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How the Phillies Are Incorporating Pickleball Into Their Spring Training Routine

by Jason Flamm on

If the Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series this year, they'll have pickleball to thank for it.

Or, at least, some version they call 'Pacoball.'

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In this bastardized form of our beloved sport, Phillies outfield coach Paco Figueroa (hence the name created by The Athletic's Matt Gelb) takes elements of foursquare, squash, and pickleball to help his players learn to communicate, move, and field better.

In Pacoball, they use pickleball paddles but switch out a wiffle ball for a racquetball. They also play on a 30x30 stretch of grass with no net. To mimic using their gloves, they must also hold the paddles in their off hands.

“It helps with a lot of things,” Figueroa explainbed recently to Sports Illustrated. “Moving different directions, agility, you gotta drop to get the ball, go in to hit it. I envision our three outfielders [playing across from another three outfielders] doing a lot of communicating – ‘I got it, I got it’ – and you’re switching positions

“And a lot of it is competitiveness. The more you can compete, the better it is."

We're not 100 percent sure about all the rules, but some players have begun to take it very seriously. According to the article, center fielder Cristian Pache is already tracking statistics and lists himself as the winningest player.

Fresh off of making fun of his father for playing pickleball, outfielder Jake Cave said, "I’ve never played pickleball ... I was making fun of it. But then I went out there.”

Oh, we all know that feeling, don't we?

Cave plans on calling his father to apologize.

Forget tennis courts, perhaps it's time we start taking over empty baseball diamonds, too!

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