The Dink Pickleball

The Dink Pickleball Logo
Pickleball Lives Here
News and Stories

Meet Wil Shaffer, The Future of Pickleball

by Jason Flamm on

Wil Shaffer has only been on this planet for 15 years, yet he's already accomplished so much.

He's an award-winning gymnast who starred in a reality competition show. He might also be the next great pickleball pro.

The Dink chatted with Wil to discuss his accomplishments and also talk about his future aspirations in pro pickleball.

Who is Wil Shaffer?

Like many of us, Wil Shaffer's journey into pickleball began during the pandemic. His family heard about it, and they all decided to try it out on the pavement in their backyard.

He was 13 years old at the time, and what started as a fun way to stay active together quickly became an obsession.

Wil and his family began going to public courts, and eventually, he began playing in tournaments.

"I was a gymnast for 10 years, which was a big part of my life. So I was still really taking it seriously, but once I started taking pickleball more seriously, I had to kind of decide between gymnastics or pickleball."

This was a tough decision for Wil. He'd spent most of his life as a gymnast, winning three state championships.

"If I'm going to do something, I'm going to give it 100 percent. So, I eventually decided on pickleball."

Why he chose pickleball

"At the time, I wasn't really having much fun with gymnastics, but I went out to the pickleball courts and played with my friends. I wasn't even taking it seriously, but it was fun.

"And then it was even more fun when I went to a tournament, won, and got to hang out with friends. That's what makes pickleball so great, in my opinion, is just being able to go out and your friends, but also just compete."

His older brother, who just turned 18, was also very good at pickleball but decided not to stick with it.

"He's definitely the most talented at it in our family, but he was the only one that didn't stick with it. We all started playing kind of at the same time but once we switched to public courts, my brother didn't like it as much.

"My mom and dad play, but I'd say they're 4.0-level players."

Wil's connection to the Arizona pickleball scene

Arizona is widely considered one of the hotbeds of pickleball, thanks to Tuesday Night Pickleball at The Orchard and the number of pros who come from the area, including Augie Ge, Pesa Teoni, Patrick Kawka, Rachel Rettger, Caden Nemoff, Kyle Koszuta, and more.

Wil has been fortunate to play, drill, and train with many of them.

"The Arizona pickleball community is just so big and so tight-knit that after a year or two in it, especially as a 12-year-old that's social, I knew pretty much everyone. I was maybe like a 4.0, and a lot of the people had to try to take it easy on me.

"Still, I think as I got better and as I started to actually gain respect as a player instead of just like that one kid, people started inviting me to games, and then they started thinking of me less as a kid and more as just as a pickleball player.

"We have a lot of really good players here. There are five 5.0-plus pickleball kids that are just here in Arizona that we can train with, and there are probably more."

Wil has a desire to go pro

Playing against high-level competition has helped Wil improve very quickly. Moving forward, he's decided he may only play pro qualifiers instead of regular tournaments.

"I think pro qualifiers is definitely where I need to start making moves because I think I'm good enough to make a main draw, especially if I get a good draw.

"I think I could definitely make a career out of it right now. It's just I'm focused on school and just still being a kid. But, pickleball is definitely a future career option.

"I think if I don't play pro, I could commentate. I could do social media content. There are a lot of options in pickleball because it's just such a growing sport."

Wil is part of Team JOOLA and has even become a certified pickleball coach, though he admits that he doesn't have much time for it.

"I used to do a lot of clinics. There was this facility up in Mesa with 41 courts. It's where PPA Mesa was, and I used to coach there and intern there. So we did a lot of kids clinics, and I would do some personal lessons, but that was always fun. I enjoy doing that."

Wil's parents support his choices

"My parents are very supportive of what I choose to do. They were like, 'if you're a gymnast, we're gonna support you in it, but if you ever want to quit, we support you in that too,' and then when I kind of decided to switch to pickleball, it was definitely a hard decision.

"I think it's good that they played pickleball, too, and they were serious about it before me.

"My dad played a tournament before me and encouraged me to try them out to see how it went. Then it kind of just grew from there. It all happened so fast."

Wil and All-Around Champion

Recently, Wil participated in a reality competition show on BYU TV.

"One day, I was just on Instagram. I got a message, and I was like, what is this? I definitely thought it was a scam at first."

It proved to be legit.


Wil Shaffer competing on All-Around Champion

"I was invited to be on the sixth season of a Canadian show called All Around Champion. We filmed it in Ontario. It's a great show.

"So, it's basically where different athletes compete in each other's sports. One week, as the pickleball athlete, I would coach pickleball, and the other 10 weeks, I would learn everyone else's sport. And then at the end of each week, I'd compete in each sport, and there would be points involved, and at the end, there's a winner."

You can watch Wil compete on All-Around Champion at

"That was the best experience in my life. I made the best friends of my life, and I got three times more athletic from it."

Is Wil the future of pickleball?

In answering this question, Wil took a humble approach:

"Pickleball has such a bright future, and I do my best to train hard to try to be a part of it!  Let’s go!!"

But, we don't mind saying it.

As he says at the end of the video above, Wil is "gonna be a threat."

The Dink will keep track of Wil's progress and keep you posted on his journey.

Pickleball Skill Quiz
Find out your pickleball rating

Jason Flamm

Jason Flamm

Jason is a writer from St. Louis. He’s been a coach in several sports and is currently working on his pickleball coaching certification. He loves to teach and share his passions.

Read more