How to Stay Cool Playing Pickleball

As the weather starts to warm up, it’s no joke that overheating can become a serious issue while playing pickleball.

Aside from staying hydrating and taking breaks as needed, there are a few other ways you can enjoy the sunshine without letting the weather interfere with your health or play.

The following are a few products we offer at PickleballCentral that can help:

Rover and Trekky

Rover and Trekky Water Flask

These water bottles are made with BPA-free stainless steel that helps keep your water nice and cool for hours so you’ll have a refreshing drink whenever you get a break in the action. The flip-straw lid makes your drink easy to access without accidental spills.

GAMMA Tacky Towel

GAMMA Tacky Towel

This unique cloth is made with beeswax to help keep your grip firmly on your paddle regardless of sweat. Instead of having to wear hot and uncomfortable gloves, you can simply rub this towel on your hands to improve stability. It doesn’t leave sticky residue or discoloration, so it’s perfect even for the pickiest pickler.

Chilly Pad

Chilly Pad Cooling Towel

These chilly towels are unique in that they’re made with an ultra evaporative material. Unlike regular towels that get heavy (and let’s just say “aromatic”) with use, these maintain a cool and dry feel. Just apply water for a soothing burst of relief or to wipe away sweat. Better still, they’re eco-friendly and reusable so you can put them to work all summer.

USAPA Racer Hat

USAPA Racer Hat

We have a number of effective hats and visors at PBC, but the USAPA Racer Hat is one of the best choices during hot weather thanks to its mesh backing. Your head stays protected from direct contact with the sun’s rays, yet it has plenty of breathable material to allow for airflow.

The soft, lightweight fabric makes it feel like it’s barely there, which is a plus when the humidity is present in full force!

Do you have any favorite products or methods for keeping cool during pickleball? Let us know how you beat the heat!

Will Pickleball Overtake Tennis?

We know that pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America, but does it really have the clout to take on the “head honcho” of the racquet sport world?

Maybe not any time soon.

Recent estimates put the total number of tennis players worldwide at 17.9 million. In contrast, pickleball only has 2.5 million. Of course, pickleball is only about 50 years old where tennis has had over a century to grow.

Many players are somewhat happy with pickleball’s niche status, as this not only makes the community feel more tightly-knit, but keeps the game inclusive. As pickleball hotbeds become more common they sometimes necessitate a larger division of players, whether through age, gender or talent.

Tennis swing

Credit: llee_wu

This isn’t always a bad thing as it can keep players of similar skill levels together, preventing frustration, but pickleball did start as a family game, and many cite its equalizing effect as one of its main attractions.

Although pickleball only has a fraction of the publicity tennis does, this doesn’t mean people aren’t taking note. Even the tennis industry itself has realized pickleball’s strengths and potential, with major tennis manufacturers like GAMMA and HEAD releasing their own lines of pickleball equipment.

If these companies believe that building a way into the pickleball industry is worthwhile, then there’s no doubt others will follow suit as the game continues to get bigger.

Interestingly enough, this year there was a “Paddle Battle” held by the USAPA that featured a match between former tennis pros Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick. This event not only capitalized on pickleball’s crossover appeal with tennis, but also touched on the fact that many tennis players move on to pickleball after tennis’ larger court size and faster play become difficult to manage with age.

Pickleball serving

Credit: jalexartis

The tennis vs pickleball debate can get a little out of hand on occasion, with tennis players feeling like pickleball is encroaching on their courts (which is sometimes true) and pickleball feeling like tennis players can dismiss pickleball as too simplistic out of hand (also sometimes true).

But both sports have their strengths and weaknesses, and we believe that the more exposure both give the other, the better. There’s no reason why people can’t play both or act respectfully toward fellow athletes, whether serious or casual, regardless of which they prefer.

Do you think pickleball might actually become larger than tennis in time, or does tennis have too much history behind it for pickleball to share the spotlight on such a broad stage?

Pickleball’s international reach has built as fans have spread their love for the sport around the globe, but only time will tell how big the sport will become.

How to Spread the Word About Your Pickleball Club

We recently received a request from a club leader asking how they could better inform their community about pickleball and get more visitors on their courts.

For those just starting a club you may want to read this previous post, but once you’ve got things running and simply need to increase your visibility, here are a few options:

Get listed on the USAPA’s Places to Play List

Many people use the USAPA’s site to search for local pickleball groups. To add yours to their list, simply sign up for a free account and then fill out the required information. You can do this by going to the Places to Play page and clicking “Add Place” in the upper left corner.

The more details you can provide about your club/location, the better informed newcomers will be.

USAPA

Contact ambassadors and clubs

The USAPA provides lists of registered pickleball ambassadors based on state. Look up those in your area and send them a friendly email introducing your club and explaining that you would love to welcome more members. By doing this, they may be able to recommend people to your group.

You can follow a similar routine with other nearby clubs. Explain that you’ve opened up a few courts and ask if they would share this news with their members. Perhaps you’ll get a few more drop-ins as people make their pickleball rounds for the week, or they might introduce friends to your club if the location is more convenient.

Use local resources

You can of course reach out to friends and family members who may be interested in giving pickleball a try, or ask to advertise in central community locations such as rec halls, schools, popular businesses and senior communities.

Some have even had success contacting the local media to get more publicity and raise awareness of the game.

Conversation

(Source: Annette Dubois)

Explore social media

Many local groups and even some statewide associations create Facebook groups to organize information and share pickleball news with their communities. Try searching for “pickleball + your state” to see if any groups pop up and ask to join so that you can spread the word about your club.

Just be careful to follow group guidelines and be respectful of other members!

If you’re the first of your kind in a relatively pickleball-free area, it can be a little tricky to convince people to give the game a shot. But once you get the ball rolling (or popping) you’re sure to find plenty of fans!

Pickleball Cruises on the Rise

We’ve discussed taking pickleball on the high seas before, and it seems the game’s wave of popularity will only continue to rise.

In 2016 we first announced that pickleball was introduced to Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Pearl to the Caribbean” by ambassador Tom Widden.

Now, a USA Today article notes that there are currently 14 Holland America ships offering pickleball, with their newest addition, the Nieuw Statendam, to include the game on its launch in December as well.

Jack Thomas of the USAPA supports the idea and noted: ““I think the cruise industry has figured out that pickleball is a very inexpensive way to attract and entertain their passengers and will soon become a must-have onboard activity,” he says. “It is super easy to learn to play, great fun for all ages and creates camaraderie among fellow shipmates.”

Peachtree Royal Caribbean Cruise

Peachtree Royal Caribbean Cruise

Other cruise lines such as Regent Seven Seas, which debuted pickleball on its “Explorer” ship in June 2016, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean also offer the opportunity to keep your paddle arm in shape on several of their ships.

A blog post from Peachtree City pickleball members mentions that they took their own portable net systems, equipment and balls aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise, so we recommend checking with cruise lines to see if it might be possible to reserve pre-existing courts for pickleball use if they don’t already offer the game.

There are also more specialized opportunities to play pickleball on the ocean, such as through Engage’s upcoming “Clinic Cruise to the Caribbean” happening in September this year. Travelers will be swept away to the US Virgin Islands, Antigue and the Bahamas while being instructed by Robert and Jodi Elliott.

Engage Pickleball Cruise

Engage Pickleball Cruise

Playing pickleball while surrounded by gorgeous blue seas and tropical locales sounds like a good plan to us!

With low startup costs and the ease with which anyone can start playing pickleball, we’re eager to find more seafarers with paddles in their hands.

Would you be excited to travel in style while playing your favorite game?

Tres Palapas Pickleball Resort to Host First Mexican Championship in April

Paul Bland and his wife Sally Meecham manage Tres Palapas Pickleball Resort in Los Barriles, a well-integrated community located in Mexico’s Baja peninsula. This popular vacation spot and snowbird destination features gorgeous scenery and a wonderful pickleball program.

Tres Palapas is excited to announce the first Mexican National Pickleball Championship running from April 28 – 29. It will be preceded by a 4-day clinic with pro player Matthew Blom on April 20 – 24.

Tres Palapas Mexican National Tournament

Matthew is a USAPA Nationals gold medalist and is sometimes referred to as pickleball’s “Zen Master.” His clinic takes a holistic approach that will help players improve their mental game and identify improper habits while also covering the more technical aspects of form, ball control and body mechanics.

Tres Palapas is a pickleball paradise to locals, and the resort has great appeal for part-time residents and visitors looking to play the game while surrounded by beachfront beauty. Over 30 locals play at the club every week, and many others enjoy participating in the club’s drop-in play, tournaments, casual round robin play, workshops and other events.

Tres Palapas

The large core group is primarily made up of 3.5 to 4.5 level players. Tres Palapas’ lesson program features three primary instructors: Tony Krause, Jon Smalley and Emmanual Pickleball. In addition to their own clinics, they also provide lessons from pros such as Matthew’s upcoming clinic. Scott Moore and Tyson McGuffin have also recently stopped by the resort to share their talent.

If you’d like to enjoy some sun and fun, there are three hotels near Tres Palapas you can stay at along with a property management company which can help you find accomodations. Visit the Tres Palapas site for more information.

Pickleball Getaways also organizes pickleball-focused trips where people play at Tres Palapas and stay at lodging arranged by their team.

Pickleball in Mexico

Los Barriles is a great location for hiking, fishing, mountain biking and kiting, so don’t just stick around for the clinic and tournament if you head out to this gorgeous hideaway! Give Tres Palapas a look to improve your game and outlook today.

How to Play Pickleball Mindfully

Playing game after game of pickleball is a good way to get a workout, but it’s not necessarily the best way to improve. If you swing away without thinking about how you’re maneuvering and responding to different circumstances, then you may find yourself stuck in a rut over time. Don’t let bad habits take hold!

In truth, it’s fairly simple to keep a few things in mind during games that will help you to better your play and determine what you can work on during practices. Here are a few questions to ask:

1)  How are you holding your paddle?

Unless you’ve taken lessons before, you may not even think about grip style and how it affects your game. Do you hold your paddle like a tennis racquet? Place a finger against the back of the face? Grip it near the base of the handle?

All of these methods have different pros and cons, not to mention their usefulness varies depending on the type of paddle you use. If you find you’re responding too quickly or slowly to shots, you might want to experiment with different grips to see if you can get better control and placement with your paddle.

2) How fast are you moving to the kitchen?

Generally speaking, after the serve/return of serve, you want to get to the kitchen line as soon as possible. A lot of newer players tend to hover near the baseline and make it harder for themselves to cover the court.

It can be intimidating for some players to step up close to the net when it feels like the action gets more frenzied in these instances, but you’ll be able to defend against a wider variety of shots and react much faster this way. If you find yourself standing around the middle of the court, step up a few paces and watch your skills improve.

Pickleball near the kitchen

(Credit: Chad Ryan)

3) Why are you missing balls?

Sometimes missed shots are inevitable, but if you can keep track of the reasons why then you’ll be on the right path to improving your play. Were you out of position? Not watching your opponent’s eyes/hands? Maybe you managed to hit the ball, but slammed it too hard and sent it outside of the court.

If you’re consistently making the same mistakes, take a look at what’s causing them and how you can make appropriate tweaks moving forward.

Other great ways to improve your game are to practice good techniques by drilling or learning from a more practiced partner/teacher. Have you ever had a “light bulb” moment when it came to correcting your play?

Who’s Your Pickleball Hero? Hall of Fame Accepting Nominations for 2018

Last year PickleballCentral, the USAPA and IPTPA (International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association) created the Pickleball Hall of Fame and welcomed the first inductees into pickleball history.

It’s now time to recognize a whole new host of superstar pickleball heroes to the Hall of Fame, from volunteers to pro players and big-hearted community leaders. If you know of someone who’s offered significant contributions to the sport and made the world of pickleball a brighter place, now’s the time to nominate them for this year’s vote.

To do so, you’ll simply need to visit the Pickleball Hall of Fame and provide a few details regarding your nominee.

There are two different forms available for use: one for competitors (high-level players who have impressive achievements and shown top sportsmanship) and one for contributors (individuals who have grown pickleball’s reach and reputation).

Pickleball Hall of Fame 2017

The Pickleball Hall of Fame would love to hear from you and ensure that all of our community’s top representatives have a shot at gaining more widespread recognition.

Nominations will be open until April 1, 2018, so be sure to get your applications in soon!

If your nominee successfully makes the cut, they will then have the opportunity to be selected by the committee’s vote to be inducted into the Hall of Fame itself. Inductees are introduced at the USAPA Championships and will have plaques presented to them to honor their accomplishments.

Pickleball Hall of Fame Inductees

We look forward to hearing more about all the wonderful people that make our pickleball community so great. Visit the Hall of Fame site to submit your nominees today.

If you’d like to take a look at last year’s finalists and resulting inductees, simply visit the links shown here.