Meet the Pro: Lauren Stratman

Team Electrum pro Lauren Stratman has quickly risen to the highest ranks of pickleball, becoming one of the top ten female players in the APP and PPA tours. Her current world pickleball rankings are #7 in singles, #9 in doubles and #9 in mixed doubles. She and Team Electrum player Patrick Smith won bronze in the 2021 World Pickleball Championships.

We interviewed Lauren to get her thoughts on the new Electrum Pro II paddle she uses and helped develop in addition to her experience of the game overall.

Lauren Stratman with the Electrum Pro II

What is your pickleball story?

One of my tennis students convinced me I needed to try pickleball in 2018 so I started off playing in my hometown of Santa Barbara, CA. It wasn’t until I played my first tournament in 2019 that I was officially obsessed, and in 2020 I went pro. I actually quit my full-time tennis job to pursue pickleball which my dad thought was insane, but now he’s my biggest supporter!

Electrum Pro Pickleball Bag

How did you help in the design and make of the Electrum Pro II?

I think most players coming from other racquet sports have an affinity for elongated paddles due to their reach and power, so while I enjoyed the grittiness the Pro model has, I had always hoped for a longer version. One of my favorite shots is a two-handed backhand counter and that’s far easier to do with an extended handle. So both of those elements were added to the Pro II. 

What do you like about this paddle?

Having that little bit of extra length makes a huge difference in both singles and doubles. It’s still just as solid as the Pro and has the same great feel and touch, but it’s an all around improved version of the original. I also really like the stylish new yellow edge guard.

Electrum Pro II by Electrum Pickleball

What is the best pickleball tip/advice you ever received?

To have fun! I get stressed out when I take it too seriously. Having fun helps me play loose and to the best of my ability. 

What are your most notable pickleball wins / accomplishments?

Finals PPA Masters Women’s Doubles 

Finals PPA Arizona Grand Slam Mixed Doubles 

Finishing as the #1 female player on the APP tour in 2021 

Do you  have a favorite pickleball drill?

I like skinny singles and full court singles drills. My dad used to do 20-40 ball drills with me in tennis; now I like to do that with pickleball. I have someone feed me 20-40 balls at a time to get myself running side to side and add in some forward movement as well. It’s great for cardio and working on groundies on the run. 

What do you like to do when you’re not playing pickleball?

While I love traveling and have been to over 15 countries, these days I’m on the road for pickleball so often that in between events I’m usually just relaxing and recovering before the next one. I like to spend time off the court with my boyfriend Julian and my dog Baylee.


In addition to representing Electrum, Lauren is a Chicken N Pickle instructor who teaches at their locations across the U.S. If you’re near one of their complexes, be sure to check if she may be coming to a court near you!

Shop the Electrum Pro II if you’d like to see if Lauren’s signature paddle suits you.

Meet the Pro: Dayne Gingrich

Meet family man, coach and pickleball pro Dayne Gingrich. A sponsored player by Electrum Pickleball, Dayne has gained major success in the senior pro circuit. He is a strategist and positive thinking wizard who manages to make every shot look effortless. We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Dayne to find out more about him, and we can confidently say that this guy has something special. Here’s what he had to say. Enjoy!

Dayne Gingrich sponsored by Electrum Pickleball

Notable Wins:

2021 PPA Mesa – Gold Men’s Senior Pro 

2021 Red Rock PPA – Gold Men’s and Mixed Senior Pro

2021 PPA Newport Shootout – Gold Men’s Senior Pro 

2021 APP SoCal Classic – Gold Men’s and Mixed Senior Pro 

2021 PPA OC Cup – Gold Men’s and Mixed Senior Pro 

Dayne Gingrich plays with the Electrum Pro Graphite Pickleball Paddle

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

My stepdad brought me to a 4.5 open play weekend four years ago. I played the entire day without any breaks. I loved it but couldn’t walk for two weeks. Life got in the way and didn’t allow me to touch a paddle again for another year and half after my initial introduction. When I returned to the game, because of my tennis background, I was lucky to be playing 5.0 immediately, and the rest is history. 

What paddle do you use and why?

I currently use the Electrum Pro. It feels as close to a tennis racquet as there is on the market. It has a tremendous amount of spin and power while still allowing me the necessary control needed. The first day I demoed it, I instantly knew it was going to be a complete game changer. 

The Electrum Pro Graphite Pickleball Paddle from Electrum is a premium paddle made with cutting-edge materials to ensure excellent durability and balanced construction. The face of the paddle is made with Toray T-700 carbon fiber, which is resistant to deformation and provides a strong surface for returning shots. This carbon fiber also provides a textured feel, which imparts spin onto pickleballs and makes it easier to control your shots.

We see you sharing strategy tips on your page, can you share with us some of your top tips?

The biggest “Pro Tip” I’ve been sharing lately with my students is the mandatory need for more controlled aggression in their game. With the evolution in paddle technology the game is speeding up, but there’s still a need to find control due to the added spin. If players don’t look for more opportunities to attack, they’ll GET attacked, and sooner than they may expect. The initiator in today’s game has the advantage, unlike in past years, again, due to the power of the latest paddles. As aggressors we can obtain information (who we’re attacking, when, where, and our opponents’ response), which gives us a mathematical edge in the long term. The defenders will always be reacting and guessing. Of course, there are a couple players currently on tour who have faster counterattacking hand speed than the initiator’s attacks, but they are a tiny minority. Learn to attack from below the net, out of the air, off the bounce, and on both your FH and BH. 

Another tip I focus on is transition play. This area, unless given a high and slow meatball, is for resetting. As aggressive as the game is becoming, the court is still small, which means there isn’t enough room to power through players from the transition area (during doubles play). Make a habit of slowing down, keeping your feet still, low and wide while executing resets. The paddle also needs to be quiet, with a light grip pressure, absorbing the ball into the body, while maintaining a mental vision of a “baby arc” that softly brushes a penny off the top of the net. 

What are your favorite drills?

My favorite drills are anything straight ahead with an opponent. I also like adding a ball machine feeding crosscourt dinks so I can work on the 1-2 attack/finish part of my game. All the fast action happens straight against the player in front of us and through the middle of that player, so learning how to improve this part of our game is a necessity for long-term growth. I rarely practice crosscourt dinks anymore, as I’ve found straight ahead dinks have improved my crosscourt dinks 100x. 

What does your Mental Performance Coaching help pickleball players with?

Mental Performance is every player’s secret sauce. Unfortunately, only a small percentage understand or want to commit to this part of their game. Those that do, however, create a massive amount of improvement, which leads to a disproportionate level of confidence against their competition. The first thing we establish together (as coach and student) is their long-term vision. Micro day-to-day goals are irrelevant without first establishing a detailed, emotionally connected vision they’ll eventually begin working towards. Once this vision has been declared, written down and visualized, we start our work. Everyone comes with unique gifts, motivations and triggers, so there isn’t a stock program, but the majority of athletes I work with have to create a new, heightened state of belief. I want them to design an inner confidence that doesn’t give in to difficulty, pain, frustration or self doubt. While everyone’s path is different, patience and self belief will always play a fundamental role in their blueprint. 

What do you think is the most important shot in pickleball?

There are so many important shots in pickleball and I think the level of each player will determine which one is the most important for them. For the beginner, I believe that learning soft hands, feel and touch should be a staple in their process. Once we shift into intermediate and advanced, where most players can make the majority of their 3rds, it’s a tie between the transition reset and the aggressive kitchen attack. The reason I call it a tie is because it doesn’t matter how good your resets are if you don’t have an offensive game once you make it to the line. But it also doesn’t matter how good your kitchen attacks are if you can’t get to the kitchen to show them off. Once we move into a regular advanced level of play, the ability to seamlessly shift from a fast kitchen fire fight right into a reset that neutralizes that fight may be the single most difficult shot in all of pickleball. 

What are some of your short term and long term pickleball goals?

My goal as a player is to never get out-worked by another player, pro or senior pro. The results after I control my daily work ethic and commitment to continuously improve aren’t in my control. I have huge long-term goals I’ve set for myself, but they will only come to life if I focus on my preparation and recovery, mentally, physically and emotionally. As a coach, I’m currently working on a ginormous project that can’t yet be announced, but when it becomes a reality, it will change the landscape of how pickleball is taught and learned. I’m also FINALLY starting to write my book. This has been in the works for too long, but I believe will be worth the wait. In the meantime, while these projects are being put together, I will continue giving away a ridiculous amount of free content online with the singular focus of adding value to as many players as possible. 

What are you doing when you are not playing pickleball?

When I’m not playing pickleball, I’m constantly falling head-over-heels in love with my wife every day. She’s my angel and the miracle that makes it all possible for us, as a family. Without her push to always be better and think bigger, while simultaneously, keeping me humble and grounded, our family’s long term vision wouldn’t be what it is. I’m also a girl-dad, through and through. My poor daughter is probably so sick of me telling her much she’s loved, appreciated, and how proud her mom and dad are of her. Being a great player is important, evolving as a coach is important, but nothing is bigger or has more meaning than my family. 


If you’d like to read more from Dayne and stay tuned for his future projects, be sure to check out his website. To check out his paddle of choice take a look at the Electrum Pro and see if it might be a fit for you.

TechTalk with Oneshot Pickleball: Introducing the Flipshot

Introducing the Flipshot by Oneshot Pickleball

Why choose between touch and power when you can have it all? After years of players having to select either a fiberglass or carbon fiber paddle, Oneshot is now offering both materials in a single design. Taking inspiration from table tennis paddles which often have dual surfaces, the Flipshot provides incredible versatility and different levels of responsiveness depending on which side of the face you use. This innovative style is fully approved by USA Pickleball and ready to offer new tricks with a flip of the wrist.

Read more to hear what Oneshot has to say about this paddle’s greatest benefits.

Can you tell us what is innovative and different about the Flipshot Paddle?

In this model we incorporated two completely different materials (fiberglass & carbon fiber) on each surface of the paddle in order to create a unique feel on each side. The blue side will feel much softer, consequently providing more control, while the red side will feel solid to provide more power. 

When did the idea strike for this paddle and why?

The idea started about a year ago when we were talking about how much we like our forehand or backhand more than the other. That’s where we had that lightbulb moment and considered incorporating two different surfaces within the same paddle to compensate for a weak backhand or forehand.

There have been few attempts by others at this type of technology in the past. Why do you think pickleball is ready for it now?

Now more than ever the sport has been attracting athletes from other paddle and racquet sports. These players have different styles and consequently need products that adapt to their needs, which makes perfect sense for us. 

What type of player will enjoy this paddle?

Any player that wants to mix it up and try something unique.

Which side would you advise players to use on their forehand or backhand?

That’s the fun part about this paddle: There is no right or wrong. Just use each side to compensate for a weakness or double up on a strength!

What’s next for Oneshot in terms of technology or innovations?

We will keep that a secret for now, but we can share that we have multiple initiatives going on that will take the industry by surprise. We have models launching as early as this year and as late as 2024.


Read more about the Flipshot’s specs to see if it might be the right match for you, and let us know if there are any other unusual paddle styles you might like to see in the future.

Minto US OPEN Medal-Winning Paddles 2022

With the dust still settling from the Minto US OPEN Championships, many picklers are eager to check out what gear the pros used to claim their victories. Owning the same paddles won’t immediately take someone from average to 4.0, but knowing your equipment has been tried and tested by some of the best players in the world does provide extra certainty that your skill development is on the right path. We’ve listed the Minto US OPEN winners and their paddles of choice here so you can determine which option might complement your play style.

Catherine Parenteau – Tempest Reign Pro from Paddletek

Catherine Parenteau at the 2022 Minto US OPEN with the Tempest Reign Pro Graphite Paddle from Paddletek

Catherine Parenteau’s winning streak continues with gold in Women’s Singles and Doubles with partner Lea Jansen. The Tempest Reign Pro’s elongated shape adds even greater reach to the control of Paddletek’s beloved Wave Pro thick core.

Simone Jardim – Prince Response Pro Composite from Prince

Simone Jardim at the 2022 Minto US OPEN with the Response Pro Composite Pickleball Paddle by Prince

Simone Jardim and partner Ben Johns won another gold in Mixed Doubles. The Prince Response Pro Composite paddle was the first paddle with a rounded shape, well known for its huge sweet spot.

Jennifer Dawson – ProKennex Ovation Flight by ProKennex

Jennifer Dawson at the 2022 Minto US OPEN with the Kinetic Ovation Flight Paddle by ProKennex

Jennifer Dawson dominates the Senior Pros with gold in Sr. Mixed Doubles with Dayne Gingrich and in Sr. Women’s Doubles with Cammy MacGregor. The ProKennex Kinetic Core Technology reduces vibration and impact to help prevent injury, and the innovative oval shape is all sweet spot.

Cammy MacGregor – Selkirk S2 AMPED by Selkirk Sport

Cammy MacGregor at the 2022 Minto US OPEN with the AMPED S2 X5 FiberFlex Paddle by Selkirk Sport

Cammy MacGregor and long time partner Jennifer Dawson won another gold in Senior Pro Doubles. With Selkirk’s largest sweet spot, the AMPED S2 combines a thicker core with softer face for a perfect combination of control and power.

Dave Weinbach – Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro by Paddletek

Dave Weinbach at the 2022 Minto US OPEN with the Tempest Wave Pro Graphite Paddle by Paddletek

Dave Weinbach (the “Badger”) and partner Dayne Gingrich won gold in Sr. Doubles. Paddletek’s Tempest Wave Pro delivers deliciously soft play with a thicker core for increased control and touch.

Collin Johns – Electrum Model E Graphite by Electrum

Collin Johns at the 2022 Minto US OPEN with the Electrum Model E Graphite Pickleball Paddle by Electrum

Collin Johns and brother Ben Johns won another gold in Men’s Doubles. The Electrum Model E combines the Electrum Pro’s premium raw carbon fiber face and textured finish with a longer shape for even more reach and power.

Dayne Gingrich – Electrum Pro Graphite by Electrum

Dayne Gingrich at the 2022 Minto US OPEN with the Electrum Pro Graphite Pickleball Paddle by Electrum

Dayne Gingrich had a great run, taking gold in Sr. Mixed Doubles with Jennifer Dawson and in Sr. Pro Doubles with Dave Weinbach. The Electrum Pro’s raw carbon fiber face, wide surface and textured finish make it a favorite for players who like to spin the ball.

Lea Jansen – Franklin Ben Johns Signature Model by Franklin

Lea Jansen at the 2022 Minto US OPEN with the Ben Johns Signature Pickleball Paddle by Franklin

Lea Jansen added to her recent wins taking gold in Women’s Doubles with partner Catherine Parenteau. Franklin’s Signature paddle features Max Grit technology for precise controlled play and plenty of spin.

Mattias Johansson – Engage Pursuit EX by Engage Pickleball

Mattias Johansson at the 2022 Minto US OPEN with the Pursuit EX Graphite Paddle by Engage

Mattias Johansson won gold in Sr. Pro Singles. The Engage Pursuit EX combines a powerful core with a high touch graphite face for excellent control.

Beth Bellamy – ProXR Advantage Blackout Series 16mm by ProXR

Beth Bellamy at the 2022 Minto US OPEN with the Advantage Blackout Series 16 Paddle by ProXR

Beth Bellamy won gold in Sr. Pro Singles. The ProXR Advantage Blackout Series 16 delivers forgiving touch and plenty of power with its composite face. The angled handle helps with spin and quicker reloads.

Ben Johns – JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16 Graphite by JOOLA

Ben Johns at the 2022 Minto US OPEN with the JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16 Graphite Paddle by JOOLA Pickleball

Ben was the only player at this year’s US OPEN to win a triple crown (again) taking gold in all events: Singles, Doubles with brother Collin Johns, and Mixed Doubles with Simone Jardim. Ben’s new paddle, the JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16 Graphite, combines control and responsiveness with extra length for easy court coverage and follow-through.

Have you tried any of the paddles above and found they made a big difference in your game? Let us know in the comments. We are always happy to help customers find out which style may suit them best, so feel free to give us a call if you need help making a selection.

Bruce Yeung Photographer and Videographer

Kudos to our Pickleball Central photographer Bruce Yeung for all these awesome US OPEN action photos. Give him a follow on Instagram and Facebook at @yeungphotography

TechTalk with Gearbox Pickleball: Technology-Forward Paddle Manufacturer

Gearbox has always been about innovating the best sports equipment for players of all levels, and they did just that with their launch of the CX Series.

Founded in California by Rafael Filippini, a professional racquetball player with over 25 years in the composites industry, Gearbox brought together a unique combination of skills to create some of the most technologically advanced sporting equipment available today.

Now almost fifteen years old, Gearbox continues to be synonymous with excellence and durability. We sat down with their team to ask about their new paddles, the tech and innovation involved in creating them and more.

What are the paddles in this series?

CX11: Gearbox CX11E Control Pickleball Paddle, Gearbox CX11E Power Pickleball Paddle, Gearbox CX11Q Control Pickleball Paddle, Gearbox CX11Q Power Pickleball Paddle

CX14: Gearbox CX14E Pickleball Paddle, Gearbox CX14H Pickleball Paddle

Gearbox Pickleball Paddles CX14

Your GX and CX paddles feature Solid Span Technology for the core. Can you explain what SST is? 

SST is an advanced patented technology invented by Gearbox engineers. This technology uses a proprietary molding process using high strength carbon fiber materials to form a ribbed cored, one-piece paddle construction. SST has introduced the only patented ribbed core paddle in all pickleball.

Your paddles have a Power and a Control model. The paddles are the same shape and same weights. How do you create Power vs. Control in your different paddles?

Gearbox can create a Power versus Control option by differing the way our Solid Span Technology is applied to a paddle and modifying the paddle’s lay-up in the sweet spot area.

The Control option is designed to absorb energy from the ball on impact, rebounding off the face slightly slower. The Power option is designed to return energy to the ball, rebounding the ball slightly faster off the face.

With the CX14 you have the Elongated and the Hyper shape. With the CX11 you have the Elongated and the Quad shape. What is the difference between the Quad and the Hyper shapes?  

The Hyper shaped head when compared directly to the Quad shaped head is slightly shorter in length. Both head shapes are the same width.

The Hyper shape is only offered in Gearbox’s 14mm thick profile option and is combined with a longer handle length. The smaller Hyper head helps our thicker paddle feel quick and maneuverable despite its thicker profile. The Hyper shape is also a softer hitting paddle when compared to the Quad 11mm profile paddles.  The longer handle found in this shape helps to accommodate a two-handed shot.

The Quad shape is only offered in Gearbox’s thinner 11mm profile paddles and is combined with a standard handle length. The 11mm profile combined with the Quad shape head provides more maneuverability and quickness when compared to the Hyper shape. This shape also offers a standard handle length, which some payers prefer.

What are the pros and cons of an elongated paddle? 

The advantages of the elongated shape are that it provides more reach, it’s slightly narrower making it easier to roll, and it has a longer handle length for those that like a two-handed shot or like to drive the ball hard.

As for cons, some players may find that the overall longer length of the paddle makes it slightly less maneuverable with left to right motion. 

CX14 Elongated Pickleball Paddle by Gearbox Pickleball

Gearbox paddles have a smooth face, yet players say they get great spin. How do the Gearbox paddles achieve spin?

Gearbox has gone beyond texture to generate spin.  Most of our spin is generated with our patented SST core.  Our core’s ribbed structure cups and bites the ball on impact.  Gearbox adds some texture to the paddle surface, but overall, it took a more systemic approach to spin, focusing on the paddle’s structure, design, and lay-up along with texture. This entire system is what we call our Hyper-Bite Spin Technology.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about Gearbox?

At Gearbox, innovation is more than what we do, it is who we are. Gearbox has a technology-first approach to paddle development. Our vision is that every level of pickleball player experiences first-hand the meaningful effect of Gearbox paddle technology on both their performance and enjoyment of pickleball.

The team at Gearbox continues to create high quality pickleball equipment meeting the highest standards every time. We look forward to seeing what they come out with next while enjoying their latest versions now! Still not sure which one you should get or want to know more about a certain paddle? Call us at 1-888-854-0163. Nothing makes us happier than helping you find a paddle that fits your game. Buy with confidence, knowing you have a 30-day test drive to make sure it works on the courts – where it counts.

TechTalk with HEAD Pickleball: New Radical Series

HEAD has revamped their popular Radical Pickleball Paddle series with thoughtfully designed new technology and graphics, for a line-up of four new models. Featuring HEAD’s new Extended Powercore technology and increased core thickness, the new Radical paddles serve up a deliciously generous sweet spot and increased control and touch, while still delivering massive power.

Like to put spin on the ball? Look no further! HEAD’s new SpinOn texture, found on the new Radical Tour and Radical Tour CO paddles, sets you up for more spin on every shot. Along with two grip size options and stylish new graphics, the new HEAD Radical paddles provide plenty to love.

We recently chatted with HEAD about their new Radical series – read on to learn more about this next generation of solid performers.

HEAD Pickleball Releases Four New Paddles in Their Radical Series

Can you go over each paddle in the new Radical Series?

We have four new models launching in April 2022:

Radical Tour
Formerly known as the Radical Tour GR, the Radical Tour features HEAD’s graphite hitting surface for a superior soft feel and increased control for the competitive player.

Technical Specs for the HEAD Radical Tour Paddle

Radical Tour CO
The Radical Tour CO is designed with a composite hitting surface, for increased power on passing shots and put-aways.

Technical Specs for the HEAD Radical Tour CO Paddle

Radical Pro

The Radical Pro is the ultimate power paddle, but still has all the comfort needed due to the Comfort Grip System’s vibration dampening.

Radical Elite

The Radical Elite provides a great value for the beginning/intermediate player, featuring HEAD’s Ergo Grip for enhanced feel upon impact.

Technical Specs for the HEAD Radical Elite Paddle

With the Radical Performance Paddles you have introduced new core technology. What was the goal of a thicker 15mm core?

We’ve added our Extended Powercore technology to all of our Radical Paddles, and increased the core thickness from 13mm to 15 mm. This has allowed us to increase the feel of the sweet spot and enhance control and touch, while still being able to deliver massive amounts of power.

You have also added SpinOn texture. How does the texture affect durability of the paddle?

Our new SpinOn texture allows for increased spin potential on all shots and is made to last the lifetime of the paddle itself, without wearing off.  Players adept at producing both topspin and underspin will find this particularly beneficial.  The SpinOn texture can be found in our new Radical Tour and Radical Tour CO paddles. 

You provide two options for grip circumference. What guidance can you give players to help them choose the right grip size?

Selecting the right grip size (circumference) for a paddle is very important. A grip that is too small can cause players to squeeze the handle too tightly, while too large a grip makes it difficult to maneuver between different shots. To ensure the right grip size, players can perform the Index Finger Test. For reference, pick up any paddle with an Eastern grip (holding the index knuckle on the third bevel in line with the paddle face). Then with the other hand, try to fit the index finger into the gap between the ring finger and palm. If there is extra space, size down; if there is not enough space, size up.

What’s new with HEAD footwear?

HEAD has three newly designed shoe lines for 2002 as well. Correct footwear is crucial for preventing injury, and provides a better playing experience. HEAD has designed great-looking new models of their three popular court shoe lines, providing a shoe type and fit for all player preferences.

Revolt Pro 4.0
Wider toe box, comfort fit, and highly durable.

2022 HEAD Men’s Revolt Pro 4.0

Shop Men’s Revolt Pro 4.0 – More Colors Available

2022 HEAD Women’s Revolt Pro 4.0

Shop Women’s Revolt Pro 4.0

Sprint Pro 3.5
Medium width, performance fit, and lightweight – stability with speed.

2022 HEAD Men’s Sprint Pro 3.5

Shop Men’s Sprint Pro 3.5 – More Colors Available

2022 HEAD Women’s Sprint Pro 3.5

Shop Women’s Sprint Pro 3.5 – More Colors Available

Revolt EVO 2.0
Widest fit, for the casual player seeking the most comfort (coming later in 2022).

Shop all HEAD Pickleball

Still not sure which one you should get or want to know more about a certain paddle? Call us at 1-888-854-0163. Nothing makes us happier than helping you find a paddle that fits your game. Buy with confidence, knowing you have a 30-day test drive to make sure it works on the courts – where it counts.

Meet the Pro: Brandon Nsekpong

Meet Brandon Nsekpong, a pickleball pro that has recently hit the scene and made quite a splash, with his skills in other sports that have helped him cross over into pickleball and excel! He just signed on with the ProXR Pickleball Team, and has great goals for his pickleball career. We sat down with him to talk about how he got started, what it’s like to be sponsored by ProXR, and how he’s planning to dominate the competition in 2022. We’re going to let him take it away from here, so you can read all about it! Enjoy!

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

I grew up playing Ping Pong and Table Tennis at a high level as a junior (Ages 8-14). From there I got heavily into basketball and took it as far as I could into a D3 college scholarship. Three years ago I was playing basketball recreationally at a gym and saw pickleball going on the other side. It looked like something I could be instantly good at with my background. After getting beat 11-2 in singles to a 50+ male I knew there was so much more to the game than what I thought. The first two years of playing I couldn’t really get into it at a high level and just enjoyed the casual rec games with friends. The social aspect of pickleball was amazing to me. It wasn’t until this past year where I really felt that I was selling myself short by not going all in to see how far I can go. I’m not a fan of wasting talent. So far it’s been awesome becoming a pro and taking my game to new heights every month. My goal is to be the #1 player in the world and I know I have a long way to go to get there.

Throwback photo of Brandon winning a Ping Pong trophy
Throwback photo of Brandon playing basketball

Congrats, you just joined the ProXR Team! What do you like about them?

Thank you! How much time do I have? Lol. The ProXR team is phenomenal. They started reaching out to me strictly off of my potential even before I won my first pro match. That showed me that they really do their research and care about the development of me as a player instead of just what I can do for them. Their paddles and handle design are unique and took some getting used to at first. Yet, now I am able to maximize my game with it. It feels like I’m a part of a new family and I really love that dynamic.

Read about ProXR’s game-changing handle technology here.

Brandon Nsekpong joins the ProXR Pickleball Team

What ProXR Paddle do you play with and why?

I play with the ProXR Advantage Blackout Series paddle. It’s the 16mm core thickness and has just enough control for all my resets while having an insane amount of power and pop that is required at the pro level. I also doctor it up with some lead tape as well. This paddle also comes in 14mm.

See all ProXR Paddles at Pickleball Central.

Brandon playing with ProXR Advantage Blackout series paddle

If pickleball had a walk up song like some other sports have, what would yours be?

Wow. “Who’s Stopping Me?” by Big Sean would have to be it. Confidence booster for sure. Although “A Mili” by Lil Wayne would be a close second.

What tournaments have you played in and what does your schedule look like this year?

So far I have played in about ten pro tournaments. Mostly all the APPs and some local PPA tourneys (Texas Open, Austin Open).  I committed to at least 24 tournaments this year or about two per month. I’ve never traveled this much in my life so I’m enjoying the scenery along the way, while also trying to pick tournaments that are great vacation spots for the family.

Brandon at the Del Ray APP Tournament in March 2022

What is your best pickleball tip?

Drill every day. You can’t skip that portion. No matter how good you think you are, drilling is the foundation that you can never forget about. Rec play and testing your skills is great and needed, but drilling should be something you crave daily/weekly if you want to improve your game. Some people focus too much on learning new shots but would enhance their game solely by being more consistent on the shots they already have. It took me a while to learn this concept but I’ll never forget it.

What is your favorite shot in pickleball?

Forehand drive on a medium to high ball in the middle of the court. You can hit it anywhere! Plus you can add so much deception to it also. Close second is the backhand counter block at the kitchen.

What are your favorite drills?

Dinking games to 11 all angles. I love warming up to that. Also transition games like starting at the baseline with someone at the net and trying to work your way up. I also do a lot of resetting drills as well, where people fire balls at me as hard as possible and I return them soft in the kitchen.

What are some of your goals in pickleball?

The top two overall are to be the #1 male in this sport and also to impact people’s lives by using my platform. I want both equally as much, but few things would be more important to me than being able to influence others in a positive way based on my own success. I constantly look for opportunities to do this in my daily life and would love to be blessed with the ability to do so on an even larger scale.

Meet Pro pickleball player Brandon Nsekpong. Learn about his partnership with ProXR, the paddle he plays with, his best pickleball practice tip and more!

We look forward to following along on Brandon’s journey! If you are interested in a ProXR Pickleball paddle but aren’t sure which one to choose call us at 888-854-0163. Nothing makes us happier than helping you find a paddle that fits your game. Buy with confidence, knowing you have a 30-day test drive to make sure it works on the courts – where it counts.

CRBN: Carbon Fiber Paddles Developed by a Pickleball Player, for Pickleball Players!

Designed in California, CRBN Pickleball paddles have rapidly gained a strong reputation with many players both amateurs and pros. Founded in 2020, CRBN has already earned the endorsements of many top pro players, no small feat for such a young brand. These sleek, premium-quality, high-performance paddles are ideal for players who love to put spin on the ball.

We recently chatted with Garrett Gosselin, founder of CRBN Pickleball, to learn about his pickleball journey and CRBN paddles.

CRBN Pickleball Paddles now Available at Pickleball Central

How did you find yourself starting a pickleball company?

At the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, I was let go from my job. Lucky for me, I found pickleball. I quickly became obsessed, playing five hours a day, seven days a week. I progressed quickly and played in as many tournaments as I could. 

My doubles partner, Ryan, was the first to have the idea. After a match, he said something like, “We should make our own paddles. We can do better – we know exactly what we want and need.”

Three weeks later, prototypes arrived at my doorstep with the exact carbon fiber face and specs we wanted to take our game to the next level.

It was love at first…touch. We got them in our hands and were unbeatable on the challenge courts. I quickly sent a few off to get approved by USA Pickleball so we could use them in tournaments.

It was never my intention to make a business out of them! They were just for us, but quickly, everyone at our local courts decided they had to have a CRBN paddle too. They saw the combination of control and power we were able to generate, and the paddles looked sleek and cool.

Through all those requests was my “a-ha” moment where I realized I should make a business around these paddles. I partnered with an established entrepreneur in the pickleball industry and a childhood friend who is an engineer, and the rest is history.

We’ve been on a rocketship ever since, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be spending every hour of every day either working on my pickleball company or playing pickleball. We don’t pretend to be a massive company with flashy colors and gimmicky buzzwords. We’re still the same scrappy and agile company that started by tinkering on paddles to make them better. We love the game and the community surrounding pickleball, and look forward to providing the very best products for many years to come.

What is special about carbon fiber as a paddle’s face material vs. the other types of materials that are also commonly used?

We use the highest quality T-700 carbon fiber which is not the case for every paddle company out there. We use T-700 because it has unique properties which help our paddles have an immense amount of durability, power, spin, and control. T-700 has incredibly high tensile strength and durability, while also being malleable enough to flex upon contact to absorb energy and help generate spin. Our gritty T-700 surface outperforms fiberglass, graphite, and other paddle types in almost every category, and is the very best material for paddles bar none.

CRBN is USAPickleball Approved

How do CRBN paddles differ from other carbon fiber paddles that are available?

The term “carbon fiber” gets thrown around quite a bit by paddle companies. Many companies are using carbon fiber as a weave for structural integrity or as part of their core, but that’s a vastly different thing than what we’re doing with our paddles and our gritty surface. Also it’s important to understand that there are many different types of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber isn’t universally great. That’s why we specifically source the very best T-700 carbon fiber that gives us our paddles unparalleled control and spin. Combine that with the most durable internal paddle construction, and we’ve got a paddle that plays better and lasts longer than the competition. 

You have some great pros on your team, what do they love about the paddles?

We’ve been so fortunate to be able to put together one of the most competitive Pro Teams out there. Many of our athletes tried our paddles independently and actually approached us for sponsorships. Almost universally, they comment on the unique combination of control AND power. Usually you have to give up one or the other, but not with CRBN!

Pickleball Pro DJ Young
Pickleball Pro Erik Rosner
Pickleball Pro Yana

Can you talk us through the design and style of each paddle

The CRBN1 (elongated) is the first paddle we built. It was the paddle that I made specifically to suit my play style and most players out there. It features an elongated handle (perfect for two-handed backhands) and the extra length of the face feels great for driving the ball. Out of any paddle on the market, it’s the closest you can get to the feel of a tennis racket. This paddle comes in 13mm and 16mm core thicknesses. Generally speaking, 16mm provides a bit more control and the 13mm is ideal for those looking for more power and speed off the paddle.

CRBN-1 Carbon Fiber Elongated Paddle
CRBN-1 Carbon Fiber Elongated Paddle

The CRBN2 is our newest paddle and features a shorter handle and square face. It provides a wider sweet spot and has quickly become the go-to for many of our customers who prefer a wider hitting surface.

CRBN-2 Carbon Fiber Paddle
CRBN-2 Carbon Fiber Paddle

In terms of style, it has been our goal to keep a clean, subtle design. We don’t need loud colors and confusing marketing jargon. We want a sleek paddle where the performance does the talking.

Shop all CRBN

What’s next for CRBN?

We’ve got a lot of exciting new products in the pipeline! Two things we definitely have coming out this year are different colorways for our existing paddles and a premium pickleball backpack. The colorways will feature our same, recognizable carbon fiber face along with stylish color accents that really make them pop. The backpack is something we’re really proud of also. We custom built it from the ground up to include exactly what we would want as pickleball players on the court. Everything else I’ll have to keep under wraps for now. I don’t want to ruin the surprise!

CRBN paddles let your playing do the talking – for more spin, more core control, and more points. Try out a CRBN1 (elongated) or CRBN2 (traditional square) paddle and you will realize what many players have already…that CRBN Pickleball means business.

Shop CRBN Pickleball Paddles now at Pickleball Central

Still not sure which one you should get or want to know more about a certain paddle? Call us at 1-888-854-0163. Nothing makes us happier than helping you find a paddle that fits your game. Buy with confidence, knowing you have a 30-day test drive to make sure it works on the courts – where it counts.

JOOLA Enters Pickleball With a Bang and Partners With the World’s #1 Ranked Player: Ben Johns!

The first pickleball paddles were actually intended for table tennis, and now the industry is joined by a company with years of expertise in this influential sport: JOOLA. Starting off with a bang, JOOLA is releasing a series of paddles in partnership with #1 Men’s Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles player Ben Johns. The lineup is full of exciting technology with textured, spin-tastic surfaces, in addition to two types of polymer cores catered to either control or power-centric play styles. You can even get your hands on the paddle Ben Johns uses himself which comes with a unique foam-injected core to greatly increase stability and shock dampening qualities. We sat down with JOOLA to learn more about their company, the team, and their launch into pickleball!

Ben Johns joins JOOLA Pickleball and launches new signature paddles

Why did JOOLA decide to enter the pickleball world?

When table tennis clubs temporarily closed during the pandemic, the team at JOOLA decided to try out pickleball. It was initially just out of curiosity and to get some exercise outdoors. The team was instantly hooked! JOOLA brings 70 years of expertise in table tennis equipment research and innovation. Further research into pickleball allowed JOOLA to quickly find similarities in paddle construction and apply its innovation and technology to pickleball. JOOLA wants to be at the forefront of driving additional global growth and developing the next generation of equipment. 

JOOLA Pickleball launches 8 New Paddles with Pickleball Central

You have had tremendous success in Ping Pong, what have you learned there that you think will transfer to pickleball?

Our company has table tennis players from all levels of the sport, from beginners to Olympians. This gives us a wide perspective to understand our customer base to reach the grassroots players, home recreational players, and players on the high-performance track. We are taking a similar approach towards pickleball where we have immersed ourselves into playing the sport, consuming the great content the pro tours are putting out there, and meeting all the great people along the way. We truly are connecting to the entire pickleball world and building a connection with all the great people no matter where in their pickleball journey they are at.

Can you talk about each paddle in this launch?

We have a wide variety of paddles for every pickleball player from the beginner to the advanced competitor. Each paddle series in the JOOLA lineup offers a unique head shape, purposely designed to appeal to players with various playing styles. A common element throughout the entire JOOLA line is the Sure-Grip technology, which is a perforated anti-slip ridge grip that reduces moisture and helps increase shock absorption. Balance and performance are a key focus throughout the entire line.

Solaire Series – The Solaire series offers two paddles that are quite different in performance but with the same performance shape that creates a strong combination of power and feel. The Solaire FAS 13 offers a Fiberglass Abrasion Surface for more direct power and the Solaire CFS 14 is designed with the Carbon Friction Surface for maximizing spin, with a well-balanced amount of power and control. The Carbon Forged handle and HyperFoam Technology is incorporated within the Solaire CFS 14, making it a true game changer.

JOOLA Solaire FAS 13 Composite Paddle
JOOLA Solaire CFS 14 Composite Paddle

Vision Series – A lighter, more aggressive, elongated paddle shape with tremendous control, feel, and spin. If spin is a critical element to your game, JOOLA’s Carbon Grip Surface will help you maximize your shot potential. Comes in a 14mm and 16mm core.

JOOLA Vision CGS 14 Graphite Paddle and JOOLA Vision CGS 16 Graphite Paddle

Radius Series – Bringing JOOLA’s heritage to pickleball with a table tennis inspired shape offering the largest edge to edge sweet spot. This paddle incorporates the Carbon Grip Surface for exceptional spin and the rounded paddle head offers an incredible amount of control. This paddle was designed to offer tremendous touch, making it ideal for dinking, blocking, or hitting controlled shots. (Coming soon)

JOOLA Radius CGS 16 Graphite Paddle

Ben Johns Hyperion SeriesThree unique paddles make up this series. The Ben Johns Hyperion CAS 13.5 offers a thinner core for more power and the Ben Johns Hyperion CAS 16 is designed for more control. Both of these models come with the Carbon Abrasion Surface with a sand-blasted textured surface for more spin. JOOLA’s innovative Hybrid-Ply technology creates a paddle that takes advantage of carbon and fiberglass characteristics when you want to hit soft or hard.

JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CAS 13.5 Graphite Paddle
JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CAS 16 Graphite Paddle

The Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16 is our most advanced paddle specially designed and engineered to perform at the highest levels in all categories of control, power, and spin with an unmatched consistency anywhere you hit the ball on the face of the paddle. The Carbon Forged handle and HyperFoam Technology is incorporated within the Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16, making it a true game changer.

JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16 Graphite Paddle

Shop all JOOLA Paddles

Your paddles have unique shape – the Solaire, Vision and Hyperion with the rounded top and the Radius is very round – what advantage does this give to the playability of your paddles?

The Aero-curve technology is a head curvature design, inspired by many other paddle/racket sports to reduce drag and allow the player to maximize their swing speed, which leads to more power. This rounded design allows players to get to their shots faster and place trust in their own abilities to meet the ball timely and improve their game.

The Solaire CFS and the Ben John’s Hyperion CFS both have the HyperFoam Edge tech. What is it and what affect does it have on the paddle?

The HyperFoam Edge Technology is another innovation from JOOLA to improve the overall performance, stability, and consistency in a paddle. In most polymer honeycomb cores, the edges or the perimeter of the paddle, where it is cut to shape, becomes weaker, often leading to the ball not bouncing off as well or feels “dead”. JOOLA has solved this problem by inserting a specialized foam that expands and fills the honeycomb cells around the perimeter of the paddle leading to a consistent edge to edge performance and an enhanced sweet spot.

Ben Johns and his New Paddle with JOOLA Pickleball

You have a Carbon Abrasion Surface, a Carbon Grip Surface and a Carbon Friction Surface, how do they differ?

JOOLA Pickleball Paddle Surface Technology explained

The Carbon Abrasion Surface utilizes a multi-step, sand-blasting process, creating a unique, textured surface for increased spin.

The Carbon Grip Surface technology utilizes a durable, long-lasting Carbon Flex3 textured surface that grips the ball to create more spin on every serve, drive, and dink. The natural state of the carbon material, along with JOOLA’s specialized manufacturing process helps generate more spin. 

The Carbon Friction Surface technology utilities the next generation of materials to generate maximum spin performance. A more advanced, durable, longer lasting Carbon-Flex5 textured surface, harnesses raw power while also creating an unparalleled spin rotation on the ball and a very crisp feel on the shots that matter the most.

Which do you feel provides the most spin?

Spin generation certainly begins from the surface material, but it also is a factor of the composition of the paddle. Carbon material allows for more flex in the surface which increases dwell time. That increased surface dwell time when the ball hits the surface allows for our paddles to generate more spin than other similar paddles on the market.  The Carbon Grip Surface and Carbon Friction Surface technology paddles generate the most spin within the JOOLA lineup.

What type of player do you think will enjoy these paddles?

With 12 meticulously crafted and unique paddles at launch, whether you are a new player just getting into pickleball for the first time or a seasoned rec player playing multiple times a week or you are playing at the highest pro level at national tournaments, there is a paddle within the JOOLA assortment we feel would be best for you! New technology and innovation has been incorporated into each of our paddle designs for the sole purpose of helping players play their best game. A new era of next generation equipment is here!

Shop all JOOLA Paddles

Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

The leadership team at JOOLA has completely fallen in love with pickleball playing 4-5 days a week, sometimes even playing before work, during lunch, and after work in a single day. We have truly become addicted to this amazing sport like many pickleball players do, and that is because this sport can be so much fun at whatever level you are starting at. JOOLA has always been a market leader and innovator in table tennis, and with our global footprint we hope to use our reach to help spread the pickleball craze worldwide! Come say hi to any of our team, we’ll be visiting communities and events nationwide!

We are thrilled to welcome JOOLA to the pickleball world and excited to see what they continue to do in this space. Still not sure which one you should get or want to know more about a certain paddle? Call us at 1-888-854-0163. Nothing makes us happier than helping you find a paddle that fits your game. Buy with confidence, knowing you have a 30-day test drive to make sure it works on the courts – where it counts.

Pickleball Becomes Washington States Official Sport

The bill was signed by Gov. Inslee on March 28th at the original Pickleball Court in Bainbridge, WA

Pickleball is a home-grown Washington State creation. No other place on the planet has the deep-rooted connection to pickleball that we here in Washington enjoy.  Washington will someday be known as the birthplace of Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Pickleball. Tourists will travel to Bainbridge Island to see the first pickleball court and visit the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum’s pickleball exhibit. On Monday March 28th,  Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed a declaration making pickleball the official sport of Washington State! 

Gov. Inslee signs the bill making Pickleball the official sport of Washington State

You may already know the pickleball origin story:  In a backyard on Bainbridge Island,  three friends (Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum) invented the game during the summer of 1965.

Pickleball in the early 70’s on one of the original courts in Washington

They made up rules and introduced the game to neighbors.  At the close of summer, the game jumped the Puget Sound to Seattle.  From there it spread south to Tacoma and east to Spokane. Snowbirds brought it to Arizona and Southern California. It took over 55 years but pickleball is now the fastest growing sport on the planet with millions of players around the world.  The International Federation of Pickleball has 68 member countries and growing!  Campaigns are underway to make pickleball an Olympic sport.  

But, do you know:

  • The first pickleball paddles, balls, and net systems were invented in Washington State.
    Barney McCallum, one of the game’s inventors, used his jigsaw to cut the first plywood paddles. As demand grew, he incorporated and created the first pickleball company, Pickleball Inc.  Barney was an entrepreneur and built McCallum Envelope Company. He knew how to manufacture and sell products.  Barney designated a small section of his Ballard warehouse for Pickleball Inc.’s inventory of paddles and balls, and began shipping products to pickleball customers.  At first whiffle balls were used to play pickleball, but they broke easily and had a short life span, so Barney invented the “Dura Pickleball,” a durable ball that is still a leading pickleball.  As interest and demand grew, consumers sought pickleball nets. Barney invented the first pickleball nets and first portable net systems.
An early addition of a pickleball paddle
  • The world’s  1st  pickleball company was in Washington State – Pickleball Inc.
  • The world’s  2nd pickleball company, Ultra-Lite Paddle Company, subsequently called ProLite Sports, was in Washington State and founded by Arlen Paranto.
  • The world’s  3rd pickleball company, Pickleball Stuff, was in Washington State and founded by Fran and Barney Myer.
  • The world’s 4th pickleball company, S-Type Sports (later sold to ONIX Sports), was in Washington State and founded by Steve Wong.
  • The world’s first pickleball tournaments were in Washington State.
  • The world’s  first “National” tournament was in Washington State.
  • The world’s first pickleball corporate sponsors, Vlasic Foods and Budweiser Beer, were for events in Washington State.  
  • The world’s first pickleball governing body, The United States Amateur Pickleball Association (USAPA), was launched in Washington State.  Sid Williams was the founder and first president.  
  • The world’s first pickleball rule sheets/booklets were created in Washington State by Washingtonians.  
  • The world’s first pickleball school PE program was launched in Washington State.
  • The world’s first composite pickleball paddle was invented in Washington State by Arlen Paranto.
    Arlen and his son Steve Paranto were frustrated by the heavy weight of wood paddles so wanted to come up with new paddle technology. Arlen purchased panels from the Boeing Surplus Store in Kent and began experimenting. The composite paddles he crafted out of those Boeing panels is essentially the same technology used in most composite pickleball paddles today – a honeycomb core sandwiched between layers of fiberglass or graphite/carbon fiber.
Arlen and Steve Paranto with a PROLITE Paddle
PickleballCentral.com Headquarters in Kent, WA

We are delighted and proud to have been a part of this effort. Special thanks to the unstoppable Kate Van Gent for leading the charge to make pickleball Washington’s official sport. Congratulations to all the Washington State pickleball players who voiced their passion.  Way to go Washington!