Happy Labor Day! Let's celebrate all the social and economic achievements of the American workforce with a few games of pickleball... America's new pastime! Is it too early for us to say move over baseball? 🤔
#1. WANT TO PLAY HIGH PERCENTAGE PICKLEBALL? THEN, AVOID THESE SHOTS!
To improve your skills on the pickleball court, play what is known as “high percentage pickleball.” Although hitting an impressive winning shot is fun and makes you feel good, it may not be the best pathway to winning or success. If you can hit a difficult winning shot only 1 out of 10 chances, you are likely losing too many points and too many games. To play high percentage pickleball, and increase your likelihood of winning on the pickleball court— especially from the beginner and intermediate skill levels to more advanced skill levels—avoid hitting shots with high difficulty. High percentage pickleball is about hitting shots that give you the highest percentage of success and the lowest chance of making an unforced error.
Click here to learn some shots to avoid in order to play high percentage pickleball! 📊
#2. YOU HIT YOUR THIRD SHOT ON THE PICKLEBALL COURT... NOW WHAT?
The third shot is undoubtedly one of the most important shots in the sport of pickleball. This is because the third shot is critical in getting the serving team to the Non-Volley Zone line, which is where most points are won (or lost).
With that said, whether you hit a quality third shot, or a not so quality third shot, what is even more critical is what you do next. Do you take advantage of your quality third shot? Do you recover from your poor third shot? Click here to learn pickleball strategies on what you should do after you hit your third shot on the pickleball court.
#3. WATERS SPOTLIGHT - OFFENSIVE EVEN IN TIME-OUTS 💥
Like many of you, we have been following mother-daughter duo, Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters (AKA Team Waters), for a few years now. In our eyes, they have changed the game and made pickleball quite exciting to watch with their aggressive play style and ability to constantly apply pressure against their opponents. Although they have developed their skill sets and evolved their game in the past few years - which now includes a few dinks and change of pace from time to time - they are true to themselves and still like to play on the offensive. This is true even in their time-outs!
At their latest pickleball tournament appearance - the Tournament of Champions in Brigham City, Utah (which, in case you missed it, click here to read about the event through Leigh's eyes and words), Team Waters used an offensive time-out, which is where a team calls a time-out when they are serving. This is a rare, but pro, move by Team Waters, as typically time-outs are used when losing a few points in a row - in other words, when a team is the receiving team (as a reminder, a good rule of thumb is to call a time-out if your opponents have scored three points in a row). However, Team Waters cleverly used an offensive time-out when they were struggling to score themselves, as Team Waters had a few side-outs without scoring a point. The offensive time-out gave Team Waters a chance to compose themselves, grab a drink, and confirm the game plan between themselves, before serving for points.
So, if you find yourself in competitive play, and you are struggling to score a point after several side-outs, consider using an offensive time-out.
Bottom line: Time-outs can be used both offensively and defensively. Use your time-outs because you can't take them home with you.
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 in the PPA Orlando Cup in Orlando, Florida, Thursday, September 9th through Sunday, September 12th! You can catch them in action on the PPA Tour's YouTube channel (as well as, fingers crossed 🤞, on the Tennis Channel for the PPA's Championships Sunday! - more on this in the headlines below 👇).
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#4. QUICK TIP - STAY BACK AFTER THE SERVE
The general rule of thumb on the pickleball courts is to work your way to the Non-Volley Zone line as soon as possible, as most points in pickleball are won there. However, you can put you and your partner at a disadvantage if you move into the Non-Volley Zone line too early because of pickleball's "2-bounce" or "3-hit" rule - in other words, the serve must bounce and the return of serve must bounce or, another way of putting it, the pickleball must be hit three times before you can volley it (a volley is a shot where you hit the pickleball in the air, with no bounce). With that said, when should you start moving in to the Kitchen line?
When you are the serving team, you should stay back at the baseline to prepare for the return of serve, since you are not allowed to volley a return of serve. By staying back at the baseline, you will give yourself plenty of room for the return of serve to bounce. One of the worst things you can do is move in after the serve, only to then quickly retreat in order to hit your opponents' deep return of serve. Plus, remember, you always want to hit the pickleball out in front of your body, so do not unnecessarily jam yourself by coming into the court after your serve. So, stay at or slightly behind the baseline. After the third shot, you and your partner, as the serving team, should immediately move in to the Non-Volley Zone line.
Bottom line: Stay back after the serve and expect a deep return of serve from your opponents.
#5. WOMEN'S CORNER - TEACHING PRO, TAYLOR NISS, SHARES HER PASSION FOR PICKLEBALL
One of the best things that can be done for the growth of pickleball is simply to teach others the game – in particular, to teach kids. This is exactly what teaching pro, Taylor Niss, is doing in the South Florida community. Niss combines her passion for teaching with the sport of pickleball, as she teaches the community, including kids, the game and encourages everyone she teaches to continue to share the sport with others.
Click here to learn more about Niss' pickleball story, as well as get some new ideas on how to get kids more involved in the sport! 👩🏫
#6. RULES REFRESH - WAS THAT A DISTRACTION?
You may not distract an opponent when the opposing team is about to play the pickleball. If you distract an opponent that is about to play the pickleball, then you would have committed a fault. For instance, if you yell at the opponent or otherwise do something to distract your opponent as your opponent goes for an overhead (for instance, intentionally wave your arms and jump up and down), then you would have committed a fault and will lose the rally.
Whether something rises to the level of a distraction is ultimately a "facts and circumstances" analysis. In pickleball games with a referee, this analysis is based on the referee's judgment. The referee in competitive play will determine if the distraction caused the opposing team to lose a rally. In pickleball games without a referee, a distraction will only result if all of the players agree. Otherwise, a player may elevate the decision to a referee or tournament director.
With that said, team communication (for instance, saying “nice shot,” “watch the line,” or “get back”) typically does not constitute a distraction. This means that, generally speaking, if you communicate to your partner as the opposing team plays or is about to play the pickleball (i.e. "watch out!"), then no distraction (and no fault) would have occurred. However, there are circumstances where even team communication could cross the line and constitute a distraction. For instance, if you step into the Non-Volley Zone as your opponent is about to play the pickleball and yell "WATCH OUT!" directly at your opponent, then that could be deemed a distraction and you would have committed a fault.
To summarize... Distractions are prohibited. However, exactly what is, and what is not, a distraction may be tough to concretely identify around the edges. There is some gray area, which depends on the specific facts and circumstances of the rally at hand.
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. PICKLEBALL. MORE THAN A SPORT. ™
On the surface, pickleball is growing because it is a fun sport. But, if you look just a little bit deeper - it doesn't take much - you will see that pickleball is much more than a sport. This is because the effects of the sport reach far beyond the pickleball court. These effects range from new and unexpected friendships, to raising money for non-profits, to raising the spirits of friends going through hard times. These effects, and the stories behind them, are what truly make the sport of pickleball special, and what is behind our motto at Pickler:
Pickleball. More than a sport.™
Click here to learn some of our favorite stories that reach beyond the pickleball court.
Why is pickleball more than a sport to you? Share with us at email@example.com.
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#8. TEENAGER PORTER BARR SERVES FOR GOOD
Fourteen-year-old Porter Barr recently caused quite a stir for his performance at the Tournament of Champions (TOC) in Brigham City, Utah, during the 4.5, 19+ mixed doubles gold medal match. In case you missed it, Barr, served a "golden pickle" - in other words, Barr served out a victory for him and his mixed partner without losing a rally, 11-0-2. In fact, in just over 2 minutes, Barr hit 11 serves using the highly debated spin serve technique, of which, only 2 were returned in the pickleball court. For those 2 returns that were in play, Barr hit effective third shot drops, which were then hit out of bounds. So, not only did Barr and his partner win by way of an extremely rare "golden pickle" at a high level, but did so in an incredible fashion - with only 15 total shots in play (11 serves, 2 returns, and 2 third shots)! You can watch the full game in the video below.
While Barr's performance was certainly impressive, and caused much debate across social media regarding the spin serve, we came across something even more impressive from Barr over the past two weeks... his use of his incredible serve for good! Let us explain...
After discussing all of the "noise" created by his serve at TOC with his friends, Barr decided to put his "serve to a good cause" by hitting his serve to excited returners in the Idaho pickleball community in exchange for a donation to One More Day, a veteran suicide prevention organization. Barr hit about 300 serves and raised over $850 for the non-profit organization, and even gave out the new SLK ball to anyone that was lucky enough to return his "golden" serve.
Notably, Barr chose One More Day as his charitable organization to support, as both of his parents are veterans and have friends that fought in Afghanistan. With so many veterans experiencing a difficult time processing the current events in Afghanistan, along with the challenges war veterans generally face, Barr wanted to make a difference and decided to use pickleball to do it.
Did we just become Porter Barr fans?! YEP! 👏
If you would like to support Porter's efforts to raise money for One More Day, or maybe even match his donations raised, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#9. HEADLINES FROM THE COURT
Out of touch? We are serving up some headlines from around the pickleball court to catch you up quickly...
- The rules of pickleball have been a hot topic to say the least this year - drop serve or spin serve, anyone? The 2022 pickleball rulebook is currently in development, as the proposed rule revisions - which can be found here - are currently being considered and discussed by both the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) rules committee and USA Pickleball rules committee. As things stand now, the IFP rules committee has voted on the various proposals (which the results are posted in the link above). The proposals that have enough "steam" (i.e., a score of 5 or more) will now be written up with formal proposed rule revisions, which will then be reviewed and voted on by the USA Pickleball rules committee. Let's just say, the rules revision process is, well, a process... but, USA Pickleball is endeavoring to both (1) be as transparent as possible with the process, and (2) get the rules in a place that benefits the sport overall as much as possible.
- How many games of pickleball can you play in one day, or even one weekend? At the APP Chicago Pickleball Open, held this past Labor Day weekend, pro pickleball player, Zane Navratil, had "a weekend" to say the least! Navratil won two gold medals in both pro men's doubles (with partner Altaf Merchant) and pro mixed doubles (with partner Susannah Barr), as well as a silver medal in men's pro singles (falling to Jay Devilliers). What makes Navratil's accomplishment impressive is that he played a total of 44 pickleball games in 3 days 😲, which included 14 pickleball games in each of his doubles wins (which were both wins through the back draw, meaning that he and his respective partner had to beat the team out of the winner's bracket twice to take the gold) and 16 pickleball games in his singles route (plus, don't forget all of the warm-up play to prepare for each game). That is A LOT of pickleball! Hopefully, Navratil gets a much deserved rest and recovery before his next tournament. 😴
- Pickleball continues to become more mainstream, as pickleball is "no longer the fastest growing sport that you have never heard of." Pickleball is not just growing in America, but abroad, too. Pickleball is becoming more popular in Britain, which has approximately 4,000 people touting as pickleball players. Further, pickleball continues to be featured in the world of "pop culture and celebrity," as pickleball was shown on HGTV's Renovation Island, as the owners built a beachfront pickleball court to allure guests to their resort in the Bahamas, and famous professional golfer, Jack Nicklaus, noted in his latest interview that he fell down chasing after a ball on the pickleball court.
- A pickleball festival, titled "The Big Pickle," took over the streets of Hot Springs, Arkansas this past weekend, which included open play, a cardio court, a carnival court, and more. The event looked to certainly create buzz about pickleball amongst those already in the game, as well as passersby that have never seen it.
- A hitting wall of dreams opened up at the Noosa Tennis Club in Australia on one of its pickleball courts to honor Australian tennis great, Evonne Goolagong Cawley (see the picture below 😍). How can we get one of these?!
USA Pickleball announced the formation of the USA Pickleball Hall of Fame and Museum (USAP-HOF.org), which is an independent, non-profit organization that will:
- Record the sport of pickleball’s unique history in the "Pickleball Historical Museum"; and
- Recognize individuals that have contributed to the sport.
- From the Professional Pickleball Federation (which started in 2017 and is now defunct) to two pro tours currently - the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) and the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) - professional pickleball has come a long way in the past decade. However, it is still difficult to make a living off of professional pickleball tournaments alone. Most pro pickleball players must supplement tour winnings with sponsorships, clinics, lessons, pro residencies at clubs, and/or other careers. Pro pickleball player, Rob Nunnery, wrote an interesting piece in the Pickleball Forum that sparked a conversation regarding the high expenses (including airfare, hotel, car, treatment, food, etc.) of being a pro pickleball player. This was followed up by a new GoFundMe page to payout pro pickleball players that come in 5th through 8th place at pro pickleball tournaments. Will this change in the short-term with the rise of two pro pickleball tours and the accelerated growth of pickleball lately? Will a touring pickleball professional become a career for more players? Is funding the professional pickleball players the best avenue to attract new players and grow the sport overall? What are your thoughts? 🤔
- Top pickleball paddle manufacturer, Selkirk, gets into the pickleball ball market - in addition to the pickleball paddle and accessory markets - with the release of its SLK balls. Selkirk dropped both a SLK competition ball, as well as a SLK recreation indoor/outdoor ball. Anyone had a chance to try these balls yet?!
Mark your calendars 🗓 for live pro pickleball at the major upcoming pickleball tournaments:
- September 9th through September 12th - PPA Orlando Cup - This includes live coverage of "Championship Sunday" on September 12th (starting at noon ET) on the Tennis Channel.
- September 15th through September 19th - APP Atlanta Metro Open
#10. NOTEWORTHY - STUDY SHOWS PICKLEBALL AFFECTS LIFE SATISFACTION
A new study was published last month (Jonathan M. Casper, Jason N. Bocarro & Allura F. Lothary (2021) An examination of pickleball participation, social connections, and psychological well-being among seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, World Leisure Journal) that reviewed the social connections, physical health, mental health, loneliness, and overall life satisfaction of pickleball players over the age of 65 both before the COVID pandemic and during the COVID pandemic.
This new study found that these pickleball players had much poorer mental health, increased loneliness, and lower overall life satisfaction during the COVID pandemic. This is not surprising, as most of us - whether we identify as a pickleball player or not - could attest to this.
However, what is noteworthy, is that those pickleball players that participated in the study that played less pickleball than the other participants were "significantly more likely to report lower life satisfaction during the pandemic."
Does this give more credibility to the fact that pickleball is more than a sport? Possibly! The sample size is small, as only 36 pickleball players participated. However, it certainly puts into numbers and words what so many pickleball players know anecdotally.
What are your thoughts? 🤔
#11. LESSONS FROM THE PICKLEBALL COURT
Life lessons come from all places - even unexpected places, like the pickleball court.
Playing the sport of pickleball brings a lot of benefits, which include exercise (and the physical benefits that come with it), stress relief, mental health, and social benefits. The sport of pickleball is as much a social game as it is a physical game, as pickleball has a unique way of bringing people together for a common experience and, oftentimes, a good laugh. Whether it is the small court, the fun nature, or the likable sound of the pickleball hitting a paddle, pickleball has yet another benefit—making it easier to talk to strangers.
Click here to learn about this surprising benefit to the sport of pickleball—making it easier to talk to strangers—as well as why talking to strangers will improve your mood, give you a sense of community, and generally make you happier. 😄
TREAT YOURSELF... 🍰
Pickleball is more than a sport to all of us. Now, it's time to look the way you feel!
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