Local Pickleball Guide – BALTIMORE CITY, MARYLAND

Social Pickleball league sign, BaltimoreWe love featuring places to play pickleball, especially when they have something special about their location or the way they organize their games. We hope you enjoy our Local Pickleball Guides!

In Baltimore City, they have a Social Pickleball League.  These folks must have tons of fun.  Take a look at some of their team names:

• Pickle Heads                       • Pickle Pals
• Pickleback Shots                • Pickled Garlic
• Ruff Riders                          • Shut Up We’re Trying
• The Gherks                          • The Virgins
• B’More Dills                        • Curve Balls
• Dun Dilled It                       • Kind of a Big Dill
• Motorcycle Mamas            • OPP
• Paddle Pushers                 • Pickle Bells

The Spring 2014 League poster on the upcoming events page has a special note:

   **Equipment Provided & Beer is Welcomed**

Every community has a group of volunteers who promote the sport of pickleball and carry the title “Pickleball Ambassador”.  They know everything about the game and they can assist your community with promoting the game of pickleball.  In the vicinity of the state of Maryland, the following Ambassadors are listed on the USAPA.org website:

Anne Arundel County — Floyd Zablotny 443-274-2383 Millersville, MD
Carroll County — Bob Eney 410-526-2086 Finksburg, MD
Forest Hill-Harford County — Pat Wallace 410-692-2401 Forest Hill, MD

Maryland Pickleball for all photo

Occasionally, a pickleball enthusiast might want to install a pickleball court in their yard or neighborhood. You can find more information about court builds and resurfacing by checking out the SportMaster Sport Surfaces website:

If you would like to read local articles about pickleball enthusiasm in Maryland, just click on one of the links below:

Pickleball Gets Even More Social in Maryland Sport and Social Club

Pickleball, anyone?

And of course, you can watch the video below to see members of the Baltimore City Social 2014 Fall Pickleball League in action.


Drills for Pickleball

As with all sports, practice makes perfect! You’ll find yourself playing better when you spend time developing your pickleball skills. Set aside a couple minutes to work on fine-tuning your game and have fun playing your favorite sport.

Here are several pickleball drills that can help you improve your game.

The Warmup (for all ability levels):
Walk, jog or run around the court lines to get your heart pumping. This helps you know the court better, and can diminish any confusion over which lines are for the tennis court and which are for pickleball.

The Up-and-Down (for all ability levels):
Hold your paddle in the hand you play with and the ball in your other hand. Toss the ball into the air over your paddle and begin to bounce the ball on your paddle. Keep bouncing the ball as many times as possible. This tunes your hand-eye coordination as well as helps you gather a “feel” for your paddle. Although this may be difficult for beginners, with a little practice you’ll see a noticeable improvement quickly!

upanddownReady, Aim, Fire (for all ability levels):
Find a partner and an empty court for this fun drill! Have your partner stand directly across from you on the other side of the net, just behind the no-volley zone. Serve the pickleball so that it goes right to your partner. Your partner will catch it, and then serve it back to you. Now, each of you should find a new spot on the court to stand. Repeat the drill again, serving to each other and moving to various spots on the court. This will teach you how to accurately aim to specific areas on the court, as well as give you the ability to practice your serve.

Target Practice (for intermediate to advanced players):
For players who have mastered “Ready, Aim, Fire”, there’s a more difficult version. Using court tape or masking tape, place six 10”x10” squares on each side of the court, as shown in the diagram. Stand in the center of one side of the court and attempt to hit the ball so that it lands in each 10”x10” box. You can choose whether to serve, lob, or attack the ball. This drill practices hitting areas on the court that are difficult for opponents to return. This can either be a partner drill or individual. If playing by yourself, you only need to put targets on one side of the court. The drill can be adapted to hit areas you prefer, and you can move to various places on the court to make it more realistic. You can also change the size of the taped targets to increase or decrease the difficulty level.

target practiceGoal Setter (for intermediate to advanced players):
Find a partner and stand on either side of the net directly across from each other, behind the no-volley zone and “inside the lines”. Together, choose a number between 5 and 15. This will be your goal for the drill. You and your partner must achieve that number of touches in a rally while staying in your lines. The ball must stay between the sideline, endline, center line and no-volley zone line (as shown by the red box on the diagram). Once you achieve that number, you shift over to the other side of the center line. You repeat the drill for a second time, volleying for your goal number of touches again. Keep repeating this sequence until someone misses returning a ball, hits it into the net or out of bounds. This develops accuracy, consistency, and practices staying focused during an extended period of time.

goal setterRemember that all of these drills can be adapted for all skill levels! Have fun!

Pickleball Courts “appear” in Gackle, North Dakota

I heard it through the Pickleball Grapevine (actually, it was a tip to look at the USAPA.org website) that Maureen Groth had raised funds and refurbished an old, un-used tennis court into 2 beautiful pickleball courts in Gackle, North Dakota, population 300. You are going to love her story. Enjoy!


Maureen and Ron

Once a Physical Education (PE) teacher, always a PE teacher! Maureen retired from teaching five years ago. She taught pickleball in school and even invented her own game, “Eclipse Ball”, with special rules for her students. Last winter, she visited the Palm Creek 55+ community in Casa Grande, Arizona and found herself in “pickleball paradise”.  Everyday the courts were full, and she re-captured her love of the game.

When she returned home to Gackle, she saw an icky, old tennis court that nobody used and wanted to find a way to convert it into pickleball courts. She asked her husband to help, but his response at that time was “Everybody isn’t as excited about pickleball as you are.”

Where there is a will there is a way! Maureen created a 6-week walking program to begin raising funds for the court conversion. She charged a fee for the program and included a t-shirt and a free pedometer for each participant. She expected 100 people, and 200 people signed up! Through that walking program, she raised $1200. As word got out, money started coming in from local groups, families and businesses, like the utility company. She received donations upward of $1,000-$2,000 per group.

Altogether, she raised $11,000 for the conversion of 1 tennis court into 2 pickleball courts.  Her plans did hit a bit of a snag, though.  Since physical fitness was in her blood, she was also on a softball team. She was the pitcher for the team, and while at bat, she fell rounding first base, and broke both bones at the knee in her leg. She was laid up for three months and beside herself about what to do about those courts.

The courts needed to be repaired and painted. She had ordered the nets and paint last May.  She intended to do most of the work herself.


Her husband Ron stepped in and did all of the court repairs and rolled all the paint, with help from their son-in-law.


It took 3 days to put down two coats. The paint she used was EnviroCoat she bought from Mark Mennemeyer at The Court Store in Toccoa, Georgia. The videos on The Court Store website were very helpful in showing how to paint the court.

IMG_1163Maureen had to put her plans for starting leagues and tournaments on hold last summer until her leg healed.

She did go ahead and collected wood paddles from the local school and put those paddles and some balls in rubber totes with lids in storage benches next to the court. Anyone in the community can drop by and use the equipment provided.

IMG_1166In 1 year, the equipment has not “walked off” and is still being used by anyone in the community who wants to play pickleball.

Maureen loves to win. She can’t get rid of her competitive streak. Her husband enjoyed playing tennis with Maureen in past years, and she admits now that he occasionally kicks her butt in pickleball. Her grand-children and daughters have also become fans of the game.

IMG_1160She also now has a reputation!  One day, a friend from the nearby town of Steele called. Apparently, folks from surrounding communities have taken notice of her efforts to promote pickleball and are calling Maureen for advice on how to raise funds and convert tennis courts into pickleball courts in their own communities.

Maureen had enough left over from last year to be able to plan to re-paint the court this year.  Maureen’s goal this year, once the weather cooperates, is to teach the rules of the game to 50 people in the community. She may even host a 4th of July tournament and a pickleball tournament at church this year.

Sadly, pickleball is not offered in the schools any more. This may change, however, as the popularity of the game of pickleball continues to grow in the community.


Thank you Maureen for sharing your story with us.  You are truly an inspiration to everyone who wants to grow pickleball in their own communities.

Noise Suppression for Pickleball Courts

As the game of pickleball grows in popularity, one of the issues that frequently comes up is the issue of the noise from the paddles hitting the balls.

Some communities require quiet paddles and balls.  Sun City Grand has developed a list of pickleball paddles that are approved based on the “noise” factor. Paddles in the “red zone” are not allowed.

Some communities put up noise-reducing fencing.



In San Tan Valley, Arizona, a developer has made a remarkable plan to mitigate the noise from the game of pickleball.  First the court will be set 8 feet into the ground. Second, there will be 2 levels of walls tilted outward, so that all bounce sounds deflect straight up from the court.  Third, there will be up to a six foot mound of dirt on top of the walls, and bushes will be planted on top of the mound!  This seems like the perfect plan to allow for pickleball to be played without the noise problem for homeowners nearby.

sunken sport court

Court with walls for noise abatement

The pickleball community members in San Tan Valley are delighted that their 8 brand new courts will be designed and built with the whole community in mind.  Unfortunately, lighting will not be provided for these beautiful, sound-proofed courts.  That means the pickleball folks won’t be able to play during peak playing hours in the early evening.

These folks are asking for suggestions on how to make their request for lighting more “desirable” to the developer.  If you have any suggestions, I’d love to pass them on.

Let us know if noise has been an issue and how you found solutions in your community.

I look forward to hearing from you!

What To Eat For Pickleball (And When!)

It’s hard to enjoy a great game of pickleball while your stomach is grumbling. On the flip side, feeling too full makes you lethargic and the last thing you’ll want to do is chase after a ball! Nutrition is key when it comes to athletic performance.

Think of your body as a car. Cars require gas to get you from point A to point B efficiently and without any problems. Without gas, your vehicle would sputter out!

Your body is the same way. If you don’t feed your body adequately before exercising, you’ll either run out of stamina or struggle to muster up energy, period.

Follow these guidelines to have a stellar pickleball game from the first call of “zero, zero, two” all the way through the final rally.
beforebannerIdeally, eat a high-carbohydrate snack 30 minutes to 1 hour before picking up your paddle. In a nutshell, carbs are your energy-boosting best friends.

They provide you with a steady stream of energy to get you through all your pickleball playing. By giving yourself some time between eating and playing, your body can work on digesting your snack. This way, it doesn’t have to split its energy between providing your muscles with energy to play and digesting your food!

Some awesome options would be a rice cake topped with a smidge of peanut butter and banana slices, a bowl of cereal, a fruit smoothie, a small bowl of oatmeal, or a small low-fat muffin.

IMG_8826If you’re in a time crunch and only have time to eat right before you play, eat something quick digesting. Your body needs energy pronto and doesn’t have the time to break down more complex carbohydrates. Eat something light made up of simple carbs to fire up your energy levels and get your through your game.

Think: a handful of dried fruit, a sports drink or a piece of white bread.
duringbannerThe most important, non-negotiable dietary requirement during exercise is water. Your body can actually sweat out over a quart of water during an hour or so of pickleball playing. Just about 2/3 of the muscle tissues in your body are actually water, so it’s vital that you drink up to keep your energy levels humming.

Here’s an awesome calculator from Camelback which determines how much water you need per day.

If your pickleball playing spans beyond an hour in duration, you may benefit from giving your body additional fuel from food. Don’t eat anything heavy that will sit in your stomach; again, keep it light and easy to digest. A banana is a great food that will give you an extra boost of energy as well as replenish your electrolyte levels.

Gauge your playing though and determine if your body really needs more food. Most people don’t need to refeed during an average game of pickleball unless you’re playing several intense games in a row, or if you’re playing for several hours. However, you know your body best so listen to it and do what works for you.
afterbannerAll that pickleball paddle swingin’ really can take a toll on your arm and shoulder muscles, while your legs worked hard to chase down those lobs. It’s important to nourish your muscles to prevent soreness or injury!

You need to replenish the carbs that you burned off during exercise so your energy levels don’t plummet. Try a piece of fruit paired with a handful of nuts, or a serving of Greek yogurt topped with low-fat granola and fruit.

IMG_8825While you may be tired after playing, don’t reach for quick fixes that are made of simple carbs. These were great for a fast boost of energy before your games, but they’ll just spike your blood sugar and cause a crash later on. Bring a small 8 oz bottle of chocolate milk with you to drink after playing in case you may be tempted to reach for a candy bar instead. Low-fat chocolate milk is an awesome combination of carbs, protein and chocolate flavor!

Of course, always drink water after exercising.
avoidbannerYou don’t want an upset stomach to be distracting you from play. Avoid eating these foods to prevent any discomfort:

  • Spicy foods
  • High-fiber foods
  • High-fat foods
  • Alcohol
  • Too much food, period

The rule of thumb is to not eat anything new before an important event to avoid any unpleasant responses from your body. Don’t try out a new granola bar right before your tournament or you may be focused on an upset stomach rather than your important game.

Following these nutrition tips is a good way to feel great, look awesome and rock your pickleball game!

Marlene Berwald, USAPA Ambassador – Growing Pickleball

Anna interviewed Marlene Berwald at the USAPA Nationals last November…she gives free pickleball lessons…Thanks Marlene!

Marlene:  My name is Marlene Berwald. I am the Vice President, here, of the Surprise Pickleball Association and also the Ambassador for the USAPA.  Once a month, I’m out here, on the second Monday of the month. I give free lessons to anybody that shows up at 6:00 PM. We have anywhere from two to a dozen people show up month to month for their free lesson. They don’t have to bring a paddle or the ball. All they have, I just require them to wear gym shoes.

Anna:  So, where do you get your paddles and balls from?

Marlene:  Steve Wong [Onix Sports] donated a few of his demo paddles to us so we always have, I have probably six paddles in my car. We have more in the lock up box here and we keep them for just any occasion where people don’t have paddles and they want to try out the sport.

And I always have balls. That didn’t sound right. Cut. (laughs)


Meet the Pros – Dave Weinbach

Dave Weinbach gold

2014 USAPA Nationals VI, Buckeye, Arizona – Dave Weinbach, Gold, Tom Tueller, SIlver and Don Paschal, Bronze

I discovered Dave while watching the Pickleball Channel video explaining the practice and technique of “stacking” in pickleball. He actually has made it into at least 3 of the videos on the Pickleball Channel. Dave is in love with the game of pickleball. I’d go so far as to say he is a Pickleball FANatic! Enjoy!
Can you list for us some of your accomplishments?

2015 Grand Canyon State Games – Gold, Ages Doubles w/ Justin Rogers
2015 Grand Canyon State Games – Gold, Open Doubles w/ Justin Rogers
2014 USAPA Nationals – Gold, Singles 35+

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Paddletek Element. It is a great combination of feel for soft shots and enough power and pop for kill shots.


Paddletek Element Paddle

What’s your Pickleball story? How were you introduced to Pickleball?

I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’m an ex-tennis player. I played tennis from the age of 4. I also came close to being on the Olympic table tennis team. My parents moved from Milwaukee to Sun City Grand in Surprise, Arizona around 2007. While visiting them that first year, I was playing tennis one day and asked my dad about the game being played nearby with all the “noise”. I watched them play for about 20 minutes, and then joined in the pickleball game. I was hooked after playing for 10 minutes! I usually visit Surprise twice a year, and I started playing tournaments in 2014. Pickleball really took off when a group of folks got support to build the City Courts in Surprise.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I prefer outdoors for the sun and fresh air. But indoors is where local competitions are played.


Dave Weinbach and Justin Rogers take Gold at the Grand Canyon State Games

What are your favorite places to play? Why?

My favorite places to play are Surprise, Arizona and Ogden, Utah. My wife Dina and our 3 boys, ages 15, 13 and 10, love to play pickleball. Everyday we are in Surprise, we play 3-4 hours a day.

What’s your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?

When introducing folks to the game, I like to teach them the “soft” game first, at the kitchen lines. I have them do dink shots back and forth until they are comfortable with the shot. Then I show them how to use the dink shots to set up for the kill shot. When the game is played right, you can get really long rallies. Consistency of play can minimize the unforced error.


What is your day job?

I am CEO of the Weinbach Investment Management Firm. I started the firm 2 years ago. I am a portfolio manager and I am a Certified Financial Planner.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make the time to play?

Four years ago, I introduced pickleball to folks in Wisconsin. I try to play 3 days a week, 2-3 hours a day. We have a nice group in Madison, with 18 players rated at 4.0 or better. It is incredible how quickly pickleball is growing in the Midwest. I just built my own court, so I’ll be able to play more often and I’ll be introducing the game to many, many more people.

Do you have anything else you would like to share?

Pickleball is the perfect game for me. It combines to a perfect fit of my tennis and table tennis skills. The beauty of pickleball is that I now have very good friends all over the country. The game has done so much for me and my family. I look forward to giving back and introducing more folks to the game of pickleball.


Greg Ray, Dave Weinbach, Margaret, Meg Coon Krenzer, Shirley Johnson Brown, Corrinne Carr, Karin, Linda Kauss, Del Kauss and Jesse Sandoval