Pickleball Joins the AAU and Brings Players of All Ages into the Fold

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is a multi-sport event organization that promotes programs across the U.S. It was recently announced that pickleball will be added to the group’s roster and more opportunities to play will spring up in the AAU’s 55 U.S. districts.

The AAU has around 700,000 members and 150,000 volunteers, and formerly served to establish global standards in amateur sports. It also helped prepare athletes for the Olympic games. In the 70’s, they changed their focus to promoting sports programs for both adult and youth participants “beginning at the grass roots level.”

AAU Logo

This is an incredibly exciting development for pickleball—not only will the AAU provide yet another burst of visibility to the game, but the USAPA will work in conjunction to co-brand a series of recreational pickleball leagues and tournaments.

Those who are already part of the USAPA will be able to enjoy a special membership through AAU website (in conjunction with a full AAU membership) in order to enjoy these new programs.

Partnerships like this will form the foundation of credibility that pickleball needs to be recognized as a viable sport on a global stage. The more support the USAPA gets from longstanding organizations such as the AAU, the more easy it will be for pickleball to find its way into schools, rec centers, and hopefully one day, the Olympics!

AAU Junior Games

AAU Junior Games Medalists

If you’re interested in taking part of these competitions, keep an eye on the AAU Pickleball site to see upcoming events.

The Junior Olympics took place on July 30, but the Indoor Nationals will happen August 13-19 while the Outdoor Nationals in Nov. 28 – Dec 2. Both will be taking place in Florida, where the AAU’s headquarters are located.

Is Your Paddle Texture Standing Between You and Tournaments?

In May of 2016 the USAPA announced that paddle textures would be regulated so that players couldn’t impart as much spin in their hits (at least, not without proper technique). This caused several paddle manufacturers to either remake their offerings or maintain their current designs with the understanding that players wouldn’t be able to use those paddles in USAPA-sanctioned tournaments.

The amended rules state:

2.E.2. Surface. The paddle hitting surface shall not contain holes, indentations, rough texturing, tape, or any objects or features that allow a player to impart additional spin on the ball. Paddle roughness is determined using a Starrett SR 100 Surface Roughness Tester. The allowable limits for roughness shall be no greater than 30 micrometers (µm) on the Rz reading (average maximum height, peak to valley), and no greater than 40 micrometers on the Rt reading (maximum height, peak to valley)…

While recreational players went unaffected, there was also a sizable group of picklers frustrated to learn the paddles they’d been playing with would no longer be viable in competitive play.

Spinning

Using spin as a technique can totally change your game (Credit: Melissa O’Donohue)

Spin is still a high-level strategy used to this day, but it’s more difficult to pull off and less extreme in execution without highly textured paddles, which “grip” pickleballs and send them twisted back across the net. When the USAPA made the motion to regulate texture, it was in the hopes of maintaining pickleball’s accessible nature and ensuring an playing field, so no one would be able to perform these techniques more easily than their opponents.

For newer players that weren’t competing at the time these changes went into effect this may seem like a non-issue, but it’s still an important topic that we see come up fairly often. Some beginners go into pickleball “blind” and buy whatever paddle they enjoy playing with or are recommended, but if and when they eventually look at entering tournaments, they may be surprised to find out the paddle they’ve been using isn’t allowed.

As such, if players think they eventually might want to delve into competitive play and don’t want to change paddles down the road (which is another feasible option), we highly recommend asking our representatives if the paddle they’re buying is “USAPA-approved.”

You can also check this information for yourself by visiting the USAPA website, highlighting the “Rules & Referees” heading, and looking at the “Approved Paddle List.”

Although the USAPA has limited the amount of texture on paddles, this doesn’t mean all paddles are entirely smooth. Our customer service team is always happy to help people decide which option may be best for them, so if you’re looking to get a bit of an edge when it comes to working on spin, we can help!

Lipen Chang, one of our customers, recently reached out to us because he found himself in a situation similar to that described above. He had purchased 6(!) paddles from our Amazon store but discovered that an upcoming tournament wouldn’t allow him to use his paddle due to texture regulations. We were able to replace his paddle with another option… after which, Lipen (and his partner) went on to win gold in the tournament!

Lipen Chang

Lipen Chang and his gold medal!

It just goes to show that even if you’re currently using a non USAPA-approved paddle, it’s more about the player than the gear! Of course, getting the right paddle matters when it comes to complementing your skill and getting into tournaments, so don’t hesitate to try different things until you find the perfect option.

You can always give us a call at (888)-854-0163 if you’d like to find out if your current paddle is USAPA-approved, what textured paddles we recommend and how to stay up-to-date on the newest paddle innovations. Best of luck on the courts!

Paddletek Pro Core Brings a Higher Level of Reactivity and Precision to the Game

Paddletek has been keeping its newest and greatest core technology close to the chest for the past couple years, but they’ve finally released it to the public. With the new Bantam EX-L Pro and TS-5 Pro, players can expect to enjoy more pop, control and durability. Basically, more of the Paddletek greatness players have come to expect in a stylish new package!

Bantam TS-5 Pro

Bantam TS-5 Pro

Curtis Smith at Paddletek explained to us why their Pro core took some time to become available and why it’s a worthwhile improvement over previous iterations. Originally it was a matter of price and finding the right position in the market:

“The new tech in the Pro Core was actually developed a couple years ago. We tested the paddle with a few of our pros and local recreational players then. The expense of the core, however, would mean a retail price that we felt was too high for the existing market. Recently other brands have proven the viability of the retail price we needed to produce the paddle, so we added a few patent pending upgrades to the technology and retested. The results included just a few specification changes per [player] input.”

Paddletek’s New Construction

In terms of construction, the Bantam EX-L and TS-5 Pro core has a thicker design that also stiffens the handle. There is also a yet to be revealed patent-pending technology being utilized that adds extra responsiveness and quality to the entire design.

Many players are tired of hearing the old chant of “touch and power” when it comes to a paddle’s benefits, but in the case of Paddletek’s Pro core, it’s a fitting mention. Curtis explains:

“To describe the difference in the Pro core versus the original, we have to bring in a third aspect of play: forgiveness. The new Pro core adjusts the amount of energy required to activate the ‘pop’ of the paddle. Typically, you don’t want pop for soft shots since it reduces control and touch.

Bantam EX-L Pro

Bantam EX-L Pro (multiple colors available)

By increasing the energy required to activate the pop, the paddle’s touch or control rating increases. But when the pop is activated, it activates in a stronger, more efficient manner, providing increased power that is more accurate. Better accuracy increases the paddles forgiveness.

Now players can play with a paddle with the touch and forgiveness of the Tempest Wave, but have power that exceeds the [original] Bantam EX-L.”

A Core that Adjust to Your Needs

This intriguing concept of “activating” the pop of a paddle makes sense to us, as we often hear about players either lamenting the soft touch of control paddles outside of dinking or accidentally sending a pickleball hurtling toward the baseline when they wanted just a light punch. With the Pro core, you can gently nudge pickleballs over the net while still having the capacity for those “put away” shots.

Curtis finishes by saying, “The Bantam Pro series is for players who want to add power to their game but not sacrifice control or touch, or for players already playing with powerful paddles but wish to increase that power or add more touch to their soft game. We rated the original Bantam EX-L as an intermediate to pro player paddle. But the added control and forgiveness of the new Bantam Pro series allows us to rate the paddle from beginner to pro.”

Players who have followed Paddletek for some time may also have noticed that both of these paddles also have updated graphics. Not only do the designs look stylish, but they have a textured fiberglass face with UV-coating that helps prevent damage and fading over time.

Try out the updated Bantam EX-L and TS-5 Pro today to feel the difference in play at the Paddletek section on PickleballCentral.

Glen Peterson’s 5 Ways to Improve Your Game

Glen Peterson is an accomplished pro pickler who’s won many medals in major tournaments such as the US Open and USAPA Nationals. While he’s a killer on the courts, he’s also one of the kindest players we’ve ever met, and he’s an excellent teacher to others. We’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with him on several occasions (including several posts on this blog) and it’s always been a pleasure!

You can read more about Glen in one of our prior Meet the Pros posts.

Today we’re excited to show our audience a video made with Glen that shares his top 5 tips on how to improve your game. While other segments focus on nitty-gritty details regarding form, here Glen shares some of his overarching beliefs about what makes a great player, ranging from specific techniques to attitude.

If you’d like to hear from one of the best players in the game and learn a few easily applicable tricks, take a look at the video below. Enjoy!

 

Pro-Am Teams Up Top Players with Amateurs for Charity

About a week ago, pickleball champion Jennifer Lucore added an exciting post to her blog regarding Pro-Am fundraisers. This is a concept we’d love to see spread as more groups learn about the concept. If you haven’t heard about these interesting opportunities, it may be something worth suggesting at your own local pickleball club.

The Pro-Am fundraiser Jennifer recently discussed took place at the Bobby Riggs Tennis & Pickleball Center in CA (where you can enjoy several PickleballTournaments Training Camps) to raise money for PTSD. The idea pairs up professional players with amateurs depending on who “purchases” them first.

Several pros were claimed online before the event, and those remaining were auctioned off beforehand. Many pros went for $800 – 1000, so it was heartening to see players come together to compete and support a great cause.

Pro-Am Picklers

Pro-Am Teams (Credit: Roby Partovich)

The California-based fundraiser was specifically in honor of Erich Schuette, pickleball partner to the organizer Jeff Donovan. While Erich had a supportive family and won gold with Jeff at the Utah State pickleball championships, he also suffered from PTSD as a veteran and took his life several months afterwards.

Jeff has continued to raise awareness about the pain this disorder can cause since Sept 2016. He has currently contributed over $77,500 to charities like Continue Mission and is still going strong!

The event at the Bobby Riggs Center included training and mingling with the pros, food, the competition itself, and later a silent auction for pickleball gear. For those who couldn’t afford to “buy” a pro themselves, there were still opportunities to listen to their strategies and spend time with the visitors before the tournament.

It sounds like it was an enjoyable day for all, and a wonderful way to give newer picklers a chance to play with athletes they’d normally only see at 5.0 tournaments! If you’re in the mood for a little event organizing and have a cause in mind, give it a shot within your own group.

You can check out the structure of Jeff’s Pro-Am fundraiser here. If you end up starting your own and want it covered, feel free to give us a shout at info@pickleballcentral.com.

 

 

 

Newest Premium SwiftNet System Introduces Lighter, More Durable Design

The SwiftNet Portable Net System is the brainchild of environmentally-conscious engineers and pro picklers hungry for better equipment. For the first time, a portable net exists that performs more like permanent counterparts, and all at an incredibly light weight.

The SwiftNet was developed in collaboration with the CRTC (Carbon Recycling Technology Center), the same group supplying materials for the Swift 2.0 Paddle, and is made with aerospace-grade carbon fiber entirely made in the USA.

Light Weight, Sturdy Form

At approximately 14 lbs, the SwiftNet is a far cry from other systems averaging around 30 lbs. Players can literally pick up the entire system to maneuver it around the court without breaking a sweat, and taking it with you during travel is a snap.

Despite its feather weight, the SwiftNet has been shown to perform similarly to other portable nets when it comes to standing strong in wind and other blustery weather conditions.

Reliable Precision

Another notable feature is its ability to maintain form over time. After extended use many nets end up developing a “camel-like” shape as the top cord loosens and sags between the center and side posts.

In contrast, the SwiftNet uses a curved boom to provide support while the cord tension stays strong regardless of how long its used. Our Pickleball Station facility has been using the prototype for this net for the past 6 months, and the SwiftNet has been proven to keep its shape despite jostling and impact.

Pro-Endorsed

To learn more about the features noted above and hear about the 7 main limitations the SwiftNet has addressed with its design, watch the video below to see pickleball champion Glen Peterson walk you through its many perks:

 

The SwiftNet is a tournament-quality system that has tackled long-standing issues in the industry to create a nearly flawless design.

As noted on our product page, we’ve been able to put these nets together in less than 2 minutes. When arranged, the feet are minimal enough to prevent players from tripping or having to play around them, and the small center support won’t cause mis-hits like a center post.

Since the top cord and tape of these nets are so taut, you don’t have to worry about balls “walking the tape” and can enjoy the sturdiness of a permanent net without the drawbacks of price and weight.

If you’ve been craving a net that’s quick to set up, easy to move and made to last, the SwiftNet is the perfect solution. Order yours today to get $50 off the MSRP (for a limited time only), and enjoy great savings on the last net you’ll ever need!

Pickleball Training Camps Led by Pro Players Now Offered through PickleballCentral

Sponsored by PickleballTournaments.com, PickleballCentral is now offering camps via a number of elite, trusted training centers for those who want to completely transform their game over the course of 3 days.

The first is to take place June 29 – July 1 at the Bobby Riggs Tennis & Pickleball Center in San Diego, CA. There are coaches, workshops and classes for pickleball players of every experience level, but these camps are intended to provide some of the best training available worldwide.

Personalized Instruction from Top Athletes

Whether you’re a recreational or competitive 3.0 player or above, you’ll find incredible value at a reasonable price. Space is limited to 40 participants with an 8:1 ratio of students to instructors, ensuring everyone gets plenty of hands-on coaching and personalized attention. Not only that, but every drill and lesson is directed by some of the most renowned picklers in the circuit, so that players will retain the high-level skills being taught.

Steve Dawson

Steve Dawson

The initial camp is led by pickleball pro and Bobby Riggs co-owner, Steve Dawson. Coach Dawson began his athletic career in collegiate tennis, becoming a two-time Big-8 Champion at the University of Oklahoma. Afterwards, he discovered the joys of pickleball and went on to become a two-time US OPEN Pro Gold Medalist, Huntsman World Champion, Canadian National Champion and multi-time USAPA Nationals Medalist.

Coach Dawson has over 25 years of coaching experience and will be leading drills with the help of the incredible Bobby Riggs staff. This includes Jennifer Dawson, four-time US Open Gold Medalist, Lon Krantz, finalist at the Huntsman Senior Games, and Callan Dawson, PPF Champion.

In addition, each camp will be attended by a traveling guest instructor to provide their unique insights into the game. National Champion Irina Tereshenko will be the first to arrive, followed by Chris Miller (July 27 – 29) and Larry Moon (Sept 14 – 16).

Jennifer and Callan Dawson and Lon Krantz

Jennifer and Callan Dawson and Lon Krantz

High-End Facilities and Location

The Bobby Riggs facility also deserves praise in itself. With first-rate accommodations, you’ll enjoy locker rooms, showers, an on-site restaurant and pro shop. In whatever downtime you can spare, you’ll be free to explore one of SoCal’s most popular vacation spots.

Local attractions include SeaWorld, Balboa Park, LEGOLAND and many stunning beaches to wander at sunset. San Diego’s incredible cuisine is also on full display, with a variety of local eateries providing flavorful Cali-Baja offerings.

Bobby Riggs Tennis and Pickleball Center

Bobby Riggs Tennis and Pickleball Center

Comprehensive Itinerary

Each 3-day camp is designed to help players develop skills that will be of use during real-world play. You’ll not only develop muscle memory by drilling and improving your mechanics, but strengthen your mental approach to pickleball so that you can better read each and every scenario on the court.

The camps include over 15 hours of instruction with optional open play time, spread over clinics and competition between players of a similar skill level.

To see a complete breakdown of the itinerary, please visit PickleballCentral’s Training Camp listing. To summarize, however—players will be guided through everything from body positioning to dinking, shot placement, defending slams, 3rd-shot drops, types of serves, lobs, pre-game preparation and much more.

 


 

Don’t miss out on these incredible opportunities to be taught by some of the best pickleball pros around. These 3-day training camps can be purchased for only $495 at PickleballCentral.com and are sure to provide participants with skills that translate into immediate improvements.

Later in the year, we’ll also be providing a camp at Seattle-based Pickleball Station from Oct 5 – 7th, so if you’re looking to visit the beautiful Pacific Northwest or want to take a look at which instructors will be visiting (hint: Coach Dawson will be traveling up the coast so you don’t miss out on his expertise, along with US Open and Nationals gold medalist Glen Peterson), then now’s the time to reserve your spot.

Take a look at PickleballCentral’s training camps today and seize the opportunity to learn from the very best and dominate the courts!