Top 5 Pickleball Paddles for Control

Best Paddles for Control at PickleballCentral

Everyone is seeking a unicorn paddle that provides the ultimate in power and control. Unfortunately there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and the paddle which comes closest to achieving that goal will be different for each player.

For those who lean towards a desire for control—to either accentuate their strengths or overcome a weakness in their game—there are several qualities which can enhance accuracy. The top control elements are:

  • Graphite face
  • Rounded or widebody shape
  • Thick core
  • Vibration dampening capacity

These elements allow paddles to absorb more energy from the ball which enlarges the sweet spot and increases dwell time. These traits result in fewer mishits and more precision.

The Top 5 Paddles for Control (in no particular order)

Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro

Tempest Wave Pro by Paddletek

The Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro has exceptional touch thanks to its Smart Response Technology, which strengthens the sensitivity present in the original Tempest Wave model. It also has a larger sweet spot, making it capable of a wide variety of shots while maintaining considerable levels of pop when needed.

Selkirk VANGUARD 2.0 S2

Vanguard 2.0 S2 by Selkirk

The Selkirk VANGUARD 2.0 S2 has a generous core thickness at 5/8″. The design greatly reduces the amount of shock that travels up the arm and replaces it with a gentle feel. The Gen2 surface has been enhanced with Pro-Spin texture that allows for accurate placement.

ProXR Signature “The Wall” 16

The Wall by ProXR Pickleball

The ProXR Signature Wall lives up to its name, coming in at 16-1/2″ long. The majority of its length is dedicated to the face so players can take advantage of the surface area and support the paddle with a finger on the back of the face for more precision. Its angled handle helps naturally strengthen placement.

adidas ADIPOWER CTRL

ADIPOWER CTRL byt adidas Pickleball

The most important feature of the adidas ADIPOWER CTRL is its “carbon aluminized” face which combines a soft material over a harder one to produce just the right amount of touch, no matter where you are on the court. Its wide surface is useful for blocking, with a Spin Blade surface texture for slices.

Oneshot Pureshot Brian Ashworth Series

Oneshot Pureshot by Oneshot Pickleball

The Oneshot Pureshot has a slender edge guard that minimizes overlap on the face so you can get the most out of its large sweet spot. A thick 16 mm core provides great forgiveness in addition to dampening impact. Its quality carbon fiber face sits at the high edge of USAPA texture regulations for accurate placement.


Never underestimate the soft game when it comes to making or breaking a point! If you’re looking to improve your consistency and accuracy, these paddles will deliver. Have a favorite control-oriented paddle that’s not on our list? We’d be happy to hear your thoughts in the comments.

6 Ways to Serve Up Fun on National Pickleball Day

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.

August 8th is National Pickleball Day

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.

Play Pickleball On National Pickleball Day

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.

Pickleball Trivia at Pickleball Central

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

National Pickleball Day T-Shirt from Pickleball Central

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.

Shop Women’s

Shop Men’s

Limited quantities available.


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.

Meet the Pro: Daniel De La Rosa

Meet Pro Pickleball Player: Daniel De La Rosa

Thank you, dad! Pickleball player De La Rosa”s father introduced him to racquetball at the age of four and he quickly rose through the racquetball ranks to the top. Currently #1 in the world for both singles and doubles as a professional racquetball player, De La Rosa manages to play pickleball at a high level as well. A native of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, he currently resides in Gilbert, Arizona with his wife Michelle and their two children. Michelle is also a competitive racquetball player, having played on the Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour and on Team USA. We sat down with Daniel on the heels of launching his signature paddle with Paddle Candy to find out what brought him to pickleball, what his goals are and more.

How did you get started with pickleball? 

I start playing pickleball four or five years ago. When my wife was pregnant with our first baby, she wanted to keep playing sports but racquetball was a little too hard on her body so we started playing pickleball. A really good friend of ours helped us learn the rules and we quickly got hooked.

What paddle do you use and why?

I use the Vulcan V560 Control Paddle Candy Edition. It suits my playing style well because I’m more of a control player. I like the feel of the paddle; it’s easy for me to  control the resets and dinks. I also love the long handle, which gives me a bit more flex on my overhead shots.

Vulcan has combined the performance characteristics of one of their most popular paddles, the V560 Control, with the bold Sugar Skull design honoring De La Rosa’s Mexican heritage.

Do you have any goals for pickleball?

I want to be one of the best pickleball players on tour, and win some of the big events for sure.

Is it difficult to switch back and forth between the two sports? 

I’m still playing racquetball full time. It was a bit hard in the beginning moving from racquetball to pickleball because of the speed of my sport, but now I have found a way to combine both of the sports and make it a little easier. There are a few skills that translate from racquetball to pickleball such as footwork, moving up and back (for example to chase down lobs) and quick reactions. Racquetball is a very fast game just like pickleball when you are at the kitchen line.

What’s the pickleball scene like in Mexico? 

In Mexico I just play pickleball for fun with my family, but I am excited to play some big events in the future as the sport develops more there. Pickleball is growing a bit more in Mexico and some of my good friends are opening facilities with pickleball courts. I’m really happy for them.

You’re known for having some exciting trick shots and acrobatic moves. Do you practice those or does that just come naturally? 

I can’t share my secrets lol! I don’t practice those shots; maybe they come from my racquetball background or my mental attitude. Every time I hit a shot, in my mind I tell myself “don’t miss it”!

What are the top 3 things (besides your paddle) that must be in your pickleball bag?

My Jigsaw Electrolytes for sure, grips and extra pair of socks.

What is your most memorable moment in pickleball so far?

Playing on the MLP (Major League Pickleball) is an incredible memory for me, especially sharing the court with amazing teammates.

What are you doing when you are not playing pickleball?

I try hard to be a good father and husband, and grow my construction company. Also golfing has quickly become one of my greatest passions and I play as often as I can.

Daniel with his two kids

Learn more about De La Rosa’s paddle of choice, the Paddle Candy Daniel De La Rosa Signature Paddle and if you have any questions about this paddle or any other pickleball gear, our Customer Support representatives are happy to help. You can reach our team at info@pickleballcentral.com or call 888-993-5548.

TechTalk with Paddletek Pickleball

Paddletek at Pickleball Central

Paddletek has been a major force in pickleball since 2010, originally starting as a small family business. They pioneered many of the technologies that have gone on to become mainstays in pickleball manufacturing such as the honeycomb core, and their equipment can be found in many pros’ hands. Paddletek’s quality is undeniable and they have broad array of options to ensure that every player can find their perfect match in a paddle. In this interview we discuss the major benefits of each line they’ve released, what sort of qualities the pros appreciate and where they plan to innovate next.

What are some of the differences in your paddle series?   

Genesis: All-around playability. We consider the Genesis to be our Goldilocks in regards to the balance between power and control. Since the Genesis was our first honeycomb formula and the polymer honeycomb OG, its formula is widely used in the industry today. We consider it a balanced starting point for R&D. The Genesis line is priced so that beginners or budget-conscious players can play with confidence and with a championship-level paddle without breaking the bank. We also consider the Genesis line to be better for beginners to learn due to their balance.

Pheonix Genesis by Paddletek Pickleball

BANTAM Series: The Bantam series is for players who want more power in their game. The added power also means players that prefer light paddles (7.5 oz or less) have the option to compensate for the power lost by using the more responsive Bantam core. 

BANTAM TS-5 by Paddletek Pickleball

TEMPEST Series: For players who want touch and control. Made with unidirectional carbon fiber, the Tempest series offers game-changing accuracy and forgiveness. Great for beginners as well if the budget allows. 

What are pros looking for in paddles now? 

Spin. This seems to be the current trend across the board. In our experience, pros eventually want more power from their paddle. This is accomplished in three ways. 

1.  Weight:  A lot of pros add weight to their paddles for increased power. 

2.  Core responsiveness (pop). See Bantam Series

3. Shape: Longer paddles have more power in the sweet spot than shorter paddles, however the sweet spot size and the player’s margin for error is reduced. 

Why has the Bantam EX-L lasted so long as a pro paddle? 

The Bantam EX-L has been described as playing more like a stringed racquet than any other paddle. Pros who come from tennis recognize the feel and can control the power. A player who can control a power paddle has an advantage over those who cannot. 

BANTAM EX-L by Paddletek Pickleball

Can you talk about your pros and their paddles of choice?  

Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters with their Signature Paddletek Paddles
  • Catherine Parenteau (Tempest Reign Pro): Gives her lots of power, helps with reach and is super soft. Coming from a tennis background, it makes her feel like she is playing tennis on a pickleball court. 
  • Irina Tereschenko (Bantam EX-L): Gives her power, precision and response for the spins. She’s been playing with it from the beginning, so she calls it the OG paddle. 
  • Anna Leigh Waters (Bantam TS-5): Started using the TS-5 because she was younger and wanted a lighter paddle. Not only does it give you the soft game, but it can give you power which is what she’s known for. With the TS-5, she is able to RIP IT. 
  • Adam Stone (Tempest Wave II): Believes it is the premier touch and feel paddle on the market. Helps him with his defense, keeping the ball in play, resetting and setting his partner up. 
  • Leigh Waters (Phoenix Genesis): All-around playability paddle. Loves it for her aggressive playing style. She likes to drive and hit very hard, and the Genesis gives her that extra pop and controllable power, helping accelerate her game. 
  • Andrea Koop (Tempest Wave Pro): Helps with her blocks, resets and redirects up at the kitchen line. The Wave Pro helps her optimize the perfect balance of control and power. 

Can you talk about the innovative technologies used in these paddles? Smart Response Technology, for example?

Smart Response Technology is a formula that allows for the control of thicker paddles without a large drop in power. Thicker paddles have been popular lately, but a lack of power seems endemic in the category. SRT allows for the touch and forgiveness of thicker paddles without a large drop in power and without having to make the paddle very thick. It can be found in all Paddletek Pro models. 

What does the process of building a paddle look like?   

Controlled chaos. 

What is next for Paddletek?  

Spin that lasts, extreme vibration control and longer paddles with more options. 


We look forward to see what exciting new releases Paddletek will imagine next. Do you have a favorite paddle from their lineup? If you have any questions you’d like them to explore next time we talk, let us know in the comments.

Pickleball Tournament Snack Ideas

By Brandi Givens, RD

Brandi Givens – Dietitian, Nutrition Writer and Pickleball Player

This week I celebrated summer solstice with a day of play at the Winney Family Ranch in Ravensdale, WA. It was a pickleball player’s dream, complete with the most beautiful venue, sunshine, friendship, food, and great play well into the evening.

Winney Ranch in Ravensdale, WA

While I was enjoying the atmosphere, I considered this blog post and took the opportunity to ask several friends about their favorite go-to pickleball snacks for long days of play. The answers I got were eclectic, ranging from fruit to electrolyte powders, and a surprising amount of candy.

With all the snack choices on the market, it’s hard to know what the best choices are. Keep in mind that it’s important to test any new snack or drink well before an important tournament day, to make sure it doesn’t cause digestive problems for you. Here are some ideas from a dietitian’s perspective.

Hydrating Snacks

Water is the most critical thing humans need to survive, second only to air. When we get even a little dehydrated, it can affect thinking and physical performance, which are both important for winning a pickleball match. Dehydration can cause muscle cramps, dizziness, headaches, and fatigue.

New Selkirk Premium Water Bottle 64 Ounce

When planning your snacks for a long day of play, you might consider packing a cooler with juicy fruits and vegetables that will contribute to hydration. Some ideas include:

  • Fruit like grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, berries, oranges, mandarins, apples, pears, kiwi, peaches.
  • Vegetables like cucumbers, sweet peppers, and leafy greens like spinach and romaine lettuce.

Of course, you can’t come close to meeting your fluid needs with food alone, so be sure to drink plenty of water. Staying ahead of dehydration can help you feel and play your best.

Electrolytes

Electrolytes are always a popular topic at any sporting event since these important minerals can be lost when we sweat. Unbalanced electrolytes can contribute to cramping, a sign that your body is in danger. Sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, and calcium are needed for important basic body functions like:

  • blood pressure maintenance
  • muscle contractions (including the heartbeat)
  • water balance in the cells
  • brain function
  • feeding the cells
  • removing waste from cells

When we think of electrolytes, the first thing that comes to mind is often sports drinks. These drinks are a convenient way to hydrate, replenish minerals, and sometimes carbohydrates.

Shop all Jigsaw products at PickleballCentral HERE

When we snack smart, we can also stay on top of electrolyte losses with good food choices like:

  • Sodium and chloride: Salty foods like salted nuts and seeds
  • Potassium: bananas, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, potatoes with skin, chia seeds
  • Magnesium: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, spinach, quinoa, chia seeds, peanuts
  • Calcium: Dairy foods, tofu, pumpkin seeds, spinach, almonds, chia seeds

A Little Pro, A Little Carb

Most athletes find that it’s best to stay away from full, heavy meals during tournament play. But when you’ve been out there for hours, it’s important to keep energy on board. Light snacks that offer both carbohydrates and protein can provide the energy your body and brain need for peak performance, and can help maintain muscle mass.

Consider combination foods like:

  • Nut and granola bars
  • Fruit slices with nut butter packets and peanut butter
  • Trail mixes with fruit and nuts
  • Small turkey, chicken, nut butter, or egg sandwiches
  • Cottage cheese and pineapple
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Hummus and carrots
  • Plain Greek yogurt and fruit
  • Roasted chickpeas

High Carb for Quick Energy

Sometimes athletes are so intensely focused on their game strategy that they forget to eat. This should be avoided, because the lack of energy will eventually impair performance, causing a feeling of weakness or even shakiness.

It’s a good idea to keep some fast energy sources handy in case this happens to you. Then, as soon as possible, eat a hardier snack with both protein and carbohydrates like the ones suggested in the section above.

Quick carbohydrate ideas:

  • Fruit juice like orange or apple juice
  • A piece of hard candy or other candy
  • Dried fruit like raisins or cherries

It’s important to discuss low blood sugar symptoms with your doctor in case you may be developing an underlying health problem.

Do you have some great snack ideas? Please let me and other readers know about them in the comments below!

Resources:

Oria, Maria, Meghan Harrison, and Virginia A. Stallings. 2019. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Elements, Food and Nutrition Board, National Academies. National Academies Press (US).

Belval, Luke N., Yuri Hosokawa, Douglas J. Casa, William M. Adams, Lawrence E. Armstrong, Lindsay B. Baker, Louise Burke, et al. 2019. “Practical Hydration Solutions for Sports.” Nutrients 11 (7). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11071550.

Clark, and Nancy. 2020. Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics.

Karpinski, Christine, Rosenbloom, Christine, and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2017. Sports Nutrition : A Handbook for Professionals.

A Quick Guide to Outdoor Balls for Summer Play

With so many pickleballs on the market, it can be a challenge to pick the right one for your game. This is intended as a simple guide to help get you started. Look out for future blog posts that will include more in-depth information about the many options available on PickleballCentral.

This time of year we see mostly outdoor balls being ordered since players want to enjoy the weather. Limiting your search to outdoor options doesn’t narrow your choices very far, however. The next step is to decide if you’re looking for a competitive ball or a recreational ball. Many of the pickleballs below have color options, however neon (or some version of it) is the most popular due to increased visibility.

Competitive pickleballs tend to play faster and bounce a little less. They are designed to reward good play and assist in shaping your shots with spin. In general the faster the ball plays, the harder the ball is, which means they will not last as long as softer pickleballs. The two most popular in this category are the Onix Dura Fast 40 and the Franklin X-40 Performance Balls.

There are a number of pickleballs which provide a competitive feel while maintaining a higher level of durability. These are one-piece balls with a slightly softer construction. The top pickleballs in this category are the CORE, Engage Tour Neon, SLK Competition and OSO.

Outdoor Pickleball Sampler 12-Pack only at PickleballCentral

If you need help in making a choice from the above, try our Outdoor Pickleball Sampler 12-pack which has 2 each of these 6 picks.

If you are not looking for a performance ball, try a recreational pickleball. These bounce a little higher so players have more time to set themselves up for shots and tend to be the most durable. Many of these balls are still USA Pickleball approved for tournament play, and all of them can be used for a great game of pickleball. Our favorite picks are the Onix Fuse G2, Penn 40, GAMMA Photon and Wilson TRU 32.

Do you have a favorite pickleball, or have you found a particular style that works best in your climate? Let us know which type has served you best in the comments.

Outdoor Pickleballs at Pickleball Central

Ashley and Collin Cooke Travel to The Franklin NYC Open for the APPTour

Fruit Smash from New Belgium Brewery gave away an all-expenses-paid trip to the APP Tour NYC Open in April 2022. After thousands entered, Ashley and Collin Cooke were the lucky random winners. We sat down to ask about their trip, their pickleball story and more!

What is your pickleball story? How did you get into pickleball?

It’s kind of a funny story. Ashley’s mom started playing pickleball around 2015 and quickly became obsessed. We all made fun of her for playing a game with such an odd name. For Mother’s Day in 2017 all she wanted was for her kids and their spouses to play pickleball with her that afternoon. We all agreed to play her “dumb game” and ended up getting addicted ourselves!

Where are you located? Do you have a pickleball courts you frequent?

We live in Cleveland, TN and there is a large and wonderful group of players in our area. Our city just built six new outdoor courts a couple of years ago and the majority of the pickleball community plays together almost every day of the week. We’ve met some of the most amazing people through the pickleball community, many of whom we never would’ve met otherwise.  

What paddles do you play with and why?

We are both Diadem Warrior princesses! Collin called Ashley and her sister this when they both started playing with this paddle a couple of months ago. He just got his own and joined them. We love the Warrior because it has helped add power to our volleys and control for our dinking.  

You were the lucky winners for the Fruit Smash giveaway and went on a trip to the APP NYC tournament. How was your trip?

Our trip to the NYC Open was incredible. We flew out of our local airport on Tuesday morning and arrived at our hotel in Queens around 4:00pm. The hotel was beautiful and in a very convenient location to the subway which was one stop from the Billy Jean Tennis Center, and a few more stops into Manhattan.  

On our first night we rode the subway into Manhattan and ate at the Porch in Bryant Park, which was delicious! Wednesday morning we left for the tournament and were shown around and given an incredible bag full of gifts!  

We watched several hours of the tournament on Wednesday and had a photoshoot at the Fruit Smash tent, which was so much fun!  We spent some time in Central Park after that and then ate at Hummus Kitchen, which was an incredible Israeli restaurant with some of the best food we’ve ever had! Thursday morning we went back to watch as much pickleball as we could before leaving for the airport after lunch.

Have you played in tournaments? What advice do you have for those wanting to try? What do you enjoy about them?

We both love playing in tournaments! It’s so much fun to compete at your skill level and we enjoy the challenge of playing against new opponents. We’ve also met people at tournaments that we enjoy running into at other tournaments and enjoy encouraging each other. 

Ashley played in the Atlanta Open recently. She loved being able to watch the pros between matches and would encourage anyone to join tournaments where pros are playing! She felt like it was a really fun atmosphere to be a part of. For anyone who hasn’t played in a tournament and is interested in trying: Just get some help deciding what your skill level is and sign up for one you want to play!

We can’t thank New Belgium Fruit Smash enough for the incredible trip! This is our favorite game in the world!


Our thanks go out to Ashley and Collin for taking the time to share their experiences with us. We look forward to giving more fans opportunities to travel and enjoy tournaments in the future.

What Is Pickleball?

Pickleball was deemed the fastest growing sport in the U.S. after participation rose 21.3% between 2019 and 2020. In March 2022 it was made the official state sport of Washington. Today there are millions of players not only in America but across the world. What is this popular game and what makes it so appealing? Does it have anything to do with the salty snack referenced in its title? We’ll clear those questions up so you can consider whether you want to grab a paddle to get in the game.

A fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.
Played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net.
Played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.
Played as doubles or singles.
Can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels
A fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. 

The Basics of Pickleball

Pickleball is a sport played with paddles and a whiffle ball on a badminton-sized court (44’ x 20’). It can be considered a cross between badminton, table tennis and standard tennis, however it’s grown into something far greater with many of its own unique attributes. One of pickleball’s most standout features is the non-volley zone near the net also called the “kitchen” which prevents aggressive strikes too close to the opposing team, allowing players of all ages and sizes to compete on more even footing.

Pickleball court dimensions
Pickleball court dimensions courtesy of USA Pickleball

Equipment for pickleball is typically not expensive, especially if players have local tennis or pickleball-specific courts they can use for play. You can find nearby options using USA Pickleball’s Places 2 Play website. If starting a game in your own driveway sounds more appealing, purchasing a portable net is a great alternative. Once a court location has been established, only paddles and a few pickleballs are needed to get started.

The game has a lower barrier to entry than most other paddle sports thanks to its relatively straightforward rules and small court size, yet competition at the highest levels has been heating up with nationwide and international tournaments promising prizes, fame and recognition of players’ skills. It’s the ideal sport for both families looking for casual fun and more ambitious players craving an opportunity to prove their talent. Games can be played one on one in singles or with teams of two in doubles.

The following video provides a brief introduction to the rules of pickleball so you can get started right away. For more extensive details, take a look at the complete rulebook.

The History of Pickleball

If you’re curious why pickleball has such a strong connection to the Pacific Northwest, that’s because it was founded on Bainbridge Island in 1965 by congressman Joel Pritchard and his friends William Bell and Barney McCallum. The three were on vacation attempting to figure out a game for their kids to play but only had mixed equipment from different sports—so they made do with the items on hand. The initial pickleball gear consisted of table tennis paddles, a whiffle ball and a lowered badminton net, while the finer details grew from there.

As pickleball reached more people by word of mouth and with the creation of the first pickleball equipment company (Pickle-ball Inc), more and more players grew enamored with its charms. Today it’s played not only on public courts but in schools, camps, recreation centers, retirement communities, correctional facilities, YMCAs and many other locales.

Why Do Tennis Players Switch to Pickleball?

This is a common question we’re asked at PickleballCentral and after having interacted with many tennis players who got addicted to the game, we can share some of the most common answers:

  • Smaller court size and lighter equipment is easier on the body
  • Shorter match length (around 15-25 minutes compared to a tennis match averaging 90 minutes)
  • Friends and family can quickly learn to play adequately even if they have no experience
  • More depth and strategy to the game than it seemed at first glance
  • Competitive opportunities and tournament money without being as oversaturated as tennis
  • Not much elitism/friendly community filled with all types of people
  • It’s fun!
#1 pickleball player Ben Johns with tennis racquet and pickleball paddle
#1 player Ben Johns had a background in both tennis and table tennis before focusing on pickleball

Apart from occasional spats over players commandeering tennis courts for the use of pickleball, we believe there’s no reason these two sports can’t coexist! Both offer their own individual perks and while some tennis players have switched over to pickleball entirely, others continue to enjoy both. Many of the top pickleball players in the world have tennis backgrounds, so there is certainly an overlap of abilities between the sports and it never hurts to diversify ways to stay fit.

Why Is It Called Pickleball?

The burning question many new players have is why pickleball is called what it is. While we hate to let readers down, the sport does not actually have anything to do with brined cucumbers. When pickleball was first developed, Joan (Joel Pritchard’s wife) called the game pickleball because, “The combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.”

Later on Barney McCallum would say the name was chosen in honor of the Pritchards’ dog, Pickles, who would snatch the whiffle ball away from the families at play. However, the cocker spaniel was purchased over a year after pickleball had already been founded, meaning the dog was named after the sport rather than the other way around. Can’t blame a businessman for wanting a memorable origin story!

Pickleball founders Barney McCallum, Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell with project manager of Seattle’s former Kingdome

How to Start Playing Pickleball

If you already have a nearby court to visit then grabbing a bundle of paddles and pickleballs is all you need to begin. If there don’t seem to be any courts you can easily reach (remember that badminton and tennis courts can be tweaked for pickleball use) then purchasing your own portable net will allow you to set things up wherever there’s access to a hard, flat surface. Many players begin right at their own homes or else look for unused parking lots. You can either grab a net as part of a complete pickleball set or as a stand-alone purchase.

Wood paddles are the cheapest options available and very hardy, making them a great investment for kids or new players concerned they may lose their grip while learning the ropes. As your skills improve then lighter and more responsive options made from graphite or composite surfaces will be the next upgrades.

We’re always happy to help newcomers to the game find the best options for their needs. If you’d like to start playing pickleball but still have questions, give us a call and we’ll help you figure out which gear will work for you.

Drive Up Muscle Mass with High Protein Foods

By Brandi Givens, RDN

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.

Pickleball Player and Nutritionist, Brandi Givens

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
  • More flexibility
  • Improved balance
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Better controlled blood glucose
  • Lower abdominal fat
  • Osteoporosis prevention
  • 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.

Brandi and her husband both love pickleball!

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/dayExample: 70kg person x .9g pro = 63 grams of protein
Recreational Player over age 501.2 grams protein/kg/dayExample: 70kg athlete x 1.2g = 84 grams pro/day
Endurance Athlete (playing several hours daily)1.2-1.7 grams protein/kg/dayExample: 70kg athlete x 1.2g = 84 grams pro/day
Resistance Exercise Days1.6-1.7 grams or more protein/kg/dayExample: 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:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Lean beef
  • Poultry
  • Soybeans including tofu
  • Quinoa
  • Nutritional yeast

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:

  • Lean beef
  • Dairy
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Chicken breast
  • Turkey breast
  • Beans
  • Seeds
  • Dried peas
  • Cashews
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios

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

Healthy Protein Salad Bowl

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

Directions:

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

References:

Karpinkski, Christine. Sports Nutrition: A Handbook for Professionals. 2017. Print.

United States Department of Agriculture Nutrition Database. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/ Accessed June 27th, 2020.

When Should I Replace My Pickleball Shoes? 

If your shoes are still in one piece then they can be worn for pickleball just like any other option. If you’re looking to optimize the efficacy and stability of your footwork, however, there are a few specific areas you’ll want to examine.

Know When To Replace Your Pickleball Shoe To Prevent Injury

If you’re wearing running shoes to play pickleball, then it was likely time to replace them yesterday!

If you’re already wearing a pickleball or tennis-specific court shoe and wondering how much life you can squeeze out of them, then the best indicator is to look at how much tread is left on the top half of the outsole underneath your shoe.

Check Your Tread!

Movement during games will cause the toe box area of your shoe’s rubber to wear down the quickest. Some players notice heavier wear on the heel of their shoes, and this is a good way to determine if it’s time for replacement as well. What you want to look for is a flattened rubber outsole. Any part of the underside of your shoe that has no visible tread pattern remaining is an indication that your shoes won’t offer as much traction, stability and support as they once did. It’s important to replace them primarily due to the increased risk of injury from wearing worn shoes that will cause you to slide around on the court. They also simply won’t perform as well, since a worn tread leads to less traction, preventing your shoes from helping you pivot or get up to the kitchen line as quickly.

Some shoes have a layer of material below the outsole that is a different color. If you’re able to see this from wearing through the first layer, it’s an immediate indication your shoes are worn out. Running shoes offer a very soft midsole cushion that helps absorb hard impact and alleviate pounding on your feet and joints. Over time this cushioning loses its spring and offers less comfort and joint relief. With court shoes, the cushioning in the midsole and outsole is much harder than that used in running shoes, and while it won’t offer the same comfort, the hardness of the rubber is beneficial in maintaining the tread while being dragged across the rough surface of a pickleball court.

Court shoes are meant to withstand the test of time, but the length of life you get out of them can be a result of many different factors. How often do you play? Do you lift your feet or allow for toe drag when following through on shots? The weight of your shoe can be a good indicator of the longevity you can expect. A heavier shoe has harder, more dense rubber that is meant to maintain its tread for months of play. Some shoes even come with a 6 month outsole guarantee, which means the tread should stay intact for 6 months and if you wear through them in that timeframe, the brand will send you a new pair for free.

You’ll notice almost all of the shoes offering this warranty are quite heavy. Light shoes typically use a softer rubber that is less dense. If you don’t play very frequently and are mostly concerned with comfort, lightweight shoes are a great option. But you won’t see many tournament-level players using these shoes since the delicate materials are easy for aggressive players to wear down.

Remember to take a moment to examine your shoes every once in a while to ensure you’re staying safe and getting the most out of your footwear. If you’ve found a specific brand or style that works best for you, let us know in the comments.

Shop all Men’s Pickleball Shoes

Shop all Women’s Pickleball Shoes

Wear & Care: We recommend using pickleball shoes only during play, not for other sports or as everyday shoes. This will help ensure they last as long as possible. Pickleball Court shoes are designed for a combination of support and comfort, and most pros wear their shoes only for court play. Remember, court shoes are just as important as a paddle and will go far toward improving your game.

If you need help picking out the right pickleball shoe for you our customer service team can help! We love pickleball as much as you do.