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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween....Playing Smart Pickleball

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  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.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

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

Our Paso Robles Pickleball Club Website:  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.

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:  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 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:  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:

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:  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:

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:

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:  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?