The Tradition of the Christmas Pickle

For those who celebrate Christmas, the big day is getting close! There are many great traditions surrounding the holiday such as baking cookies, giving gifts, spending time with family and decorating a tree, but the real question is… do you know about the famed Christmas pickle?

To take part, you’re supposed to take a pickle-shaped ornament and hide it somewhere on your tree. The first person to find it is supposed to receive an additional gift or have a year of good fortune.

Santa Pickle

This is a real tradition and not even something we came up with (though we wish we did)! No one is entirely certain of the Christmas pickle’s origins, but some believe it may have been part of marketing campaigns in the late 19th century. During that time glass Christmas decorations were imported to the U.S. from Europe, some in the shape of vegetables.

Another, more dramatic origin story is linked to the American Civil War. A Private John C. Lower was captured after serving in the 103rd Pennsylvania infantry, and on Christmas Eve he begged a guard for a pickle. He was given the pickle and said it ended up saving him from starvation, so when he returned to his family, he began the pickle-hiding tradition.

Christmas Pickle

This sounds a little dubious to us, but we can appreciate a good story regardless of its veracity. If you want to get in on the fun, we just so happen to offer a pickle ornament. We also have a non-ornament design. Best of all, these pickles not only have a lovely green sheen, but the ability to yodel out a happy tune. What more could you want to bring some more Christmas cheer to the season?

Do you engage in this time-honored tradition yourself? What are some of your favorite pickleball or non-pickleball related activities you take part in as the holidays get near?

Refereeing: An Underrated Way to Improve Pickleball Skills?

If you ask most players the best way to get better at pickleball, many will say drilling, practice and of course, playing as many games as possible. Yet there’s another option that doesn’t often get discussed that will not only improve your abilities, but allow you to give back to the pickleball community—refereeing.

Becoming a referee isn’t an overly involved process, and it allows you to get first row “seats” to many competitive games. Get good enough and you might even find yourself making calls for pros. You can bet that watching and listening to some of the best will allow you to make better decisions in your own play, not to mention you’ll have a very clear understanding of the rules and how to apply them.

Top pickleball ref and competitor Byron Fresno explains that he’s greatly enjoyed the benefits refereeing has provided him, and his own skills have become polished enough that he’s become an ambassador for paddle manufacturer Onix.

Check out some of Byron’s tips about how to be a good ref and also learn what he believes to be the most misunderstood rules are so you can make sure you’re interpreting them correctly!

The USAPA provides free refereeing resources on their Referee Training Tools page. The most important reference you’ll need is of course the official pickleball rulebook. Once you’ve reviewed the rules and know them inside and out, you can take the corresponding rules test and make sure you have a solid working knowledge of the game.

You can then go on to refereeing local recreational games before reaching out to more experienced refs and learning from them in turn. Several pickleball centers such as our own Pickleball Station occasionally have referee training clinics, which can be great supplements if you’d like some firsthand advice on how to make calls.

Pickleball Channel has a great Quick Start Guide to refereeing which will walk you through many necessities such as techniques on how to accurately keep score, remember which player is first or second server and many other helpful tips on how to keep all of a game’s details clear in your mind.

After you have some experience under your belt, you can apply to become a certified referee and get in on the truly top tier games. You may end up loving reffing and find that it not only enhances your abilities, but allows you to become a more well-rounded pickler and community resource!

Have you had any experience refereeing or is it something you’d be interested in trying for yourself? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

2018 Pickleball Holiday Gift Guide

There are hundreds of amazing sales at PickleballCentral, and while many customers are gleefully searching for their must-haves, others are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the available options.

If you’re newer to the sport, looking to buy something for a pickler but not sure where to start, or just want a quick overview of some of our very best deals, these guides will give you some great ideas to consider.

As always, you can also feel free to call us at 888-854-0163 if you’d like to get some direct suggestions from one of our informative reps. Have fun shopping for the holidays!

Pickleball Luxury Gifts

Now is the ideal time to splurge if you’re seeking incredible savings and high-end products such as pickleball machines and nets. If you’re shopping for the player who “has it all” and want to give them a pleasant surprise this season, the following gifts will set themselves apart from the crowd due to their utility and quality.

Luxury Collage 2018
A. Lobster Pickle Ball Machine – Easily maneuverable thanks to wheels, offers top/backspin and oscillation. Comes in battery or AC power models.
B. Paddletek Tempest Pro Paddle – Uses “Smart Response” technology via a thicker core to offer more power without losing control.
C. BOOST Pickleball Training Camps – Near San Diego, Kona, Seattle or Templeton? Come learn from the best during these incredible experiences.
D. Quick Cart Plus – Sturdy fold-up design is lightweight and has zippable canvas pouch that holds 150 balls. Secondary mesh shelf for storage.
E. QGear Pro Bag – Unique design with adjustable compartments so you can sort equipment precisely how you want it.
F. Pickleball Tutor Ball Machine – Remote options for control at a distance, 2-line feature, oscillating/non-oscillating, battery or AC power models.
G. Kinetic Pro Speed Paddle – Minimizes vibration with tungsten-filled chambers and 7-layered coating over the face. Three colors.
H. SwiftNet – Amazingly lightweight at only 14 lbs yet stays in place, holds shape thanks to supportive boom and sets up with ease.
I. Pickleball Weathervane – Uses 14-gauge US steel for durability. Powder coated and laser cut with various mounting options.
J. Kollectaball – Court cleanup has never been faster with this rolling ball pick-up that holds up to 60 balls within its wire construction.

5-Star Rated Paddles

The following paddles have been wielded by top pickleball athletes and up-and-coming contenders alike. If you’re looking for a reliable, strong and precise piece of equipment, any of these options will serve you well. The different materials and designs all lend themselves to different play styles, so you’re sure to find one to suit your needs.

Paddle Collage 2018
A. Engage Elite Pro – Used by 9 pro players during the 2017 US Open and they all won! Reactive feel with a super tough composite face.
B. Onix Z5 Graphite – A classic that’s stood the test of time. Balanced shape with reactive graphite and 8-1/8″ wide face.
C. Paddletek Tempest Wave – Graphite face with polymer core provides the best of both worlds and offers excellent touch.
D. Selkirk AMPED S2 – Large surface area creates broad sweet spot, X5 core allows for precise placement and control.
E. ProLite Titan Pro – Reduced vibrations and sound due to polymer core while carbon fiber face gives the paddle extra “pop” and speed.
F. Prince Response Pro – Rounded face makes for an exceptional response that allows pickleballs to bounce back no matter where you hit.

Men’s Pickleball Gifts

If you want to brighten the holidays for a certain pickleball-playing fellow, these items will help elevate his game and provide extra comfort on the courts. Depending on his needs, you can give the gift of a new paddle, extra storage space, functionality or style with any of these great picks.

Men Collage 2018
A. Winning Pickleball – Top player Mark Friedenberg shares basic techniques on up to pro level wisdom. 179 pages of techniques and drills.
B. Pickleball Shirts – Choose from over 30 designs and get them on your favorite style, color, fabric and size.
C. HEAD Pickleball Elite Backpack – Separate shoe pouch with large main compartment and adjustable shoulder straps.
D. Sterling Silver Pickleball Money Clip – Hand-made brushed sterling, 2″ long and 1″ wide.
E. Engage Elite Pro Maverick Paddle – Made collaboratively with pro Ben Johns, provides a 6″ long handle for grip space and reach.
F. Selkirk AMPED Invikta – Made through a partnership with Tyson McGuffin, comes in two grips, two weights and lengthy design.
G. Paddletek Pro Pickleball Backpack – Thermal-lined section, phone and shoe pouch, internal pockets and more provide plenty of storage space.
H. Jugy Water Flask – An eco-friendly bottle that retains its temperature and holds up to 32 oz of liquid. BPA-free and made of stainless steel.

Women’s Pickleball Gifts

Everyone wants to improve their play while showing off a touch of their owns style, and there are plenty of options to grab for the lady pickler in your life. You can get accessories that will add some more sparkle to her look or great quality accessories and clothing. Or give her some reading material to dig deeper into this great game.

Women Collage 2018
A. Pickleball Shirts – Select from over 30 images and multiple styles, colors fabric and sizes to create the perfect complement to her wardrobe.
B. History of Pickleball – By Jennifer Lucore and Beverly Youngren. Personal stories of pickleball from founders, supporters and top players.
C. Pickleball Pizzazz Earrings – An easy way to add sparkle and shine to a look with drop or stud styles.
D. Sterling Silver Pickleball Partners Pendant – A great way to spruce up a bag, zipper pull or other accessory. Includes 18-inch sterling chain.
E. Margaritaville ‘Fins’ Paddle – A maneuverable paddle with a tapered face and polymer core that reduces jostling during play.
F. Pickleball Shirts – Same as “A” in different design.
G. Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Pro Paddle – Multiple grips and weights let you choose the perfect fit. Thicker core offers softer feel and fast action.
H. Margaritaville Backpack – A big central compartment holds up to three paddles and has 2 mesh side pockets for water bottles. Bright and fun design.
I. Margaritaville Tote – Main compartment, zippered accessory pouch and exterior zippered pocket all allow you to store your goods safely in this vibrant bag.

Pickleball Stocking Stuffers

If you don’t want to spend too much but still want to grab some gifts that will put a smile on a pickler’s face, this section if perfect for finding a fun, useful yet affordable gift.

Stocking Stuffer 2018
A. Pickleball Bottle Opener – Clever design looks like a normal accessory but opens up bottles with ease. Laser cut, comes in green and yellow.
B. Yodeling Pickle Ornament – Why say it when you can sing it with this silly pickle ornament? Battery-powered novelty item.
C. Neoprene Pickleball Paddle Cover – Keep your gear safe from dents, scrapes and other damage with this cushioned cover.
D. Pickleball Rating Decal – Ratings range from 3.5 to 5.0. Allows your competitive friends to proudly show off their skills.
E. Official Tournament Rulebook – No more guessing or unsettled courtside arguments when you have this book on hand. Has all the rules from the IFP for tournaments.
F. Gift Certificate – Let your giftee choose their own favorite products with these easy to use gift certificates via email or traditional mail.
G. Leather Pickleball Ornament – Simple yet eye-catching and charming. Clean design that comes in 8 different colors.
H. 200P Mini Paddle – Perfect for getting the kids started early… really early. This 7-3/4″ paddle is made of functional materials but is best used as a toy or adorable decor.
I. RAPTOR Eyewear – Don’t let lighting throw off your play or wayward balls knock you out of the game with this lightweight eyewear. Comes in 3 colors of anti-scratch/anti-fog lenses.
J. Pickleball Paddle Cookie Cutter – We normally say to stay out of the kitchen, but in the case of making cookies, we’ll make an exception if you share!
K. GAMMA Supreme Overgrip – Use to bulk up a paddle’s grip for extra cushioning, comfort and “grippy” feel.

Mike Welter Is Unstoppable; Named Florida Senior Games’ Athlete of the Year

Mike Welter is an incredible athlete and has rightfully been named the 2017 Florida Senior Games Athlete of the Year. Sadly, Mike suffered a stroke on September 30th this year which will prevent him from playing in the 2018 Senior Games, but he currently plans to take about a year off then leap right back into the fray.

This former Marine Corps colonel shows no signs of slowing down despite the health scare. The stroke initially paralyzed Mike’s left arm and leg and he lost his sight, but he’s since regained the use of his limbs and is beginning to see more clearly. Mike explains:

“I’m walking a mile or more each day and my sight is improving. The doctors are taking good care of me and I’m trying to get better. I’m going to take a year off from pickleball, but I’m going to be Comeback Player of the Year when I return.”

Mike Welter with Nancy Robertson

Mike Welter with Nancy Robertson (Credit: Cape Coral Daily Breeze)

We admire Mike’s determination and look forward to his return! At the Games last year he played in three medal events and placed in each for his 5th consecutive year. Mike partnered with Bobbi Little to win mixed doubles for the 3rd consecutive year, and also snagged gold in men’s doubles and silver in singles.

His win streak doesn’t stop there. Mike has won many medals in competitions across the world, even traveling with his wife to Mexico to participate in tournaments. He notes, “The game, when it’s played in big matches, can involve a lot of strategy, like a chess match. You have to put the ball in the right place.”

Here’s another interesting fact about Mike—did you know that he’s Kyle Yates’ uncle? That’s right; we not only have Mike to thank for his impressive personal records, but for getting one of the world’s best picklers into the game!

When Kyle was only a tender 15-years-old, he was convinced by his uncle to give the game a try. Mike noted (like many!) that Kyle initially thought that pickleball sounded stupid, but then “he picked it up in about one minute. He was very, very good, but I beat his butt (the first time). A week later he beat my butt, and he hasn’t looked back.”

Mike has been a big supporter of his local hospital’s wellness center in Cape Coral, having helped outfit the center with pickleball equipment so established fans and newcomers could play. He’s also been excitedly waiting for a new pickleball complex to be built by Lake Kennedy, which he’s certain will help spread the sport even further.

With this recognition from the Florida Senior Games, he’s become the first ever pickler to win the honor and the fourth from Lee County. 

We appreciate all of Mike’s efforts to assist pickleball in reaching more participants and can’t wait to have him back!

Singapore Helps Find Fun and Fans with Pickleball Fiesta

Happy Thanksgiving picklers! We hope everyone is enjoying time with family and friends and feasting on a hearty meal. We’re thankful for all the wonderful people in our lives, and we especially appreciate all those who have been willing to share a game or two (or more!) with us over the years.

Today we have an announcement that makes us grateful for pickleball’s ability to bring people together all over the world. Last month on October 28, over 140 people gathered in Singapore at the Clementi Sports Hall to enjoy the Pickleball Fiesta.

Pickleball Fiesta

This event was organized by Pickleball Club Singapore and supported by Sports Singapore in conjunction with the Women’s Tennis Association finals that took place there.

The goal was to promote sports, and particularly pickleball, among residents. Many newcomers came out in addition to long-time players who were willing to play a game among friends. There were several interesting skill-based games and competitions that took place which might inspire a few contests in your own clubs!

Have a look at the line-up:

Volley The Cones – Players stand at the NVZ and a ball machine shoots a ball over the net, while the player tries to return the volley and hit cones placed at the back of the court.

Drop The Shot – Players get a chance to return a ball from the machine from baseline and drop it into the NVZ.

Lob The Cones – Players get a chance to return the ball from the machine from the baseline and try to lob the ball into the opposite court baseline within the cones.

Pickleball Fiesta Challenge

When players succeeded they would win a prize. There were also two contests which involved player to player interaction instead of man versus machine. They were:

Dink Dink Competition – 16 teams competed with each other on a knock-out basis, dinking against each other within the NVZ.

Jolly Volley – 20 teams volleyed with one another and the team with the highest successful volleys won.

Pickleball Fiesta Contest

Pickleball Fiesta was organized with fun in mind and encouraged participants to pick up pickleball even after the action was concluded. There was a photo booth present so everyone could commemorate the event.

Do you have any fun yet lower stakes competitions you like to run within your club? After Thanksgiving dinner, somehow we don’t think we’ll be playing our best and fastest with a belly full of food…

Send a congratulations to Pickleball Club Singapore on their successful event and stop by if you’re ever in the area!

Pickleball Fiesta Sign

Pickleball Fiesta Photo

Margaritaville Paddles & Accessories Add Tropical Charm to Your Pickleball Gear

Margaritaville was the official sponsor for the Indian Wells Pickleball National Championships this year and brought plenty of its signature island flavor to the beautiful Californian locale.

What some players may not know is that a bevvy of Margaritaville-branded pickleball gear was released several months ago, and you can snag them for yourself if you’re a fan of summery styles or just want to put yourself in a vacationing mood.

Find all the options below at PickleballCentral’s Margaritaville category page! The paddles offering were made in conjunction with experienced tennis and pickleball manufacturer HEAD, so you can be sure you’ll be getting quality in addition to style.

Margaritaville Paddles

Paddles

All of the Margaritaville paddles have polymer cores with either graphite (Changes in Latitudes, Fins) or fiberglass (Washed in the Ocean, It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere) faces. Each option in the two categories offers a medium or heavier weight depending on your play preferences.

As you’ll note in the image above, the Fins and Washed in the Ocean paddles have more of an angular shape while the others are rounded at the top for a more standard design. The paddles have medium-sized circumferences with beautiful, vibrant coloring and imagery.

Margaritaville Tops

Apparel

PickleballCentral currently offers all the same designs shown on the paddle faces in t-shirt options for both men and women, so you can wear your favorite Margaritaville style regardless of the paddle you choose. The shirts are made with breathable polyester so you’ll feel just as breezy as you look.

The designs also use a unique PosiCharge technology which prevents fading and keeps the colors bright.

Margaritaville Bags

Bags

There are two Margaritaville bags that can help you carry around your gear while looking sharp. The backpack features a parrot with luggage/travel stamp imagery and has two compartments along with side pockets for water bottles.

The tote bag has a tropical appeal thanks to its palm trees foliage and orange/blue color palette. It provides a main compartment, interior accessory pouch and zippered exterior pocket.

If you’re planning a sunny getaway, be sure to grab some gear to match your surroundings! Which of the Margaritaville designs do you like the most? Are there any other Jimmy Buffett-inspired lyrics or images you’d like to see?

The Top 4 Draws of the Pickleball National Championships at Indian Wells

Now that the intense competition of the USAPA National Championships has cooled down, we’ve heard plenty of feedback from individuals who have attended as both participants and observers. The event was a rousing success and many were extremely pleased with the professionalism and attentiveness displayed by the staff at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

For those who only got to watch the coverage on ESPN or are curious if it might be worth attending next year, here are a few of the positives attendees appreciated about the event and venue:

Affordability

Parking at Indian Wells was $10 for the day, and many of the matches were completely free to attend. The Championship Court was only $10 to sit in the general seating area and ranged from $35 – 50 depending on the day and event for more premium seating.

The range of available food wasn’t incredibly varied and mostly included the basics (salad, burgers, hot dogs), but on the plus side the venue allowed visitors to bring their own meals, making it easy to maintain a budget or indulge in fine dining while watching games.

At PickleballCentral we also gave out over $9k in free merchandise, so you could’ve ended up leaving with more gear than you came with!

Incredible Matches

Around 2,300 players came to play on the 45 converted tennis courts at Nationals, and top talent from around the U.S. was on display. If you wanted to see some great games, Indian Wells was certainly the place to be.

Many visitors also noted that the pros were very approachable and enjoyed chatting with fellow competitors and attendees at their tents between games. Whether watching or participating, there were many opportunities to learn from the best by proxy.

Top Tier Management

The Indian Wells management team was noted to be very receptive to feedback and continually worked to ensure a pleasant experience for all involved. A number of observers noted that their comments were taken into consideration, such as asking for shaded bleachers outside the grandstand, and the next day portable umbrellas had been moved into the area.

Indian Wells staff held meetings with department heads daily after the games to determine what was running smoothly and what needed work. After the first day of play it was noted that the white chairs at one stadium’s end were creating a glare in the sun, and so overnight, the staff changed the chairs to dark green to improve visibility.

Clearly the staff cared about providing an exceptional experience for all involved, and they’ll only continue to get better over time.

Impressive Venue

The cleanliness and beautiful appearance of the Indian Wells facility was greatly appreciated by all present. There was live music, the courts were hosed down every night, and the seats were wiped down and cleaned.

Interestingly enough, the bathrooms were of particular note! Attendees noticed that they were continually cleaned throughout the day and had a very spacious interior. Seems like a small thing, but everyone appreciates it when the place they relieve themselves actually feels relieving!

If you got the opportunity to go to Nationals, what were some of your favorite moments or aspects of Indian Wells? We’re looking forward to another fantastic showing next year!