Chrome N-R-G Brings Bigger Sweet Spot to Teardrop Paddles

Elongated paddles have brought more versatility to pickleball by allowing players to utilize impressive reach. This makes stretching for ground strokes or cross-court volleys less of a struggle, particularly when playing singles.

The only difficulty players may face with this style is accuracy due to a slim design and sweet spot typically residing in the upper-third of the paddle face.

Chrome N-R-G, $88.99

A Broader Sweet Spot

ProLite has come to the rescue and created a paddle that reduces these issues with its Chrome N-R-G. The head-weighted and tapered design of the N-R-G stretches out the length of the sweet spot while simultaneously making it easier to return pickleballs.

While its forgiving shape eases beginners toward familiarity, the Chrome also empowers higher level players to take advantage of its reactivity and power. By making maximum use of the allowable USAPA dimensions, players enjoy exceptional placement and better control over their swings.

Power in Every Hit

ProLite’s QuadCore™ polymer honeycomb core also helps to reduce vibration while delivering noticeable power. Players can use less energy putting force behind their hits and instead focus on returning accurate shots with just the right amount of pop.

ProLite Chrome Sweet Spot

ProLite believes that no other teardrop paddle in the industry has enhanced the sweet spot to such a generous size until now. Try it out and you’re sure to feel the difference for yourself!

Game-Changing Control

The N-R-G’s face is gel-coated and made with triple-layer fiberglass which has a gentle touch during play. Despite its strength, this surface is also ideal for rallies at the net while you’re focused on the soft game. Pickleballs will linger against the face just a bit longer so you can make your shot precisely when you’re ready.

As with all ProLite paddles, the N-R-G is manufactured within the USA and is acceptable for tournament use. It has a reliable medium weight (around 7.8 oz on average) that will prevent wrist strain while offering players a sturdy feel.

Check out the Chrome N-R-G on PickleballCentral and remember that you can always try any of our paddles risk-free for 30-days, or you can drop by Pickleball Station in Kent, WA if you’d like to give it a go on our courts.

A Complete Breakdown of IFP Ratings

Ratings are a staple in sports because they allow for players of similar ability to be paired up against one another. That makes for a more competitive game and pushes the inner athlete in all of us to be our very best.

Pickleball ratings are currently somewhat subjective. They’re not intended to put anyone in a box, hurt their feelings or limit potential. If anything, ratings should serve as benchmarks to reach when you’re attempting to crush your pickleball goals.

International Federation of Pickleball

Ratings and Rated Events

The primary reason ratings are important is because they serve as the basis for how most tournaments are seeded. These sorts of tournaments are called rated events.

Events at bigger pickleball tournaments are regulated by rating. When you sign up for an event, your rating will determine the brackets of players you play against such as in “Men’s 3.0 Doubles” or “Women’s 4.5 Singles.” These numbers reference the player rating of those competing.

The instances where a rating is necessary are outlined on the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) website. As they explain:

  1. IFP ratings are not currently required to enter USAPA or PCO sanctioned tournaments.
  2. IFP rated players are required to enter events that are rated no lower than their current rating, although they may enter higher-rated events if they choose.
  3. Tournament directors have the final decision on what rating level unrated players will play.
  4. Rated players must be allowed to play at their rating level although they may always choose to play in a higher rating group. Exceptions may occur when rated events have to be combined because of lack of entries.

How to Get an IFP Rating

There are three ways to obtain a rating. You can call it the SAT Method:

S elf – A non-rated player rates themselves

A ppealed – A player disagrees with their rating and appeals

T ournament – A player’s rating is calculated by tournament wins and losses

Starting off with the S, this is for first-time tournament entrants. If you have never been rated before, you can give yourself your inaugural rating. The only caveat is that the Tournament Director must approve of the rating you give yourself. Based on the results of the tournament, if you do not exhibit the potential of the rating you saddled yourself with, a new rating will be appointed to reflect the proper skill level.

Next up, we will skip to the T. Tournament performances affect ratings. However, this is yet another subjective practice. Ratings following tournaments are determined by:

  • Outcome of the Current Tournament
  • Other Tournament Performances
  • Recommendations by Tournament Directors
  • Other Players’ Trusted Opinion

If you have registered for a tournament in the past, you can find out your rating by checking out the USAPA Ratings Page.

If you do not agree with the rating you are classified by, then the A process kicks in. You have the right to appeal and state your case to the IFP.

Pickleball rating

Credit: uncoolbob

Appeals can be done to move yourself up and down the ladder. Each situation is unique but appeals ending in a ranking that is favorable to the player typically fall into the categories of:

  • Permanent or Long-Term Injury
  • Severe Change in Physical Health
  • Declining Skill Level
  • Improved Skill Level

Appealing to go down a skill level to play with a particular partner in a lower level for a rated doubles event is not permitted.

If you feel you have a legitimate claim to a different rating, you can file an appeal on the USAPA Ratings Page. From there, click the Ratings Committee link. Once you are redirected, you can start the appeal process by writing a formal e-mail to the board requesting that they change your rating. Be sure to finish the e-mail with the reasons why you want to move up or down in ratings.

How to Know What Your Rating Means

It helps to know just what these numbers mean when trying to decide where in the spectrum you fit.

The ratings breakdown is as follows:

1.0: Limited knowledge of the game

1.5: Has minimal skills, played a few games

2.0: Holds short rallies and has doubles play courting down

2.5: Making most volleys, some backhands, but has weak court coverage

3.0: Consistent serve, returning medium-paced balls, but lacks directional control, trying dinks

3.5: Demonstrating aggressive net play, beginning to anticipate opponent’s shots

4.0: Using 3rd shot strategies but loses rallies due to impatience, fully knows game rules

4.5: Keeping ball in play, solid footwork, beginning to master 3rd shots

5.0: Master, ready for highest competition

For a more in-depth explanation of each rating, please visit the IFP Pickleball Rating Descriptions Page.

You and Ratings

Have you registered for a tournament? What was the rating you gave yourself? Did it match up to your skill set? What is your rating now? We would love to hear more about your experiences with IFP ratings at tournaments!

Popping Bottles and Pickleballs – Our Resolutions for 2018

Happy New Year from PickleballCentral!

We hope everyone has been having a fantastic January so far and had the opportunity to play their first game(s) of 2018—hopefully indoors if you’re dealing with the winter chill.

With the recent focus on new beginnings, we’ve been pondering what pickleball-centric resolutions players may have set for themselves. If you’re not sure where to take your game from here and need some inspiration, here are several goals to consider:

2018 Fireworks

Credit: bayasaa

Drill more often

As fun as it is to play games all the time, pickleball is all about “percentages” and reducing errors. If you can perfect the basics such as your serve, dinks, lobs and accurately returning volleys, you’ll find your game will improve as a whole.

Carefully returning dink after dink or only using groundstrokes may feel a little dull when it’s all you’re practicing for an hour, but once you take those skills back into play you’ll find you can adapt to different situations more easily. Biding your time and letting opponents make the mistakes is a wise strategy to rack up wins.

Perfect the third-shot drop

Many players have heard about the third-shot drop but don’t necessarily know why it’s a good tactic or how to work it into their play.

The third-shot is simply the shot after the serve and return of serve. When you’re playing against skilled opponents, they will generally have rushed up to the no-volley zone/kitchen after the return of serve and will have you at a disadvantage if they’re able to keep you at the base line. If you hit a drop shot into the kitchen they will be forced to wait for the bounce, giving you more time to reach the net and get into position.

If you work on this shot, you’ll help consistently put yourself on an even playing field against others.

Pickleball fun

Credit: TEDxKC

Take chances

Contrary to the first recommendation on this list, if you feel you’ve achieved a fairly strong level of performance but your game has been stagnating, it may be time to start changing things up. If you’ve been locked in a dink battle for ages, surprise your opponent by pushing them back with a lob. Go for a shot down the middle of the court if you’ve been hitting across.

Once you lull your opponents into a rhythm, that’s the time to look for an unexpected shot to steal the point.

Have fun

This might seem obvious, but if you’re involved with the competitive side of pickleball or find yourself taking more casual games to heart, it might be time to reassess why you’re playing the sport and what its biggest benefits truly are.

Pickleball began as a family game and has retained the majority of its relaxed, social nature. While it provides a variety of health benefits and allows people to indulge in their competitive side, we believe its greatest asset is the way the community welcomes players of all backgrounds and lets everyone have fun without preconceptions.

If you’ve been feeling stressed about practice or how much you’re improving, remember that the point of pickleball is to engage with other players and have a good time.

Wood pickleball paddles

Credit: Balboa

Smile more, laugh at yourself and of course, feel free to work on your technique at the same time!

What are some of your resolutions for 2018, pickleball-related or not? Tell us in the comments and enjoy the New Year!

A Pickleball Pick-Me-Up During the Holidays

The holidays are usually a joyful time when many get to share special moments with their families and celebrate the lives they share together. There are circumstances, however, where either tangible or hidden troubles can prevent people from getting to enjoy this season as they should.

We read an article about Cathy Sykes earlier this month, a player in Durango, CO who was able to better manage her depression and ADHD thanks to pickleball and the increased social interaction surrounding it.

At PickleballCentral we always hear people say they love this sport not only because of its simplicity, but because it truly does support a caring, friendly community.

The social aspect of the game is often the part players love the most, with doubles being extremely popular and the low barrier to entry allowing people to start playing almost immediately. In Cathy’s case, this meant traveling with her mother to the local rec center to meet pickleball ambassador Paul Toppenberg.

During her time there, she grew more comfortable with meeting new people, gained self confidence and learned more about the game.

Now she’s not only become a pickleball fanatic, but challenged herself to compete in a 5 km race in July and her first triathlon in August. She is planning to enter her first pickleball tournament next year.

Pickleball Mistletoe

Pickleball Mistletoe (BetterThanBellows)

There are many ways to battle back against health problems both physical and mental. We truly believe that pickleball provides a special mix of both, allowing people to start moving in an environment that’s often full of friendly faces eager to welcome newcomers to the game.

This game allows athletes and beginners, young and old, men and women all to find a sense of enjoyment with each other. That’s a special thing, and we thank you all for being part of this wonderful sport and helping the game grow over the years, whether it’s through spreading the word among friends or advocating for pickleball as an official ambassador.

We hope our readers have had a fantastic year full of wins and losses that have all taught them how to pick themselves up, learn a bit more about themselves and keep on having fun.

For those that have been going through rough times, our thoughts are with you and we hope you’ll find strength among caring arms to bounce back even stronger.

PBC Warehouse

Our PickleballCentral warehouse team hard at work

Happy holidays from everyone at PickleballCentral! It’s been a pleasure for us to serve, support and inform all our customers these past 12 months.

We look forward to spreading the fun and community of pickleball even farther next year and hope you’ll continue to join us on the ride!

How Pickleball Can Change an Inmate’s Life

“Sadly, most inmates in correctional institutions come from very difficult backgrounds. For much of their lives positive guidance has been limited. One of the many benefits of pickleball is that the game can be used as a metaphor for teaching ‘life skills’ such as being a good teammate, following the rules and thinking about consequences.”

These are the words of a man spending time with people most of us hope we do not encounter. Driven by his love of the game and his willingness to help others, Roger BelAir went into an environment few will ever experience: Chicago’s Cook County Jail.

Why? To teach the game of pickleball to dozens of inmates.

IMG_0185

Bit by the Pickleball Bug

Roger began playing pickleball about six years ago. He took to the sport quickly and realized that just about anyone can play the game. It’s easy to learn, low impact on the joints, social and—most importantly—fun. Since then, he plays practically daily and frequently competes in tournaments.

Roger’s love for pickleball resulted in sharing his passion with others. With a background in professional speaking, he started conducting clinics at local recreation facilities. From there he expanded to teaching at corporate retreats and destination health spas like Rancho La Puerta.

Eventually, a chance episode of CBS’ 60 Minutes opened up a new avenue.

An Idea is Born

One Sunday evening, Roger watched an episode of 60 Minutes profiling the Sheriff of Chicago’s Cook County Jail, Tom Dart. It appeared from the piece that inmates spent much of their time eating, sleeping, watching TV or playing cards.

Roger thought, “If the inmates played pickleball, they’d get exercise, interact with others from different backgrounds and would learn ‘life skills’ in a positive setting.”

Following the airing of 60 Minutes, Roger contacted Sheriff Dart. He encouraged him and his staff to consider pickleball for the many benefits it offers.

A Safer Alternative

One of the aspects Roger brought to the attention of Sheriff Dart and his staff was the safety of pickleball. When exercise in correctional settings does take place, it’s often basketball.

“The game can be aggressive and is usually dominated by big and strong men,” says Roger. “As you’d expect, anger and frustration can boil over onto the court.”

In fact, injuries are such a problem that many correctional facilities are cutting back on basketball as a form of recreation.

A major difference between pickleball and basketball lies in the equipment. Little damage can be done to players by a portable net, plastic ball and paddles. Additionally, there is no physical contact between the players as in basketball.

IMG_0190

The leadership at Cook County Jail was open to allowing pickleball into their facility. Before he knew it, Roger was on a flight to Chicago where he would spend a week working with inmates and staff on the basics of pickleball.

Welcome to Chicago

As Roger put into perspective, “Today in the United States there are over two million people incarcerated. 98% of them will eventually be released back into society. They’ll be in our shopping malls, driving on our freeways and in our parks where children are playing. I’m not a bleeding heart. I’m a realist. If we can help these individuals become better people while they’re on the inside, it will be safer for all of us when they are released to the outside.”

Chicago, in particular, has a challenge with crime. This past year there were more homicides in Chicago than in New York and Los Angeles combined. Each year, approximately 70,000 men and women are admitted to Cook County Jail to await their day in court.

For one week, Cook County Jail was where Roger BelAir got in his daily workout of pickleball.

“For my own safety, I worked with the ‘best of the worst.’ I was scared only once. It happened in the maximum security unit Division 10 when the officer left to go to the restroom. Suddenly I realized I was alone with 24 inmates, many charged with murder. Everything turned out fine, of course!”

Pickleball in Chicago

Roger has taught hundreds of people to play pickleball, but teaching in Chicago was a different experience. Initially he felt the inmates’ apprehension.

IMG_0174 2

As soon as he walked in, they were aloof and distant.

“You could tell by their body language. Many had their arms crossed or wouldn’t make eye contact with me.”

After a few minutes, their walls began to fall down. By the end of the clinic, their demeanor was the opposite extreme. There were big smiles, excitement and lots of laughter.

“By the end I compared it to watching a group of 5-year-olds enjoying the novelty of a special experience, like Christmas. I’m certain getting exercise was part of the reason,” says Roger. “Perhaps more important was the mental aspect. Once they stepped onto the court—just like the rest of us—they forgot their problems and focused only on hitting a plastic ball over the net. They were living in the moment.”

With recreation times limited to 90 minutes, Roger had to improvise in order to get all 24 inmates at a time playing on the three courts available.

As Roger admits, “The rules weren’t followed to the letter, but it didn’t matter because everyone had so much fun.”

IMG_0206

After the first game ended he shouted, “ ‘Okay, everybody! Group hug!’ You could tell the prisoners thought I had lost my mind. They were likely thinking, ‘Who is this guy and I ain’t givin’ nobody a hug.’ But slowly they came forward and joined me at the center of the court. I raised my paddle over the center court, they raised theirs and we did the traditional high five with our paddles touching.”

Smiles from the inmates and undoubtedly a sense of relief. An awkward moment turned into a touching one. After subsequent games one of the players would always yell, “Group hug, everybody!” They’d meet at the center of the court and tap their paddles.

Afterwards, many of the men lined up to thank Roger and shake his hand. Some said, “God bless you, Roger.” It’s an experience he’ll never forget.

IMG_0203

“I’m impressed with the leadership and staff at Chicago’s Cook County Jail. They do an exceptional job in a challenging environment. The head of a maximum security unit even played pickleball with the inmates. What a terrific role model he is for the rest of the staff. This is the type of behavior that builds bridges and opens lines of communication; much better than the mindset of, ‘Us against them.’ ”

The Future of Pickleball in Jails

While Roger hopes the experience touched the lives of some, it has impacted him greatly. So much so that he’s continuing this program in other facilities. He has reached out to the Washington State Department of Corrections which operates fifteen facilities throughout the state.

So far, the process is going smoothly. The program coordinator for the Washington State Department of Corrections is supportive of including pickleball in their recreational program.

“Pickleball is a simple game and easy to teach, as long as you’re passionate about it,” Roger says. “Skill level and teaching experience really don’t matter. All you need is a willingness to share your passion.”

His hope is that other players will decide to teach the game in their communities.

IMG_0178 2

He adds, “It would be wonderful if others contacted their local correctional facility, Senior Center, or Boys and Girls Club and said, ‘Let me tell you about a terrific sport called pickleball!’ ”

Local Pickleball Tournaments in Washington State

Local pickleball tournaments are a great way to get involved in the community and test your skills without breaking the bank or sacrificing a lot of time to travel.

After Karen Thomas, our Director of Marketing/Communications and an excellent pickleball player, shared how much fun she had at a few nearby tournaments, we started rounding up a variety of Washington-based competitions to spread the love.

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier in the lovely Pacific Northwest (Credit: the norse)

These events are a great way to support your local pickleball community, meet other players and hone your abilities on the court. Instead of worrying whether you’ll place the highest, just focus on getting the most enjoyment out of each event!

There are options available for players of all skill levels to get in on the action in a relaxed environment. Each city is noted on the first line under the tournament name so you can stay close to home.

The information listed here is based on data gathered during late 2017 and is only intended to give a general idea of entry costs, time of year and the format for each event, so please note that details will likely vary in the future.

To check the most up-to-date information, follow the event links to each group’s homepage.

City of Edmonds Pickleball Tournament 

  • Yost Park (Edmonds)
  • September 9
  • $25 first event / $10 each additional
  • Double elimination or round robin depending on # of participants
  • Doubles only, open

Columbia Basin Pickleball Classic

  • Lawrence Scott Park (Kennewick)
  • August 4 – 6
  • $50 early bird, $60 normal registration + $10 per event
  • Round robin
  • Singles and doubles

Larry & Marlene Nicholson Memorial Tournament

  • Steamboat Tennis and Athletic Club (Olympia)
  • January 19 – 21
  • Fee TBA
  • First match losers consolation
  • Doubles only

Lighthouse Oktoberfest Picklepalooza

  • Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort (Long Beach)
  • Oct 20 – 22
  • Double elimination
  • Doubles only

North Cascades Fall Pickleball Classic

  • North Cascades Athletic Club (Omak)
  • Oct 14 – 15
  • Friday clinics with pro Tyson McGuffin
  • Cost and elimination style not noted
  • Singles and doubles

Pickleball Station Tournaments

  • Pickleball Station, part of PickleballCentral in Kent
  • Monthly tournaments
  • Usually $30 registration + $10 per event
  • Double elimination or round robin
  • Primarily doubles

Selkirk PIG (Pickleball Is Great) Chase Tournaments

  • Tualatin Hills Tennis Club (Beaverton), Cascade Middle School (Vancouver), Club Green Meadows (Vancouver)
  • Jan 6 – 7, Feb 17 – 19, March 17 – 18, Apr 21 – 22, June 2 – 3
  • $45 one event/$55 two events/$65 three events (Feb only)
  • Round robin
  • Doubles, singles only in Feb only

Rainier Community Center Men & Women’s Doubles Tournament

  • Rainier Community Center (Seattle)
  • November 4
  • $15 per team / $8 per person
  • Double elimination, best 2 out of 3
  • Doubles only, open

Washington State Senior Games

  • Auburn Riverside High School (Tennis Courts)
  • July 21 – 23
  • $33 or $23 early bird registration / $9 per person per event
  • Double elimination, best 2 out of 3
  • Singles and doubles, open and non-open

Washougal Rivers Edge Dinosaur Doubles

  • Hathaway Park (Washougal)
  • June 24 – 25
  • $35 registration
  • Round robin
  • Doubles only

If you know of any other sanctioned or non-sanctioned tournaments that are worth a visit in Washington, be sure to let us know in the comments!

2017 Pickleball Holiday Gift Guide

As the holidays draw nearer, it’s a great time to take advantage of good deals to grab pickleball savings for yourself and others. The following products are some of our most popular and money-saving options, allowing you to mix-and-match whatever items you think will suit your needs.

Whether you’re looking for a deal or wondering what the hottest new picks are, something is sure to catch your eye. Happy holidays and shopping!

Pickleball Luxury Gifts

These gifts spell luxury for a reason. If you’re trying to find a gift for the pickleball fanatic that has it all, or just want to go straight to the top of the line when it comes to quality, these products are sure to please thanks to their design and utility. Whether you want responsive paddles, sturdy storage or the most efficient gear, there’s something to please even the pickiest player.

 

Luxury Gifts

 

 5-Star Rated Paddles

These paddles provide an excellent combination of reactivity, control and power. Regardless of your giftee’s needs as a player, the variety of shapes and styles available will allow you to select the best fit for their playstyle. Save on popular picks before you’ll have to go back to paying a premium!

 

5-Star Paddles

 

Men’s Pickleball Gifts

Most men appreciate a combination of classic looks and functional design. These items are ideal when you want to pick a gift your favorite pickleball guy will want to use on a regular basis. Proven training tips, comfy yet stylish apparel and well-made equipment are exactly what most men will appreciate this season.

 

Mens Gifts

 

Women’s Pickleball Gifts

When it comes to picking a gift for a lady pickler, you’ve got to have it all. Looks, smarts and quality! That’s just what the following products provide, whether you want to give the gift of style or knowledge. We’ve covered all the bases with sterling jewelry, training aids, classy attire and paddles that look as good as they play!

 

Womens Gifts

 

New Products

Not sure what sort of present to buy or feel like you’ve seen it all? Check out our newest releases and see if one might catch your fancy and add new life to your game. These products come with some of the freshest technologies that promise to strengthen play and bring more pizzazz to the courts.

 

New Products

 

Biggest Deals

What’s one of the best parts of shopping during the holiday season? Being able to save big! These items have some of the steepest discounts on our site despite being well-rounded buys for just about any type of player. Whether it’s a new t-shirt, a full net bundle or intriguing piece of gear, treat yourself while the getting’s good.

 

Gift Savings

 

Paddles for Beginners

Want a paddle that anyone will be able to pick up and use? These options offer a broad sweet spot and generous amount of “pop” so that it’s easier for newbies to get the hang of play and start returning pickleballs with ease. Some options like the Tyro and Ranger are even effective choices for kids thanks to their slender design and light weight.

 

Gift Paddles

 

Pickleball Stocking Stuffers

If you need a few smaller accessories or trinkets to keep the holiday cheer rolling, take a look at the following items to bring that extra touch of effort. These products make great add-ons for just about any pickleball-themed gift. Mix and match or grab whatever looks best to up the amount of pickleball “swag.”

 

Pickleball Stocking Stuffers