“Learn from the past or you are doomed to repeat it” — Everyone who was beat by the unstoppable Waters/Johns duo this year.
The pickleball stories and headlines from 2023 stand to teach us a lot about the state of the game in 2024 and beyond, so we thought we’d write a special edition of The Dink to commemorate the year behind us.
So without further ado, we present: Pickleball’s Year in Photos…right after a quick tip, because would it even be an issue of The Dink without something you can take with you to the court?
Oh, one last thing before we get started…
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📖 The 2023 pickleball chronicles
A Fan Favorite from 2023
The Dink Fam went bananas for this shot in 2023. Have you tried it yet? Zane Navratil peels back the layers on the banana shot in a new video.
The banana shot is used to curve the ball around your opponent and land it into the backcourt behind them.
The shot was made famous in tennis by Rafael Nadal. As paddle technology has advanced to provide more spin, the banana shot has also become a possibility in pickleball.
The banana shot is most commonly used to hit the ball down the line, either for an ATP or passing shot.
Zane recommends three tips to give your ball the banana shape:
Make contact with the ball at your side instead of in front
Drop the paddle head down so you can curl it around the ball
Brush around the outside of the ball to create side spin instead of slice or topspin
Make a stop in the produce section and drop the banana shot into your cart. Not only is it effective but it is one of the most fun shots to hit.
Watch your opponent turn their head to see the ball land in and their dreams crushed in the process. See it in action here.
If you've ever struggled to enjoy cannabis due to the harshness of smoking or vaping, you're not alone. That’s why these new cannabis gummies caught our eye.
Mood is an online dispensary that has invented a “joint within a gummy” that’s extremely potent yet federally-legal. Their gummies are formulated to tap into the human body’s endocannabinoid system.
Although this system was discovered in the 1990’s, farmers and scientists at Mood were among the first to figure out how to tap into it with cannabis gummies.
Just 1 of their rapid onset THC gummies can get you feeling right within 5 minutes! Order now
Celebrities continue to bring pickleball some pop culture notoriety
The addiction to pickleball isn't just for us regular folk, there's been no shortage of celebrities picking up paddles this year.
Consider some of the following icons who invested in pickleball this year:
Even Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez bought-in (by purchasing a mansion complete with a luxury court).
The impact of having so many recognizable names effectively vouch for pickleball cannot be understated.
New paddle testing process announced; paddle controversies persist
Major League Pickleball, PPA Tour, and USA Pickleball announced a revised, more technologically-advanced paddle testing process to address paddle legality issues early in 2023.
They now use "automated equipment specifically designed for the sport of pickleball" to conduct lab and on-site testing of paddles and balls.
Of course, that system has already undergone edits and will likely mature into something more efficient, accurate, and easy to explain in 2024.
Colleges finally invest seriously in pickleball
Drury University in Springfield, MO broke ground on its new “Panther Pad,” featuring tennis and pickleball courts, pavilion grill, and beverage area.
The University of Mississippi spent over $60k to replace three tennis courts with eight new pickleball courts.
Meanwhile, Utah Tech University started offering pickleball scholarship money to talented students.
Pickleball's number one player sets a Triple Crown record
Anna Leigh Waters claimed the 20th Triple Crown of her career on the PPA Tour in 2023.
Let that sink in: she's surpassed Ben Johns (though the two won gold at Nationals together in addition to an incredible doubles run). She's surpassed everyone.
Two warring pro pickleball leagues have an unbelievable exchange
We couldn't hope to summarize the MLP vs. PPA saga in just a few sentences – so here's the gist:
2023's start promised a merger between PPA's VIBE League & MLP
This summer, Steve Kuhn and other MLP execs start calling up and signing pros to exclusive contracts; PPA responds in turn; the bidding war begins
The two again agree to merge; Kuhn steps down; players are offered pay cuts to make the business model more sustainable
Unleash your pickleball potential with the HEAD Radical Tour RAW EX Pickleball Paddle.
Its elongated handle is perfect for those powerful two-handed backhands, while the innovative Raw Carbon Hitting Surface offers great feel and control on the ball. This paddle is a game-changer for players seeking to dominate the court with both power and finesse.
Meanwhile, the APP quietly expands the sport globally and bridges age gaps
While all this was going on, the newly-named Association of Pickleball Players has been continuing to quietly grow with a stronger focus on amateur play.
Nationals embodies pickleball in 2023
Despite racking up its fair share of complaints, Nationals also broke records and showcased explosive growth in 2023 – perfectly emblematic of pickleball itself.
The PPA Tour says attendance more than doubled initial projections, with over 50,000 picklers throughout the 7-day event.
A Guinness World Record-breaking 264 participants made for the most players in a pickleball exhibition match during the event.
Did we miss something?
Trick question: of course we did. It would be impossible to cover a year’s worth of headlines in one newsletter. So we’ve expanded this concept into a full article — read it here.
Oh: because we should say it more often, we want to thank all of you readers, new and OGs, for subscribing to The Dink.
If you’re still looking for a New Year’s Resolution, make it this: tell your pickleball friends about our newsletter, share your custom referral link at the bottom of this issue, and earning free pickleball gear for your efforts.
There are plenty of rewards if you do…and if you get 500 people to sign up, you’ll receive free paddles of your choosing for life.
Let’s get it in 2024, Dink Fam.
Headlines & Quick Hits
2023 was a big year for homecourt additions nationwide. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, we expect to see even more courts in 2024. Here is one of our favorites from last year.
Rent incredible homecourts like this with Swimply.
A review from the Dink Fam...