Get The Skinny On Slender Singles

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.

Slender Singles

Skinny Singles?

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.

Slender Singles Dimensions

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.

Slender Singles Match

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.

4 Amazing Long Points from Pickleball Matches You Have To Watch

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!

Get Free Pickleball Training at Home from Simone Jardim

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

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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

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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

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Enjoy these wonderful workout/training videos and we hope to see you tomorrow on Facebook! Follow Simone today so you can join in the fun and improve your skills.

Top 5 Drill Videos to Improve Your Game

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.

Block Volleys

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.

Shot Patterns

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!

Easy Ways to Make Room for Pickleball at Home

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.

Mini Net

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.

Jigsaw Health Supports Your Body’s Performance So You Can Play Pain-Free, Longer

We are excited to share that PickleballCentral is now carrying health supplements to help you stay strong throughout your games and recover faster afterwards. Our products come from the company Jigsaw Health, a group who cares about real, measurable results and high quality ingredients.

Jigsaw’s focus primarily centers around magnesium, a mineral that many individuals are deficient in without realizing it. Magnesium was the key to improved health for one of the company’s founders, Pat Sullivan. His co-founder and son, Patrick, took some time to introduce their work and share why it could be an important part of your health “puzzle” as well.

Jigsaw Logo

Jigsaw not only provides impressive products but has a great sense of humor, too! Read on to see some of the hilarious videos they’ve made and find out more about how their supplements can improve your quality of life:

How did you get involved in the world of pickleball and what are you looking to provide to players through your products?

My wife and business partner—Ashley—and I stumbled into pickleball in the summer of 2018 in Flagstaff, Arizona. Like so many others, we’ve been hooked ever since. Pickleball has been an unbelievably fun life enhancer for us!

Along the way we began to learn firsthand that pickleball can be a very physically demanding sport, especially in the tournament format where if you want a gold medal, you’ve got to play all day long to earn it.

We met a number of pickleball pros at PicklePalooza in August of 2019 including Kyle Yates, Lucy Kovola, Matt Wright, Irina Tereshenko, Jen & Steve Dawson, Adam Stone, Christine McGrath, Mills Miller and Dave Flemming. Several of them started taking our products to help increase energy and decrease cramping. And they got great results… good enough for them to start texting me a few months later to ask for a refill!

Everything has been a whirlwind since Nationals in 2019—we’ve sponsored 6 of the top pros in the game, and perhaps you’ve seen some of the fun commercials we’ve made with them? (To see all of Jigsaw’s funny videos, click here!)

We’ve become the exclusive hydration & nutrition sponsor of the PPA & APP Tours. We’re sponsoring several tournaments. We’re working with pickleball vacation companies and camps to provide their clients with hydration and recovery samples. We’ve had some amazing pickleball ambassadors begin to represent Jigsaw Health at their local courts.

Simply put, we’ve been very warmly embraced by the pickleball community at large. They see that a) we love pickleball too, and b) my dad has formulated some amazing products that work really well for pickleball addicts!

How did you first get involved in the supplements industry, and why did magnesium end up being such a large focus for you?

For nearly 30 years, my dad struggled with various health challenges—fatigue, insomnia, gastro-intestinal problems and depression. In 2004 he published a book called Wellness Piece by Piece chronicling his journey. And in 2005, we started Jigsaw Health together. One of the more important “puzzle pieces” he discovered was magnesium.

What are some ways people might be able to tell if they’re magnesium deficient?

One of the first symptoms of magnesium deficiency is muscle tension and nighttime leg cramps.

According to Medical News Today, 1 in 3 people over the age of 60 have leg cramps; 1 in 2 people over the age of 80 have leg cramps; and 40% experience leg cramps at least 3 times per week (Source: Medical News Today).

Magnesium is Mother Nature’s original “chill pill.” It’s a massage you can swallow. It’s like yoga in a bottle.

But even more than that, magnesium is actually the spark of life—the body can’t make ATP (energy) without magnesium, and there are over 300 biochemical reactions that require magnesium.

Would your magnesium products still be helpful to someone who isn’t magnesium deficient, or would you recommend a more general supplement like Electrolyte Supreme in that case?

It’s commonly cited that as much as 90% of the population is deficient in magnesium. A landmark study published in a 2004 edition of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shows that between 1950 and 1999, over-farming and topsoil depletion led to nutrient reductions of up to 38% in 43 of the most common fruits and vegetables (Source: Scientific American).

So even if you’re eating a healthy diet, it’s still difficult to get all of the nutrients you need from food alone. Not just to avoid deficiency, but to live optimally.

Additionally, there are pharmaceuticals that have a little known side effect of depleting magnesium. According to Pharmacist Suzy Cohen, author of Drug Muggers, there are 14 classes of prescription drugs that “mug” your body of magnesium, including blood pressure drugs, acid blockers (PPIs), antacids, antibiotics, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), osteoporosis drugs, and cholesterol lowering statins, to name but a few (Source: Jigsaw Health).

For pickleballers who play frequently, we recommend Jigsaw Electrolyte Supreme™ to stay energized and hydrated, and Jigsaw MagSoothe™ for recovery and nighttime muscle cramps.

What are a few ways your company differs from the competition and ensures high quality?

You can see how Jigsaw Electrolyte Supreme™ stacks up to some of the more commonly used sugar-based electrolyte products at this link. (It provides more nutrients overall with no sugar.)

Anything else players should know?

It’s important for pickleballers to realize that there are actually two types of muscle cramps… when you cramp up during physical activity, that’s because your body is low in potassium. And when you wake up in the middle of the night grasping a painful charlie horse? That’s because your body is low in magnesium.

Jigsaw Electrolyte Supreme™ contains both potassium and magnesium, plus supporting vitamins to help you stay hydrated, energized, and cramp-free on (and off) the courts.

Jigsaw MagSoothe™ is an especially good form of magnesium to help prevent nighttime muscle cramps caused by a magnesium deficiency.

Our motto at Jigsaw Health: It’s FUN to feel good.

And our mission: To help pickleball addicts like you play “just one more game”… 5 or 6 more times!

5 Ways to Protect Your Body and Recover Faster After Playing Pickleball

Pickleball is a fairly gentle sport, especially compared to higher impact games like tennis that necessitate covering a larger court. But injuries and accidents can happen during any activity, and no one wants to get waylaid by an injury right when their health is on the rise.

To ensure your body has adequate opportunity to heal and stay primed for your next game, here are some ideas to improve your recovery time:

Foam roller

Foam Rolling

Foam rollers are used for self myofascial release (SMR), which means they help eliminate trigger points or “knots” in the fascia (connective tissue). This allows for effective self massage that can relieve tension in a matter of minutes. With consistent use you can be on the way to working out tight areas that have been bothering you for years, and even if you don’t have chronic pain, it’s recommended that all active individuals use a foam roller to recover faster and keep muscles relaxed.

If you can tolerate tenderness and feel confident controlling the level of pressure, it’s best to purchase a harder roller with nubs to work the tissue on a deeper level. Rolling can feel very intense, but the impressive relief it provides is worth the temporary discomfort.

Rebounder

Rebounding

Rebounding is similar to jumping on a trampoline but is typically done on a smaller-sized apparatus. The exercise consists of either low bounces where your feet don’t leave the ground or full jumps. While it’s a simple motion, it can result in big benefits such as better lymphatic drainage, improved bone mass, better endurance and balance.

Rebounding was popularly studied in the 1980s when NASA was attempting to find a better way for astronauts to recover bone and muscle mass after being in space, so it’s been thoroughly vetted as an effective way to stay in top condition.

Resistance band

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands can be used for workouts on their own, but they’re also a useful tool for recovery since they don’t put as much pressure on the joints as heavy weights. In addition to improving stability and strength, they can also allow you to reach deeper stretches than wouldn’t be achievable solo.

Look up routines on Youtube to see how you can alter basic stretches with bands to better engage your muscles and sink deeper into each position.

Percussion massager

Percussion Massage

In the same category as foam rollers for SMR, percussion massagers take a slightly different approach to releasing adhesions by rapidly pulsing against them. This can be uncomfortable, but with proper use it shouldn’t be outright painful. When you come to an area that feels tight, you simply move the massager around the muscle to release tension.

Percussion massagers help your body ease away soreness from repeated movements (or inactivity) and reduce the risk of injury during play since you’ll feel more relaxed and flexible.

MagSoothe

Take Supplements

Your body can do a lot on its own, but sometimes a little support can make the difference between having a peaceful evening and dealing with fatigue, cramps, muscle soreness and other stressful problems. Depending on your needs, a supplement can help alleviate these issues so you can continue playing without negative side effects.

A common problem for pickleball players and athletes in general is cramping, especially in the legs. We recommend taking a look at Jigsaw Health’s MagSoothe if you deal with this issue. Their magnesium uses a highly bioavailable form of magnesium and formulates their supplement in such a way that it’s more easily transported throughout the body.

Do you use any particular tools, tricks or wisdom to get better rest and prepare for your next game? Let us know in the comments.

The Best Pickleball Habits You Should Develop

It can take many days for good habits to become second nature, but keeping a few concepts in mind can help build a strong foundation of skills so you’ll be able to think less and act more successfully.

Some basic pickleball principals are easy to implement but seem so “common sense” they can be overlooked. It’s definitely worth being more mindful of these areas, though, since they can deeply strengthen your game if you take the time to cement them in your mind.

A Balanced Ready Position

You’re out enjoying some rec games, it’s hot and your body is getting tired… this might seem like a nice time to relax and let positioning fall by the wayside, but it’s important to maintain your form. A good ready position involves slightly bent knees, your paddle raised near the center of your body and feet shoulder-width apart.

Not only does this make it easier for you to move across the court, but this positioning is much safer and reduces the chance of tripping and stumbling. You can also better protect yourself and respond to unexpected dangers like a smash flying toward your face with the proper stance.

Try to Hit to the Kitchen

The kitchen or no-volley zone is the great leveling ground of pickleball. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by an opponent’s speed or power, then forcing them to dink (or else make an awkward, arcing shot) allows you time to regain your equilibrium. Using a soft, relaxed grip can help achieve this aim as can angling your paddle angled slightly upwards.

Of course you’ll want to develop the ability to see openings as well, but generally speaking, dinks are safe shots that reward consistency. If you can master this aspect of the game then you’ll often be able to control and outlast aggressive players.

Develop a Consistent Serve

Some players get caught up in the idea of developing powerful, spinning serves with all the bells and whistles attached. Yet more often than not, it’s wiser to just get the ball over the net. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by getting too fancy. It is helpful if you attempt to serve deep—this makes it more difficult for other players to close distance and make accurate returns. But in the end, the main goal is simply to get the ball into play.

The serve is the only shot where you have the time to breathe and fully recenter yourself before hitting the ball. If a match is getting close, you don’t need to take risks when you’re in the highest position of control.

Stay Close to the Net

With the exception of when a lob is flying over your head, there aren’t many reasons to back away from the NVZ. Staying near the net can seem intimidating, but it allows you to cover your side of the court with less movement and minimizes the variety of shots your opponents can make. It also prevents them from making the most out of spin since you can hit the ball before it touches the ground.

You don’t necessarily have to rush to the kitchen right after the return of serve, but you do want to make steady progress towards it. Don’t let yourself get stuck in “No Man’s Land” where it’s difficult to ever gain an advantage against the other team.

When these behaviors become innate, you’re more likely to set yourself up for success and naturally create winning situations. What are some of the best habits you’ve formed in pickleball that have improved your game?

10 Pickleball New Year’s Resolutions You Can Add to Your To-Do List

The New Year brings plenty of excitement and big plans, but it can also be easy to lose steam! Now that we’re almost through the first half of January 2020, how have your resolutions held up? If you need some extra inspiration and ideas to commit to, whether big or small, we have some suggestions that could build your pickleball prowess in the months to come.

BOOST Training CampsResolution 1: Improve Your Pickleball Skill & IQ, Attend A Boost Training Camp

Drilling on your own is an important part of training, but having a professional observe your play can help to identify shortcomings you didn’t even know were present. At BOOST camps you not only learn proper techniques but develop a more tactical mindset so you know when to use them. Hosted by a number of highly qualified instructors at first-class court facilities, you’ll get to enjoy a deep dive into your favorite game while absorbing tons of functional knowledge.

Resolution 2: Find The Right Paddle To Improve your Game

It’s true that you can’t transform from a 2.5-rated player to a 5.0 simply by switching paddles, but those who’ve stuck with a single piece of equipment throughout their pickleball journey are often surprised by how huge a difference the right paddle can make. Everyone has their own unique play style and finding gear that complements it can make your whole game feel smoother and more intuitive. Check out some of PickleballCentral’s game improvement paddles to see what might take you to the next level!

If you want to take a look at paddles that have been proven “in the field” by a wide array of players, we also have a section dedicated to 5-star rated paddles that have at least 20 perfect reviews.

Pickle Palooza Logo

Resolution 3: Attend A Pickleball Festival

Pickle Palooza is a one-of-a-kind event that offers all the thrills of a tournament without the stress of competition. Palooza is located in Phoenix, AZ and runs from Feb 21-23 this year. It hosts 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 true vacation out of it.

Resolution 4: Practice More

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. 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.

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 upcoming tournament options include:

PPA Mesa Grand Slam Qualifier … 2/13-16
APP Hilton Head Pickleball Open … 3/19-22
PPA Georgia Open at Life Time  Grand Slam Qualifer … 3/26-29
International Indoor Pickleball Championship (Centralia, WA) … 4/1-5
PPA Dallas Grand Slam Qualifer … 4/2-5
APP Owensboro Pickleball Open … 5/8-10

History of Pickleball

Resolution 6: Learn The History Of The Game

Speaking of history, despite being a relatively new sport, pickleball has enjoyed a fast rise in popularity thanks to many incredible people who have done their part to spread the game to communities across the world. If you’ve ever been curious about how pickleball got started and turned into the growing phenomenon it is today, it’s worth taking a look at the book History of Pickleball. Written by pro players Jennifer Lucore and Beverly Youngren, it shares many insights and interviews that reveal pickleball’s past and where it’s headed in the future.

Resolution 7: Read to Improve Your Winning Strategies

Players learn in a variety of ways, and hitting a pickleball isn’t always the most direct path toward improvement. Sometimes you need to take a step back and dig into the reasons why skilled players do what they do. To that end, the book Winning Pickleball by top player Mark Friedenberg is a great way to get yourself into the mindset of a professional and learn about the mental side of the game. It’s incredible how a few minor tweaks in strategy can result in big improvements, and “playing” your opponent is just as important as knowing how to swing a paddle.

Glen Peterson

Resolution 8: Watch Some Videos To Improve your Game

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but sometimes it just makes for good practice! Pro Glen Peterson has filmed several videos that provide excellent tips to grow your game. When dedicating just a few minutes can provide you with new ways to improve, what do you have to lose? Check out his videos on solo wall drills you can try and his 5 tips for becoming a better player overall.

Resolution 9: Give Back To The Game

Pickleball’s community is extremely inclusive. There’s often a sense of camaraderie even during heated competition, and its acceptance towards players of all genders, ages and backgrounds is unparalleled. Because of that, friendships have formed among many who may have never met otherwise. If you enjoy the idea of giving back to that community, it’s worth taking a look at several pickleball initiatives that give back to players. The Founders Courts project is aiding in the construction of courts on Bainbridge Island where the game originated. The Pickleball Legacy Scholarship Foundation (PLSF) helps support the next generation of players, and donations to the USAPA open up new opportunities for people to engage in the sport.

Resolution 10: Improve Your Grip In More Ways Than One

Many players are content with their paddles’ original grips, but sometimes you want a little extra tack to improve your hold or need to replace one that’s become worn over time. Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to switch your grip (see how here) or layer up an overgrip 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 your grip security, you may want to experiment with different (hand) grip styles to see how they affect your ability to make different shots. To that end, you can explore various ways to hold your paddle by watching this video with Glen Peterson.

Why the Way You Hold Your Paddle Can Strengthen Play

Drilling skills, working on placement and learning new strategies are all necessary steps towards becoming a better player, but there’s a simple yet often overlooked factor that also comes into play: grip.

How a player holds their paddle affects how quickly they can respond to volleys and makes it easier or more difficult to perform certain shots. This has a significant effect on player readiness and comfort. As such, it can be useful to take a look at your primary style of grip to see if it’s truly supporting your game.

In the video below, Glen Peterson goes over most popular types of grip used by picklers.

The three styles are: Continental (hammer), Western (swatting) and Eastern (shaking hands). By referring to a chart like the one shown here, you can see that certain positions of the hand correspond to numbered segments of the handle’s bevels or corners.

Grip Positions

Grip Positions (Credit)

The continental grip favors backhands since the player’s knuckles are face the net. The western grip in contrast is more suitable for players who use a lot of forehand strokes, but makes it difficult to perform backhands. The eastern grip is the most popular since it strikes a balance between access to either style of swing.

Glen also notes that some players will put several fingers or a thumb on the paddle face in order to improve their orientation and awareness of their paddle in addition to strengthening paddle stability. This is similar to how some table tennis players hold a paddle, but it exposes the fingers to potential harm if a ball hits the wrong area.

Once you’ve decided which grip suits you, another thing to consider is what your overall paddle position looks like in relation to your body.

PrimeTime Pickleball shows that your paddle’s “ready” position doesn’t have to be fixed, but can be fluid as you adapt to circumstances throughout a game.

In the video, note that there are two extremes between holding a paddle in a backhanded position and directly in the middle of your body. The former allows you to easily block most volleys, while the latter is more balanced between offence and defense since it allows you to transition into forehand shots.

Which style you should use depends on whether you’re on the offense or defense and how far you are away from the net/opponents. The backhanded position allows you to react very quickly, so it’s ideal when you’re having to focus on slowing a ball down. As you switch to attacking, the paddle should simultaneously move into a more aggressive location.

Watch the video to see how you can alter your paddle’s placement depending on the situation.

Do you have a favorite grip style? How has keeping your paddle in the right “ready” position helped win points in your game?