Meet The Pros – Katie Dyer

Meet the Pros – Katie Dyer

Katie Dyer Scheels Gold

2018 Scheels Capital Classic – Gold KaSandra Marie Gehrke/Katie Dyer, Silver LeEllen Lane and Erin Parriott, Bronze Camille Hughes-Strope and Stephanie Shouse Lane

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

2018 USAPA Nationals, Women’s Doubles Age 35+ with Mary Helen Atkins– Gold
2018 USAPA Atlantic South Regional, Women’s Doubles with Sarah Parker – Gold
2018 Texas Open, Women’s Doubles Age with Kasandra Gehrke- Gold
Women’s Doubles Pro with Kasandra Gehrke – Bronze
2018 Scheels Capital City Classic, Women’s Doubles with Kasandra Gehrke – Gold
2018 Colorado Open, Women’s Doubles with Stephanie Lane – Gold
Mixed Doubles with Jesse Taylor – Silver
2018 Logan Stanley Memorial Classic, Women’s Doubles with Stephanie Lane – Gold
Mixed Doubles with Jesse Taylor – Silver
2018 Trussville Charity Classic, Mixed Doubles with Jesse Taylor – Gold
2018 Grand Canyon State Games, Women’s Doubles with Mary Helen Atkins – Silver
Mixed Doubles with Dave Glendenning – Bronze
2018 East Naples Winter Classic, Women’s Doubles with Joanne Russell – Silver
Mixed Doubles with Jesse Taylor – Gold
2017 USAPA Atlantic South Regional, Women’s Doubles 4.5 with Gretchen Ratchford – Gold
2017 Georgia Mountain Fall Classic, Women’s Doubles with Leanna Camper – Gold
2017 Pickleball Nashville Labor Day, Women’s Doubles 4.5 with Kristin Parvin, – Gold
Mixed Doubles 4.5/5.0 with Jesse Taylor – Silver
2017 Battle on Beech Mountain, Women’s Doubles 4.5/5.0 with Noa Geyne – Silver
Mixed Doubles 4.5/5.0 with Joshua Cook – Silver
2017 Atlanta Open, Women’s Doubles 4.5 with Noa Geyne – Gold
Mixed Doubles 4.5 with Joshua Cook – Gold

Katie Dyer action shot

Katie Dyer with her eye on the pickleball

What paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the Selkirk Amped Epic. The paddle gives me great touch at the kitchen line as well as power and control. The longer handle is perfect for my two handed backhand. I also prefer a very thin grip, which I believe gives me more feel and precision with my shots.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I played college softball and love playing practically any sport. Four designated pickleball courts were built in Collegedale, Tennessee, one mile from my house and another mile from my work. My friend, Chuck Daniels, encouraged me to try out the new sport, sending me weekly text messages with the entry-level wooden paddle link on Amazon. After four consecutive weeks of messages, I ordered the paddles and have been hooked ever since.

Katie Dyer Texas Open

Jeanne Stasny Follow · January 9 · Jeanne Stasney with Celeste Pafford, KaSandra Marie Gehrke, Katie Dyer and Lisa Naumu in Dallas, Texas.

What is your preference – playing indoors or outdoors?

I only play outdoors. After a long day of working indoors, I am always ready to get outside and play with friends.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I definitely prefer doubles. I enjoy the teamwork aspect that doubles brings to the table as well as the strategic part of the game.

Katie Dyer and Maryhelen Atkins

Katie Dyer and Maryhelen Atkins, Gold, 2018 USAPA Nationals at Indian Wells

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

My favorite place to play is Indian Wells, California at the 2018 USAPA Nationals. It was my first Nationals and winning a gold metal certainly was the highlight for me.

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My two-handed backhand is my signature shot. I love generating topspin, dropping in the kitchen or holding a misdirect shot until the last moment. I encourage players to play with many different types of pickleball players, whether bangers or dinkers. Play your game. Often times we find ourselves falling into our opponents’ style of play. Know what your strengths are and stick to them. Improve your weaknesses during drilling practice.

What is your day job?

I am a pharmacist at a specialty compounding pharmacy, Solutions Pharmacy, in Ooltewah, TN. We are licensed in 23 states and ship out all over the country. I meet patients all over the United States, and I am personally rewarded with the ability to affect a patient’s quality of life.

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

I play three to four hours approximately three to five days a week. I do not get off of work until 5pm or 6pm and am eager to get to the courts to exercise and enjoy quality time with friends.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

I do not have any lucky rituals before a tournament. I do, however, focus on hydration and getting plenty of rest before the tournament. I practice diligently the week prior to the tournament on third shots, dinking, and quick hands drills.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

I would love to win an open pro event in women’s and mixed doubles.

Anything else you would like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

I would like to thank my family for their continued support and encouragement. I would also like to thank Selkirk Sports for their sponsorship in helping me spread the love of this amazing sport.

Is Your Pickleball Paddle Dead? Here’s How to Know If It’s Time for a Replacement

Very few players are paddle agnostic. Many of us have our favorite “go-to” choice to use on the courts, with some even switching to a secondary Ol’ Reliable depending on the location and conditions. This makes it all the more difficult to handle when your paddle starts to lose its juice and go dead.

A “dead paddle” is a paddle has been damaged or (over)used to the point that it’s no longer playing at its optimal potential. While this can occur due to obvious incidents like being thrown, getting hit on the ground or breakage, it could also be the case that your equipment has simply reached the end of its natural lifespan.

Paddles in sand

Is it time to retire your paddle? (Credit: Baliboa)

Most high qualities paddles will last at least a year, but it’s not unheard of to need to switch things out earlier if you’re a very frequent and/or aggressive player. However, if you’ve only had a paddle a few months and it starts to feel less “poppy” and responsive, something may have gone wrong. Be sure to look up your paddle’s warranty info if you feel it’s died before its time.

All this being said, it can sometimes be a little tricky to tell if a paddle has started to break down. Here are a few ways to assess the damage:

Does Your Paddle Sound Dull?

Every paddle has a unique sound, with some providing a nice, sharp pop and others being a bit more low key. However, generally speaking a fully functional paddle has a bit of a hollow sound when you hit in its sweet spot. If your paddle sounds different than the day you got it and makes a “duller” noise, then it may have started to develop dead spots where the interior honeycomb has been misshapen.

Does Your Paddle Feel Unresponsive?

Most paddles will provide less responsiveness along the edges of the face and near the handle, although this can vary depending on your paddle’s design. You should have a general idea of where your gear’s sweet spot lies—that area where pickleballs seem to fly off its surface with ease. If the sweet spot suddenly seems to have a dampened feel and those balls aren’t jumping away as easily, your paddle may have lost its potency.

Can You See Unevenness in the Paddle’s Face?

The most obvious signs of damage are those you can see. Sometimes this can be difficult to notice at a glance, however if you carefully examine your paddle at different angles in bright lighting, you may be able to note small dips in its face. This is a sure-fire sign that the core has been damaged to some extent. You may not need to replace your paddle right away, but the deeper those grooves get, the more likely you are to lose control and responsiveness in your game.

If you’ve discovered that your paddle isn’t playing like it used to, never fear! You now have the perfect excuse—err, opportunity—to try out a new paddle and see if something different might better support your play style. Or if you’re a die-hard fan, you can always purchase a new version of your favorite model.

Have you had a paddle die on you before? If so, did you take the opportunity to try something different or stick to your tried and true choice?

Products to Stay Warm While You’re Playing Pickleball in the Winter

If you’re determined to play pickleball outdoors when the temperature has dipped below most people’s comfort level, PickleballCentral has several options that will help you endure the cold. Take a look at our offerings and see if any of the apparel or accessories can support your temperature-defying activities!

Pickleball Sport Beanie

This attractive beanie is made from an acrylic fabric and has “Pickleball” and its date of establishment printed in the center of the design. Our heads are more sensitive to temperature changes than most other areas of the body, so it will go a long way to helping you feel warmer and cozier by keeping it protected from the chill.

Polar Tack Gloves

As of this publishing date, our Polar Tack Gloves are currently on clearance pricing (only $19.99 from their usual $34.99), so they’re a great buy if you’re looking to keep your hands protected on a budget. The gloves’ palm and fingers use sheepskin to create a wonderfully soft feel while also improving performance. A fleece backing and lining keep you insulated in addition to a wrist strap that prevents heat from leaving.

Hot Glove Mitt

The Hot Glove Mitt is entirely made of fleece and perfect for players who still want to be able to grip their paddle directly without dealing with frosty fingers. With this product, your paddle’s handle slips directly into the mitt with your hand so you can enjoy the full tactile sensation of having contact with your grip.

USAPA Discover Pullover

This pullover provides excellent insulation and style. The polyester is also ideal for wicking sweat away from the body, meaning you stay dry without sacrificing comfort. The sharp design also includes several zipped pockets so you can store accessories (or a hand warmer!) on your person.

Impact Pullover

Our Impact Pullover is a popular piece that adds an extra layer of coziness to your outfit. It uses a polyester material like the Discover to keep sweat from weighing you down during play. The mandarin collar adds a little more protection around your neck while the zipper can be kept up at the start of the match and lowered as you begin to heat up.

Impact Pullover

Impact Pullover (Women’s / Men’s)

What are your must-haves for the winter season when you’re taking to the courts? Any special products you’d like to see to better handle the weather?

Is Pickleball a Year-Round Sport?

Certain sports are simply made for the summer. Baseball, soccer, golf and other activities practically necessitate nice weather since indoor alternatives just don’t feel the same or provide the space the sports truly require.

While many picklers will say they prefer playing outside, one of pickleball’s strengths is that it’s quite easy to take indoors as well. Many rec players use gyms, indoor tennis or badminton courts and other alternatives with hard flooring to play their favorite game throughout the year.

At the same time, pickleball has a reputation for being much beloved by “snowbirds” who abandon one location for sunnier locales like FL, AZ or HI when the climate turns chilly. Others who live in these locations chose them specifically because they knew the weather would never prevent them from going outside to indulge in a game.

Sunny pickleball

We don’t all get to enjoy weather like this throughout the year (Credit: Darryl Kenyon

It’s true that outdoor and indoor pickleball have their differences, and it’s not always easy to make the transition. Each typically uses a unique ball, the indoor style being a softer, bouncier and slower moving than the outdoor alternative. The flooring is different (sometimes requiring unique shoes) and environmental conditions affect play much more outdoors than they do inside. Some players even switch paddles depending on where they’re playing.

Both styles of the game can be satisfying, but not all players are open to the idea of switching their preferred setting once they’ve gotten familiar with one.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you solely play indoors or outdoors, or are you willing to transition between the two depending on what’s available?

With big indoor tournaments like the International Indoor Pickleball Championship in Centralia coming up, we think you shouldn’t limit your options! But perhaps there should be an easier way to keep picklers playing regardless of where they’re located.

Do you need any convincing to play pickleball in your less-preferred setting?

How USAPA Ambassador Cindy Clodfelter Brought Pickleball to NC Schools

We were contacted by USAPA Ambassador Cindy Clodfelter to share an exciting story about her success bringing pickleball to Lee County schools in NC. This was done with the help of Tramway Elementary teacher Cara Langston, additional ambassadors and supporters of the USAPA including PickleballCentral.

If you’re curious about how pickleball has been brought to schools and other communities, the following interview provided by Cindy will be of great interest and show how the entire pickleball community can help rally behind a great cause. Enjoy!


How did you end up helping Lee County with their pickleball program? 

I was contacted by Joe Borelli with the USAPA to present pickleball at the NCAAHPERD (North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, and Sport Management) Convention. He also contacted Cara Langston to help me with the presentation. I didn’t know Cara at the time but enjoyed working with her. We were given 50 minute time slot and spent some time planning together by email/phone.

There were 80 participants who attended our presentation at the convention, which was held at the Benton Convention Center in Winston Salem, NC. Most were PE teachers from the state public schools and colleges. Several were already avid pickleball players themselves. Many said they tended to introduce pickleball at their schools near the end of the year, because once their students played, they didn’t want to go switch to any other game!

Cindy with students

Cindy Clodfelter with Tramway students (Sanford Herald)

What sort of support did you receive? 

I contacted the USAPA, PickleballCentral, Onix, TOPP and Engage for support in bringing pickleball to Lee County.

Bynum Tuttle from Onix presented me with a special program called the Onix Give Back Program which included special prices on nets, paddles and balls. He also gave the school 8 paddles and balls to get started. PickleballCentral gave me discount cards and bags for participants. TOPP Pickleball gave me a demo paddle for students to use.

I applied for a USAPA grant and was provided $350 which I used to purchase 2 net systems and 8 PickleballCentral paddles.

What’s it like being a USAPA ambassador and what was the process like for bringing pickleball to these schools? 

As an ambassador for the USAPA, I made a commitment to grow the sport of pickleball for people of all ages. I was part of NCAAHPERD for 30 years myself and am a retired member now. I was a Nationally Board Certified Physical Educator during my career, so I’m very passionate about PE and pickleball.

I currently play pickleball, teach beginners how to get into the game and participate in ambassador meetings and events.

As a member of the USAPA, I stay informed of the growth of the sport. All ambassadors have the same grant info provided on the USAPA website. An ambassador is the only person who can write a USAPA grant. To become an ambassador, one must be a member of USAPA and complete an application to be appointed. Schools can contact local ambassadors for help, as the USAPA offers both school and recreation grants. I often help with program and court development.

Cara Langston is a player too and knows the value of the game. She’s an accomplished PE teacher who has a desire to help her students be more fit and and live well. Her middle school already had a program in place and she had a goal of getting her students playing in addition to sharing her equipment with Southern Lee High so kids in Lee County could learn the game throughout high school.

When I was teacher, I wrote grants for my students because I didn’t have a budget to get equipment. Grants take some work, but you must want to make a difference in the lives of students and your community.

Gael with students

Gael Hogan helping to teach the pickleball walkthrough (Sanford Herald)

What is your general advice for picklers looking to start programs like this and what do you enjoy most about the process? 

There is often money for bright ideas, but you have to apply to get it and show the data to prove the impact in your teaching.

Don’t be afraid to ask companies for support—all they can say is no, and many don’t mind helping!

Cara’s students were awesome. They had fun and seemed excited about learning more about game. I called on fellow ambassadors from my area and players in Lee County to help me teach.   Other ambassadors are always willing to help, and in this case it was Gael Hogan from Sandford, NC who supporting me in the walkthrough at Tramway.

Pickleball is addictive and the fastest growing sport in the country. It’s often more than a sport, but a way of life. I’m always grateful for the friends I have met playing this game. My “pickleball family,” as I call them, mean the world to me.

Lee County School System was very proud of Cara and her willingness to better educate her students. Cara will work with Vickie Wilkins from Southern Lee to develop lesson plans for the game. Vickie is a tennis coach at Southern Lee High—and it’s a good indoor tennis practice activity. I am reminded of pickleball pro Stephanie Lane who was first introduced to pickleball from her tennis coach.

I’m always open to helping schools have better PE activities. It’s hard not to like pickleball and it’s great that you don’t even need to be an athlete to give it a go.

Cindy Clodfelter

USAPA Ambassador – Archdale, NC

How Do You Feel About Pickleball Trick Shots?

When you’ve got the skill, sometimes you just feel like showing off. If the stakes are low or you’re going after a difficult shot in the first place, trick shots can add more style and versatility to your game. Ever seen someone hit a pickleball behind their back, through their legs or outside the boundary lines? Then you’ve likely seen a trick shot at work. (Some players also just call it “getting lucky” depending on the circumstances involved!)

This fun and informative video from Dirty Dick and Halo Herb of The Villages shows off some of these intriguing moves and might give you ideas on how to work in more unconventional shots into your play. Options like “Around the Post” are great for throwing off your opponents and making it more difficult to tell where your shot is going to connect.

All of these moves are legal, however there is some confusion surrounding the “Herb shot” displayed around 3:20. The rule it calls into question is 11.A “Carry and Double Hits.” The rules state, “Balls can be hit twice or carried, but this must occur during a continuous, single direction stroke. If the stroke is not continuous or not in a single direction, the hit is not allowed and a fault will be declared.”

Some feel that since the ball is slightly scooped upwards then pushed back, this constitutes more than a single direction. However, it was confirmed at last year’s Nationals to be legal as of this time.

Would you consider all of the moves shown in the video to be actual trick shots or just smart play? Do you use any in your games?

Three Ways You Can Make Pickleball Newbies Feel Welcome

Sooner or later most people want to introduce their friends and family to pickleball. The more the merrier, especially when you need a partner for doubles! Many newcomers are willing to give the sport a try despite its unusual name, but others may need a bit more convincing. Some people can feel nervous, intimated or overwhelmed by pickleball at the start, but there’s no need for that with some simple preparation.

Use the following tips to seamlessly introduce your friends to pickleball regardless of their experience with other sports.

Bring Your Friend to an Intro Clinic or Teach Them Yourself

We don’t recommend throwing newbies into the fire by bringing them to standard rec play unless you have plenty of time on the court, the other players are your friends and everyone is willing to start slow. While pickleball is fairly simple to understand, it can be too much for someone to try learning the rules while also attempting to focus on a “live” game.

Instead, take them to a beginner’s clinic where an instructor will teach them the fundamentals (such as the ones we host at Pickleball Station), or do it on your own by explaining how to serve, how to volley and what areas to avoid (such as the kitchen). Breaking things down bit by bit is much easier to digest than hearing a monologue on the game from start to finish.

pickleball pals

Don’t rush through instruction and accidentally leave your friend behind! (Credit: jalexartis

Use the Right Equipment

This is more for the experienced player’s sake than the beginner’s! We highly recommend teaching friends with a starter wood or composite paddle instead of lending them one of yours (unless it’s been well used and retired).

Too many well-intending players have loaned their equipment to another only for them to accidentally drop, scrape or break it. If it happens with a $15 paddle, no problem. If it happens with a premium paddle that you’ve cherished for many winning games? It won’t only be a monetary loss for you, but the early accident could make your friend feel guilty and dissuaded from trying again.

Be Safe

The most seasoned players get deeply involved in the competition. They throw themselves into the game with passion – sometimes literally, to the detriment of their injured bodies. If it happens to players who should know better, you can bet it’s easy for newcomers to overlook safety just the same. Remind them to be aware of their positioning, where to keep their eyes, how to turn when chasing a lob, never to dive for balls and so on.

These might seem like obvious tips, but just like learning any new sport, there are common mistakes that tend to be made and can lead to devastating consequences. Don’t let an overeager beginner hurt themselves, especially before they’ve even had a real chance to get started.

It also goes without saying that you should avoid more physical aspects of the game like tagging until later. Some might think it’s funny to pick on the new guy/girl, but it can be very disheartening to feel like you’re being trounced before you’ve gotten a chance to settle in.

What’s the #1 way you like to introduce friends to pickleball? Do you have a super smooth onboarding process, or do you just wing it and hand your buddies a paddle? Share your thoughts!