Meet the Pros - Randy Coleman
Randy has sized up the competition quickly and set his sights on beating Scott Moore, one of the best singles competitors in the world of pickleball. Good luck Randy, look out Scott! Enjoy!
Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?
I played my first sanctioned tournament as a self-rated player in Houston, Texas in 2017
February 2017- The Real Dill, Houston, Texas
Gold Medal- Mixed Doubles 4.5 skill
Gold Medal- Men's Doubles 4.5 skill
Gold Medal- Men's Doubles 50+
(I was contacted by the USAPA and moved to a 5.0 in April 2017)
April 2017- Texas Senior Games, San Antonio, Texas
Gold Medal- Mixed Doubles Age 50-54
September 2017- USAPA Great Plains Regional, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Silver Medal-Mens Singles 5.0, 50+
Gold Medal- Mixed Doubles 5.0, 50+
November 2017- USAPA National Championships (my first)
Silver Medal- Mens Singles Age/Skill 5.0, 50+
Bronze Medal- Mens Doubles Age/Skill 5.0, 50+
January 2018- State Games of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Ok
Silver Medal- Mens Singles 5.0, 50+
Gold Medal- Mens Doubles 5.0, 50+
March 2018- South Florida Slam, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl
Bronze Medal- Mens Pro Singles Open 19+
Silver Medal- Mens Pro Doubles Open 19+
What paddle do you play with and why?
I am a Pro Athlete for Selkirk, and I play with the AMPED Epic for singles and the AMPED S2 for doubles. Being a former tennis player, I like the Epic's longer handle and head-heavy leverage when I am hitting ground strokes. It still has a large sweet spot for volley put-aways and overheads. I play with the AMPED S2 for doubles thanks to its smooth, soft feel with easy power. The shorter handle naturally puts my hand closer to the paddle face which gives more control for kitchen rallies while still maintaining power when needed.
What is your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
I grew up playing tennis from a young age in Lubbock, Texas, and into college. I also grew up playing anything with a ball. I’ve had a ping pong table since I could walk. My brother played competitive badminton in college, and I used to practice with him all the time. I grew up playing a beach paddle sport called Smashball or Kadima with 2 wooden paddles and a small uninflated ball. In 2015, while living in Florida, I went back to Lubbock, Texas to visit. I have a friend that, when I am in town, we are always golfing, throwing softball, playing basketball or getting our Smashball paddles and going to the park to hit. The object of the game of Smashball is just to keep the ball going when hitting back and forth without it hitting the ground. I kept saying: There has got to be a better paddle we could use!
I Googled Smashball paddles, and these funny looking pickleball paddles came up. I got curious and began looking into pickleball paddles. I found that a local sporting good store had a Wilson paddle. I went to only buy the paddles but then saw the balls and decided, why not? We fell in love with our old game and our new paddles, but then decided to try this pickleball game we saw online. With no place to play, we hit on a tennis court.
In Lubbock the volleyball courts in the parks are on concrete. We found ourselves making up a game hitting over the volleyball net. It’s actually fun; I’ll show you sometime! I went back to Florida and looked up places to play pickleball. I found converted courts in Ocala and then the golden gates opened when I found the dedicated courts in Daytona Beach Shores. I was quickly addicted, traveling almost every weekend 1 ½ hours from Gainesville to play on these great pickleball courts with some really good players. The rest is history.
What is your preference “playing indoors or outdoors?
In March of 2016, when I moved from Florida to Houston, Texas, I quickly learned that there are no public outdoor courts in Houston, except for one friend who had his own outdoor court. Needless to say, if you want to play pickleball in Houston, you play indoors, mostly at YMCA locations.
To answer your question, I absolutely prefer outdoor play. I grew up playing tennis on outdoor courts. It's just a totally different game to me. I understand the need to have indoor play, but as the sport continues to grow, I would love to see sport complexes accommodating several sports, building acrylic hard surface pickleball courts, just as they have for tennis.
Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
I totally love the individual personal accomplishments you get when you play singles. It’s just you and the opponent. It’s fast, it’s hardcore, it’s intense, it’s pure endurance. I am 54 however, so my mind loves singles, while sometimes my body is not very happy with my mind for loving singles. I will say doubles can really bring a smile to your face. Its strategy, patience, offense and defense. It’s exciting for the crowds. And when you find great chemistry with a partner, there is nothing like it. Did I answer your question?
It’s kind of like ice cream. Some of us have a few favorites, and how do we choose? I really like pistachio, chocolate almond, chocolate mint and orange sherbert, but if I walk by a freezer and I see Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, I’ll always pick that one. So I guess you could say singles is my Chunky Monkey.
What is your favorite place to play? Why?
Wow, so many, it’s like the ice cream dilemma. I am still pretty new to this sport, but because I am fortunate enough to play in so many locations in a fairly short amount of time, I do have some wonderful memories of many.
I spent 23 years living in Florida, and Daytona Beach Shores has some initial lasting memories. Arizona is a mecca of beautiful pickleball locations, and the hiking in the surrounding mountains is awesome. Chicken N’ Pickle in Kansas City was just so uniquely cool with great food and beer, so I’ve heard. The Bobby Riggs Tennis/Pickleball Center in California holds a true special place for me for its laid back feel, the California weather and Steve Dawson. Monument Park in Colorado Springs, where my son lives, is always special to pass through with views of Pikes Peak, and of course, more spectacular hiking.
Everywhere I go, except Florida unfortunately, I have a close group of players and friends, and we ALWAYS take time during tournament play to go on as many hiking adventures as we can. So you ask me what my favorite place is? Well, it’s all of them, because pickleball is not just a sport, or an outdoor court, it’s about meeting new people and making an adventure together wherever you are.
What is your secret sauce? Any tips for players?
I am a visual learner. I watch the top players and mimic their movements through hours of practice. A tennis background helps to develop the natural movements and advanced shot selections. I will say, no matter what your level, you will play how you practice. You can’t expect different results doing the same thing over and over. Cliché’? A little, but it’s pure and important.
Take tips from as many pro instructors as you can, preferably an IPTPA instructor with consistent baseline fundamentals, and learn at least one thing they teach. Then take all those “one” things and apply them to your game. If you grew up playing a sport, take those fundamentals you were taught and learn to apply them into your paddle movement. You don’t just hit your shots over, hit your shots with a purpose. Don’t just serve the ball, serve deep to a target. Don’t just dink the ball over, dink to a target. It’s a chess game; be patient.
What is your day job?
My day job is now pickleball. I left a great paying job last November with benefits, decided to minimize my life, sold 75% of my belongings, and only mostly kept what I could take on the road. I signed with Selkirk as a Pro Playing Athlete, coach and distributor in January. Fittingly, Selkirk is the only paddle brand I have ever played with. I decided I wouldn't worry about gaining monetary wealth, but enjoy the peace and happiness through teaching, sharing and playing this life-changing sport.
How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
I will practice and play anywhere from 10-18 hours a week if I am preparing for an event. I'm not counting any teaching hours of court time. I will schedule a recovery or fun day every 3 or 4 days.
Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
I don’t have a ritual before a tournament, but I am a slightly methodical person during a tournament. There's a mental list of things I check. I make sure I have a fresh Tourna Grip dry wrap on all my paddles, plenty of dry daily shirts, wrist sweatbands, 2 hats, 2 pair of socks for each day, 2 pairs of shoes to rotate, 2 pairs of ankle braces (Adidas Speedwrap), plenty of Bai drinks and water. (Uh oh, guess I do have a ritual!)
Do you have any pickleball goals you would like to share?
I want to beat Scott Moore in singles in a tournament. I want to play pickleball and go hiking with friends in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. And my ultimate goal is to help see this sport make it into the Olympics and be a part of the coaching staff. Thanks to Daniel Moore and USAPA President Jack Thomas, I have been invited by the newly formed Shenzhen Pickleball Association to go to China this May and introduce our USA Pickleball at the International Trade Expo to teach and help build their programs. I was also invited into their school system to teach pickleball to students. It is truly an honor, and I am humble to be a part of this monumental opportunity.
Anything else you would like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
I hope that because of this sport, which is like no other, I have become a better person. I love to joke and laugh, start conversations at restaurants, in line at checkout registers, sitting on planes (yes, I have pulled out 2 paddles and a ball and played pickleball on a plane with a stewardess!) and what I am finding is that all the roads somehow lead back to pickleball.
I am a social media person. I love taking selfies with friends on the court and at the homes of so many wonderful hosts. Because of them I can do what I do, and what I find is that this big world gets a little smaller because of a wiffle ball and a paddle. My favorite sporting event in the world is the Olympics. The only sporting event where over 200 countries put aside political differences to compete for the spirit of the games. Just as the Olympic motto I wear proudly as a reminder: Faster, Higher, Stronger. It’s the pinnacle of excellence that I may not achieve, but I can always strive for. Life IS competition, and it’s always better with pickleball.