National Pickleball Day was only created last year in 2021 by instructor Deirdre Morris, but the game has been going strong since its creation in 1965. Millions of people across the world now enjoy pickleball, and we agree that this is worth celebrating! Do you have anything planned to appreciate the sport today? If not, we have some ideas you can implement with friends or on your own.
Play Pickleball (Or Its Variations)
The most obvious way to celebrate is by enjoying the sport itself! Hit the courts and play a few matches, or if you want to do something out of the norm, try out one of the game’s variations. These include skinny and slender singles, a casual round robin or a dink battle to test who’s the most consistent with their soft game.
Train Your Mind with Pickleball Trivia
If you’re all tired out from matches, then you don’t necessarily have to stop playing pickleball-related games. Did you know there’s now a Pickleball Trivia Game available? Test your knowledge with your closest pals regarding the sport’s history, pro players, tournaments and rules while learning more about your favorite game in the process.
Share the News on Social Media (or Locally)
While pickleball has greatly grown from its humble beginnings, most of us would love to welcome even more players into the fold. Today is the perfect time to post about what pickleball means to you on social media so your connections might give it a try. If social media isn’t really your thing, you can always bring pickleball-related candy or gifts to your work to introduce more people to the sport.
Give Back to the Community
If you have a local club or community group that manages most of your pickleball-related fun, offering a donation to support their efforts will never go amiss. If you’d like to aim broader, you can also donate to USA Pickleball’s initiatives such as their grant fund and Sid Williams Junior Pickleball Fund which all go towards opportunities that help grow the sport. The International Federation of Pickleball also has a grant program that addresses similar goals on a global scale.
Reflect and Set New Goals
Pickleball doesn’t have to be “deep” in the sense that we’re all training to become pros and win national tournaments, but if you’re the type of person who likes to see clear improvement, it never hurts to have a training strategy. National Pickleball Day is a good opportunity to reset and consider what you want to focus on, and if recording progress is your thing, we have a Pickleball Journal that can help with just that. Once you’ve identified areas you want to strengthen, browse some training videos and get ready to up your game.
Purchase a limited edition National Pickleball Day T-Shirt
The National Pickleball Day Shirt was created as a homage to both pickleball and the era it was created—the 1960’s! This beautiful vintage-style tee uses smooth and vibrant colors to enhance the swirled font with a few pieces of pickleball gear accenting the design. It’s a great choice for casual daily wear or for occasions you really want to play up the pickleball spirit.
On this special day we want to thank everyone for joining us on this crazy ride of promoting, supporting and enjoying pickleball. We’re sure there will be many more years of growth to look forward to, and we hope all our readers get a chance to kick back and have a little fun.
Spin has become an important weapon in the game of pickleball. As players have developed the ability to produce more topspin, these types of shots are more common than ever. A player with a great cut shot often sees their opponents return the ball into the net, and the spin serve is used with equal efficacy.
The creation of spin always starts with the stroke. If a player does not have a topspin stroke, sandpaper-like texture won’t be any help. What a paddle can do is accentuate spin. The two ways this can happen are with friction and adhesion.
Friction is when a rough surface makes contact with a pickleball, preferably a ball that has already gotten a bit scuffed from use. The friction of the paddle moving across the ball creates spin. This is similar to the grooves on a golf club creating spin when the ball is struck properly.
Adhesion is when the ball sticks to the surface of a paddle as the player moves through a complete swing. The paddle essentially grabs the ball and imparts spin. This is akin to a smooth drag race tire heating and sticking to smooth pavement.
If you’d like to make more use of spin, we’ve selected a group of paddles that are ideal for incorporating these two methods into your game:
The Electrum Pro was revered for its spin from day one thanks to the gritty Toray T700 carbon fiber used for the face. Its other benefits include the broad 8-1/2″ width which results in a large sweet spot and the fact Electrum only uses full polypropylene cells in the core, meaning it feels consistent across the entire surface.
Engage’s Pursuit line is excellent for spin thanks to the proprietary omni-directional graphite used in their design. The material provides a long-lasting texture that doesn’t wear away so you can rely on enhanced spin even after many games. The Pursuit paddles also come in a variety of shapes so that you can select a model that best suits your play style.
The “CFS” in this paddle’s name refers to a “carbon friction surface” which uses Carbon-Flex5 material developed by JOOLA to improve power and spin. It’s currently #1 pro player Ben Johns’ paddle of choice, so you know it can reliably perform in the most demanding scenarios. It has many exciting features, but one of the best is the unique Hyperfoam Edge Wall which enhances stability and the sweet spot.
Diadem was one of the first manufacturers to focus on the rarer adhesion style of surface using their proprietary “Spin RP” polyurethane coating which creates a tacky texture. Where many brands have focused on making paddles with thicker cores, the Icon features a slimmer design which is ideal for retaining speed and feel. It also has another rare but highly desirable quality: a replaceable edge guard.
This paddle is one that both figuratively and literally shines thanks to its triple-layered carbon fiber face interwoven with gold or silver fibers. While it doesn’t have the typical “scratchy” feel, you’ll still notice the enhanced spin it offers when following through on shots. The special Aero Channel edge guard reduces drag despite its thicker 0.55″ core that serves to dampen vibrations and improve control.
We know there are more paddles that impart spin with either friction or adhesion, what are your favorites? If you’ve tried and loved any of these models let us know about your experience, or if there’s another paddle that’s helped with spin, our visitors would love to hear about it in the comments.
Do you think spin can make or break a match against tough opponents?
Brandi has been a registered dietitian since 2010 with experience counseling hundreds of clients during her time with the Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Now as a nutrition writer, she hopes to reach an even greater population by sharing well-researched, credible information through her articles.
It’s undeniable that the game of pickleball is changing before our eyes. While it’s still a sport that requires plenty of intellectual finesse shots, higher-level players also need the ability to fire powerful put-aways. And hitting those winners without injury requires strength.
Thankfully there’s a trend toward building lean muscle mass for both men and women. The value of strength training, aka resistance training, is backed by science, and research shows that there are many health benefits to increasing muscle mass.
Athletes who strength train may gain the following benefits:
Lower risk of injury
Improved cardiovascular health
Better controlled blood glucose
Lower abdominal fat
Burning more calories, even during rest
More years of playing pickleball
Okay, I may have added that last one due to my own priorities! If we’re reaping all the other evidence-based benefits, though, the ultimate goal of pickleball longevity should hold true as well.
What is Resistance/Strength Training Exercise?
If you watch Callie Smith’s Workout Wednesdays on the socials like I do, you’ll see some great examples of strength training exercises. Anything you do that helps build strength by using resistance, with or without fancy equipment, can help build muscle. Some ideas include:
Push-ups and pull-ups
Arm work with dumbbells
Using resistance bands
Lunges and squats
If strength training is new to you, it’s best to learn these exercises with a physical therapist or certified personal trainer who can help you avoid injury.
How Can My Diet Support Resistance Training?
Protein is probably the first nutrient most people think of when it comes to building muscle, and for good reason. We can’t build muscle without it.
But how much do you need? Our muscles are constantly wearing down during exercise and repairing themselves during recovery. Getting enough to repair daily injury and build extra muscle on top of that is the key. Based on what we currently know, here are some general guidelines:
Young Recreational Player
.9 grams protein/kg/day
Example: 70kg person x .9g pro = 63 grams of protein
Recreational Player over age 50
1.2 grams protein/kg/day
Example: 70kg athlete x 1.2g = 84 grams pro/day
Endurance Athlete (playing several hours daily)
1.2-1.7 grams protein/kg/day
Example: 70kg athlete x 1.2g = 84 grams pro/day
Resistance Exercise Days
1.6-1.7 grams or more protein/kg/day
Example: 70kg athlete x 1.6g = 112 grams pro/day
Source: Karpinkski, Christine. Sports Nutrition: A Handbook for Professionals. 2017. Print.
Protein is definitely important for muscle building, but there are a lot of other nutrients involved in muscle synthesis. A balanced diet that includes a large variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and high-quality protein can help you achieve your muscle building fitness goals.
High Quality Protein Sources
You’ve probably heard of amino acids, the molecules that build protein, which are needed to make muscle. Our bodies can miraculously make several of the amino acids we need, but we do have to get several others from our diet. We call these essential amino acids (EEAs). High quality protein foods contain all EAAs in one easy package. Here are some examples:
Soybeans including tofu
Branched Chain Amino Acids
We’re learning that certain EAAs are extra special when it comes to building muscle. They’re called branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). These special molecules have been shown to:
Increase the rate of muscle synthesis
Reduce muscle fatigue
Decrease muscle soreness after workouts.
I especially love foods that decrease muscle soreness, since pain is a big workout deterrent for many people.
The gold medal winner of all BCAAs is an amino acid called leucine. This little guy has been shown to increase amino acid transport into muscles and to help older adults build and maintain muscle mass. Some great BCAA sources include:
What about Protein Powders?
While dietitians agree that sometimes it’s necessary to use supplements, food is generally the most reliable source of nutrients. It’s very possible to build muscle with a well-rounded diet that includes plenty of protein from high quality sources.
Sometimes we struggle with meeting our nutrition needs because of appetite, illness, aging or simply a need for convenience. This is when it may be appropriate to supplement.
However, I don’t recommend choosing the cheapest protein powder you see on the shelf. Because supplements are not well regulated by any government entity, it’s important to choose one that that has been tested for safety and purity by a third-party company. Look for stamps of approval from companies like NSF or USP.
Time Your Protein
In the nutrition world, experts debate the importance of timing protein intake during the day. Currently, many sports dietitians recommend spreading out your protein throughout the day. The general recommendation is to get 20-35 grams with each meal and snack.
Don’t forget to get your protein at breakfast! People often skimp on protein during this first meal of the day, when it can be easily added with popular breakfast foods like Greek yogurt or eggs.
Building muscle can be a game-changer at any level. It can improve health and reduce injury risk. Most importantly, of course, maintaining that tone can help keep you on those glorious courts for years to come.
Brandi’s High-Pro Mediterranean Salad for One
This tangy salad is packed with protein and is great choice before or after a workout. You can add a vinaigrette dressing if you want, but the tangy ingredients generally add all the flavor you need.
½ packet Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice (found at Costco)
1 cup salad greens of choice
¼ cup hummus
¼ cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
¼ cup sliced cucumbers
¼ cup kalamata olives
¼ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup feta cheese
2 oz chicken breast, tuna, or sardine chunks
Heat quinoa and brown rice according to package directions. Place half in bottom of the bowl. Layer salad green on rice. Dollop yogurt and hummus on greens. Sprinkle with remaining ingredients. Contains about 28 grams of protein per serving.
Brandi Givens has been a registered dietitian since 2010. Questions or comments can be posted to her blog: www.brandigivensrd.com
Karpinkski, Christine. Sports Nutrition: A Handbook for Professionals. 2017. Print.
With the turn of the new year it is always nice to have some things to look forward to. Maybe you’re looking to level up your game this year, spend more time with family and friends, stay active and focus on health in a FUN way, or challenge yourself. Whether you’re newly introduced to pickleball or have been playing much longer, we have some ideas for everyone.
Resolution #1: Commit to Practice!
In 2021 we saw lots of great pickleball gear aimed for practice. The best way to become a better player is often the simplest. Whether it’s playing a practice game or drilling specific skills, you always have the ability to improve through hard work and dedication. Of course, certain training aids can make the process easier as well.
Ball Machines: The two pickleball machines we carry, the Tutor and Lobster, allow you to practice more easily without a partner by sending lobs, spin shots and dinks your way.
Pickleballs: GAMMA released a Two-Tone Outdoor Training Pickleball that helps to show how the ball is spinning so you can practice both receiving and doling out spin shots.
Pickle Palooza is a one-of-a-kind event that offers all the thrills of a tournament without the stress of competition. Located in Mesa, AZ, this fun annual event runs from March 4-6 this year at Bell Bank Park. There will be court exhibitions and interviews with the pros, skill-based open play, paddle demos, one-on-one instruction, and entertainment. It’s the perfect excuse for players to share in some pickleball-centric fun, and with enjoyable activities in the surrounding area (such as the Phoenix zoo, art museum and botanical gardens), you can make a great vacation out of it.
Resolution #3: Upgrade your Paddle
We have seen several major innovations in paddle technology in 2021 with some new heavy hitters joining the scene. If you’ve been playing with the same paddle for a while it might be time to experiment with others. Here are a few that we suggest looking into:
Aeroshot Paddles from Oneshot Pickleball – Oneshot released two new paddles with their innovative new Airflow Technology to create vents in the sides of the paddle for reduced drag and increased hand speed.
The Warrior Paddle from Diadem – The thickest paddle on the market, this 19mm core paddle has the softest touch ever, with a highly gritty surface that enhances spin shots, and plenty of power.
New line of Paddles from ProXR – ProXR Pickleball recently launched their first line of pickleball paddles with their unique, patented, ergonomically designed handles that improve reload speed and exit velocity.
New line of Paddles from adidas – This heavy hitter in the sports market entered pickleball with a range of new paddles to suit all skill levels and play preferences.
VANGUARD 2.0 from Selkirk – Selkirk’s VANGUARD Hybrid 2.0 series feature their new Pro-Spin Texture for more spin than ever before and their new Gen2 durable surface.
CX11 and CX14 Paddles from Gearbox – The all-new CX-11 and CX-14 paddles from Gearbox bring years of innovation in paddle design to a whole new level, with a shape and core thickness for every player.
Resolution #4: Introduce a friend of family member to Pickleball
We all can agree that the reason we fell in love with Pickleball in the first place is because it is FUN! This sport is growing at a rapid pace and we are excited to see what the future holds. Who are you going to invite on this wild ride with us in 2022? It can be a friend, family member, coworker or neighbor but we all know once they get the feel for it they wont want to put it down! This might seem like the “easiest” resolution of them all but it is certainly one of the most important to help flourish our Pickleball Community!
Resolution #5: Play in a tournament
Competition isn’t for everyone, but even if you’re a fairly laid-back player, participating in a tournament can be a great way to strengthen your abilities, make new friends and take part in the greater pickleball community. Tournaments are the perfect excuse to knuckle down on training and come out the other side knowing you played your best. There are also a number of exciting new tours taking place this year that will serve to bring pickleball to an even broader audience, so taking part in one of them will truly have you becoming part of the sport’s history!
A few exciting upcoming tournaments that we recommend include:
Resolution #6: Improve your grip in more ways than one
Sometimes you might want a little extra tack to improve your hold on your paddle, or need to replace a grip that had worn down over time. Other players who get particularly sweaty hands appreciate the benefits that highly absorbent grips provide. Fortunately it’s quite easy to switch your grip (see how here) or layer an overgrip on top of your grip to provide better feel. Grips also provide a great opportunity to add a little flair to your paddle with fun colors and designs.
Alternately, if you want to keep your handle as-is but learn new ways to improve how you hold your paddle, you may want to experiment with different (hand) grip techniques to see how they affect your ability to make different shots. You can explore various ways to hold your paddle by watching this video with Glen Peterson.
PickleballCentral was proud to be the presenting sponsor of the 2021 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Palm Springs. While this year has been another test of endurance when it comes to balancing safety with the return of more in-person events, we were inspired by the pickleball community’s resilience and drive to keep our sport going strong. In fact, looking at a breakdown of the stats surrounding this exciting event there were:
87 USA Pickleball certified referees
Making this event the largest pickleball tournament in the history of the sport!
We’re grateful to everyone who participated or showed up to support the competitors as we continue to see the game rise in popularity. PickleballCentral was there for 10 days as the one-stop shop for all sorts of pickleball gear from your favorite brands. We had a shoe try-on center, paddle demo center, ball machines, bags and more! There was also plenty of amazing pro action, and we’re here to provide a recap of the paddles used by medal winners if you’d like to try them for yourself.
Leigh Waters took gold in Womens Doubles with her 14-year-old superstar daughter, Anna Leigh. This pair has been Nationals gold champs two years in a row.
The Phoenix Genesis Composite Pickleball Paddle is a fairly speedy option that has trim weight (7.4 – 7.8 oz) and dimensions. In addition to its easy maneuvering, it provides “Torsion Vibration Control” which helps players accurately place shots even when hitting off-center and dampens vibrations through the grip for better consistency even in the midst of tough exchanges.
Jennifer was the only player at this year’s Nationals to win a Triple Crown (again!) – gold in all 3 events (Senior Singles, Doubles with Cammy McGregor and Mixed Doubles with Dayne Gingrich).
The ProKennex Kinetic Ovation Flight has a special core that uses tungsten fibers to reduce the amount of vibrations that reach the arm, minimizing shock from impact and helping to prevent injury. The innovative oval shape has great reactivity that’s all sweet spot, while the Air-O-Guard offers an edgeless design that eliminates mis-hits while protecting the paddle.
Partners Matt and Lucy won Silver in Mixed Doubles, adding another big win to their impressive record.
Matt and Lucy helped develop their signature paddle which is focused on reliable power and high-level precision. A light coating on the face softens the feel of impact while still ensuring a responsive touch. The Atomic13 Edge technology maintains a slim profile and also assists in dispersing shock while improving swing speed.
Dayne won gold in Senior Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles with partners Dave Weinbach and Jennifer Dawson, finishing off a great year.
The Electrum Pro Graphite features a Toray T700 carbon fiber face which offers texture for spin and enhanced durability. Its broad surface creates a large sweet spot and the core only uses full cells, ensuring dependable feedback and power.
MSPR $169.99 SALE $139.99 Free Paddle Cover ($16.99 value)
Erik won bronze in Men’s Doubles with partner Wes Gabrielsen. He is a PPR teaching pro and works full time as a regional sales rep for HEAD.
The HEAD Gravity’s face features a hybrid blend of graphite and composite materials that combine for a perfect mix of control and power. It uses a thicker 14 mm polymer core that adds to stability and great touch. The large sweet spot and tri-axial pattern on the surface which contributes to spin make this a winner.
If you’ve been playing pickleball for a while you’re probably already familiar with Skinny Singles. But have you heard of Slender Singles?
We’re not talking about a new dating site, cheese or type of currency! We’re sticking to pickleball 100% here with some creative ideas for different ways to play the game we all love, get a great workout and improve your pickleball skills.
In Skinny Singles, you only use half the court: either using diagonal courts and changing the diagonal side with each serve, or using half the court directly across from your opponent. There tends to be more dinking and doubles-like strategy in Skinny Singles, but with only one player on each side of the net. It’s a great way to help your doubles game and work on your skills since you really have to focus on ball placement.
What about “regular” singles? For many pickleball players, especially those coming from tennis, a singles match is a super fun way to enjoy competing against another player while getting an excellent workout, pounding out groundstrokes and making passing shots.
Singles is great for working on shot depth and control, aiming for the sidelines to keep your opponent moving. But for many people (especially those of us getting on in years who might have a few injuries or not be at our peak fitness levels), covering a full 20-foot wide court without a partner is a big ask. Sure, it’s much smaller than a tennis court, but it’s still a lot of ground to cover!
Try Out Slender Singles
Here’s where the new game of Slender Singles comes in! Using an 18-foot net (instead of the 22-foot regulation size pickleball net), players who would like to play full court singles but could use a break from all that extra running have a perfect solution.
By taking four feet off the court width and making it 16 feet instead of 20 feet wide (with the typical 1 foot of net extending beyond each court sideline), players can enjoy a regular singles match and last much longer since they have 20% less court to cover. Slender singles opens up the fun of singles to a much larger population of players who might otherwise feel that singles is just too darn hard.
The MultiNet System
It’s easy to see how the many benefits of playing singles stack up. You have to hit each ball and cover more area, so the cardio benefits result in a great workout. In addition, your consistency and accuracy will improve, which will in turn help your doubles game as well. The MultiNet 18’ Practice Net System is the perfect solution for Slender Singles.
Originally designed as a “Red Ball” tennis net for junior tennis, this net allows pickleball players with limited space to set up a slightly narrower court for singles or doubles drilling and match play. The net height can be adjusted from 30” all the way up to 68” tall, providing a versatile multi-sport solution that works for badminton, beach volleyball and other games, and an interesting training aid for working on pickleball lobs.
If playing Slender Singles sizzles your senses, you might also want to consider an oversize or elongated paddle to help you reach those passing shots your opponent will surely be serving up. You’ll find over 20 of the most popular oversize paddles listed on our website here.
They say that unforced errors are the key to the game, so in an ideal world pickleball points should last through endless hits as players return ball after ball. Of course, that’s not exactly how it plays out in real life, but among top level competitors you do end up seeing some truly epic rallies that last for over 50 strikes.
If you’d like to learn how to be more prepared, consistent and precise… or if you just want to see some pickleball action at its finest, watch these videos to see how pros keep the ball in play for as long as possible.
2018 Vegas Open 68 Shot Rally
This point is from the men’s doubles semi-final at the Las Vegas Pickleball Open. It involves Kyle Yates and Ben Johns vs. Callan Dawson and Tyler Loong. There are a nice mix of dinks and volleys as the players jockey to find openings and position their opponents. This match went to 3 games and they also faced one another in the gold medal match afterwards.
2019 Golden State Championships 174 Shot Rally
In this tense showdown Kyle Yates makes another appearance with Lindsey Newman as they face Jeff Warnick and Jessie Irvine. The point truly shows how much patience can make or break your game. Many of the hits are gentle and controlled as both sides wait for the other to make the tiniest mistake The point drags on in what may be one of the longest rallies ever! The final hit is unexpected as Warnick reaches near the center line to steal a ball out of the air and put it between his competitors.
2016 USAPA Nationals 55 Shot Rally
This video has the shortest amount of hits on the list, but it’s probably the most exciting. Wes Gabrielsen and Kyle Yates (should we deem him the Long Rally King?) battle against Matt Staub and Daniel Moore. The pace hardly lets up as these fantastic players alternate between calculated dinks and lightning fast volleys. It’s amazing that the point isn’t even lost as the players are drawn out of position, but because of an overly powerful shot that flies out of bounds!
2018 Practice Match w/ Glenn Lucey 67 Shot Rally
Glenn Lucey is something of a legend among the pickleball community for posting long and impressive rallies involving him and other pro players. Although his videos are “only” from practice matches, they’re no less passionate and fun to watch than those at tournaments. In fact, since the players are often taking more risks, you get to see some unique choices at times. Stick around after the long point to see Dave Wage go to his knees to rescue a ball—multiple times!
Simone Jardim is one of pickleball’s top players and has won over 70 gold medals in competitions like the USAPA Nationals. Normally you’d have to attend her Peak Performance Pickleball Academy in Florida to receive training from her, and that would only be if you were lucky enough to catch her between her busy tournament schedule… but now you can practice with her for free from the comfort of your own home!
Starting in late March this year, Simone started posting a series of drill videos on Facebook. She’s going to livestream another drill set tomorrow, Thursday 4/2 at 6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT. Watch her in real time and you’ll be able to ask questions and comment as she demonstrates. Be sure to tune in if you have the opportunity!
In the meantime, check out her prior videos so you can get up-to-date on these useful techniques. Most of these drills can be done alone but some can be done with a partner as well. You can even watch how Simone stretches and cool down to ensure proper care of your body after practice. These videos are all 40+ minutes long so you’ll get to enjoy some meaty strategy talks and demonstrations!
Simone Jardim – At-Home Pickleball Exercises – Part 1
In this 2nd video Simone discusses the importance of positioning around the kitchen, how you can read your opponents’ movements and the best ways to respond to different shots. Some of the Q&A focuses on footwork and describes common mistakes players make so that you can move more quickly and efficiently across the court.
Make sure you’re taking breaks and drinking water, as some of these drills can be intense and require quick actions. Go at your own pace to avoid injury and grow accustomed to new movements.
Simone Jardim – At-Home Pickleball Exercises – Part 2
At the end of the third stream, Simone gave away a free Prince paddle—so all the more reason to watch her live tomorrow. That being said, if you watch this video you might hear about a special offer from Prince you can still use now…
Her warm-up in this video involves ladder work for your lower body and transitions into more wall drills that focus on placement and touch.
Simone Jardim – At-Home Pickleball Exercises – Part 3
Playing pickleball with friends is always fun, but sometimes the best way to improve is simply to buckle down and work on drills. They can be repetitive, but if you focus on proper techniques during training, the same movements become second nature in competitive play.
So if you’re stuck at home right now, don’t let your skills get rusty! Get in the zone and hone your abilities so you’ll emerge better than ever when you reunite with fellow players.
The first video we have with pro player Glen Peterson is ideal for those who don’t have a lot of space and want simple but effective ideas for strengthening their game.
The others we’ve included make use of ball machines so you can work on a wider variety of skills, although if you don’t have enough room or budget for a ball machine, you can recruit a family member to send pickleballs your way instead!
Solo Wall Drills
In this video Glen shows how anyone can use a pickleball, paddle and wall to greatly improve consistency and accuracy. You’ll also want some brightly colored tape to mark off your target(s). You can start simple by attempting to hit 10 shots in the same place, then stretch it out to 100! These drills are simple in theory but difficult to master. Work on both forehand and backhand hits to become a more versatile player.
Tight quarters with these drills can actually be beneficial, as they’ll improve your reaction time when playing at the kitchen.
Third Shot Drive & 5th Shot Drop
Pickleball champ Simone Jardim uses a Tutor Machine to show how you can work a third shot drive into your game—a technique that has a high percentage of success so you can get to the NVZ in a controlled manner. The goal here isn’t to charge forwards, but to methodically move closer to the kitchen with each strike. You keep opponents on their back foot so you can get into a more advantageous position.
Simone recommends setting up targets for an easier visual reference. You can use brightly colored objects around your house, or work with tape, court lines or target rings.
This is another drill that looks easy but requires a good amount of adjustment if you tend to tighten up when you see incoming volleys. By adjusting the grip on your paddle and softening your hands, you can completely take the power out of fast balls and set yourself up for a more controlled exchange at the kitchen. This is a great move to work into your arsenal if you’re tired of “bangers” and want to be able to reduce their dominance on the court. Instead of counterattacking, you’ll learn to reset the ball at your own pace.
You’ll want to prepare more court markers for this drill. The idea is to hit in an area where your opponent won’t be able to use their forehand and have access to a more aggressive play. Pay attention to your footwork as you get closer to the net before allowing yourself to put the ball away.
Recovery on Lobs
Lobs annoy many players almost as much as slams, but you don’t have to remain at their mercy. Work on body placement to retain vision and move backwards safely, which will allow you to return a shot much like the third-shot drop into the kitchen. Your opponent won’t be able to steal a free point and you’ll have more time to get back to the net.
What are some exercises and drills that have helped you take your game to the next level? Sometimes the simplest techniques are the most effective and we’d love to hear your input!
Pickleball is a social sport and many may not be able to meet with their regular groups right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up practicing entirely. Whether you’re keeping to yourself or have family members to join in, there’s certain to be some type of equipment that will suit your needs, budget and space limitations.
Here are a few ideas you can implement to continue getting your pickleball fix from home:
If You Have a Lot of Space
If you can’t get to the court, then you can make the court come to you! Our portable net systems are reasonably priced and come USAPA-approved with standard dimensions (22’ wide, 34” tall in the center). They’re perfect for setting up in a driveway, garage, backyard or anywhere else you have a flat surface. Don’t let their size intimidate you—all of our systems are very simple to use and can be put together in minutes.
Portable nets come in a variety of weights so that you don’t have to worry about the hassle of transport and packing them down during inclement weather. “Heavier” systems still only average about 24 lbs and our lightest, the SwiftNet, is a mere 14 lbs!
When it comes to setting up court boundaries you also have a number of options ranging from something as permanent as paint to temporary options like tape, chalk and court lines.
The USAPA has a handy guide on how to plot out court dimensions for proper marking using a measuring tape. Click here to read more and watch the video.
If You Have Less Space
If you don’t have as much room to spare, don’t count yourself out of getting a net right away—a mini net might be your best option.
Mini nets are portable systems approximately half the size of a standard net (around 10’ wide). They’re great for practice and can even be used to play “skinny singles.”
With just one other player, you can play a typical game using your slimmer net. This is actually a great way to get into singles for players who usually find it too taxing on the body when they have to cover a standard-sized court. Skinny singles can help make you more consistent, allow you to work on your serve and third-shot drop, and get a great workout.
Mini Nets have a similarly “mini” price compared to the average portable net, so they’re a great way to keep your costs low when it comes to buying equipment. You can use the same affordable methods above to mark out your court boundaries including the base line, sides and no-volley zone.
If You Have Little Space
Maybe you live in a small apartment, share a house or otherwise can’t find the room for a 10’ wide net. That’s okay too! You might not be able to play with a net, but you can still practice technique and drills.
While it’s perfectly acceptable to practice with only a paddle and pickleball, there are a number of convenient accessories that can make the process easier. The following is an example of a pickleball skill challenge we set up, and while we made use of a full-sized court, you can use any individual component of this “obstacle course” in a smaller setting:
Our Rebounding Mini Targets provide a simple way to practice your aim or serve as a stand-in for a doubles partner so you can work on positioning. The Pop-Up Targets are meant to attach to a net, but you could also set them up using objects around your house. Target Rings can be placed on the floor to perfect your precision.
You can also make use of court lines in nontraditional ways such as laying them out to serve as targets or placing them in unique ways to create agility drills.
We hope everyone is staying safe and that these ideas might spur some of your own practice. If you’ve had more time at home lately, we’d love to hear what creative ways you’ve made use of your space to get in some pickleball.