2019 Pickleball Holiday Gift Guide

When it comes to gifting, sometimes you have the perfect present in mind and others you’re left scratching your head. For those who need a little more help picking something that will be fun, useful and appreciated by the pickler(s) in their life, we have a handy solution: our PickleballCentral gift guides!

Browse below to see some of our most popular and functional products for everyone on your list. Click the links for even more options than those listed here. If you really want to narrow down some suggestions, you can always give us a ring at 888-854-0163 to chat with our knowledgeable reps. Enjoy!

Pickleball Luxury Gifts

Luxury Gifts

A. Douglas Premier PPS-22SQ Portable Pickleball Net System – A super heavy duty option that has all the benefits of a permanent net but with the convenience of wheels.

B. Pickleball Tutor Plus – A light ball machine that has top and backspin capacity, random oscillation and a 2-line feature for side-to-side shots or practicing with friends.

C. Quick Cart Plus – Holds up to 150 pickleballs with an additional storage area underneath. Convenient wheels and sturdy construction keep your equipment safe.

D. Selkirk TOUR Backpack – Four major compartments, including one with insulation and a vented section on the bottom for storing shoes.

E. Lobster Pickle Ball Machine – Speeds of up to 60 mph with random oscillation and multiple charging options so you don’t have to stop drilling.

Women’s Pickleball Gifts

Women's Gifts

A. Margaritaville Tote Bag – Bright and breezy design that includes a zippered interior compartment and a separate shoe bag with multiple ways to carry it.

B. GAMMA Shard Graphite Paddle – The small grip is ideal for easy maneuvering and the lighter weight keeps it quick at the net. Highly reactive face with power despite its speed.

C. Sterling Silver Pickleball Hoop Dangle Earrings – Classy, high quality earrings with an extra punch of pickleball style. Measure about 1″ in diameter.

D. History of Pickleball: More Than 50 Years of Fun! – A unique look into pickleball’s rise in popularity, written by pro player Jennifer Lucore and featuring interviews with major figures in the sport’s history.

E. Pickleball Holiday Shirt – Featuring a cute tree made out of pickleballs, this shirt helps spread holiday love and cheer among other players.

Men’s Pickleball Gifts

Men's Gifts

A. Viking Shirt – A fun and cheeky design that shows a powerful viking slicing open a pickleball and telling his opponents to “Dink Again.”

B. Pickleball Bottle Opener – For the player who’s into good games and good drinks (maybe not at the same time), this bottle opener is a handy accessory to have available.

C. Tour Team Pickleball Supercombi Bag – A large and versatile bag with plenty of space and an eye-catching look. Various ways to carry it comfortably.

D. Large Titan Edition Black Diamond Series Paddle – A broad surface area and hefty weight give this paddle a head-weighted feel similar to a tennis racquet.

E. Kollectaball K-Max Ball Collector – The ultimate item for convenient clean-up on the courts. Roll over wayward pickleballs to gather them without a sore back.

Pickleball Stocking Stuffers

Stocking Stuffers

A. Pickle Hard Candy – Go the untraditional route this holiday season and ditch the mints for these candies flavored like sweet pickles.

B. Pickle Mints – Keep your breath fresh with a twist using these surprising pickle mints that are perfect for sharing with friends.

C. Pickleball Keychain – Can also be used as a zipper pull on bags or other gear. A great way to add some pickleball bling to other items.

D. GAMMA Supreme Pickleball Overgrip – Deck out a paddle for the holidays! Just wrap overgrips on top of a handle for more cushioning, tack and style.

E. Santa Pickle Ornament – Santa gets a pickleball-themed makeover with this silly yet endearing ornament that will find a home on any pickler’s tree.

Local Pickleball Guide – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque has some of the largest dedicated pickleball court facilities across the country, and best of all, they’re mostly free! This desert jewel hosted the National Senior Games at the Manzano Mesa courts in June 2019, and now you can enjoy playing in the same location at your leisure. The largest club in Albuquerque (ABQ Pickleball) has over 850 members, so friendly fun and competition are in abundant supply.

Abq Pickleball Club Courts

Albuquerque Pickleball Club (Credit)

Places to Play in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The city of Albuquerque has a map of numerous court locations on their website. A partial selection of the courts are listed here.

Manzano Mesa – Eighteen outdoor courts (six lighted). Free to use and open daily from 6am – 10pm. Scheduled events at Abqpickleball.com.
Villela Park – Six outdoor courts. Free drop in play, open 6am – 10pm.
Los Altos Park – Six lit tennis courts with pickleball lines (12 courts if all used for pickleball). Bring your own portable net. Free to use.
Cesar Chavez Community Center – Four indoor courts. Weekdays except Thurs open play 8:30 -11:30am, Thurs 5:30 – 7:30pm.
Thomas Bell Community Center – Three indoor courts. Pickleball open play on Thursdays from 9:30am – 12pm.

USAPA Ambassadors: Albuquerque

Larry Lite — larrybudlite@usapa.org, 505-331-2014
Joyce Paulsen — healthyjoyce@gmail.com
Gary Rutherford — ruthergary@aol.com, 505-292-5114 or 505-507-3663

Albuquerque Court Construction Companies

DML, Inc.
General Acrylics
Elite Sports Builders

Albuquerque, NM Pickleball Clubs

ABQ Pickleball

ABQ Pickleball

Ruidoso Pickleball
Ruidoso Pickleball Club (~2-1/2 hrs S of Albuquerque)

Angel Fire Pickleball

Angel Fire Pickleball Club (~3 hrs N of Albuquerque)

Pickleball Tournaments in Albuquerque, New Mexico

ABQ Labor Day Classic
New Mexico Games
Ruidoso Pickleball Championships (Ruidoso)
Beat the Heat Tournament (Angel Fire)

Albuquerque Pickleball Related News and Videos

Destination Pickleball Southwest
Pickleball Is Latest Racket in Town
A Match of Pickleball, Anyone?
Hunsberger Strikes Gold in Albuquerque
Ruidoso Pickleball Club Active Year-Round and Growing Fast

How to Escape “Error Snowballs” and Improve Your Pickleball Technique

You’ll often hear that the most important piece of advice in pickleball is avoiding “unforced errors.” There are many training techniques that center around this concept such as “percentage pickleball,” where one uses shots and tactics which are statistically more reliable rather than attempting risky maneuvers that could just as easily go in the other team’s favor. The idea is to keep the ball in play and let your opponents make the mistakes.

This is a simple concept to grasp, but when you try to break it down, it can be harder to determine where, exactly, your original mistake was made. Learning how and why you made a mistake can go a long way towards improving your game and making it more consistent in the future. Some will point to the final moments of play as the main area for analysis, but in fact, you may need to look even earlier to find out what went wrong.

This idea is elegantly shown in video from Tony of In2Pickle. In it, one of the players seemingly loses a point because her paddle wasn’t in a high, ready position. But Tony expresses that the team made several mistakes much earlier than that, which ended up making the final exchange more difficult to defend and placed them in a disadvantageous position.

Watch this concise and helpful video for a full breakdown. To sum up: The main problem starts with Kathie (in the back left side of the court) making a short return serve. This is due to her standing too close to the baseline and having to move back to make the return, resulting in less power in the ball.

This then snowballs into a series of advantages for the opposing team. The offense steps closer to the kitchen and gains more court coverage, while Kathie is still stuck in no man’s land for her next volley. She is forced to hit the ball in an upward arc, which allows her opponent to poach it and further reduce the amount of time Kathie has to get in position.

If you can work out small technical errors in your game like this, then there are much fewer opportunities for the other team to seize an opening. That’s why learning and utilizing basic good practices is so important, including something as simple as knowing where to stand during a serve to maximize your return.

Have you ever taken the opportunity to analyze your games and discover what simple good practices you might be overlooking? Try it, and have a more seasoned player help out if possible! You might be surprised by what you find and how little changes can make big improvements in your game.

Texas Open Sees 28 Junior Participants, Wyatt Stone Helps Youth Find Pickleball

The 2nd annual Texas Open was held September 12-15, where stalwart players braved the heat to test their skills at the Open Wagon Wheel Tennis Center in Coppell. Of the 747 participants that took part, 28 were juniors ranging from 7-18 years old.

These young players are a growing demographic which has only recently gained legislation needed within USAPA-recognized events to fully take part. While many picklers have expressed enthusiasm for the newer generation getting involved in the sport, the reality is that the journey toward full integration hasn’t been as cut and dry as grabbing a paddle and showing up.

Texas Open junior players with Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright

Texas Open junior players with Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright

We recently spoke with Ashley Stone, mother to the winner of the Lone Star Award (Wyatt Stone). She was willing to illuminate some of the challenges the juniors have faced and overcome in addition to describing their experience at the Open:

“My son Wyatt has played in 12 tournaments and taken 18 medals since January 2019. When he first started playing, we had to ask tournament directors to lower the minimum age to allow him to play. He even pre-qualified for the American State Games, but they wouldn’t let him join due to their minimum age restriction last January.

“I have been adding junior events to the USAPA Junior Facebook page and website for a few months. In a short period of time (Jan-Sept, 9 months) we have seen the minimum age lower to include junior players in about 90% of all tournaments nationwide, excluding the senior tournaments. Pickleballtournaments.com just added a “junior” search feature to their toolbar this month as well. This is a huge milestone for the junior movement!

Texas Open juniors with Anna Leigh Waters and William Sobek

Texas Open juniors with Anna Leigh Waters and William Sobek

“In the first few tournaments, Wyatt would often be one of two or three juniors playing in the 19+ skill events. With each tournament we have seen more kids at each event. The Mansfield Summer Slam which was on September 7th had 6 junior players playing up in age 19+ by skill. The Texas Open is the only tournament in the mid-south to have enough kids to make junior brackets work.

“At the Texas Open, events were grouped by players 7-13 and 14-18 years old, a handful of which also played in 19+ age/skill events. The kids came from Texas and Oklahoma areas. Skill ranged from novice play to a 4.0 skill level. All of the kids have a family member who introduced them to the sport and are very passionate about it. They had a really good time and thought it was cool the mixed open events were happening on the same day as the junior events. The kids’ games were right next to pro players.

“One thing that was really great was the pro players (Joey Farrias, Lucy Kovalova & Matt Wright, Michella & Daniel DeLaRosa, to note a few) would stop to watch the kids and do a quick meet and greet. Some of the pro players even refereed junior games. Two I can think of were Gigi LeMasters and Anna Leigh Waters.

“There were also 2 junior pro players, Anna Leigh Waters & William Sobek, who competed at the pro open level.  All the juniors lined up to watch at least one of their games.”

Junior girls' doubles winners

Junior girls’ doubles winners (Gold: Sophia Irwin & Madi Warden, silver: Michaela McElroy & Caitlyn Chia, bronze: Natasha Cole & Katelyn Click)

Ashley mentioned something many junior players would like to see moving forward is divisions separated by skill rather than age.

“The Texas Open (and all other USAPA-sanctioned tournaments) divide juniors by age. We have not yet attended a junior tournament in the US that has enough kids to divide by age and then further divide by skill. What I have seen is that ability doesn’t discriminate by age. In an event with kids ages 7-13 or 13-18 in the Texas Open, we had novices competing with advanced players. All the kids and their families unanimously agreed they would have healthier competition if they played in events by skill.”

It’s also exciting to note that a junior was chosen as the recipient of the Lone Star Award at the Texas Open, a recognition given to someone who has used pickleball to help build up their community and improve people’s health. The winner this year was Wyatt Stone, Ashley’s son.

“Wyatt completed the IPTPA level II certification in less than a month with the desire to teach as many kids pickleball as he could reach. He went to Oklahoma twice to volunteer with youth camps, ran the Andy Roddick Pickleball Camp in Austin, hosted monthly kids’ camps over the summer and set up (with the parks department) a free weekly pickleball clinic for kids that he will teach.

Junior boys' doubles 1-12 (Gold: Ralph Chiu & Hollis Willson Silver: Aden Weimer & Zeus Andre Celedonio Bronze: Grant Wilton & Ryan Wilton) and Junior Boys Doubles 13-18 Gold: Isaiah McAllister & Joshua McAllister Silver: E Ramm & Drew Warren Bronze: Dayton Bartman & Wyatt McAllister

Junior boys’ doubles 1-12 (Gold: Ralph Chiu & Hollis Willson, silver: Aden Weimer & Zeus Andre Celedonio, bronze: Grant Wilton & Ryan Wilton) and Junior boys’ doubles 13-18 (Gold: Isaiah McAllister & Joshua McAllister, silver: E Ramm & Drew Warren, bronze: Dayton Bartman & Wyatt McAllister)

“The September classes have been booked up since last month. Wyatt volunteers working with his mentor May Laz at clinics, camps, challenges and tournaments on a weekly basis. He is also the USAPA Junior Pickleball Facebook editor and has more than organically tripled the followers since he took it over. He runs the Pickleball Facebook Junior forum and San Antonio IH35 to Austin Pickleball meetup where he organizes free competitive play.

“Wyatt is 14-years-old and had only been playing a a couple of weeks when he asked to go to the Texas Open as a spectator. After spending the weekend at the Texas Open, Wyatt wanted to learn how to play like the pros. Wyatt played in his first tournament in January, the Oklahoma State Games, and took 3 gold medals.

“He has been competing ever since, playing in 9 tournaments with 16 medals. He took a gold medal at the MT Regionals, earning a spot at Nationals which he will attend in November. He became IPTPA certified in June and added teaching to his rigorous training schedule.

Wyatt Stone receiving the Lone Star Award

Wyatt Stone receiving the Lone Star Award

“Wyatt did not have racket or paddle experience prior to playing pickleball and has come up through the ranks by working hard and earning his place training with local 5.0 players. He publishes a blog on his website with articles relevant to junior players and their families: WyattStonePickleballJunior.com

“Wyatt joined the Pickleball Rocks Team this past summer and accepted the nomination to lead the USAPA junior program as the USAPA National Junior Coordinator.

“He is thankful every day that he steps on the court and loves to see other kids getting involved in recreational and competitive pickleball.”

Middletown – Pickleball Capital of Ohio

Middletown – Pickleball Capitol of Ohio

Middletown loves pickleball, and based on the claim they made in the local newspaper, their town has the most pickleball courts in the entire state: 16 total with 2 more on the way. (This is one more than Mentor, OH.)

With plenty of volunteer and community support for the game, the Middletown Community Fund gave the association a $1,500 grant last year to aid in expanding the courts, said Traci Barnett, executive director.

The association hosted the 12th annual Middletown Senior Pickleball Tournament on August 1-3. Open-aged singles played first followed by senior players (50 and older) playing doubles and mixed doubles.

The tournament had a record 268 registered players from eight states. Five years ago, the tournament drew 112 players.

Are there more “Pickleball Capitals” out there? Let’s start a “Bragging Rights” post.

Is your town the pickleball capital of your state? Tell us why.

Dave Thomas – USAPA Ambassador Growing Pickleball in Town of Riga, Churchville, New York

Dave Thomas – USAPA Ambassador Growing Pickleball in Town of Riga, Churchville, New York

Dave Thomas

Dave Thomas, USAPA Ambassador and Recreation Supervisor, The Town of Riga, N.Y.

Hello pickleball folks! My name is Dave Thomas and I have been involved with the wonderful game of pickleball since 1983-84. I found out about the game at the New York State Physical Education Conference in Syracuse, New York. I immediately knew that this was an activity that I wanted to introduce to my students. I taught it in my PE classes to children in Grades 3-6 from 1984 until 2005 when I retired. I adjusted my teaching style to the ages of these students. I figure that I taught it to at least 8,000+ students.

After retiring from teaching, I joined our local YMCA and noticed that they were offering a pickleball league. I was SO surprised! I signed up because I had never played with other adults; I just taught it. After starting to play I researched my new activity. I couldn’t believe how huge pickleball was in 2006.

I retired and secured a new post-retirement job as Recreation Supervisor for the Town of Riga in Churchville, NY. I put my name in with the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) and became a USAPA Ambassador for Rochester, New York—the very first one from this area. Within a week I was receiving emails from “snowbirds” inquiring about outdoor play once they returned. In 2006 there were only 2 pickleball courts in the area at the Westside YMCA on Elmgrove Road in Rochester. I knew we had to try and get others involved, so with the help of many folks we spread the word about pickleball. Thirteen years later, we have indoor & outdoor courts in just about every town in the Rochester, New York area. We’ve gone from 2 courts in 2006 to over 180 courts in 2019!

New Courts in Town of Riga

Recently, I contacted our New York state senator and asked him if he could support the tiny Village of Churchville, New York in the town of Riga by securing a $50.000 grant to build a 2-court venue. He wholeheartedly agreed, and the pictures you see are the result of this grant.

Before pickleball courts

Before pickleball courts

Town of Riga Highway Department Boxing Out the courts

Town of Riga Highway Department Boxing Out the courts

Town or Riga Highway Dept. rolling out gravel base

Town of Riga Highway Dept. rolling out gravel base

First layer of asphalt

First layer of asphalt

Putting second smooth coat of asphalt down

Putting second smooth coat of asphalt down

Cutting out for poles

Drilling holes for sleeve installation

Drilling holes for sleeve installation

Getting ready to cement

Getting ready to cement net post holes

Finished fencing for the court

Finished fencing for the court

Starting the Primer coat

Starting the Primer coat

Town of Riga "Super Seal Gang" that painted the courts! A terrific job!

Town of Riga “Super Seal Gang” that painted the courts! A terrific job!

Painting lines

This is how they paint the lines, with a spray can, then followed along with a roller.

Last November they put the final coat of paint on the courts but alas… it did not take as the sun did not shine and the snow ruined it! As soon as we were able to string together 3-4 sunny & 60 degree days, the company came out and repainted.

Poles installed, measured to correct height and ready for the nets

Poles installed, measured to correct height and ready for the nets

ready for the Grand Opening on June 26, 2019

Nets attached, tables in place and ready for the Grand Opening on June 26, 2019

New York State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer making the first official serve on the Town of Riga's Pickleball Complex.

New York State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer making the first official serve on the Town of Riga’s Pickleball Complex.

After our Grand Opening we were featured on Spectrum New’s “Your Morning Rochester” TV show, Wendy Mills was the host and we had a wonderful time bringing this facility and pickleball to the audience.

Thank you Dave for sharing your story about how you are growing pickleball in the Rochester New York region. Congratulations!

Ambassador Series – Jan Lucas, USAPA Ambassador for the Greater La Crosse Wisconsin Area

Ambassador Series – Jan Lucas – USAPA Ambassador for the Greater La Crosse Wisconsin Area

Tournament medals Jan Lucas

Jan Lucas and husband Robert

When you hear about a growing pickleball program, you have to know there is a USAPA Ambassador working to make it happen. Enjoy Jan’s story!

I started playing pickleball in December 2014 while visiting my parents in Arizona. When we got back home to Dayton, OH, we found one court and kept playing. In 2015 Larry Vergilio, USAPA Ambassador, asked if I could help teach pickleball. I made myself available and started teaching women at a local tennis club. I love the game and I love to teach people about the health benefits of pickleball, both the physical and emotional benefits.

Later my husband got a promotion which meant a move to La Crosse, Wisconsin, right on the Mississippi River. He went to La Crosse ahead of me, while I stayed back to settle things with our house. He immediately connected with folks playing pickleball. We already had a large group of friends when I arrived. Pickleball always comes with a built-in community.

Oak Park Pickleball Courts in Onalaska, Wisconsin

Oak Park Pickleball Courts in Onalaska, Wisconsin

In the La Crosse area I found there were 4 dedicated courts in the area and no USAPA Ambassadors, so I became an Ambassador for the greater La Crosse area including several suburbs of La Crosse. The USAPA does a great job of building pickleball programs through the Ambassador program. We petitioned the city to put in more courts with 100 signatures. We did phone calls, attended council meetings, got friendly with tennis people and won their support. The city has agreed to install 6 more courts with lighting. We are very excited because in the fall when the days are shorter, lighted courts allow folks to play longer outdoors. We have 2 local YMCAs that have pickleball. In the nearby town of Homer there was an unused tennis court where we set up pickleball on half of the court. 30 miles away in Winona, Minnesota there are indoor courts.

Bob and Jan Lewis

Robert and Jan Lewis with Dave Weinbach at River Valley Paddle Battle

La Crosse Area Logo

La Crosse Area Logo

We started a club for our community which has grown to almost 300 members. We have 250 followers on our Greater La Crosse Pickleball Facebook page and an additional 150 followers on our private La Crosse Pickleball Club page. We have 275 followers on Instagram. We’re growing, getting new courts, gaining identity as a large group and starting to bring home wins and medals at tournaments.

People come from 30 miles away in Minnesota to play pickleball. Most folks are recreational players. Only 10% of all players go to national tournaments, and they’re mostly guys. Many of our players are moving up in the grading system. We approached a tennis center in Winona about adding pickleball to their program and they agreed. We had the River Valley Paddle Battle Round Robin event last March. I’m also partnering with Dave Weinbach for our next big tournament in March 2020. He’s bringing in sponsors and lots of pros! Our club is almost at 300 people – not quite there yet, but we will be in another month. We are having our 1st sanctioned tournament with 60 people participating. We will have a booth with videos showing the game of pickleball.

We use the GroupMe App to keep in touch with everybody in the club, letting them know changes in court availability or announcing pick-up games and special events. Drop-in play is scheduled every day. We have round robin tournaments and summer leagues. Dave Weinbach has provided clinics in our area too.

Jan Lucas and friends

Mike Gritzmacher, Robert Lucas, Diane Walker and Jan Lucas at a tournament

Events often are partnerships with folks in the community. For example, in May we supported cancer research in Gunderson. In September, we will be doing pickleball demonstrations during a “Stepping Out In Pink” event. The Honorary Chairperson, Candi Bucheger, is a cancer survivor. The city has an annual Riverfest event. This year is the first time our club will be involved. We’ll have one court with players on it all the time and one court for folks who want to learn the game. We just got business cards to hand out and we will have a booth with a monitor in place showing folks playing pickleball. We’re excited to continue finding opportunities to grow the game in our community.

La Crosse Area Pickleball Club

La Crosse Area Pickleball Club