How to Help Friends Get Started Playing Pickleball

Pickleball is a fairly simple sport, but when you’re tasked with introducing it to others, it can be tough finding the right words to explain everything. If you’re not in the middle of a court with equipment at hand, then it makes it all the more difficult to help others visualize the game.

If people keep asking you, “What is pickleball?” and you find yourself stumbling over the words “dink,” “kitchen” and “pickles” to the dismay of your confused listeners, we’re here to help!

We’ve put together a simple PDF brochure for anyone interested in the basics of pickleball. It serves as a simple primer and will introduce the game to complete newbies in under 5 minutes. It explains what pickleball is, what equipment is needed to start playing, where to find courts and how to get a copy of the rules.

what is pickleball

Click to download the “What Is Pickleball” PDF

You can either send interested parties the PDF directly or link them to this page.

For easy reference, the links included in the brochure are:

PickleballCentral.com – For players’ equipment needs

Usapa.org/ifp-official-rules – To download the official rulebook

Places2play.org – To find local courts

We also recommend Pickleball.com’s “How to Play Pickleball” page for a more succinct summary of the rules. Think of it as a “Quick Start” guide.

The USAPA has a Basic Rules Summary that also sums things up in an easier way, and includes the following video if your soon-to-be picklers are visual learners:

We also like this video from PlayPickleball.com for those who’d like to see people in action while learning the necessities:

Of course, it’s always easiest to learn the game by actually playing it with a more experienced pickler. We recommend newbies ask at local clubs if they’d be willing to teach the sport or if they happen to have dedicated clinics and training days, such as those at Pickleball Station.

Do you have any additional resources you use to inform beginners about the game? What do you find is the easiest way to explain pickleball to the uninitiated?

Where to Host Pickleball Events Indoors

It can be tough to organize pickleball events, especially in the midst of winter. Chilly players are not the only issue. You might be forced to cancel an event if heavy rain or snow decides to make an unfortunate appearance.

If you’re concerned that weather could be an issue, then you may want to consider indoor venues to avoid trouble entirely. To get started, we’ll give you some ideas below.

Schools

High schools and college campuses can be quite large and have plenty of space that might go unused, particularly during their teams’ off-season. Look to see if any of your local schools offer facility rentals. Remember that schools also give students a couple weeks off for winter break, so you may be able to coordinate your event around their least busy dates.

If the school already has a gym then that’s a plus, as the flooring will be suitable for pickleball. You might be able to get away with areas that are not typically intended for sports such as larger classrooms or studios if the flooring isn’t carpeted.

gymnasium

(Credit: shelmac)

Churches

You certainly don’t want to attempt playing among the pews, however some churches have larger basements that they may use for more casual gatherings or activities. When they’re not in use, you may be able to have your pickleball gathering there.

Community Centers

Places like YMCAs and other multi-use buildings are usually the first locations people consider for tournaments, but the downside is that these places are often very busy juggling their normal schedules.

If a location’s primary purpose is to host different sports and activities, then it stands to reason that they’d have their spaces booked most of the time. You don’t have to write them off completely, but it may be more difficult to find an open time compared to other options.

In any venue you select, be sure to check with your hosts about what type of temporary markings you should use. Some flooring may be more susceptible to discoloration than others, and you don’t want to leave a layer of sticky adhesive behind after your games. Unless of course you’re lucky enough to secure a place that has pickleball courts already established!

We also recommend choosing a location where the ceilings aren’t too low—not only can this be frustrating if you hit a lob and it ends up making contact with another surface, but lighting that’s too close to the action can result in game-affecting glare or damaged property.

We rent out our indoor courts at Pickleball Station, so if you’re ever in the WA area and want to host an event complete with multiple courts, a connected pro shop and supportive staff, we’d be happy to help you get started.

Have you run an indoor tournament or event before? Which venue did you decide to use and how well did it work? Let us know in the comments.

Work on Your Follow Through to Develop More Accurate Shots

Now that we’re nearing the end of the first full week of January, it’s time to analyze how well you’ve been sticking to New Year’s resolutions. Have you been able to maintain consistency or are things starting to look messy?

To piggyback on this topic, today we’re going to discuss a handy “follow through” trick for your pickleball shots using a video from Joe Baker. If you want to improve your accuracy and consistently hit pickleballs where you want them to go, this demonstration will be a huge help.

In the video, Joe shows how both timing and the positioning of your paddle determine a pickleball’s trajectory. A lot of beginners misuse “wristy” action that causes balls to fly out of control. To show which direction your shots will go, Joe uses some great visuals to demonstrate how even small movements can completely change the course of your hits.

Give it a watch if you’d like to learn how to properly position your body and dominant paddle hand to ensure a reliable aim.

The video refers to this technique as a “linear stroke,” which involves players following through on their hits and moving their arm along an invisible line. Make sure you’re bending your knees, setting your paddle hand, guiding your shots with your shoulders/upper body and maintaining a long “swing zone.”

Pretend you’re trying to hit four balls in a row, keeping your wrist locked through the strike.

This concept is just about the same as the technique used in tennis, which is likely why so many tennis players end up doing well in pickleball too. You need to “elongate the contact point” to make sure you consistently hit your targets.

Try these tips and see if you find your game improving with fewer misdirected shots.

You’ll see some 5.0 players using this very technique in the video. Some common (and important) shots that can be improved by using this strategy are your serve, third shot drop and smash.

Reduce your curved hits and try out the linear stroke in your next game. Let us know how it goes!

The Onix Outbreak Reintroduces Graphite to Picklers in a Way We’ve Never Felt Before

The Onix Outbreak brings a new type of reinforcement to paddles that offers exceptional levels of durability and touch. The Outbreak’s graphite face is supported by TeXtreme, which has already been used in pro tennis, hockey, golf and other sports that require extreme precision and feel. Now it’s being brought to pickleball as well!

What is TeXtreme?

Onix Sports explains: “The TeXtreme surface is unique for two reasons. First, with most graphite paddles (such as the Graphite Z5) the carbon fiber strands are all a single layer going one direction. With TeXtreme, the carbon fiber strands are woven, which is what makes the checkerboard pattern on the paddle. This essentially provides a thicker and stronger layer of carbon fiber.

In addition to that, TeXtreme basically flattens the strands, eliminating the resin or plastic holding those strands together. This means when a pickleball hits the surface, it’s hitting carbon fiber and not the plastic.”

The TeXtreme reinforcement also adds very little weight to the Outbreak, meaning you get all the benefits of better reactivity and control without slowing down your game. The Outbreak only has a range of 7.8 – 8.2 oz.

outbreak - kasandra gehrke

Kasandra Gehrke playing with the Outbreak

The fact that Onix has kept the weight of the Outbreak in a medium range is doubly impressive when you consider that its polypropylene core is 5/8″ thick, the widest for a graphite paddle in the industry. This core allows the paddle to absorb shock, reduce jostling and offer enough power behind every hit.

Improved Graphite Technology

The Outbreak was created with the “next step in graphite technology” in mind. We’ve seen many innovations in pickleball over the past few years, particularly in the areas of composite paddles, but for a time graphite technology had been left behind in the mix. Onix tried many different options to develop just the right feel with the Outbreak, eventually settling on the TeXtreme for the best combination performance and consistency.

The paddle is a great option for players wanting a strong combination of touch and control. The Outbreak will provide great placement on dinks and noticeable feel in volleys.

outbreak - byron freso

Byron Freso with the Outbreak

It’s also a very forgiving paddle. During our correspondence with Onix, it was noted that players picked up on a difference in the sweet spot between the Outbreak and other paddles. The testers found that the Outbreak had a much better response even along the edges of the sweet spot so that they had more room on the surface to utilize.

Proven by the Pros, Loved by Intermediates

Several pro players are already using the Outbreak including Randy Zbinden, Byron Freso, Kurtis Campbell, KaSandra Gehrke and Erik Gertler.

Onix is also pleased to note that many amateur players have picked up the paddle and used it to bring out the best of their game. The TeXtreme material is an incredible addition to the world of pickleball and will allow players of all skill levels to focus on their placement and fully experience graphite’s control-centric performance.

Enjoy the combination of power, touch and precision of the Onix Outbreak today and feel the difference a unique graphite surface makes. Visit PickleballCentral to see the full list of technical specs on the Outbreak today.

How Julie Nidiffer Found Happiness and Health Through Pickleball

Welcome to 2019, everyone! We hope this year will be a great one full of positive changes and pickleball.

To start off the year right, we’re sharing a wonderful story from The Tennessean about a woman who used pickleball to regain her health and battle depression.

Julie Nidiffer of Nashville has dropped over 90 pounds and greater peace of mind since she started playing pickleball 12 months ago. Having grown up a healthy child, Julie eventually started gaining weight when she had kids with her husband while juggling school full time. McDonalds was an easy solution for fast and affordable meals but not a good one for her well being.

Julie Nidiffer

Julie Nidiffer (Credit: The Tennessean)

Around 6 years ago Julie was over 200 pounds, and this combined with the fact her mother had died 10 years earlier due to her own weight complications sent her into a depression. The weight also caused pain by worsening a disc degeneration in Julie’s back.

Last year Julie received an email from the Gordon Jewish Community Center’s gym and became curious about pickleball, touted as a sport “good for beginners of all fitness levels.” She asked her husband to come along and gave the game a shot.

Despite feeling anxious at first, Julie found a group of players that welcomed her, congratulated her on good shots and welcomed her with open arms. This successful first experience inspired her to go back again and again, until 4 months in, she realized she’d lost 10 pounds and made significant improvements in her game.

Julie decided to take her results and run with them, joining Weight Watchers so that she had a an established weight loss program to follow. Her husband explains that, “She became a much lighter person, physically and spiritually. She was having fun, and she realized she could have fun.”

Jerry, Julie’s husband, has benefited from pickleball himself and lost an impressive 70 pounds.

Julie now plays pickleball three times a week and regularly takes long walks on the track. Her current goal is to lose 13 more pounds and then run a 5K race in April.

Julie says: “Today, I’m amazed at how much change I’ve gone through in a year. I am happy, and that doesn’t mean things don’t go wrong, but I’m able to handle it, I can deal with it. I can put negative things in perspective. I enjoy being around people.”

Julie’s progress is a huge inspiration to us and we hope it will help others follow their dreams in the New Year.

Do you have any plans for 2019? Share your goals with us in the comments!

The Most Stylish Pickleball Paddles of 2018

We’re reaching the end of the year with just enough time to list some of the most attractive paddles of 2018! Many manufacturers released some very unique shapes and looks over the past few months, and several classics were redesigned to offer a more modern appearance.

Skill is obviously the most important part of the game, but if you want to set yourself apart with something that looks great as well, take a look at our top picks. (We’re cheating a little bit and including multiple paddles within the same lines, but there are some individual standouts as well.)

Covert by ProLite

Covert by ProLite

The spiritual successor to the previously released and subsequently unapproved Apex Paddle, the Covert has a certain rugged charm to it, but it’s not only a pretty face. Its SPINtac surface helps the paddle grip pickleballs with every hit to help you curl them away from other players.

The background of this paddle simulates asphalt, ProLite cleverly worked their lightning bolt logo into the upper right corner and the pops of color are just enough to prevent the design from feeling dreary.

Margaritaville Paddles

Margaritaville Paddles

Florida is a hotbed of pickleball activity for a reason, but few paddles managed to capture the laid-back charm of this (and other tropical) areas until the Margaritaville line was released.

Using designs and quotes inspired by singer Jimmy Buffett, these are the perfect paddles to put you in the mood for fun in the sun. You can keep it cool with some of the breezier images or show off your competitive side with the “Fins” design.

Xtreme Paddles by HEAD

Xtreme Paddles

It was tough choosing between HEAD’s Xtreme and Radical lines, but in the end we decided on the Xtreme designs due to their clean and futuristic appearance. The highly defined edges contribute to their aerodynamic play in addition to simply looking cool.

We appreciate how HEAD’s logo draws your attention, yet it also seamlessly integrates with the rest of the paddles’ structure. These paddles look exactly like the precise instruments they are.

Spectrum Paddles by Prince

Prince Spectrum Pro Paddles
The Spectrum and Spectrum Pro Paddles are groundbreaking due to their highly circular design, resulting in a sweet spot that just about spans the entirety of the paddle. But just look at those colors and the clever layering of patterns over the face.

The use of honeycomb isn’t foreign to paddles, but slowly fading it into more angular shapes and curves keeps this look interesting. Prince’s “p” logo is front and center yet doesn’t feel out of place thanks to the complementary shades used to fill it in.

RZR by GAMMA

RZR by GAMMA

The original Razor Paddle was released in 2017, but GAMMA was forced to slightly redesign and rename it minus a few vowels due to copyright issues. We don’t mind, because that means we get to include this beauty on our current list!

Everything about this design feels classy yet eye-catching. We love the dark backgrounds, smoky splashes of color and elegant GAMMA logo. Even the grips take things to the next level by integrating matching glimpses of color in the material..

 

Of course, taste is subjective and we know there are many other beautiful paddles being used on the courts! Which paddles do you admire the most, either from this past year or earlier releases?

What Sort of Cash Prizes Can You Expect in Pickleball Tournaments?

The winnings competitors receive from placing in pickleball tournaments may not compare to other racquet sports like tennis yet, but the rewards aren’t worth writing off either. Data has been released from several major tournaments and the results are heartening. Not only is the pay decent, but there’s no discrimination based on gender.

In some instances there is some variation in rewards based on age bracket and event type, but let’s look at a quick breakdown of these events.

The first up is this year’s US Open in Naples. As you’ll see, doubles winners earned more than those playing singles ($4500 or $2250 per person for doubles vs 1750 for singles). This is particularly interesting when you consider that the opposite is true for tennis players. There’s just something about the teamwork, excitement and longer rallies of doubles that picklers love, so perhaps due to the greater draw for those games it was decided the rewards should be greater.

Seniors earned less than younger players regardless of their event and placement. I.e. senior pro gold medalists (in singles) earned $1000 while their younger counterparts earned $1750.

In comparison, we have this year’s Nationals at Indian Wells. According to Jennifer Lucore’s blog, payouts were the same regardless of age or event. “Meaning, each open (under age 50) and senior open (50+) singles, mixed doubles and gender doubles players were paid the same for 1st through 4th place finishes.”

Great news to know that players received fair pay in this popular event. The following were the prize amounts shared:

Nationals Payouts 2018

1st place = $2,250
2nd place = $1,300
3rd place = $750
4th place = $400

This year it seems Nationals had the most balanced payouts for competitors in addition to offering a reward for 4th place, which is uncommon.

Perhaps most intriguing aren’t the tournament payouts per se, but the prize pools offered for wins by sponsors. Selkirk has graciously published their prize pool data, and it’s surprising to see that their payouts were significantly higher than those coming from the actual tournaments.

That’s an extra $5000 or $1000 (depending on age) for placing first in singles if you happen to be a Selkirk rep. It’s not even a question that manufacturers offer the best payouts, particularly if you’re a younger player.

For those getting more serious about competitions, it clearly pays to seek sponsorship from your equipment manufacturer of choice. Don’t turn down free money for using the products you love!

What do you think of the current prize amounts in pickleball tournaments? Are there any other developments or incentives you’d like to see offered to players?