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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Club Pickleball Mixer Tournament

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for Pickleball anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  Paso Robles was recently named the 2013 "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Pickleball and wine tasting.  Sounds great!!!! Happy Holidays and a Great New Year.

Our latest "rated, blind draw, differential" Club tournament seemed to be a success.  We tried a new format for the tournament which centered around giving each player a skill rating, doing a blind draw for teams and seedings, creating a point differential, and, adding in some Club rules like no overhead smashes and no lobbing.  Seemed to make the play a little more equitable....and, therefore, maybe a little more fun.  The point differential mentioned above refers to a system whereby a team with a rating of 7.0 (a 4.0 player paired with a 3.0 player = 7.0 rating), playing a team with a 5.0 rating (two 2.5 players) would start the game trailing 4-0 (differential is 2 X 2 = 4; we multiply the differential 7.0 - 5.0 = 2  by 2 = 4).   Highlights of this double elimination tournament included the newer, less aggressive team of Richard La Vine and Ellen Frost losing their first two matches, 11-9 and 11-4.  No fun losing, but decent parity.  We also saw the team of Robert Belmonte and Nevin Linthacum go undefeated in the tournament.  Each match was one game played to 11 points (except for the finals....15 point match).  They won their preliminary rounds 11-4, 11-0, 11-9.  In the finals, they beat the team of Alan Belmonte and Steve Sidwell 15-12.  Third place winners Tony Domingos and Carol Linthacum lost in the first round 8-11, and then won in the loser's bracket 11-8, 11-8, before losing to Alan Belmonte and Steve Sidwell 10-12.

Thank you to the following players for participating:  Brett Noel, Bill Joyce, Pete Gomez, Janice Van Bever, Robert Belmonte, Nevin Linthacum, Kathi Stanley, Janet Van Boxtel, Alan Belmonte, Steve Sidwell, Scott Ellis, Kelly Forrestal, Ellen Frost, Richard La Vine, Tony Domingos, Carol Linthacum, Dick Solis and Rob Martin.

L-R:  1st Place - Nevin Linthacum and Robert Belmonte; 2nd - Alan Belmonte and Steve Sidwell

Monday, December 23, 2013

Playing Pickleball With Santa

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for Pickleball anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  Paso Robles was recently named the 2013 "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Pickleball and wine tasting.  Happy Holidays and Safe Travels.

Santa visited our Club this morning, joining 24 Pickleballers having fun at Centennial Park here in Paso Robles.  Tomorrow, Christmas Eve morning, we will play at 8:30 AM.  Join us.  You will still have time to do some last minute errands.....after PB.

If we do not see you, have a Very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Looking Merry and Bright


Santa Picklin.  Doesn't Pete look good in Dodger blue!!!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas From The Paso Robles Pickleball Club

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for Pickleball anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  Paso Robles was recently named the 2013 "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Pickleball and wine tasting.  Nice way to spend the Holidays....Merry Christmas.

Enjoying our 15th month of Pickleball......Best Wishes For A Great Holiday Season


Friday, December 20, 2013

Club Pickleball Tournament

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for Pickleball anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  Paso Robles was recently named the 2013 "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Pickleball and wine tasting.  Doesn't get much better!!!!

25 players today as we had a for-fun-blind-draw-single-elimination-tournament.  Prior to the start of the tournament, the "everyone up" call when out to the participating players asking them to gather round so we could explain the format, rules, etc.  Ever called out to a group of mature players (O.K., senior players) asking them to "gather up?" 10 minutes later.....

I digress.  This was actually a seeded, blind draw tournament, pairing some of our more experienced players with a less experienced partner.  We wanted the tourney to only go for the first hour of the two-hour class.  Thusly, the single elimination format.  Coming away with top honors was the team of Shelly Hanna-Tom Comar,  defeating Pete Gomez-Kelly Forrestall 11-8.  Third place went to Tony Domingos-Ed Rodriguez, who were victorious over Scott Ellis and Ellen Frost, 11-6.

A big thank you to the other participants in this tournament:  Kathy Stanley, Reggie Haggatt, Sue-Lin Bracken, Letty French, Steve Sidwell, Richard LeVine, Dick Solis, Cathy Brady, Don Odle, Janice Van Bever, Dick Beiden, Nancy Mello, Doug Bates, Keith Haynes, Cal French, Bob McLaughlin.

L-R: Pete Gomez, Kelly Forrestall, Shelly Hanna, Tom Comar, Ed Rodriguez, Tony Domingos


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Pickleball

                                                          Did Santa Win Or Lose?


Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for Pickleball anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  Paso Robles was recently named the 2013 "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Pickleball and wine tasting.  Sounds great!!!!

Not Christmas yet, but today had all of us feeling like the festivities have started.  Our courts are located adjacent to Lewis Middle School here in Paso Robles.  The school P.E. instructors had their classes out doing fitness assessment workouts.  Not so uncommon.  What was particularly nice about their workout was the music---Christmas.  Two very large speakers and an instructor who may work nights as a D.J. combined to give us two straight hours of Christmas songs courtesy of Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Brenda Lee (you know...."Rockin Around The Christmas Tree"), Elvis, The Carpenters, Bobby Helms (bet you can't name his most famous Christmas song), Bing, etc.  Could have used Chris Rea ("Driving Home For Christmas"....if you haven't heard it get on iTunes and listen), Mannheim Steamroller and Manhattan Transfer.  It was a perfect day to play.

On a Pickleball related subject, I'm compelled to write about positioning----once again....yawn!.  We encourage players to get to the NVZ line as soon as possible.  What is important to understand is that "as soon as possible" means when you or your partner hits a shot---dink or lob---that allows you to get to the 7' line.  You can't rush the net on a poor shot that hangs up for your opponent to BANG DOWN on, because you have very little reaction time as a result of being too close.  Work your way to the net based on your return shot.  Good return---soft and at their feet---get to that line.  Poor return---in their "hitting down" zone....stay deeper for more reaction time and try---again---for the soft shot that allows you to advance.  Yes, we want to get to the 7' line, but only if your shots allows you to do so.

Back to the Christmas music.  Very festive and relaxing.  Makes you wonder why you don't have your iPod strapped to your arm?  Better check the IFP rules on that one!!!!

Happy Holidays......

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Central Coast Pickleball

Excellent Badminton Player Now Playing Pickleball


Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for Pickleball anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  Paso Robles was recently named the 2013 "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Pickleball and wine tasting.  Sounds great!!!!

23 players today....again, we only have five courts, so we were full, but the wait is never long.  Many reading this blog will not think 23 is a large number.  We were true Central Coast Pickleballers today, as we had players from Cambria, Atascadero, Heritage Ranch (Lake Nacimiento) and, of course, Paso Robles.  Great play today on a beautiful, but cool, Saturday morning.  30+ degree weather is not deterring us.  We start at 9:00 a.m. and by 9:30 we don't even notice the temperature.  By 10:00 we were up to a warm 45 degrees....but remember, we don't even notice the temp!  Our numbers continue to grow, as we have had five new players this week.  Our numbers are up to 60+ players on our active list and 350 players who have visited in 2013.....this includes players from 10 different states and 20 different cities in California.  Paso Robles truly is a destination for travelers, many choosing to pack their Pickleball paddles when they venture this way.  Lucky for us!!!!







Friday, December 6, 2013

Pickleball Ambassadors

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for Pickleball anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  Paso Robles was recently named the 2013 "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Pickleball and wine tasting.  Sounds great!!!!

19 degrees this 8:00 a.m., but it did not deter 16 hardy, (or is it hearty?) and, I might add, extra layered PB players who were looking for a little fun and exercise, despite Mother Nature's attempt to discourage play.  By 9:00 a.m. it had warmed up to a comfortable 29 degrees.  Yes, we are playing outside, as access to our Centennial Park gymnasium is not a possibility at this time.  We might be one of the few places in the country playing outside in sub 30 degree weather.  We love the game!

St. George, Utah Ambassador Don Odle is here visiting family, and he has come to play with us on a couple of occasions, including today.  Don is very all known in Utah and across the country for his contributions to Pickleball.  He is responsible for introducing the game to the Huntsman World Senior  Games in St. George.  He is also an excellent player.  We are fortunate to have him visit and play with us.

I haven't asked lately "how the ball is coming off your paddle?"  Hopefully, with good placement and patience.

St. George Ambassador Don Odle with Central Coast Ambassador Jack Hodges

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Pickleball

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for Pickleball anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  Paso Robles was recently named the 2013 "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Pickleball and wine tasting.  Sounds great!!!!

23 people in attendance today (20 players and three supporters) on Black Friday.  To many of you reading this blog, that does not sound like a lot of players, but we only have five courts, so that means we were full.

We also had the opportunity to have Earl Hill, Assistant Ambassadors Director for the United States Pickleball Association, visit and play with us today.  Earl and his wife Gladys were here in Paso Robles visiting family, and Earl made sure he packed his paddle.  We were happy to play many games with Earl.  He is an excellent player and gave some valuable advice to many of our less experienced players.  Earl and Gladys live in Surprise, AZ.

We play again tomorrow, Saturday, at 9:00 a.m. at Centennial Park.  Visit our website when you have a chance.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Pickleball Players....and All

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for Pickleball anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  Paso Robles was recently named the 2013 "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Pickleball and wine tasting.  Sounds great!!!!

We will play both Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.  9-11 a.m.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  Went down to play PB at the Pismo Beach Athletic Club yesterday.  Always excellent play on their new, resurfaced tennis court (now four Pickleball Courts).  All the players there will definitely challenge your game....and you will have fun getting challenged.

Before going to the Club, I drove through the town of Pismo Beach and went to the Monarch Butterfly Park that is on the southernmost end of town.  For the next four months, the butterflies will stay in this park for all to see.  This particular species of Monarch will live for close to six months, whereas most live only six weeks.  They will be there for the duration, but when they leave, they will never return.  The Eucalyptus trees hide them pretty well, so you will have to look closely....but when you do.....

It is great to be able to pair Pickleball with other endeavors.....wine tasting, photography, sightseeing, shopping, a great meal, and, now, Monarch Butterfly watching.

Have A Great Day!



Monday, November 25, 2013

Pickleball Tips: Covering Your Line

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for Pickleball anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  Paso Robles was recently named the 2013 "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Pickleball and wine tasting.  Sounds great!!!!

This has been discussed before on this blog, but being reminded is always good.
It is very important to understand "Coverage" of the court (with your partner) relative to the position of the ball in your opponents court.  See diagram above.

1.  If the ball is directly opposite you (not diagonally opposite), you must cover your line.  This shot down the line is the easiest (highest percentage) shot for your opponent.  Shot A.

2.  Your partner will cover the middle.  He/she is responsible for Shot B.

3.  Shot C is very low percentage and your partner may get to it, but if she/he does not....you both clap and congratulate your opponent on a nice shot.

4.  If the ball is opposite both of you in the middle, you both cover the middle.  Make them angle the shot toward either line.  Much lower percentage.  If they hit it hard, the ball could carry out wide.  If they dink, one of you can get to it.

5.  The game becomes much easier if you just employ the above coverages.  Of course, you have to keep the ball in play and/or "place" a winner.  Patience and Placement....don't forget the two "P's."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Central Coast Pickleball Ambassadors

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for Pickleball anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  Paso Robles was recently named the 2013 "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  Pickleball and wine tasting.  Sounds great!!!!

Today our other three California Central Coast Ambassadors came to Centennial Park to play....Richard Dorman (Pismo Beach), Jos Hilden (Cambria) and Jean Hyduchak (San Luis Obispo) joined Jack Hodges (Paso Robles) for a fun morning of play.  After the meeting, the four went to lunch at Burbank Ranch Bistro with the expressed purpose of discussing the future of Pickleball on the Central Coast.

First, let's talk lunch.  Burbank Ranch Bistro gets 5 Stars!!!!  http://www.burbankranch.com/tasting-room  A new place to eat in the heart of downtown Paso Robles, the food and service were excellent.  Very nice, comfortable interior.  At 11:30, the four of us were the only ones in the Bistro, but by the time we left (1:30 p.m.), the place was full.  I had the grass-fed beef burger with fries---an A+.  Not enough time for dessert, but looked at the menu.  Everything looked great.  Will definitely return....soon.

Back to our meeting.  We visited for almost two hours (and ate lunch as well) exchanging ideas about what we could do to spread the word about America's fastest growing sport.  We talked about supporting each other as we conducted upcoming Demonstration Clinics in Pismo Beach, Morro Bay,  San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande.  All of these cities have expressed an interest in starting up Pickleball.

Thank you Jean, Jos and Richard.  It was fun playing PB with you today and hearing all your great ideas.  Our USAPA is lucky to have you.

For anyone else reading this blog, "How did The Ball Come Off Your Paddle Today?"  Hopefully, with good placement and patience.

At Burbank Ranch Bistro on Park Street in Paso Robles.



Monday, November 18, 2013

Pickleball Positioning and Strategy Review

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Come play with us anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California (Paso Robles was recently voted the "Wine Region Of The Year" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine).  We have loaner paddles.

Haven't talked positioning and strategy for quite some time on this blog.  Thought I would devote this particular blog to items previously discussed, but needing to be reviewed.

1.  DEPTH is a very important word in Pickleball.

2.  The ideal serve is DEEP.  The more you can keep your opponent from approaching the net AS THEY HIT, the better.

3.  DEPTH on your return of service.  Make your opponent try to DINK from 20-22 feet (back on the baseline).  The 15 foot dink (because your return of serve lacked DEPTH) is a lot easier.

4.  SHORT DEPTH (or what we call a DINK into the No Volley Zone) is critical on the third shot.  Yes, a lob occasionally is O.K.  A hard ground stroke occasionally is O.K.  They are, however, low percentage shots and even lower percentage winners.

5.  If you are the serving team, ADVANCE TO THE NVZ LINE TOGETHER.  This is critical.  If you rush the net because the return of serve is to your partner, you will be very vulnerable if your partner's dink is poor (too high).  If you are 7' from the net (at the NVZ line) you have very little reaction time on a volley from your opponent at you.  SEE your partner's THIRD SHOT and advance ONLY if it is going to bounce at your opponent's feet.  They will have to hit up.

6.  In the event your RETURN OF THE RETURN OF SERVE (remember, we are talking about you being the serving team here) is not a good shot into the NVZ, gain a little ground, but allow yourself DEPTH (and therefore more reaction time).  If this third shot does not allow you to get to the NVZ line, one of you must again try, off your opponent's return of the third shot (this is now the FIFTH shot/your THIRD shot) to get a good dink into the NVZ.  If you do make a good shot, you will surely get to the NVZ line.

7.  Simple?  On paper, yes.  Just remember what is SIMPLE.  If you are the SERVING TEAM, you must work harder to get to the NVZ (if you have forgotten, this is the NO VOLLEY ZONE LINE).  Hit shots that allow you to get to the line, or retain DEPTH until you hit a shot that allows you to get to the line.

8.  If you are the RETURN OF SERVE TEAM, you have no excuse for not getting to the NVZ line after your return (as long as you have good DEPTH).

9.  To repeat, DEPTH is crucial.  DEEP SERVE, DEEP RETURN OF SERVE, SHORT DEPTH (DINK) on the third shot.

10. The serving team is at a definite disadvantage.  Figure out why, and turn the disadvantage into your favor.  The good players have a knack for doing this.

How did the ball come off your paddle today?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Paso Robles-2013 Wine Region Of The Year

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com

Wine Enthusiast magazine, the leading magazine in wine lifestyle, recently named Paso Robles as the 2013 recipient of the "Wine Region Of The Year" award.  Another reason to join us for some great Pickleball and, of course, wine tasting.  We have loaner paddles.

See the Wine Enthusiast Announcement:  http://www.winemag.com/Web-2013/Announcing-Wine-Enthusiasts-2013-Wine-Star-Award-Winners/

Keep on Picklin!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Atascadero Pickleball Clinic

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Please join us for play anytime you are visiting the Central Coast of California.  We have loaner paddles.

On Saturday, November 9 we conducted our 16th FREE Demonstration Clinic on the Central Coast of California in the past year.  This Clinic was at Colony Park Gymnasium in Atascadero, CA.  19 participants were in attendance,  This was also our second Clinic for the Atascadero Recreation Department in the last two months.  We had fifteen participants at our first Clinic.  Atascadero is on the verge of starting this great game.  This will mark the fifth Pickleball venue on the Central Coast.  Wow!!!!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween....Playing Smart Pickleball

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us whenever you can for a good couple of hours of play.  We have loaner paddles.

Haven't posted observations on our Club play for a couple of weeks.  Here are a few things I have noticed (for those members/occasional players who might be reading our Pickleball Blog).

These pointers will all be very familiar.....learning is repetition and reminders.

1.  Do not prolong points by hitting a ball that is surely wide or long.  You will end up losing some of those "gimme" points.

2.  Getting to the net (actually the NVZ line) is important, but do not get to the line too soon.  You will be very vulnerable if you or your partner hits a poor shot that can be hit hard right at one of you.  The closer you are to the net, the less reaction time you have.

3.  To further the point above, you need to gain ground ONLY when you have hit a shot that ALLOWS you to gain ground.  It might take your team two or three shots to get to the NVZ line.  Take your time, play soft, be patient.

4.  On that note, continue to work on mastering the DINK shot.  It is crucial to winning points (by getting yourself into a better position to win those points).

5.  The serve and return of serve should be deep shots.  In an ideal exchange of the first three shots between two teams, the sequence should be DEEP, DEEP, SHORT.  Deep serve, deep return of serve, short (dink) third shot.  If you do not practice this exchange, you will not develop your game, and, you will not win as many points as you would like.

6.  Remember....just because you are winning points with your power game, and your penchant for "smashball," that does not mean you are improving.  Everything is relative, and you will meet your match and wish you had the soft game.  Guaranteed!!!!

7.  It takes mental toughness to play to 11 points without losing concentration.  It also takes that same mental toughness to be playing the second hour as well as you did the first hour.  Don't mistake being tired with being mentally not-tough.

8.  Covering the middle is important.  Shading with your partner is equally important.  One of you (in shading) is ALWAYS covering the middle.

9.  The more you communicate, the more points you will win (or at least be in position to win).

10. Play the game with your feet.  Keep the feet moving.  You will like the results....and the exercise.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN.



Saturday, October 26, 2013

Central Coast Active Magazine. Cambria Scarecrow Festival. 23 Players Today.

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us whenever you are traveling through the Central Coast of California.  We have loaner paddles.

This past week Central Coast Active magazine featured a nice article about the growth of Pickleball on the Central Coast of California.  http://www.centralcoastactive.com/content/get-pickleball-craze

We had 23 players on this beautiful, clear Saturday morning.  Play started at 8:00 a.m. and by 8:30 all five courts were filled.  This is the best time of the year for visiting the Central Coast.  Our wineries are in full harvest mode.  There are close to 250 wineries situated on the CC, and a great many of them have entertainment, lunch presentations, special pourings and offerings.  The town of Paso Robles teeming with tourists today.  We had two first time visitors to our courts today.  The husband and wife hailed from Reno, Nevada, where they are avid Pickleball Players.

Also going on this month of October in Cambria (besides great Pickleball play) is the Scarecrow Festival.  In celebration of Halloween, more than 350 Scarecrows populate the business streets of Cambria.  The Festival has become the largest of its kind in the world.
Cycling Through The Ages

Snack Time

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Importance Of Stretching

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for some fun play whenever you are touring the Central Coast.  We have loaner equipment.

I need to remind all of our Club players (and anyone reading this entry) about the importance of stretching BEFORE you take the court to play.  I need to also remind myself, because many a time I have been setting up nets, tables, sign in sheets, our USAPA sign, etc. and someone says, "we need a fourth."  I grab my paddle and fill in without doing some necessary stretching.  Common story.  I think we feel that because the game is a little kinder on the body and there is less trauma, we can "gradually" get warmed up and stretch as we play.  Partially true, but not very smart.

Here are some good pointers to follow:

1.  You warm up to warm up.  Basically this means that you warm up to stretch.  The body needs to be 3-5 degrees warmer to get any benefit out of stretching.  Cold stretching is a thing of the past.  A brisk walk to the courts from the car, a short jog around the perimeter of the courts, a few side shuffles, etc. and THEN you do about five minutes minimum of stretching.

2.  As for specific exercises, I will leave that to you to look up on the internet.  Our usapa.org website has some good information on stretching.

3.  After a minimum of five minutes, you can start dinking and working on your short game with someone else, BUT continue to stretch as you hit and whenever there is a lull (chasing a ball, etc.).  This is a good time for lunge stretches, achilles tendon and calf stretching, etc.

4.  Once the match starts, the stretching does not stop.  Continue to stretch between points.  Do some dry squats.  Listen to your body.  Stretching AS YOU PLAY is very important.  If you sit out for a game, be sure to get up and do some light stretching as the court you are waiting for is nearing completion.

5.  Hydrate!!!!  Hydrated muscles respond much better to stress and trauma.  8 oz. of water every 10-15 minutes is the norm.

6.  And a side note.....we talk about safety all the time as we play this game during our mature years.  When someone LOBS you, do not BACKPEDDLE!!!!  Do a drop step turn (like an outfielder in baseball) and side shuffle, with your belly button facing one court sideline or the other.  This is much safer.  A tip....practice this movement every day you are playing.  It is called a "dry drill" and is very important to get the "feel" of the movement.

I hope the ball came off your paddle very successfully today.  Cheers.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cancer Awareness Month

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us whenever you are traveling through the Central Coast.

October is Cancer Awareness Month.  Let's keep things in perspective as we enjoy this great game.


BTW, How did the ball come off your paddle today?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pickleball Clinics

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com

This past Saturday and Sunday our Paso Robles Pickleball Club conducted two Clinics for interested members of the community.  On Saturday, October 12, we were in Atascadero at the Colony Park Community Center gymnasium.  Fifteen interested people showed up for the first ever Pickleball Clinic in Atascadero.

On Sunday, October 13, at our Club venue in Paso Robles, we presented the game of Pickleball to members of the Clipper Club of Paso Robles.  The Clipper Club is an organization that has been around since 1948 in Paso Robles and is comprised of former members of our Armed Forces (and their spouses) who get together once a month to BBQ and visit.  The event is always centered around an activity.  This month the activity was Pickleball.  45 members attended.  Only three had ever played Pickleball before.  We played before the BBQ and again afterwards.  Everyone enjoyed playing and many promised to join us in the mornings at Centennial Park here in Paso Robles.

In all, 60 members of the community joined us for two days of Pickleball.  
Colony Park Gymnasium-Atascadero

Clipper Club of Paso Robles-Centennial Park in Paso Robles

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pickleball At The Super Bowl

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us when you are traveling the Central Coast.  Good fun....good competition.  Loaner equipment available.

Pickleball Central has launched a campaign to be the selected small business of choice for a free T.V. commercial at the 2014 Super Bowl.  Imagine, a Pickleball advertisement!!!!  This is a great opportunity for some equally great exposure for our sport.  Please vote by going to the link:

https://www.smallbusinessbiggame.com/WA/PickleballCentralcom/383529.

You can vote once a day from each machine/device you have--desktop, laptop, iPad, phone, etc.  Every vote is important and there are only a couple of days left for Pickleball Central to make it to the next round.  This is on all of us to help promote our sport.

This weekend our Paso Robles Pickleball Club will be busy conducting two free clinics.  On Saturday, October 11, we will be at the Colony Park Recreation Center Gymnasium in Atascadero for a clinic at 11:00-12:30.  We will have loaner equipment available.  All ages are welcome.

On Sunday, we will be conducting a 3:00 p.m. Clinic for the Paso Robles Clipper Club at Centennial Park in Paso Robles.  The Clipper Club has been around about 55 years in Paso Robles.  It was started after WW II when the GI's returned to Camp Roberts.  As they married and/or started families, they also decided to form a club that would meet once a month to share interests and a project.  This month it is a picnic and Pickleball.  This event is open only to Clipper Club members.

Our Paso Club will conduct FREE group clinics for interested parties.  Please contact USAPA Ambassador Jack Hodges for more information.  Contact info is on the Club's website.

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club

Saturday, October 5, 2013

MapQuest and Pickleball. Old School Coaching.

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com

I had my camera out this week and I was doing burst shots of our players hoping to get a good sequence of photos so that I could show them what they are doing and how they are preparing for those close quarters shots when all four players are up near the net.  A funny thing happened.  I could not get a burst of shots because the points were over BEFORE all four could get to the NVZ line.  Poor serves, poor returns of serve, poor dinks, poor placement, impatience---all the important points of emphasis on the Top 10 list of Pickleball Commandments.  The teams (at least in that 20 minute photo session) could not get an extended rally going.....and, it dawned on me that as the instructor/Ambassador for our Paso Robles/Central Coast group, I was not getting some teaching points across.

The MapQuest Analogy.

I felt like these players do the same thing with my pointers as they do when reading MapQuest directions....they skip to #5 because they "already know how to get out of their neighborhood." Somewhere along the learning curve, many of our players have forgotten the importance of Steps 1-5 in the How To Be Successful At Pickleball In Paso Robles manual---a good DEEP serve, a good DEEP return of serve, a good DINK, patience and placement when DINKING, the fun that comes with an 8-10-12 hit rally.

I'm no expert, but as an Ambassador, I feel my expertise can be helpful.  1% improvement for 100 days.  A little progress each session.  Getting back to basics.  Having attainable goals each day.  Having fun.  It isn't much fun if you walk off the courts feeling like you haven't played up to your capabilities.

Growing up, I had some great coaches.  They were old school and I loved it---in retrospect.  One of my coaches, when we were not practicing well or seemingly not listening, would line us up, smile, and say his memorable quote, "Ignorance Ought To Be Painful."  He would then run us until he thought we were smarter.  I never forgot the quote or the lessons.  Everything is learned in sequence.  There is a progression to mastering a skill.  Winning (or playing well) is about keeping things simple.  It is about repetition.  It is not about cutting corners.  I'm not lining anybody up, but I am reminding everyone that there can be figurative self-inflicted pain if you are not willing to follow ALL the directions as you maneuver yourself out of the Picklehood.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The 3D Pickleball Game....Baseball Analogy

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us when you are visiting the Central Coast.  We have equipment.

We played the 3D game yesterday for some of our early arrivers (actually players who wanted some extra work).  The 3 D's game----Deep Serve, Deep Return of Serve, Dink (at the feet of your opponent's--who should be up near the net) is not easy (and I saw how frustrated the players were playing this game).  It is, however, a very integral part of learning.  To not execute one of those three shots (two by the server and one by the receiver) gives a little edge to your opponents.    

To play the game, use painter's tape and divide the service court in half (7.5 feet) horizontally.  In other words, lay a strip of tape parallel to the baseline/NVZ line and halfway between the NVZ line and the baseline.  This becomes the DEEP zone.  The serve must land in this back/DEEP zone.  The return of serve must be DEEP and land in the opposite back/DEEP zone.  The Dink (third shot), must bounce in front of the the non-serving team (at their feet).  Poor serve=fault; poor return of serve=point; poor dink=fault.  If all three shots are good, play the point out.  Play to seven instead of eleven if you wish (this game takes longer). 

Placement and patience.  Placement and Patience.  BTW, notice that these three shots are all about placement....not power.  Basically they are soft, controlled shots. Very soon players will realize the importance of these initial three shots.  They help to set up (usually) the flow of the point.  In baseball, you will strike out a hitter with one particular pitch, but the first two strikes helped to create the strikeout.  There is a strategy to throwing strikes, getting outs, getting strikeouts.  Same with Pickleball.

How many points (faults/side outs) will you lose because you tried power over placement?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pickleball In Canada and Mexico

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us whenever you are visiting the Central Coast.

As our sport continues to grow across the country, we are also finding that our neighbors in both Canada and Mexico are seriously taking up the sport.  Canada has a very strong Pickleball organization www.pickleballcanada.org

Many new locations in Mexico are showing venues for Pickleball.  They include:

http://www.mazatlanpickleball.com

http://www.eldoradoranch.com/resort/Recreation_Desert_Strings_PickleBall.html

In addition, the USAPA.org Places to Play link has several other listings for Mexico, including El Sargento, Puerto Vallarta and San Carlos.

In your travels to Canada or Mexico, think about packing your paddles.

We had 22 players this morning, including three new players.  In the past two weeks, we have had 10 new players come out and try the game.  Why not, the weather this time of year is perfect.  So is this game!!!!

Some recent observations about play at our Centennial Courts:

1. Remember, anytime the ball bounces anywhere on your side of the court, the No Volley Zone is not an issue.  You cannot violate the NVZ on your return shot.

2. Knowing the score helps you know positioning when serving.  Starting server for each team is always on the right when his/her team's score is even; always on the left when his/her team's score is odd.

3. Whenever possible, do not let balls force you to retreat.  It is better to take the ball in the air (lobs included).

4. Work your way to the 7' line by dinking.  If your first (or your partner's first) dink is not good enough, gain some ground, but wait for another dink opportunity to get to the line.  Don't be in a rush to get the ball slammed back at you.

5.  Stay in points as long as you can if you are on the defensive.  Opponents do make mistakes (unforced errors)....but, do not prolong or give your opponents extra chances by hitting OUT balls.

BTW, how did the ball come off your paddle today?


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Player Ratings For Pickleball

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Visit the Central Coast and join us for Pickleball.  We have equipment you can use so just dress for play.  Our area is beautiful this time of year.

This is a follow-up to the email I sent out to our players about a month ago regarding self-ratings.  More questions have come up regarding a rating that will allow you to play in a tournament.  Actually, you do not need to be 'rated' to play in an age level tournament, but you will have to give yourself a "self- rating" if you are going to play in a skill level tournament.  The ratings---2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0.  Six skill levels....lots of overlap...oftentimes nuances of difference, but still required.  When you enter that first skill level tournament, be realistic, but also sensible, with your rating.  Thinking you are a 4.0 player after only six months of play will probably put you in a skill group that you are not ready for.  The USAPA ratings committee also states that initial self-ratings may not change until you have experienced Gold Medal success (usually twice).  Rate yourself too high and you might be experiencing limited success, lots of frustration, and a very long wait before you show success at that skill level.  Once you have self-rated yourself, you must go through an appeal process to change your rating.  Remember, the best way to self-rate is to play with players you think are comparable to you and then ask them what their rating is.  Chances are you are the same.  You are not sandbagging if you are relatively new to the game, want to play in a skill level tournament, and give yourself a one step lower rating than your wishful thinking suggests to you.  Also, friends don't want to hurt your feelings by suggesting that you are a 3.0 rather than a 3.5/4.0.  They will pad the rating to make you feel better---but they aren't playing for you in the tournament!!!!

Hope you had fun playing today and that the "ball came off your paddle with control and successful placement." 


Monday, September 23, 2013

California State Games

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com

In my previous post, I mentioned playing Pickleball in the California State Senior Games in Escondido this past weekend.  I had an excellent time, experienced some success, and learned a great deal from fellow participants---through observation and conversation.  Time to share my observations and reiterate important playing/strategy information.

1.  Pickleball players are a class act.  Everyone was very friendly and willing to share information and pointers.  I enjoyed their perspective and suggestions.

2.  These tournament players are a step-up from the social Pickleball players we are accustomed to playing against.  You must bring your 'A' game to tournaments.

3.  22 games (singles and doubles) over two days---and 30 hours is a lot, but also a lot of fun.  The toughest part is the wait in between matches.  Hard to get out of the chair!

4.  Mental toughness and the ability to play "relaxed" are keys to being successful.  Remember, your opponents have the same mental issues you do....know how to go to a comfortable place mentally.  I like to hum a favorite relaxing tune.

5.  Eat right and hydrate.  I mix my own electrolyte drink (easy) and eat properly.....most of the time.

Now, for some technical observations......

6.  The dink is so very important.  You have to 'buy in' to this belief and be ready to execute.

7.  Don't miss serves.  Get them in.  It would be nice to get them deep as well.  It seemed that the most consistent servers won a great deal of their games.  Of course, their third shot, the dink, was more important.

8.  It is important to get to the 7' line, but WORK your way there....and work your way there together!  You cannot rush to the line if you or your partner hits a bad dink, lob, or hard groundstroke.  This is especially true on the third shot of a point (your return of your or your partner's serve).  If you or your partner hits a poor shot, gain a little ground, give yourself some extra room (and time) to hit the next shot and if you hit that good dink in the NVZ, keep gaining ground.

9.  Power shots are hit occasionally.  Most of the time, though, it is about placement and patience.  Success comes from placing balls at your opponent's feet (I know, redundant....but very important).  BTW, I watched one player (who is one of the top 5 players in the U.S.) play for two days.  The only time he hit a power shot was when he had a volley he could put away....and usually he placed it with about "3/4 power."  I didn't see him miss.  I did see him miss a few dinks and lobs.  He is human....and his opponents were doing what needed to be done to make it a little more difficult.   I was told he has been playing Pickleball for 18 years.  Started in his mid-30's.

10.  Remember these two important bits of strategy:  (1) Make your opponents reach. Make them make a mistake. Make them take the extra step. Three of every four points are LOST.  Unforced errors..... (2) learn to not hit "out" balls.  Don't give your opponents the chance to stay in a point by hitting their out shot.

11.  Thought I would keep this to 10 observations, but this one is important.  Don't try to hit a winner off of your opponent's great shot.  Just get it back as best you can.

Hope the ball came off your paddle successfully today....and that you played with patience and placement.



Sunday, September 22, 2013

California State Senior Games--Pickleball




Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterly.com

I just returned from playing Pickleball in the California State Games (played in Escondido) representing our Paso Robles Pickleball Club (we have been in existence one year this September).  I was the only member of our Club to play in the tournament, but am hoping that I can get more of our players ready for upcoming tournaments.  They are close.

I was fortunate to win a Bronze medal in the men's 65-69 singles competition, beating the number one seed, Greg Linnemayer, in a second round match and then losing to the same player in the medal round.  Greg eventually went on to win the Gold medal in singles.  In doubles, my partner (Tom Gunther---from Laguna Niguel, CA) and I won the Silver medal in the 65-69 men's competition.  We beat the No. 1 seed in the second round (again, Greg Linnemayer and his partner, Brian Jensen), the No. 2 seed in the third round, and eventually lost in the Gold medal match (to the No. 1 seed) in an epic battle, 9-11, 13-11, 9-11, 13-15. Greg and Brian were excellent players (both 5.0s) and were class individuals.  In fact, all the participants were fun to be around around.  The event was held at the Tuscany Hills Resort (formerly the Castle Creek Inn) in Escondido, CA.   Participants were invited to a reception dinner on Friday evening and members of the Castle Creek Pickleball Club brought food for the participants.  Live music, good socializing, great discussions on Pickleball and Pickleball strategy.  I highly recommend this event next September.

It was very exciting to participate.  The Senior Olympics (the State Games) is played at various venues, and at different times of the year, all around California.  The games also serve as a qualifier for the National Games played each summer in different cities around the country.  This past summer the Games were played in Cleveland.  Next summer they will be in Minneapolis.

I am relatively new to the tournament scene, so I wanted to share not only my small amount of success, but also information about this great tournament and other like it all across California and the western states.  I learned so much and am excited to come back and share this learning with my fellow players here in Paso Robles.  The PB players at these tournaments are eager to visit and share tips/information on this great game.  It is an excellent way to pass the time between matches.
Gold (Center), Silver (Right), Bronze (left) Winners

Jack Hodges and Chris Thomas (USAPA Western States Ambassador)


If you played today, "how did the ball come off your paddle?"

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pickleball Decisions....200 Visitors....Our Picklehood

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Drop-in and play with us when you are visiting the beautiful Central Coast of California.

Our club has had quite of few out-of-area visitors over the past two weeks.  It is always fun to see unfamiliar players walking up to our courts, paddles in hand.  We know they are here for some serious (but fun) play.  We had both.  Today, four players from Heritage Ranch (a community about 20 miles west of Paso Robles---near Lake Nacimiento) joined us for some play and instruction.  Nice to hear that they are playing on their two courts at Heritage Ranch----and enjoying this great game.  Sam and Jackie Poppen are doing a fine job promoting the game at HR.

A few blogs ago I talked about dividing the opposition's court into three hitting lanes----the right third, the middle third, etc.  When receiving a ball hit by your opponents, this same dividing needs to be observed.  The two outside lanes---right and left---are covered by the player on that side.  No problem.  Where problems do occur, is when the ball is hit down the middle, and the "decision" comes into play....who's ball is it?  BTW, I am talking about situations where you (the receiving team) are back near the baseline.  Play at the net is entirely different.  Many times the ball-down-the-middle-problem can be solved by communicating.  But you have to communicate early enough for one of you to "prepare" for the shot.  Late communication....problems.  This leads to a good rule of thumb.  Responsibility for the ball down the center should be "directional."  By this, I mean that whomever the ball is traveling towards should be responsible for the return.  If the ball is coming from the opponent's left lane (as you are looking at your opponent's side of the court) and is traveling to the middle, the player who is on the other end of the diagonal (in this case, the player on the right side of the receiving court) should be responsible for returning the ball.  The ball is traveling towards him/her.  The ball is traveling slightly away from the partner because he/she is not on the other end of the diagonal shot.  Make sense?  I hope so, because it is a very good rule of thumb to follow.  Now, I am supposing that the two players are of somewhat comparable ability.  If you mutually agree beforehand that one player's strokes are better than his/her partner, than you can agree that the stronger person take the ball down the middle.  I'm also assuming you are wanting to win.  Strategy like the above could mean the difference between winning and losing.  I know, we play mostly for fun and exercise, but isn't the drive home a little more satisfying if you have won your fair share of games?

We have gone over the 200 mark as far as players who have visited and played on our venue.  We are on the radar of Pickleballers traveling to our beautiful area of California.  We are no longer the fastest growing sport in the country "that no one has heard of."  Win or lose, the members of this Picklehood should all be smiling on the drive home from the courts.

Friday, September 6, 2013

USAPA

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  View our website and stop in to play with us if you are traveling through the Central Coast.

Our National Governing Body, the USAPA.org recently announced that there are ten new Pickleball venues a month appearing across the United States.  This truly is the "fastest growing sport in the country."  That's 40+ a month....almost 500 a year.

We had 19 players today at Centennial Park.  An early 7:30 a.m. session for any players wanting to come out and work on their game....1 new player....good play on all five courts....lots of laughter....mixed level play with our veterans helping the newbies....three more phone calls today from travelers who will join us for PB in the next couple of weeks....another person stopping me at Starbuck's to ask what Pickleball was (I had my club shirt on)....another FREE Demonstration Clinic coming on Saturday, September 14th.

Next week Monday marks the one year anniversary of Pickleball in Paso Robles.  Thank you Jerry LaFlame and Lori Stinchfield for being my first two students.  That first week was a Kodak moment.  Lots to be proud of....lots to be thankful for.  Look out year No. 2!!!!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The WOW Shot in Pickleball.....1940 Buick

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com

The source of my writings as they relate to Pickleball are inspired by our experiences on the courts.  This writing is no different, and it is a long time coming.  I have seen, on way too many occasions, players attempting to hit a shot that is not part of their skill set.  I call it the WOW shot....Not necessarily to impress, but it is nice to hear your opponent say, "wow, that was a great shot."  Problem is, you don't hear them say, "that was not a very smart shot" the nine other times you are attempting WOW and not succeeding.  The misconception is that WOW requires power.  Let me repeat, you think WOW is pOWer.  The windup forehand topspin from the baseline that goes five feet long.  The swing volley at the 7' line instead of the punch volley.  The overhead full swing that goes into the net.  WOW is nice to hear, but WOW is very low percentage.  On that note of repeating, let me do so.....WOW is very low percentage.  This is a game of placement and patience.  The paddle and the wiffle ball were not engineered for power.  When, and if, you start playing a softer, more patient game, you will see the good results you are hoping for.  And, patience is a metaphor for the development of your game. 1% improvement over 100 days....not 100% improvement by the next day.  Be patient with your game, exercise patience when you play, and there will be less WOW, but more "WHOA, who is that 5.0 player occupying your body today?"

On another note, Paso Robles always has so much going on---especially on the weekends.  Concerts, wine tasting, festivals, cultural events, etc.  This past weekend was the Labor Day Classic Car Show.  What a step back in time!  Friday was the main street (Spring Street) cruise, with close to 200 cars drawing oohs and aahs.  Saturday, the cars were on exhibit at Paso's wonderful central park.  I have included a picture of the 1940 Buick that won 'Best in Show.'  A real gem.

Back to Pickleball.  "How Did The Ball Come Off Your Paddle Today?"




Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Good Pickleball Videos.....The 'Neutral' Shot in Pickleball

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Drop-in anytime to meet new people and play some fun Pickleball.


19 Players on Saturday, 24 players on Labor Day.  It was great to see.......Remember, we start at 8:15 a.m. tomorrow (Wed.) and for the rest of September and October (because of the school traffic).   We will always start at 8:00 on Saturdays. 

Three excellent videos from the Tournament of Champions played this past July in Ogden, Utah.  The video quality is excellent.  So is the play!!!!  You need not watch all of each video, but watch a good segment to see the use of all the shots you have been encouraged to work on....and, to see how the top players in the country play the game.  

Men's championships:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPTR6kBJhwY



The 'Neutral' Shot:  If you played the word association game with the word neutral, you might say 'smooth,' 'controlled,' 'coasting,' 'easy,' 'soft,'.....something along those lines.  In Pickleball, the Neutral shot is most associated with the return of serve.  That easy, controlled, smooth shot that is relatively soft and deep.  This neutral return of serve is very important because it allows you to get to the 7' line BEFORE your opponent hits the return.  In our play today, I saw too many fast paced or short returns of serve that got players caught in the mid-court area trying to hit tough shots at their feet. So think neutral on your service return.  You will be happy with the results.

By the way, "How Did The Ball Come Off Your Paddle Today?"  With control and placement, I hope!!!!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August Pickleball Review....The Learning Curve

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com

On this first day of September, and as we get close to the one year anniversary of our fortuitous Pickleball beginnings here in Paso Robles, I wanted to list a summary of some of this blog's discussions regarding rules, advice, reminders, strategy, etc.  The blog takes some time to write---no complaints---but are you reading and learning?  Yes, somewhere in the Pickleball universe, this blog appears to the 'public,' but this is not my reason for writing such.  I feel the situations that arise on the court, and, in my readings, should be reviewed by our Pickleball Club.  You learn a lot by reading....and sharing.

So here goes....how many of these August blogs did you take the time to read?

1.  A review of the 'Dink' shot.
2.  The 'Decision Line'
3.  Pickleball Skills Ratings
4.  'Negative Space'
5.  Pickleball Strategy
6.  Communication Between Players
7.  Where You Can Stand
8.  Serving Rules Summarized
9.  10 Things I Saw Today....
10. 10 Common Pickleball Mistakes

The above will affect the way the "ball comes off your paddle."  Enjoy the weekend.  I also had to share this picture.  We talk a lot about being ready for your opponent's next shot.  Some of you have your paddle in positions other than the proper ready position.  Here are two youngsters (10 years old) more than ready!!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The 'Dink' Shot....

Our website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com

Our beginning and intermediate players ask me regularly about when they can play with the more advanced players.  We do have our five courts broken down into advanced, intermediate, and beginner status.  Many times, if players get to the courts early enough, our combinations of players are eclectic (can I use that word in a Pickleball discussion?).....until we have enough players to divide properly on the courts, anyone can play with anyone.  That usually takes about the first 30 minutes of class.  Back to the question: My answer has been the standard "when your game gets better."  I go into specifics if they want specifics.  Initially, the explanation centers around the obvious....consistency.  Consistently good serves, consistently hitting good returns of serve, consistently getting to the 7' line, consistently looking comfortable at the net.....etc.  After some time--and consistently good success--against players of comparable ability, the question is asked again.  I answer by saying that they are close, and they very well may be, but are they ready to handle the faster pace and better placement that comes with playing better players?  They say they are (and in their hearts they believe it), but from a technical standpoint, most are lacking the one shot that is a must in more advanced play....the 'Dink.'  My answer remains consistent (there's that word again!)...."when you have consistently good success with the Dink Shot, you can play successfully with the more advanced players."  This is not to say that all of our more advanced players are great 'dinkers.'  We all need work.  But we try, third shot after third shot, 7' line rally after 7' line rally, understanding all the time that the ball needs to be hit at the opponent's feet.  Placement, placement, placement....Dink, Dink, Dink.

As a newbie, beginner, or even intermediate player, are you swinging at the short shots and punching the long shots?  This is what the less experienced players do.  It should be just the opposite.  At the end of the day, you always ask yourself "how did the ball come off my paddle today."  Hopefully, low, soft, and at your opponent's feet......
 Making your opponent hit up with a good, short 'Dink" shot

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pickleball's "Decision" Line....No Volley Zone Violations

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com

Today's Observation:  We talk a lot about hitting the ball at the opponent's feet....forcing them to hit up.  There is also a great deal of conversation about hitting to the middle because "the middle is money."  Well, it is surprising how often players have the opportunity to play the middle but choose instead to play one opponent or the other.  I understand playing weaknesses or the weaker opponent.  I also believe that strong or weak, the middle, or what I choose to call the DECISION LINE, is a very strategic (and sensible) ZONE of the court to hit to.  Schematically, it is the center service line that extends to the baseline.  Balls hit to this zone (or on that line) force the opponent's to make a decision.  They should communicate.  Most do not.  They both think "I've Got It" or "You Take It" and a sword fight ensues with the paddles, or neither goes after the ball----easy point for you.  What is important to remember is that this Decision Line can float as your opponents move, or shade, a particular side of the court.  Nothing changes....hit to their middle (dink is preferable) and make them decide.  You will be pleasantly surprised at the number of easy points won when the day is over.

Today's Rules Clarification:  I have noticed a trend in our play at Centennial Park.  Remember when you first started playing?  How aware (or even a little leery) you were of No Volley Zone violations.  As you played more, and got comfortable with playing horizontally along the 7' line, you stopped worrying about the line and the violations.  You felt comfortable, rarely stepped in the Kitchen, and enjoyed playing more.  Herein lies a problem.  In tournament play, the official stands at one net post or the other and officiates the game.  He/she tells you before the match that his/her responsibility is NVZone violations---foot faults.  All other lines are called by the players.  In social play, ALL lines are called by the players.  Back to the problem.  I have noticed numerous NVZ foot fault violations not called by the hitting team.  YOU are responsible for calling your own violation, or that of your partner.  Your opponents should not.  They can point it out....but you have to agree.  No agreement...no violation....no more discussion.  The suggestion:  Do the best you can to look down at your feet (or your partner's) after hitting a winning volley (very hard during the rally).  Just self-check.  It is the proper and courteous thing to do.

Fun play today.  22 participants on another great morning.  We have averaged (we have a sign-in sheet and I check closely) 18 players a session for nine straight weeks.  Our high--25.  Our low--12.  Bravo.

Have a great day and, wherever you played today, think about 'How The Ball Came Off Your Paddle?'  Hopefully, well-placed!!!!

Hitting To The 'Decision Line'



Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pickleball Rules Question/Answer....Pickleball Ratings....USAPA

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for some fun play whenever your are in our area.  We have loaner equipment.

Let's answer yesterday's question.  Ruling:  Violation of the No Volley Zone by the hitting team.  Even though the player who stepped into the NVZ did not hit the winning volley, the mere touching of his partner's paddle (or any part of his partner) makes his partner susceptible to a violation call.  In essence, the two became one and any contact with the NVZ by either player is just that....a violation.

Here is some information on Pickleball skill ratings.  Many of our players ask about this....

1.  You can self-rate yourself.  This is usually done so that you can enter a skill level tournament.
2.  You can have your local ambassador suggest a rating so that you can enter a tournament.
3.  After you play in a tournament, it is not uncommon, although not required, to have the tournament director give you a rating.  Many do, many do not.
4.  To get on the "ratings radar" for an advancement in your ratings, you generally need to medal in a skill level tournament.
5.  Most often, you will need to medal twice--usually Gold-- (in two different Skill Level tournaments) to be advanced to the next level.
6.  Quality of tournaments, recommendations from highly skilled players and/or tournament directors, size of the event, more than one event performance....are other factors used to rate players.
7.  Ratings changes are now being done three times a year on April 1, September 1 and December 1.  In special cases there are exceptions.
8.  USAPA ratings may be quite different from self-ratings.
9.  USAPA ratings will be posted on the official National website.
10. Remember, Skill Level tournaments (3.0-3.5, 4.0-4.5, 5.0) are different from Age Level tournaments (50-54, 55-59, 60-64, etc.).  You need not be rated to play in Age Level tourneys.

To join the USAPA go to this website.  Your membership helps our National Organization and also helps our local Club:  http://usapa.org/memberships/index.php  $25.00 a year is one less bottle of good wine, two less pizzas, lunch at home once, no blue-ray DVD, a week without lattes (you know what they say....they take a 'latte' time to make and they cost a 'latte' money).

15 players today on a busy weekend.....

The Question:  "How Did The Ball Come Off Your Paddle Today?"



Friday, August 23, 2013

Pickleball Rules....Negative Space In Pickleball

Today's Rules Explanation:  During the course of a rally, our opponents, both standing at their 7' line, went for a ball.  One of them hit a winning volley, but his partner struck the back of his paddle and also stepped into the No Volley Zone.  He did not hit the ball, just his partner's paddle.  What is the ruling?:  You can respond in the comments section.  Answer will be given tomorrow (if you do not already know).

On another note.....there is a famous quote by photojournalist Robert Capa that simply states, "If you do not like your photographs, you are not close enough."  Well said.  In essence, what he is implying is that photographers leave too much 'negative space' around the subject of a photograph.  The space does nothing to help the picture.  If I might draw a Pickleball analogy to this quote (and it is a little bit of a stretch, but hey, the simple explanation of why you must get to the 7' line isn't working), it would be that you can't have all that 'negative space' around you because you are standing back at the baseline.  Linearly (is that a word?), there is 12'6" of 'negative space' between you and the 7' No Volley Zone line---when you are standing at the baseline (this would be the distance from the 7' line and the baseline=13 ft.).  I say 12'6" because your toes should be about 6" from the NVZ line!!!!  Confusing?  Shouldn't be....when you play ping pong, do you stand 13' away from the end of the table?  No, you get up to the table (in this case, the 7' NVZ line).  Win or lose your rallies from there.  What about the lob?  A low percentage shot with few outright winners.

I know, this whole 'negative space' thing is a little out there, but not really.  Besides, if I can help the photographers in our group---with their photos or their Pickleball---well....you're welcome!

20 players today on an overcast, but pleasant, Friday.  Lots of good play.  I say that a lot, but today it really looked like the games were competitive and positive.  There's that other 'P' word.

"How Did The Ball Come Off Your Paddle Today?"  If you did not like your shots, you probably weren't close enough!!!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pickleball Strategy Reminders....A Good Article....Pickleball In Spain

Our Paso Robles Pickleball club Website:  www.pickleballpasorobles.shutterfly.com  Join us for some fun play when you are in the area.

We had 17 players this morning, including a talented player from Virginia.  Since we started eleven months ago our visitors have come from all areas of California----San Diego, Riverside, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, L.A., Whittier, San Fernando Valley, Santa Maria, Pismo Beach, Cambria, San Jose, Palo Alto....to name a few, and, from other states----Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Virginia.  It is fun to meet and play with Pickleballers from outside our area.  The conversation always centers around what they are doing at their clubs, what kind of support they have from their city, their facilities, etc.  Very interesting to hear about all the clubs who move indoors during the winter months.  We like being outdoors, but the option to move inside would be nice during the cold and rain.

Strategy Reminders:  After today's play, I see the opportunity to remind people about Pickleball Strategy.  Here is a good list of 10.

1.  Get your serve in every time....preferably DEEP.
2.  Your Service Return should be slow and deep to allow you to get to the 7' line (NVZ line).
3.  Use the Third Shot "Dink."  This is the return of their return of serve.  A short shot in the NVZ.
4.  Placement and Patience are the keys to this game.  Play under control.
5.  Speaking of placement....hit the ball to your opponent's feet.
6.  When you can, make them REACH.
7.  When you can, keep your opponent's DEEP.  If they stay back, keep them back.
8.  Do not hit UP.  Remember #5.  Hit at their feet.  Placement.  The dink.
9.  Take away the high percentage shot from your opponents.  Shade with your partner.  The more diagonally they hit, the lower their percentage of winners.
10. Be in a good ready position with the Paddle Up and Slightly Angled (45 Degrees) Towards Your Opponents.

Read a good article today about the start up/importance of Pickleball in a Fresno County city.

http://www.hanfordsentinel.com/selma_enterprise/selma-needs-pickleball-courts/article_3e535534-09b5-11e3-bb39-001a4bcf887a.html

Another country getting serious about Pickleball:  Read:  http://blog.pickleballcentral.com