful, then that player will keep the challenge. However, if a challenge is unsuccessful, then that player will lose the challenge and a timeout. If the review is inconclusive, then the call will stand. To note, the challenging player must have a timeout remaining in order to make a challenge. Pro pickleball players better be careful using those timeouts and watch those line calls... 👀
- Top pro pickleball player, Ben Johns, elected to take his prize purse winnings from the PPA Tour's Orange County Cup in cryptocurrency (specifically, in Ethereum), rather than cash money. Will Johns' investment pay off? Will this be a trend among other pro pickleball players, or is this a luxury of being the #1 ranked pro player?
- Speaking of Ben Johns, he and Irina Tereschenko competed in a paddle tennis (now called pop tennis) tournament in Venice Beach, California, which featured a winner-take-all cash prize of $50,000. Even though the pair have never played paddle tennis, they made it to the final match of the day, coming in second. Unfortunately, no money (crypto or otherwise) was earned, but Johns and Tereschenko represented the sport of pickleball in a documentary filmed in connection with the event. Crazy... 🤯
- Tyson McGuffin, Selkirk-sponsored pro pickleball player, was caught flashing a new Selkirk pickleball paddle at the PPA Tour's Takeya Showcase in Newport Beach, California. This is noteworthy because the pickleball paddle featured a new design with an intentional hole near the base of the paddle by the handle. McGuffin had a strong performance, as usual, so time will tell whether he sticks with this new paddle design and whether this open-hole design is here to stay for the sport of pickleball. We will keep our eye on this one...
- Did you know that there are immediate benefits to being a member of USA Pickleball? Some of these benefits are ongoing, while others are limited time only. Click here to learn the exclusive partner offers, which currently include Franklin Sports, Acacia Sports, and HotelPlanner.
Mark your calendars for live pro pickleball at the major upcoming pickleball tournaments:
- August 10th through August 15th - PPA Rocky Mountain Championships
- August 12th through August 15th - APP New Jersey Open
- August 16th through August 22nd - Tournament of Champions
#10. PICKLEBALL IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST SHOWCASES THE BIG M-O!
Down 1-10, pro pickleball players JW Johnson and Jay Devilliers displayed the power of the "Big Mo" during the APP Tour pickleball tournament in the Pacific Northwest. The Big Mo is an unquantifiable and intangible, but powerful, force on the pickleball court, as pickleball is a game of momentum and momentum swings.
Click here to learn about momentum on the pickleball court and what Johnson and Devilliers did to take advantage of the Big Mo and how they came back from a 1-10 deficit.
#11. NOTEWORTHY - SPIN SERVE TO STAY OR GO?
The spin serve - whether using the hand or paddle to spin the pickleball on the toss - has wreaked havoc on the sport of pickleball since the 2021 rule changes came into effect. While pro pickleball player Morgan Evans has been spinning the pickleball on the toss for years, fellow pro Zane Navratil opened pandora's box when he cleverly put spin on the pickleball by using his paddle on the toss. Navratil's effective serving style led to a slew of pros and amateurs alike using spin to hit a more offensive serve to start a pickleball rally. For goodness sake's, Navratil has even mastered a backwards serve to impart even more spin on the pickleball!
Given the 2021 pickleball rule changes, these unintended consequences beg the question of whether the spin serve will stay or go. The answer to the question may lie with another question... Should the serve in pickleball be an offensive weapon (like the sport of tennis), or should the serve in pickleball be a neutral shot intended to only start a rally (like the sport of table tennis)? Historically, the answer to this question has been the latter - a neutral shot. Hence, the entire concept of the underhand (as opposed to overhead) serve. The concept of "ace serves" in pickleball, which the spin serve helps facilitate, also does not seem to be appealing to see as a spectator (as opposed to rallies).
Well-known pickleball referee, Don Stanley, who is also the head referee for the PPA and plays a part in the USA Pickleball Rules Committee, has hinted that he does not think the spin serve will stay come year end for these very reasons. However, he does believe that the drop serve is here to stay. Year-end rule changes will certainly be interesting...
Where do you stand? Should the spin serve stay or go?
SHOW SOME LOVE TO YOUR PARTNER!
Give the gift of pickleball style with these pickleball bags from Doubletake!
GRAB FREE PICKLEBALL STUFF!
Know someone that loves pickleball? If you enjoyed this pickleball newsletter, please consider sharing it with a friend. We provide this newsletter for free and rely on word-of-mouth to grow our audience, and we've made sharing easy!
Plus, if you serve up referrals, we will send some awesome rewards your way! For just 3 referrals, you will earn a $10 gift card to Pickler's shop and, for 30 referrals, you will earn access to Pickler's pickleball video lesson collection (value of $134.95)!
Just be sure to use your unique referral link below: