Pickleball [court] Finder
A new, very cool, iOS app hit the market this week. Pickleball Finder tracks and provides general information on every pickleball court in the NATION!.
After speaking with the app developer, Alex Murry, we've learned the app is going to add the ability for users to add new places, rate places, and comment/post on locations.
How to Play Pickleball
Learning the basics of Pickleball is easy. This Pickleball tutorial teaches you Pickleball 101 in less than 90 seconds.
General Pickleball Strategy
Think about your Shot Selection
Knowing when to hit a specific shot can make a big difference and thinking about the right shot at the right time can help you improve. Here are a few tips.
- Hit balls deep in the opponent's court, especially when they are already back. Keeping them back gives you a better chance to win the point.
- Don’t try to hit winners when the ball is below net level. Keep the ball in play with a low return.
- In doubles, work on hitting more shots down the middle than going for the corners. There is less error involved.
- Use drop shots or dink shots when you are not in a good position to make a better shot.
- If you are back and want to get to the net, a well placed and deep lob shot can give you and your partner time to get up to the net.
- On defense, try to get back quickly when you see a lob coming at you. This allows you to hit it while moving forward and provides more power. Or you can execute a smash if the lob is short.
- Always try to play the ball in the air. Letting it bounce puts you out of position and the opponents time to recover.
- Don’t always hit the same type of return. If you always hit it soft and deep your opponents will figure out a way to get the advantage. Vary your returns. (Because of the two-bounce rule, the serving team needs to let the return bounce before hitting it. That’s why the return of serve is so important.)
- When you need to keep your opponents deep, hit the soft deep return. Once you do, quickly advance to the no-volley line.
- If you opponents are creeping up early, a hard return right at them is a good way to get them moving back with the odds of a poor return much higher.
Huntsman World Senior Games
This October, the 31st annual Huntsman World Senior Games will happen once again in St. George, Utah. Last years games brought together competitors from 34 countries around the world who competed in 29 different events (including pickleball). The unofficial count was that a total of 11,000 people competed in the 2016 event.
The dates for the 2017 Huntsman Games are October 9th through October 21st. Competition in the pickleball events takes place starting October 16th and runs through October 21st with no makeup dates scheduled.
The history of the Huntsman World Senior Games dates back to 1987 when it was known as the World Senior Games, an international sports competition for seniors. Since it started, the games have been open to all men or women meeting the age requirement. The initial age was 55 years but was lowered to 50 years in the second year to encourage more athletes to become involved in a personal fitness program or team sport.
The games are also known to promote health by providing screenings for cancer - breast and prostate, as well as other health threats such as glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and bone density.
The games are really known as the Senior Olympics due to the large number of countries participating. Top three finishers receive Gold, Silver and Bronze medals and the events range from Archery and Horseshoes, to Badminton and Shuffleboard and of course, pickleball.
For the 2017 games, Pickleball competition gets going on October 16th. Events included are Singles, Doubles, Mixed Doubles and Skill Level Doubles. Contestants are slotted into 5-year age brackets starting with 50+ all the way up to 100+. Tournament rules say that registration is limited to the first 500+ Pickleball players so participants are asked to register early. Registration for the 2017 Huntsman World Senior Games begins as early as February 28th and will extend until the September 1st deadline.
For players entering skill level events, they are required to enter their appropriate skill level on their registration form. For those needing to determine their skill level they can check the USA Pickleball Association website or review the rating chart provided on the Huntsman World Senior Games site.
This event is one of the biggest for competitive pickleball players since it brings in players from all around the world. Players will have a chance to test their skills in singles, doubles or mixed events with a chance to show their skills, ability and teamwork and hopefully take home a medal in this highly prestigious event.
The Growth of Pickleball
There is little doubt that the game of pickleball has seen an increase in popularity recently. From its beginning back in 1965 in Bainbridge, Washington, the game has come a long way. Because of the growth of the sport, it’s hard to provide accurate estimates of the number of pickleball players out there. But the number that seems most popular recently is that over 2 million people in the U.S. alone are enjoying it. And that’s a huge increase over just 6 years ago. Growth estimates are that the numbers have risen about 64% since 2010.
Pickleball is most popular with people over 60 years of age. Recent numbers show that 68% of all pickleball players are over 60. The game is extremely popular at senior centers and recreation facilities and is becoming more popular everyday. Industry experts predict that in a few years there could be as many as 8 million players playing the game.
The USAPA, which stands for the USA Pickleball Association, has seen their membership numbers also rapidly increase since 2010. Not only membership numbers, but they have tracked the number of pickleball courts (courts specifically for pickleball) as well as places to play (includes basketball gyms or tennis courts fitted to the game) and those numbers have also risen dramatically over the same span.
It’s hard to pinpoint why the dramatic increase in recent years, but many think it is most popular with those of the baby boomer generation. Primarily because of its similarity to tennis but with less physical effort required to play. The game also lends itself nicely to playing with a partner in a doubles format. Doubles play actually provides even less court space to cover and allows players to partner up which makes it even more of a social experience.
Part of the rise in popularity of the game is that it is now extending outside of retirement community settings and is starting to pop up in other locations where it has never been. This is in part because programs are being initiated in elementary, middle schools and high schools around the country.
With the number of pickleball tournaments growing, more people are being exposed to the game which is also bringing in many new players. Those numbers will only grow as this sport begins getting more exposure.
Pickleball is also not just popular in the U.S. Although the U.S. boast the highest percentage of players, it’s estimated that over 30% of players worldwide come from outside of the United States. Many of the same reasons that pickleball is popular in the U.S., also applies to players from other parts of the world.
So if you’re one of those people who has yet to give pickleball a try, what are you waiting for?
2017 US Open Pickleball Championship
The 2017 version of the US Open Pickleball Championships is coming soon. The event takes place starting April 23rd and runs through April 30th in Naples, Florida. Naples hosted the inaugural event last year and has the rights again in 2018.
The fun actually kicks off on Friday, April 21st with a Kids Day and Media Day event. Then on Saturday, the event will host a “Party in the Park” event. There will be a variety of events and festivities happening throughout the US Open Village for anyone to take advantage of. Included will be live music, food and a new product Demo. Practice courts will be open and a Pro pickleball clinic is also being offered.
The action gets underway on Sunday the 23rd and will consist of all singles events. On the men’s side there are categories for Pro, Senior Open and 14 different age group categories ranging from 19+ to 85+. The winner of the 2016 Pro singles title was Marcin Rozpedski. On the women’s side in singles, there is also a Pro and Senior Open champion and they offer 9 different age group champions ranging from 30+ to 75+. Last year's women's Pro champion was Simone Jardim.
The action continues on Monday with Men’s and Women’s age group events and on Tuesday moves into the Mixed age events. On Wednesday the Men’s Skill Events and Men’s Senior Pro Doubles takes place while the same events for women takes place on Thursday. On Friday, the competition heats up as players try to get to the championship finals being held on Saturday.
Finally, on Saturday the 29th, the Mixed Pro, Pro Double Finals, Mixed Senior Pro Finals and Mixed Skill events are held. If weather is a factor, play will carry over to the 30th. CBS Sports Network will be in Naples to film the the Pro Finals.
The format of the tournament is that of a double elimination with a consolation bracket. The consolation bracket will compete for the bronze medal. The winner’s bracket will be playing for the gold and silver medals.
The US Open staff will be transforming East Naples Community Park into a bit of a pickleball paradise with 48 courts set up, all surrounding the Zing Zang Championship court. Fans are able to watch matches for no charge except for pro matches being played on the Zing Zang Championship court.
Fans coming to the event are guaranteed to have a good time as they can browse the US Open Expo, take in some food and music and watch some of the best pickleball players in the world compete against each other and for prizes. So if you’re looking for a great spring experience, check out the 2017 US Open Pickleball Championships in Naples.
General Strategy for Doubles Play
Here are some general techniques and strategies when playing doubles in pickleball.
- Rather than moving independently, players need to move together on the court. When coming to the net, both players should advance forward. When retreating, both players should move together as well. And when moving side to side, the same should apply. Moving together will help eliminate gaps on the court that your opponents can take advantage of.
- Getting to the net is a key strategy in doubles. Teams that get both players to the net first have about a 70% chance of winning the point. The return of serve is the key for the receiving team. The best return is one that is high and also deep. Since the serving team needs to let the ball bounce, you will have time to get to the net before the ball is returned. However, if the return of serve is short, the serving team may be able to beat you to the kitchen line and get the advantage.
- The team that gets to the net first should try to hit a volley return if at all possible. A volley can keep the other team pinned farther back on the court and keep them from reaching the net, giving you a better chance to take the point.
- For the serving team, the 3rd shot can be the key in allowing them to get to the net. If the third shot is hit too long or high, the receiving team can keep them pinned back with a volley or well placed shot. What the serving team should try to do is to hit a drop shot that is low and lands in the kitchen (or no-volley zone). This will give the serving team enough time to get both players up to the net and even out the odds of winning the point.
- When both teams reach the net, the ball needs to stay low which creates what is called the “dinking” phase. If the ball gets too high, a smash or fastball hit occurs which can result in the point being either won or lost. Be careful during the dinking phase of play until you are confident you have a solid shot. When you do, hit the ball hard and at one of your opponents for the best results.
- Lastly, always communicate with your partner on the court at all times. Make sure you are both on the same page about where you are on the court as well as your strategy. And above all else, have fun.
General Strategy for Singles Play
Here are some general techniques when playing singles in pickleball.
- Generally, shots should be made deep in the opponent’s court and either to the corners or down the lines. This will keep your opponent moving and behind the baseline. That will make it tougher for them to hit a quality shot and allow you to move up to the kitchen line and create a good angle for your volley. NOTE: The “kitchen line” is an area 7’ on each side of the net where players are not allowed to hit a volley from. It was created so that players are not able to smash a volley shot.
- One key strategy for the player returning serve is to make sure they hit the return deep and firm and towards the corners. This will not only allow them to come up to the kitchen line for a winning volley, but also create a much better angle for the shot.
- However, if the serve is deep and causes the returner to hit their return shot from behind the baseline, they may not want to move forward for a volley but instead stay back. An exception to this is if the returner is moving forward while hitting the ball, and hits a good deep return, they should continue up to the kitchen line. But even in this case, if they hit a poor return, it is best to stay back.
- Another key difference between playing singles and doubles is that in singles, speed and power are much more important. Because you need to cover the whole court, a player needs speed and quickness to get to the ball. In addition, hitting the ball with more power will keep your opponent on the move and will most likely result in them hitting more poor shots.
- In singles, it is important to make sure to practice your volleying techniques. Like the game of tennis, when played on a quick surface, the game takes on a more aggressive serve and volley strategy. Rallies are normally short, usually less than 4 or 5 shots, and the player that can get to the kitchen line and make a good volley shot will most times win the point.
The Origin of Pickleball
And age isn’t a factor either. People of all ages, men or women, can enjoy the game and have fun doing so. Games can involve singles, doubles or mixed doubles, whatever your preference is. The court uses the dimensions of a standard badminton court while the net and rules are most similar to tennis.
So how did this game, which is an offshoot of badminton, tennis and table tennis, get its start?
Well, the origin is traced back to the year 1965 in Bainbridge, Washington. Joel Pritchard, a former State Representative and Lieutenant Governor of Washington, gets the credit. The story is that after Pritchard completed a round of golf with a couple of friends, he returned home and found their families at home but with nothing to do.
Wanting to find them an activity, they decided on badminton but couldn’t find the shuttlecock or a full set of racquets. Instead, the story goes, they replaced the shuttlecock with a wiffle ball and the racquets with a version of ping-pong paddles. They also altered the height of the net to compensate for the modified game and equipment.
The property at Pritchard’s home already had an old badminton court on the grounds so the dimensions of that court were utilized for the group’s new makeshift activity.
As time went on the three men (Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum) adopted the game and went on to create a set of rules. These rules mimicked badminton rules primarily but also incorporated pieces of both tennis and table tennis. In addition, the men agreed on a specific height for the net and settled at 36”.
The main goal for the three men was to create a game that was not only fun and good exercise, but to find a game that the whole family could play together. With pickleball, they were able to accomplish that goal.
There a couple of theories as the why the name of this new sport was pickleball. One theory is that it was named after the Pritchard’s dog Pickles”, who would chase the ball and take off with it. The other theory is that Pritchard’s wife Joan, who was a competitive rower, thought it reminded her of the Pickle Boat in crew where oarsman were chosen from leftovers of other boats.
Those closest to the situation are confident that the second theory is true since the dog was not acquired until years after the game started. In an interview with Pritchard’s daughter, Peggy Pritchard-Olson in 2005, she stated “the dog was named after the game, not the other way around.”
Anyway, it makes a good story and there are conflicting reports even to this day on the origin of the name.