Pickler Pickleball

Pickleball is not just your grandparents' game anymore... 😮

published3 months ago
10 min read

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Why the Middle Is the Best Pickleball Strategy | Pickler Pickleball

Down the middle solves the riddle. We have all heard this idiom before on the pickleball court. There is a strategy in doubles pickleball to hit shots “down the middle."

What is this middle strategy? Why is the middle strategy effective in doubles pickleball? How can you execute the middle strategy? Click here to learn the answers to these questions and whether the middle is the best pickleball strategy.


Should You Try a Two-Handed Backhand in Pickleball & 9 Keys to Success If You Do | Pickler Pickleball

The two-handed backhand is more popular than ever on the pickleball courts. With that said, does the rise of the two-handed backhand in pickleball mean the death of the one-handed backhand? Should you be using a two-handed backhand shot, rather than a one-handed backhand shot, on the pickleball courts?

Click here to learn more about the two-handed backhand - including its advantages, disadvantages, and 9 keys to success to execute it - and why you should consider whether the two-handed backhand is right for you.


Team Waters Takes Pickleball on Vacation in Costa Rica | Pickler Pickleball

Since returning to professional pickleball this year, after taking a long COVID hiatus, Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters have been traveling the country for pickleball tournaments. But, one thing that that they have not done in a really long time is take a family vacation... until now.

Click here to learn about Team Waters' trip to Costa Rica from Leigh herself, which included as much, or more, pickleball than at home in Florida, monkey spectators, family bonding, surfing, and a lot of new friends made on the Costa Rican pickleball courts, which reminded them how much fun the great sport of pickleball really is.

And, follow Leigh's and Anna Leigh's journey on Instagram and Facebook. Also, mark your calendars to watch Leigh and Anna Leigh compete in the PPA Takeya Shootout in Newport Beach, California, Thursday, August 5th through Sunday, August 8th! You can catch them in action on the PPA Tour's YouTube channel.


Lessons from the Pickleball Court: Encourage the Kids to Play | Pickler Pickleball

Pickleball is great for kids. Kids are great for pickleball. 🤩

Click here to learn why pickleball is not just your grandparents' game anymore and why kids should be on the court playing pickleball!

Bottom line - It is worth reiterating... Encourage the kids to play pickleball!


Pickleball Rules | Pickler Pickleball

We get it... the rules of pickleball can sometimes be confusing. One rule that has confused us all this year is the let serve - not because the actual rule is complicated, but because who follows the rule is complicated. Let's break it down...

Beginning in 2021, USA Pickleball changed the rule regarding the let serve. Before the beginning of 2021, any serve that touched the pickleball net, and landed in the correct service box (but not on the Non-Volley Zone line), resulted in a replay of the serve. In other words, a let serve resulted in a replay.

However, beginning in 2021, this rule has been changed to remove service lets in an effort to (1) preserve the integrity of the sport and prevent receiving teams from calling “phantom lets” on “ace serves”; (2) reduce conflicts between players or between referees and players over a let call; and (3) stop referees from performing a referee technique that some players found distracting, which was holding the pickleball net on the serve to detect lets and then stepping back out of bounds. So, now, if a serve touches the pickleball net, and lands in the correct service box (but not on the Kitchen line), the rally plays on - there is no replay of the serve.

Generally speaking, this is an easy rule change. However, with certain tournaments refusing to follow this rule for professional players (e.g., the PPA Tour events and the US Open Pickleball Championships), while others do follow the rule (e.g., USA Pickleball tournaments and the APP Tour events), it can be confusing to know which rules to follow for those that watch the pros play and those that play at that level. Halfway through the calendar year, we still find ourselves pausing every time the serve hits the net. Not because we do not know the rule, but what rules do our partner and our opponents want to play by.

When you step onto the pickleball court, it may be a good idea to ask your foursome which rules apply. And, if you forget, be sure to play the let serve just in case there are no replays!

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, so we can share with the rest of the pickleball community in a future newsletter.


Simone Jardim's Emotion-Driven Mission to Grow Pickleball | Pickler Pickleball

Simone Jardim's on-court accolades speak for themselves, which include multiple golds at just about every pickleball tournament you can think of. However, Simone is also busy promoting the sport of pickleball behind the scenes—from teaching, to advocating for players (including equal pay for pro women players and pro men players), to a new endeavor… the Simone Jardim Foundation.

Click here to learn more about what Simone is doing off the court to promote the growth of pickleball and what inspires her to do it.


Pickleball News | Pickler Pickleball

In case you missed it, let's serve up some headlines from around the pickleball court...

  • Last newsletter, we noted that the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) hit 54 member countries. In just two short weeks, the IFP has added 3 more member countries, for a total of 57 member countries.
  • Some key pickleball partnerships have been announced in the past few weeks, including USA Pickleball's partnerships with each of Franklin Pickleball for the official ball, and for the official tournament software. The PPA Tour also announced a partnership extension with Onix Pickleball for the official tournament ball, which is the Dura Fast 40. The Dura Fast 40 seems to be the preferred pickleball of the professional pickleball players, so it will be interesting to see how Franklin's alignment with USA Pickleball changes, or maybe even reinforces, that trend.
  • Mark your calendars for live pro pickleball at the major upcoming pickleball tournaments:
    • July 28th through August 1st - APP Pacific Northwest Classic in Bend, Oregon
    • August 5th through August 8th - PPA Takeya Showcase in Newport Beach, California
  • Morgan Brown (age 13) became the youngest in the nation to be certified as a Level 1 pickleball referee! Way to go, Morgan! Click here to learn more about Morgan and her accomplishment.


At times, you may find yourself wanting to improve your pickleball skills with some pickleball-specific drills. Most of the time, you likely can find someone to drill or play with by visiting your local pickleball courts—pickleball players are more abundant than ever, as the game as grown about 21% over last year. But, for those rare times when you are on your own, with no other pickleball player in sight (and, assuming that you do not have a ball machine, which can be a bit of an investment), there are some do-it-yourself pickleball drills that you can do with a wall.

Click here to learn some pickleball drills that you can do alone to up your skills, including pickleball wall drills for dinks, volleys, drives and overheads, as well as drills to improve your hand and paddle speed.


Crush the Overhead | Quick Tip | Pickler Pickleball

The best defense to a lob is a killer overhead. To crush the overhead:

  1. Immediately rotate your body sideways to avoid backpedaling (which can be dangerous on the pickleball court 😳) - also, be careful not to step forward, which could lead to an inadvertent foot fault if you step on the Non-Volley Zone line;
  2. Raise your paddle up by your ear with your paddle laid back and elbow up, and point your non-paddle hand at the pickleball out in front of your body - this is important to help guide where you will make contact with the pickleball and can also help block the sun on sunny days;
  3. Move your feet - by moving sideways and not backpedaling - to make sure you are positioned to hit the pickleball out in front of your body;
  4. Bring your paddle square to meet the pickleball out in front of your body with full-arm extension (if you are right-handed, think about hitting at 1 o'clock (imagining a clock is in front of you); if you are left-handed, think about hitting at 11 o'clock (imagining a clock is in front of you)); and
  5. Finish your overhead by following through the pickleball down and slightly across your body.

Also, be cognizant of your paddle angle. Your paddle angle will dictate where the pickleball will go. Be sure your paddle angle is down into your opponent's side of the pickleball court, so as not to sail the pickleball out of bounds, but also not so far that you hit the pickleball straight into the net. Lastly, consider adding angles to your overhead that take the pickleball off the court to the left or the right in order to make a more difficult return for your opponents.


New Origin Story of Pickleball | Pickler Pickleball

A news article came across our desk last week that proposed a new origin story for the sport of pickleball and an alternative theory for why pickleball is named pickleball. The news article alleges a "pre-history" of the creation of our great game by Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell.

The "pre-history" is that a gentleman named Patrick Smith and his family who lived in the Pacific Northwest would play a "ball" game very similar to modern-day pickleball, all while throwing back a few alcoholic beverages. Smith poses that the name pickleball actually comes from this heavy drinking because everyone was "pickled" (another word for drunk) (To note, this theory for the origin of the name of pickleball is in addition to the already competing theories of the dog named "Pickles" and the pickle boat theory. To learn more about the origins for the name of pickleball, click here.) As Smith's story goes, this family was the one to introduce the boozy game to Pritchard, one of pickleball's founding fathers.

There is no living person other than Smith that can verify this story, so the merits and credibility of the story are still TBD. 🤔 However, at least the concept of drinking while playing pickleball seems plausible... 🍻

To read the full news article on Smith's story, click here.


PPA Underground | Pickler Pickleball

The PPA Underground, held for the second year in a row on July 17th, 2021, is essentially a pro exhibition event, where a handful of pro pickleball players are split into two teams that battle for a team prize. The event was interesting, as it had some new pairings that we have never seen before. However, the real star of the event - in our opinion - was not so much the terrific play, but rather the guest pro announcers that spoke on the mic while the matches were going on.

Scott Golden, who commentated throughout the entire event, was joined by a different pro pickleball player each match. This was a rare treat, as these pro pickleball players are typically on-court and not available to jump on the mic. The pros offered new insights and interesting perspectives, and also shared a bit of their personalities, which we do not typically get to see.

Some noteworthy quotes from the pro pickleball players in the commentary booth were:

  • Jessie Irvine - When Commentating on Catherine Parenteau's and Anna Leigh Waters' 9-Point Run After Being Down 5-0 - Taking a time out and changing strategy (referring to the fact that Catherine and Anna Leigh switched what side of the court each was playing)... I think it is good for the psyche. You know I used to the do the same thing in tennis (to note, Jessie was a high-level tennis player before becoming a pro pickleball player). If something wasn't working, I would change my racquet or do something different, which would be a mental reset.
  • Matt Wright - Thoughts on the Growth of the Sport - When Lucy and I started playing about 5 years ago, and to see the growth, we would have never expected this.... Year to year to year, the thing is just exploding and every city you go to has more and more dedicated courts. I do not see the ceiling in sight. I think we are on an exponential and steep upward trajectory. I still think we are on the front end and it's really cool to see.
  • Lucy Kovalova - When Commentating on Leigh Waters' and Anna Leigh Waters' Unique I-Formation Court Positioning - That setup may mess up the other side (referring to Simone Jardim and Jessie Irvine), but the key is to focus on the return and forget what the opponents (Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters) are doing. You cannot control what your opponents are doing, but you can control your mindset and your strategy.


The perfect pickleball bag does exist... 😮

Pickleball Bag | Pickler Pickleball Pickleball Bag | Pickler Pickleball


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