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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.