Happy March! We have a couple of big months ahead of us... During this month of March, we celebrate Women's History Month, followed by National Pickleball Month in April! 🔥
Before we jump into this newsletter, a quick shoutout and big thanks 🙌 to all of the great female pickleball hall of famers that have achieved exceptional results on the pickleball court and/or have made exceptional contributions to pickleball's growth, development, and leadership: Fran Myer, Jennifer Lucore, Alex Hamner, Hilary Marold, Gigi LeMaster, and Yvonne Hackenberg.
#1. 7 TIPS TO WIN AS A TEAM AT THE NON-VOLLEY-ZONE LINE
Most points are won at the Non-Volley-Zone line. It is important to get to the Non-Volley-Zone line and then hold that line. But, how do you do that? How do you work with your partner in doubles pickleball to win at the Non-Volley-Zone line? Try these 7 tips to win more points with your partner at the Kitchen line! 💪
#2. MURMURS FROM THE LOSERS' BRACKET: "IT'S AN INJURY SPORT"
Has anyone tried to tell you that pickleball is an "injury sport"? We here at Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket would like to put this quip in perspective for you (*for those new to Murmurs, this is a humorous tongue-and-cheek opinion piece - don't take us too seriously... we are trying to have fun, just like we do on the pickleball court).
Click here to have a laugh with Pickler writer, Frank Cerabino, as he dispels the statement that pickleball is an "injury sport." 🤣
#3. WHY YOU SHOULD SLOW DOWN THE PICKLEBALL
Pace on the pickleball court can be a weapon, as many pickleball players struggle to handle power and speed. However, there are circumstances where hitting the pickleball with as much pace as possible can be counterproductive.
Click here to learn a few circumstances of when to slow down the pickleball, which could help you frustrate your opponents on the pickleball court. 👍
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Who needs a vacation?! (pickleball included, of course) 👋
#4. SERVED HOT OR COLD: PICKLEBALL IS A WINNER
Pickleball could be the fabric that unites us. It is the most inclusive sport there is (e.g., for people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, skill levels, localities, etc.). For instance, it would be hard to find two places as different as Medicine Hat and Rincon. But, pickleball unites them both. Click here to learn how. 🤝
#5. PICKLER THE PODCAST - NEWCOMER SHINES... BRIGHT
Anna Bright made a splash in her pro pickleball debut, winning two gold medals against some of the game’s best. Listen in to Bright's conversation with Pickler The Podcast co-hosts, Stacie Townsend and John "The People's Champ" Davison, to learn why she skyrocketed to the top of the podium and why she is all in on pickleball. After just four months of pickleball under her belt to date, Bright is certainly one to watch in 2022! If only all of our pickleball games could accelerate as quick as Bright's... Tune in and catch up! 🎧
Do you have any questions that you would like Stacie and John to address? Or, do you have any ideas for a guest? 💡 Let us know by emailing email@example.com!
And, don't forget to subscribe to Pickler's YouTube page, so you never miss another Pickler video - whether it be a podcast, pickleball tip video, or other can't-miss video.
#6. WHAT TO DO WITH A LET CORD PICKLEBALL
Imagine you are deep in the transition area of the pickleball court. Your opponents hit what appears to be a drive deep in the court, but the pickleball clips the net and dribbles over. You start to race toward the pickleball. What do you do next with a let cord pickleball? 🤷
Click here to learn how to master the let cord pickleball.
#7. QUICK TIP - SPREAD OUT & GO MIDDLE
You may not always win in one shot. Rather, it is important to craft a point using multiple shots to set up your eventual winning shot. One way to craft a winning point is to spread your opponents out and then go down the middle. To do this, particularly at the Kitchen line, use dinks to move your opponents around. Never hit a dink in the same place twice. Make your opponents move.
For instance, say you take a dink to one sideline. One of your opponents will likely move to cover the dink. Now, at this point, you may already have an opening in the middle if your other opponent failed to stay linked with the opponent covering the dink. However, if your opponents did stay linked, then continue to move your opponents with the dink. Try to dink to the middle, which may cause both of your opponents take a step toward the middle. When you opponents return the pickleball to you, since they both took a step toward the middle, you now have more room to hit the pickleball toward the sidelines. Then, your opponents will move toward the sideline to return the pickleball. Now, you have even more room in the middle of your opponents because one moved toward the sideline. See a pattern?
Use the dink to spread your opponents out and then hit a winner down the middle! 💥
Playing better pickleball starts with your health. As they say, "your health is your wealth" or, in our case, what allows us to keep playing pickleball. Stay ahead of the game by going to those doctors' appointments and preventative screenings, which can help you detect and get ahead of any issues early. Our friends at Life Line Screening have already screened over 10 million people to help save countless moments on and off the pickleball court. Click here to schedule 🗓 your preventative screening today.
#8. RULES REFRESH - YOUR PADDLE HEAD MATTERS
You do not see an illegal serve called very often on the pickleball court in a sanctioned match—particularly, a pro pickleball match. However, an illegal serve was called during a pro men’s doubles match at the APP Punta Gorda Open against Travis Rettenmaier.
The rules of pickleball provide that, at the point of contact on a volley serve (as opposed to a drop serve):
- your arm must be moving in an upward arc (to note, you may hit the serve with either a forehand or backhand motion);
- the point of contact must be below your waist; and
- the highest point of your paddle head must be below the highest part of your wrist (which is the point on your wrist where your joint bends).
In the video above, Rettenmaier committed a fault against these serving rules, as his paddle head was above his wrist at the point of contact. As a result, Rettenmaier committed a fault and lost his serve.
If you use the volley serve out on the pickleball court, be sure to follow these rules and avoid any inadvertent faults. 👏
For a deeper breakdown on all of 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.
#9. HEADLINES FROM THE COURT
Serving up your pickleball headlines... 🗞
- According to Architectural Digest, the sport of "pickleball has replaced golf as the most coveted sports amenity in luxury residential developments." A pickleball court is certainly at the top of our list for home must-haves... Does anyone have an at-home court that they'd like to share? 😎
- It is no secret... There are not enough pickleball courts out in the world (one city even shut down a neighborhood cul-de-sac pickleball court). As a result, there is an overwhelming demand to use pickleball courts, which leads to innovative ways to share courts and manage play. One community has adopted a "paddle saddle" and has taken measures to "remind" players how to share courts using the "paddle saddle" system. What is your best advice to share courts and manage play? Share with us at email@example.com.
- With the shortage of pickleball courts, malls are luring shoppers with coveted indoor pickleball courts. Definitely a place we would like to be!
- Pickleball continues to grow across college campuses, as schools like Elon University offer pickleball classes for credit and others like Texas Christian University (TCU) create a pickleball club that will host a pickleball tournament. This college push will bring the sport to a younger demographic, which is essential in continuing the growth of pickleball. 📈
- Gawker, an American blog focused on celebrity and media, speculated that "Big Pickleball" is behind the explosive media push for the sport of pickleball, as pickleball headlined major outlets like NBC, Forbes, Bloomberg, New York Times, NPR, The Guardian, among others. However, in the last couple of weeks, the media has painted pickleball in a different, more negative light - pushing that pickleball is an injury sport (cue Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket above), is not a "real" sport, and is causing confrontations "from coast to coast." If "Big Pickleball" is behind the positive publicity for pickleball, who is behind the negative publicity? Any thoughts? 🤔
- A Boston Globe article poses the question, "Is pickleball the new tennis?" The article juxtaposes the intensity of some players - with private courts, coaches, and heart-pounding games - against the light-heartedness of others - with après pickleball and a comparison to pickleball being "the Wordle of the sports world." With that said, the sport of pickleball is what you make of it. And, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of intense competition or social recreation, we hope you stay true to the culture of pickleball, which is what sets the sport apart from others, like tennis. As the article states correctly, pickleball's "goofy name and (mostly) no-judgment vibe, is what many people need." 👏
- Pickleball is inclusive, as it erases any gaps or differences in age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. One pickleball club is even showcasing the inclusiveness for the deaf community.
- No Man's Land Pickleball, an anonymous pickleball blog that provides analysis on the pro pickleball landscape, is no longer anonymous. The authors known as "Gritty" and "Slim" were finally revealed, after much speculation, as Chris Ross and Jeremy Comazzetto. Chris and Jeremy were surprised by the reaction and engagement from amateurs and pros alike, as they - in their own words - are "two Joe Blows from Canada." 🇨🇦
In the last two weeks, there were three pro pickleball tournaments, which is a lot of pro pickleball. The key takeaways from these events include:
- The PPA tour sees the same doubles champions 🏆 in each of its 2022 tournaments, as Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters win pro mixed doubles, Ben Johns and Collin Johns win pro men's doubles, and Lucy Kovalova and Callie Smith win pro women's doubles. While the on-court performances are insanely good, could fans get tired of seeing the same winners week in and week out? It will be interesting to see if anyone can shake up these gold medal winners...
- Turning to the APP tour, a new face shined at the APP Punta Gorda Open in Anna Bright as she took home two gold medals in her first pro tournament (check out the latest Pickler The Podcast above 👆). At the APP Plantation Open, Dylan Frazier took home two gold medals in pro mixed doubles and pro men's doubles, and the Kawamoto twins (Jade and Jackie) sailed through the pro women's doubles division. There were also some familiar faces were back on top of the podium, as Simone Jardim and Kyle Yates each claimed a gold medal during the APP's last two tournaments.
- However, no one shined quite as much as the Johnson family (siblings, JW and Jorja Johnson, and mother Julie Johnson), who took home a combined 15 medals in two tournaments, including a "family triple crown" in their respective pro singles divisions (this is the second time that this has happened this year)! While JW Johnson has been making waves in the pro divisions for some time, Jorja Johnson (pickleball age 16) deserves a shoutout for her consistent, stellar performance - in the past three months, Jorja has claimed 10 medals in the pro divisions! 🔥
- Mark your calendars 🗓 for live pro pickleball every weekend during this month of March! There will be no shortage of pro pickleball.
#10. WATERS SPOTLIGHT: BATTING A THOUSAND
Since the beginning of 2022, pickleball phenom, Anna Leigh Waters, has played in three tournaments for a total of nine events. Of these nine events, Anna Leigh is "batting a thousand" against the best in the sport, as she has taken home nine medals (six golds, one silver, and two bronzes). She is undefeated in both mixed doubles (with her partner, Ben Johns) and women's singles. And, Anna Leigh, along with her women's partner and mother, Leigh Waters, have stepped up their women's doubles game by trading bronze for silver in their latest competition.
With at least 15 more tournaments this 2022 calendar year, and a total of at least 45 more events, Anna Leigh could potentially end up with over 50 medals on the year. And, with her consistent performance in mixed doubles and singles, her upward trend in women's doubles, and shots like the one below from her partners 🤯, Anna Leigh could make most of those medals golden.
The only question could be whether Anna Leigh's 2022 performance bests her mixed doubles partner, Ben Johns' performance, as Ben is on track for a similar medal count (he is 8 for 8 in medals, as Ben played one less event). The 2022 calendar year certainly looks to be a runaway year for the both of them, which would be incredible given the rising level of talent in the sport.
Continue to follow Leigh's and Anna Leigh's journey here in Pickler's free pickleball newsletter, as well as on Instagram and Facebook. Also, mark your calendars 🗓 to watch Leigh and Anna Leigh compete at the PPA Riverland Open on Thursday, March 10th through Sunday, March 13th! You can catch them in action on the PPA Tour's YouTube channel.
#11. ASK PICKLER - HOW TO HANDLE THE DRIVE
Question: I am having trouble handling good drives from my opponents. Do you have any advice on how to handle a good drive? 🧐
Answer: You are not alone. A lot of players have trouble with good drives that come with a lot of pace and/or stay low above the pickleball net. There are a few things you can do to help, which include:
- Be ready. Being ready means that you are in an athletic stance at the Non-Volley Zone line with your paddle up and out in front of your body. Also, bend your knees and get low—the lower you get, the better you will be able to handle the fastball.
- Use a loose paddle grip with little to no backswing (if you have a tight grip, you will likely hit the pickleball too hard, as a tight grip will cause your paddle to act as a stronger backboard for the pickleball to bounce off of). This will help you control and deaden the fast drive from your opponents.
- Make your opponents’ drives more difficult by keeping your opponents deep in the court and slowing the pickleball down. This will require your opponents to work harder to generate speed and pace, and give you more time to react to their drives.
- And, don’t forget to avoid the out balls. Let the drives that are sailing out of bounds go to avoid giving your opponents another opportunity to hit a better drive.
Do you have a pickleball question? Ask Pickler. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Plus, your question may be featured in the next newsletter.
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