Ellen DeGeneres is quickly becoming a serious pickleball ambassador. Just a couple weeks ago, she advised single people to hit the courts if they want to find partnership.
Now, she’s posting a pickleball-themed burn-away birthday cake on her Instagram (that 139 million people follow).
We have to admit, the cake is pretty cool. The outer layer burns off to reveal her name surrounded by pickleballs. As she says in the video: how do they do it?!
In This Issue:
👇 Place your thirds here
🐉 China will push pickleball forward
🙅 Why you don’t watch the pros
Convincing Case for Dropping Cross-Court
John Cincola shared some third shot drop fundamentals with us last month. But were you paying attention late in the video? About seven minutes in?
Aiming cross-court allows more margin for error. The safe zone for landing a drop in the kitchen becomes much larger when aiming cross-court.
The net is lower in the middle
It may not seem like much, but the height of the net makes a huge difference in pickleball. In the middle of the court, the net hangs at 34 inches, and at the sidelines it is 36.
The extra height is the difference between a ball that clears the net and one that ends the point. Using the height difference to your advantage can give you the small edge needed to win a close match.
One trap that beginners fall into is hitting the ball too close the the sideline. It can work at lower levels but once the opposition learns to erne, it becomes off-limits.
A ball down the line is infinitely easier to erne than one hit cross-court.
Partner protection in transition
The last and most interesting reason is the concept of partner protection. Cincola explains how dropping cross-court helps get your partner involved in the point.
After hitting the third, you're likely to be deeper in the court than your partner. A smart opponent will try to target the deeper player with their fourth.
Because your partner has free reign, they have the opportunity to poach on that fourth ball.
This protects you while you’re on the move through the transition zone. A poach is also a great way to catch your opponent off guard and set yourself up to win the point. Revisit John Cincola’s third shot fundamentals.
Control Reigns Supreme
Introducing the Selkirk Luxx Control Air, the ultimate control paddle for Pickleball players who value finesse and precision. While the industry has focused on power paddles, Selkirk recognizes the demand for control.
Tailored for tacticians, this paddle combines Florek Carbon Fiber Technology, a 20mm X7 Thikset Honeycomb Core, 360° Proto Molding Construction, and Aero-DuraEdge Edgeless Technology for an expanded sweet spot, unrivaled control, durability, and accelerated spin.
Experience the Luxx Control Air to elevate your pickleball game. Click below to explore it for yourself and seize control on the court.
China is ‘Taking Over’ Pickleball
Within five years, China may have 10,000 pickleball courts and 100 million players, according to Seymour Rifkind, pickleball ambassador.
‘Rif’ says in a recent Front Office Sports article that this was a pledge given to him from “top sports officials in China.”
If Rif’s prediction is correct, that means China will have outpaced the United States in less than a couple of years, since the APP claimed only 36.5 million Americans played in 2022.
Sure, America may have the upper hand in terms of total courts built already.
But as Front Office Sports points out, China has a dozen cities with larger populations than New York…if pickleball does become popular there, they’ll be forced to build quickly. Imagine the wait times otherwise.
China doesn’t just have the numbers to make it the most popular nation for pickleball, it has the engagement to match. According to the article:
Rif’s group gave demonstrations in Dong Ying, Beijing, and Hebei, with the last event receiving 4.8 million views online
Meanwhile, the most-watched US pickleball event (2023 Nationals) only received 2.6 million total views; while most of your week-to-week events receive a few thousand at best
But perhaps we shouldn’t frame this as a proverbial arms race. After all, paddle sports have a habit of bringing the two countries together:
During the Cold War, a US delegation ventured to the People’s Republic of China to play table tennis
“Ping pong diplomacy” actually did play a role in smoothing over tensions between the two nations
It also propelled that sport to the Olympics by the late 80s
If pickleball makes it to the Olympics soon, Chinese competitors may out-medal Americans. We know Americans won’t want to hear that, but if China’s interest in pickleball literally funds the sport’s future, how could we complain?
Vegas Pickle Bowl
We're excited to be hosting an exclusive celebrity pro-am and amateur tournament at the Plaza Hotel & Casino on the Big Game Weekend in Las Vegas!
Kick off the event with clinics from pro players on Thursday, February 8th, and ramp up the excitement with the Celebs & Athletes tournament on Friday, February 9th, hosted by Matt Manasse and featuring stars like Marcellus Wiley, Golden Tate, Logan Lisle, AreYouKiddingTV and more.
Then, show off your skills in the amateur tournament on Saturday, February 10th. All this while supporting the Inspiring Children Foundation. Don’t just hear about it later – be a part of the action! Sign up now and make your mark in the Vegas Pickle Bowl!
Why You Don’t Watch Pro Pickle
Last issue, we asked those who don’t watch pro pickleball to tell us why. Here’s what they had to say:
Clearly, the top two pain points could be addressed with some (or all) of the following remedies:
Unify the streaming of top-level matches to a single channel/stream
Spend advertising $$$ on promoting that single, easy way to view the stream so ‘muggles’ are exposed to pro-level pickleball, too
Promote an understanding of the game’s vocab and intricacies through high-level, shareable content
Consider a pickleball equivalent to the shot clock
As for that final point about the shot clock, as well as the third place answer about people who prefer to play over watching…it’s worth noting not everyone agrees.
One reader wrote in to tell us why they think pickleball is more like soccer than we may realize…
“…Brazil’s soccer fans flock to the stadium to watch a scoreless game of passing and two or three shots on goal.
The similarities are that they understand the chess match of the sport. They have grown up with it and either they were taught it or they played the equivalent of 4.0 level soccer in school or on the streets.
PB viewership will be based on 4.0 level viewers. That number is rising on the rec courts but we are really nowhere near there being enough of us to move the viewership needle for media rights.
That said, US women’s pro soccer just scored a media deal that fits a similar mold. It’s possible that you build it first and then they will come.
I just hope they don’t put in a shot clock or other gimmicks. Soccer doesn’t have a shot clock and it’s doing just fine globally.”
John Sanders, The Pickle Prof
A New Take on Paddle Testing
The APP Tour has beefed up paddle testing this year. Graham shares a look behind the scenes from the recent Punta Gorda Open.
It’s deadline week for the PPA - MLP merger and the guys break down what still needs to happen before the two sides can come to terms. Travis is back in on the shot clock concept and the guys want to see new rules implemented at the Challenger Level. Catch up the with Crescent Lake Crew here.
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