PPA Tour Kicks Off with Mesa Grand Slam Qualifier: Features $500k Overall Payout, Top Destinations

This year players of all skill levels will get to enjoy new avenues for intense competition and fun in the form of tours. The first series leading the way is the Pro Pickleball Association (PPA) with their Mesa Grand Slam Qualifier at the Mesa Tennis Center in Arizona.

Starting today, the tournament will run through Sunday the 16th and host events for doubles and singles across gender, age and skill brackets.

 

The PPA is not USAPA-sanctioned, which will allow players to get a fresh start by accruing “PPA Points” to determine their ranking within the association’s system. The points will accumulate throughout the year based on players’ performances within each tournament and allow them to gain priority registration to the higher-paying grand slams. To see a breakdown of how these points are earned, click here.

The PPA Tour is taking its events seriously and drawing plenty of pro participation, as its name implies. Top players who will be competing include Ben Johns, Simone Jardim, Kyle Yates and Leigh Waters, among many others. Alongside the amateur brackets will be pro-only events that are sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

Another unique draw for the pros and those watching them is the Pro Player’s Cup, where hand-selected teams consisting of 2 men, 2 women and a senior of each gender will engage in a double elimination tournament. These events will be played on the Friday of each grand slam tournament (Masters, Showcase and PPA Championship) to add even more excitement to the competition!

PPA Logo

The PPA has made the effort to showcase itself as a family-friendly environment where picklers will not only be playing hard but making the most of their downtime with top court venues, entertainment, dining options and opportunities for interaction with the pros.

The impressive prize purses have been drawing deserved attention as well, with each qualifier offering $55k pools and the grand slams ranging from $100-150k. Players can also take part in raffles, games and other smaller (but no less enjoyable) ways to win. PickleballCentral is currently providing a pop-up store at the Mesa Qualifier as one of PPA’s sponsors, so if you’re taking part be sure to drop by and give us a wave!

If you weren’t able to make it to AZ but are still interested in getting in on all the fun, the next few PPA events are still accepting registrations. They are as follows:

Georgia Open at Life Time, March 26-29

Dallas Grand Slam Qualifier, April 2-5

The Masters Grand Slam (Phoenix), May 13-17

For a full list of upcoming events on the PPA Tour, visit their site here. Follow the latest happenings at the Mesa Qualifier at PPA’s Facebook page and check out some of the amazing pro matches while you’re at it.

Will you be making a stop at any of the PPA Tour’s locations? If so, we hope to see you there! Let us know what you’re most excited about in the comments.

Meet The Pros – Deb Mascarin

Meet The Pros – Deb Mascarin

Deb Mascarin

Deb Mascarin is an all-around athlete who has fallen in love with the game of pickleball. We are all grateful for this wonderful professional! Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

2019 USAPA Nationals, Women’s Skill/Age 5.0:60+ Doubles with Cherie Chao, Gold
2019 Beer City Grand Rapids, Mixed Senior PRO Doubles with Scott Lennon, Gold
2019 USAPA Great Lakes Regional, Mixed Doubles Skill/Age 5.0/60+ with Dan McLaughlin – Bronze
2019 Grand Canyon State Games, Mixed Doubles Sill/Age 5.0/60 with Joe Nguyen – Silver
2018 USAPA Great Lakes Regional, SSIPA Women’s Doubles Age <60/5.0 with Yvonne Hackenberg – Gold
SSIPA Mixed Doubles Skill/Age 5.0/60-64 with Dan McLaughlin – Silver
2018 Minto US Open, Women’s Doubles age 60+ with Nancy Robertson – Bronze

 What paddle do you play with and why?

Purple Aurora

Tempest Wave Pro

My first paddle was from Dick’s. I was in a big hurry to get my first paddle when I tried the game for the first time. Paddletek sponsors me now and I’m a rep too. The first time I played with the Tempest Pro, I fell in love with it. The Tempest Pro is a good performance paddle overall. I’m a tennis player and I like the control this paddle gives me.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

A nurse friend at the hospital where I worked tried to get me to play for a year. I thought pickleball was for old folks, so I put her off. She didn’t give up. She got a court at 9am one day and roped me in to playing. I’ve been hooked ever since. I found the Lake Shore Club and Mulligan’s Hollow to be helpful, welcoming and inclusive. I’m now on the steering committee for the Beer City tournament in Grand Rapids. There are lots of coaches and USAPA ambassadors in the area too.

I competed in tennis and have coached tennis while the kids were growing up. Now I’m a certified Professional Pickleball PPR Trainer. Sarah Ansboury wrote the training syllabus for PPR and I like her philosophy and style.

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I played singles in tennis at Michigan State, but I prefer high level doubles in pickleball. I started playing just after Simone did. Simone coached me and I went to Lansing, Michigan for a tournament. I loved it!

Deb Mascarin, Alice Dodgson

Deb Mascarin and Alice Dodgson at 2019 USAPA Nationals.

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

Grand Rapids IS the Pickleball Capitol of Michigan!

What is your day job?

I am a recently retired nurse.

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

It depends on if I am teaching that week. I practice with drills 2 or 3 times a week, and teaching add to the hours per week. When I am preparing for a tournament, I play every day.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

I have a goal to keep competing at the Super Sr Pro 65+ level.

Anything else you would like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

I feel very blessed to have been born into an athletic family. Injuries don’t prevent me from playing. I love traveling, chasing the sun and playing with folks along the way. I continue to do free clinics in Spring Lake and on my travels. I love to see the spark in a new player’s eyes once they get it and I am very comfortable teaching the newbies. Pickleball is an amazing sport that keeps me fit. The social world of pickleball is THE BEST!

OneShot Brings Together Value and Quality in Expanding Paddle Line

OneShot Pickleball is owned by two pickleball-obsessed families and has all the positive hallmarks of a smaller business: great customer care, passion for the sport and attention to quality. But they combine these attributes with a strong system for QA and a focus on making products accessible to players of all strokes.

OneShot Pickleball

Coming from tennis backgrounds and dedicated to welcoming a broad spectrum of players to pickleball, OneShot is an impressive, growing company that’s just released their line’s first graphite paddle (the ProShot) and offers the only youth-centered paddle using high quality materials (the JuniorShot).

Owners Oscar and John were able to take some time with us to provide more background on their company and we’re excited to share:

Why did you decide to enter the pickleball industry?

Our families met playing pickleball at Greenlake in Seattle almost 2 years ago. Oscar and John hit it off immediately with their style of play resembling tennis players. The families met soon after and it’s been non-stop fun playing and growing a business together with something all of us were passionate about. We thought it shouldn’t take a small fortune to buy multiple paddles for the game we loved. So we decided to create a paddle that was affordable for all styles of play and for all skill levels from beginners to pro players.

JuniorShot

JuniorShot

How did you come up with your paddles’ designs? 

We were all interested in finding a paddle that resembled a tennis racquet due to our backgrounds and the familiar shape and feel. There were one or two we thought came close, but we also wondered, “Why not create one ourselves?” So we developed a paddle that could benefit both tennis and pickleball players. We engineered a paddle with a slightly longer handle and elongated face to resemble what we thought a tennis racquet would look like in a pickleball paddle form.

What makes your paddles unique?

We use fiberglass faces and polymer core materials that are similar to our competitors, but we believed these should also be affordable for our customers. Performance-wise, we would say it’s the same or better than other paddles. We use a slightly heavier core but made it balanced through the middle, so while playing it feels light but also has enough weight to really power through a solid drive, volley or punishing groundstroke.

UltimateShot

UltimateShot

What should players expect when it comes to the feel of your products?

Overall, our paddles are known for having a solid “pop” and large sweet spots. We have various models that combine power and control to find the right balance for each player’s game. Our face roughness is also a huge factor that we developed to make sure we had the maximum roughness allowed by the USAPA. Our solid grip will provide each player better blocks, turning those into winning volleys and finesse shots dink after dink
.

ProShot

ProShot

Are there currently any pro players using your paddles?

We have who we believe are two young, up-and-coming pros in Michelle Lui and Lukas Crippen. Given more time to play at a higher level we believe these two will excel. Michelle likes the Powershot because she can rip her 2-handed backhand and Lukas likes the Ultimateshot for the soft feel of the finesse game, but if you give him an overhead, watch out!

Anything else you’d like to add to share?

We believe that the growth of the sport comes from our youth. Therefore, we designed the first playable paddles for kids in the market: the Juniorshot. We offer 2 options for this paddle 1) The U8; suggested for ages 2-7 years old and 2) The U12 (USAPA Approved); suggested for ages 7-11.

Last but not least, we are launching our first graphite paddle, the “Proshot.” We believe from the response we have received from our team that this is the paddle of choice for a lot of players. It is so well balanced and powered that in the right hands we believe will bring your game to the next level.

The Sweetest Presents for Your Pickleball Valentine

Whether you have a life partner, a pickleball partner or both (lucky you!), Valentine’s Day is a great time to take a moment to appreciate the people we love. We have a number of gifts at PickleballCentral which are sure to spread those fuzzy feelings, so if you want to find something special this time of year, take a look at these charming ideas.

Jewelry for Valentines

Jewelry

This one is a classic for a reason: Most people love to receive gifts with a bit of shine. From high class silver to functional pewter or glitzy crystals, we have something for everyone. Bedazzle your loved one(s) with pickleball-inspired jewelry to show you appreciate their style, but also their dedication on the courts. Why settle for a generic piece of jewelry when you can combine it with one of their favorite hobbies?

If you’re shopping for someone who isn’t the jewelry-wearing type but feel they’d still appreciate the look, you can always remove the charm from one of our necklaces to turn it into a keychain or zipper pull.

Passion Shirt

Apparel

For a useful gift that still expresses affection we recommend our Passion Shirt. This image features a heart-shaped pickleball and reflects a love for the game and the world at large. You can have this printed on a number of designs so it’s perfectly suited to the recipient, whether they’d appreciate moisture-wicking material or soft and comfy cotton.

If you don’t think that would be a hit, then we still have over 40 designs you can choose from to create a shirt your partner would enjoy. Nothing says “thoughtful” quite like a custom-made gift! If you’d like a few other suggestions, additional relationship-centered designs are our Circle of Friends and Pickleball Pride shirts.

Accessories

Accessories

Another practical yet considerate route you can take is getting your partner a pickleball accessory. If their grip is looking a little worn or they’ve been complaining about losing hold of their paddle, a new overgrip could be just the thing to fix their concerns. If you want to help them keep their gear in top condition, they could make use of a paddle cover. Maybe they could use a better bag to carry their equipment or a glove to defend against the cold outdoors.

All of these are helpful to their game, plus they’ll be reminded of you whenever they use them.

At the end of the day your continued love and support is all that a partner needs, but getting them a little reminder of that affection is a nice gesture too. We hope everyone has a wonderful V-Day whether it’s romantic or spent with friends.

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.

Meet The Pros – Cherie Chao

Meet The Pros – Cherie Chao

Cherie Chao and Irene Mah

Cherie Chao and Irene Mah at the 2019 USAPA Nationals

Cherie comes from a background of many different racquet sports. She has her own style and loves to help grow the sport of pickleball. Enjoy!

Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

Team Selkirk Cherie Chao

Team Selkirk, 2019 USOPEN, Women’s Doubles Age 60+, Moira Roush and cookie Drake – Gold, Cherie Chao and Debbie Mascarin -Silver

2019 Nationals- 5.0 Women’s Doubles age with Deb Mascarin -Gold
2019 Colorado Open- 5.0 Mixed Doubles age with Ken Lehman – Gold
2019 Great Lakes Regional – 5.0 Mixed Doubles age with Gregg Whitfield – Silver
2019 US Open – 5.0 Women’s Doubles age with Deb Mascarin – Silver
 5.0 Mixed Doubles age with Scott Lennan – Silver
2018 Huntsman Senior Games – 5.0 Women’s Doubles age with Rachel Kroog – Gold
 5.0 Mixed Doubles age with Byron Freso – Silver
 5.0 Women’s Doubles open with Rachel Kroog – Bronze
2018 Great Plains Regional – 5.0 Women’s Doubles 35’s with Daria Stakiw-Harlow – Silver
2018 Colorado Open – 5.0 age 19-59 Women’s Doubles age with Vivian Edwards – Silver
2018 US Open – 5.0 Women’s Doubles age with Susan Baze – Gold
2018 The Lakes Spring Fling – 5.0 Women’s Doubles age with Deb Mascarin – Gold
2017 US Nationals – 5.0 Women’s Doubles age with Leticia Brambila – Silver
2017 Great Plains Regionals – 5.0 Mixed Doubles age with Randy Coleman – Gold
2016 Southern Utah Shootout – 5.0 Women’s Doubles age with Marilyn Eves – Gold
          5.0 Mixed Doubles age with Jeff McFall – Gold
2016 Great Plains Regionals – 5.0 Women’s Doubles age with Carolyn Bagley – Bronze
2016 Southern Utah Shootout – 5.0 Women’s Doubles age with Kellie Banisky – Gold

Cherie Chao Nationals Gold

2019 USAPA Nationals: Deb Mascarin and Cherie Chao with gold medal

What paddle do you play with and why?

The Selkirk Amped Omni, mid-weight, I love it because I can hit with power and still have touch. It also helps me reach balls with its longer length.

What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

I discovered pickleball when my town of Arvada, Colorado put in 24 courts soon after I had my hip replaced. It  seemed like a natural transition from tennis since I could cover the court more easily. I played 5.0 tennis for years in addition to platform tennis in the winter. I also played badminton, squash and racquetball competitively. Pickleball was a perfect sport after playing so many different racquet and paddle sports.

What is your preference: playing indoors or outdoors?

I definitely prefer playing outdoors – love the surface and the elements. If indoors, I prefer tennis court surfaces with good lighting!

Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?

I love doubles and working together with my partner towards a common goal. I enjoy being able to talk to my partner and work on strategy together. My goal is to make my partner look good!

What is your favorite place to play? Why?

I love playing in my home town! We have 24 individually-fenced, lit courts 8 min from my house. The people are awesome! If I have to travel, I really enjoy St. George, Utah. Great courts, great people and amazing surroundings!

What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

My secret sauce is my slice. Most people hate it, but I’ve used it in all my racquet sports with success- so I guess I’ll keep it!

My tips for players – Don’t just play games… make time to drill and get comfortable with your shots. 

What is your day job?

I have 2 day jobs – I’m a registered dietitian working at a local hospital in cardiac rehab and outpatient nutrition.  My second job is being a grandma – I care for my 2 year old grandson and newborn granddaughter 1-2 days/week. Best job ever!

Cherie Chao Team Selkirk

TEAM SELKIRK having fun at the 2019 USAPA Nationals: Pam Stevenson, Susan Baze, Cherie Chao, Takako Tourangeau, Jan Yu and Miok Lee

How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

In the warmer months I play 6-10 hours a week, but in the winter or when the outdoor courts are not playable, I play 3-5 hours. I play anytime I can around my work and babysitting – I have great support from my husband, Ken.

Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Not really – just try to get a good night’s sleep and eat the same food I train with. I often bring food with me to tournaments since I don’t eat meat/dairy.

Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?

I’d like to continue playing competitively but also spend time helping the sport to grow. I love introducing new people to the game. Pickleball changes lives!

Anything else you would like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

It’s been a blast meeting so many wonderful and talented players!

Ring in the New Year with Top Tier Pickleball

Happy 2020 to all the pickleball players out there! We hope the new decade will bring joy, new friendships and improved skills to all.

While many of us likely spent the last days of 2019 with family, watching fireworks or making a toast, hundreds of picklers pushed themselves to end the year with a pop rather than a bang at the World Pickleball Championships in Punta Gorda.

The inaugural event made history despite delays brought on by the weather. Organizers were happy with the turnout and amenable to bringing it back next year. The championships took place in a location with its own impressive backstory: the Pickleplex.

The Pickleplex was entirely funded by private and company donations, opening in June of 2019. The 16-court complex was made to relieve others in the area which were already crowded, offering players more opportunity to join games without a wait. Now it’s had a “trial by fire” after being tested by some of the best players in the world, and the city is excited the Pickleplex is seeing such prominent use.

The World Pickleball Championships ran from Dec 27-30 and saw coverage on Fox News due to the revenue brought in for the county.

If you want to enjoy the event’s competitive energy from the comfort of your own home, you can see the finals matches in the video below. What better way to start off your New Year than watching and learning from the best? (Unless you already have some of your own games scheduled!)

We hope the picklers involved in the championships will carry their enthusiasm with them in the months to come and wish the same for everyone who couldn’t make it in person.

Do you have any pickleball-related or personal resolutions for 2020? Let us know in the comments!

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?

6 Last Minute Pickleball Gifts Sure To Bring Joy

There are only a few days left before the holidays, but just because you don’t have time to spare for shipping doesn’t mean you can’t give a present to a pickleball lover.

The following all require zero time in transit so that you can provide them at the perfect moment. Better still, several of these options are experiential, so they’ll live forever in the recipient’s memories. Go ahead and choose a gift that will keep on giving!

1. Gift Certificates to PBC

Gift certificates get a bad rap as being uninspired and noncommittal, but many pickleball players are very selective about their gear and prefer freedom to find the right fit. Perhaps they mentioned a specific paddle they’re after, but unless you’re in close contact they may have already bought the item they wanted, so it’s safer to let them choose their own products. A gift card is always appreciated and lets the recipient select a present they’ll certainly use. Be sure to choose email delivery after adding the gift card to your cart so you won’t be waiting on snail mail.

2. Pickle Palooza – The Best Pickleball Festival of the Year

Pickle Palooza is an event that will run from Feb 21-23 (2020) in Phoenix, AZ. Hosted by senior pros Steve Dawson and Dave Pickle Palooza LogoFleming, it includes court exhibitions, paddle demos, pro interviews, skill instruction, open play and more. This is an ideal experience for a player you know who loves the sport but might not feel ready for competitive play, or even for a tournament-goer who’d enjoy downtime around the greats. Visitors have tons of opportunities to engage with the pickleball community at large in a fun, lively environment. The celebration takes place at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa, which offers plenty of its own entertainment with a spa, golf course, 5 pools and outstanding restaurants.

3. BOOST Pickleball Training Camps

Help take someone’s skills to the next level with an intensive BOOST training camp. Geared towards 3.0 – 4.0 rated players, these intermediate courses run for several days and are led by some of the world’s best pickleball players and instructors. The programs involve drills and clinics that improve technique and translate into fast improvement during competitive games. Participants spend over 12 hours with optional open play time working to strengthen their mechanics and strategies. The instructor to student ratio is 8 to 1 to allow for personal attention, and camps are offered in several locations throughout the U.S. including WA, CA, HI and AZ.

4. Buy a Brick at the Bainbridge Island Founders Courts

Pickleball originated on Bainbridge Island, WA when a group of families wanted to create a game to share with their kids. In honor of the threeBainbridge Island Pickleball founders’ contributions, six new courts are being built on the island at Battle Point Park. For $150 you can buy one of the bricks that will be used to build the walkways and areas between the courts and have the recipient’s name immortalized within the facility. It’s a great way to publicly show the giftee’s support and love for the sport. This is an especially meaningful gift for someone who inspired your pickleball journey—whether that’s the person who introduced you to the game or a club leader (larger bricks are available if you want to include a logo or other image in the design). Their contributions will be known to all in a soon-to-be historic location.

5. Make a Donation To a Pickleball-Related Cause

Similar to the suggestion above, there are other ways you can contribute to pickleball in honor of a friend or family member at your own price point. One organization is the PLS (Pickleball Legacy Scholarship) Foundation. This group uses funds to award scholarships to qualifying young athletes which can be used toward tuition at accredited educational institutes.

The USAPA (USA Pickleball Association) and Sid Williams Junior Pickleball Fund are both dedicated to increasing accessibility to the sport through the development of programs in schools, recreation centers and other locations (specifically focused on youth pickleball in the case of the Sid Williams Fund). Donations can easily be made online or by sending a check to the addresses listed via the link.

6. Sign Your Giftee Up as a Doubles Tournament Partner

Maybe you’re a pickleball player yourself and enjoy playing the game with your friend. If you know they enjoy competitive play and will have the time for a specific tournament date, you can take the initiative to sign them up (taking care of registration fees) as your doubles partner. Better still if you’re willing to cover their travel costs, especially if it’s to a dreamy destination like Kona at next year’s Hawaii Open (1/22 – 1/25). This event takes place directly after one of the aforementioned BOOST camps in Kona, so you can double down on the pickleball training for an extended stay.

Hawaii Open

Another great upcoming tournament for those who can’t travel quite so far is the IIPC, the International Indoor Pickleball Championships in Centralia, WA. It’s one of the largest indoor tournaments in the world and runs from 3/30 – 4/5, making it a great option for those who might enjoy a side trip to Portland or Seattle in the early spring.

Lastly, there are two exciting pickleball tours coming up with tournament locations spread widely across the country. If you haven’t seen a nearby state listed yet, take a look at the APP (Association of Pickleball Professionals) and PPA (Professional Pickleball Association) lists to see if they’re hosting a competition in your neighborhood. These tournaments have strong prize money offerings and also lead to championship games with even greater stakes.