Sexism in sports. USAP's big numbers. PPA preview.
Does it feel like there is a new paddle hitting the market every day? Well, that's because there is. USA Pickleball released a bevy of interesting numbers from 2022 including the approval of 525 new paddles. More on that below.
When it comes to social media, it doesn't get much bigger than this. Anna Leigh Waters teamed up with Instagram -- yeah, THE Instagram -- to tell 600M followers about pickleball.
Time is running out to vote for ALW and your other favorite players in The Dink Awards.
Let's jump in.
Wave Goodbye to the Continental Grip
Pickleball/tennis grip names are the worst. Continental, Eastern, Semi-Western...are we holding a paddle, or joining Magellan's next expedition?
Over at Third Shot Sports, they're ready to bid adieu to one of the most confusing grips, the continental grip.
"The CG is found when the V of your hand (between your thumb and index finger) is right on top of the paddle handle...similar to how a person might hold a hammer."
(While Third Shot Sports thinks the continental grip is on the way out, let the record show that our very own Thomas Shields thinks otherwise).
The grip was a common part of any pickeball curriculum but advancements in paddle technology and the prevalence of topspin have made the eastern grip more popular.
With the eastern grip, the palm is more parallel to the face of the paddle. This adds strength through contact and is more natural for the topspin stroke.
One weakness of the eastern grip is less backhand power. A growing number of players are switching to a two-handed backhand which mitigates that concern.
Next time you finish a point, take a look down at your grip. Are you shaking hands with your paddle (eastern) or wielding it like Thor's Hammer (continental)? Shake hands and play nice; a small change could make a big impact.
Breaking the Rules of Court Fashion
Made from lightweight moisture-wicking materials, Faye + Florie designs combine great profiles with performance-enhancing freedom of movement. Click here to see more.
More Impressive Pickle Numbers
USA Pickleball recently published the results of its 2022 growth report. Much like the APP's recent study, which reported 36 million people played pickleball last year, USAP’s numbers also speak to an unprecedented year of pickle invasion.
As pickleball continued to expand across the country, USAP saw its membership increase nearly 30% over 2021. The National Governing Body currently has a membership base of nearly 69,000, compared to 53,110 in 2021.
Here are some other encouraging figures:
- USAP’s Places2Play database grew by 1,557 facilities, from 9,167 to a total of 10,724
- 130 new locations were logged per month, or more than four per day
- They announced that they approved 525 new paddles last year
- USAP sanctioned 237 tournaments in 2022 compared to 153 in 2021
Pickleball's Opportunity to Avoid Sexism
ESPN’s recent broadcast deal with APP is a great sign of pickleball's growth. But is it also a sign of sexism across the sports industry? A recent article in Deadspin makes a thoughtful point.
It seems like “sports networks will invest in just about anything before women’s sports,” and pickleball stands as another example of that.
“...Sports networks often take a flier on young sports leagues. As long as those leagues are men’s. In fact, what might be most notable about pickleball is that the Association of Pickleball Professionals has women’s divisions,” the author writes.
The article explains that ESPN hasn’t consistently broadcast a women’s sports-specific recurring program (like “NFL Insiders” for the WNBA or women’s tennis). Some estimates say only 4-6% of traditional sports outlets even include women’s sports. Meanwhile, U.S. women’s soccer routinely outperforms the men’s game in the World Cup, and Serena Williams pulls 4.8 million viewers to the U.S. Open
“...Women have been dominant in tennis for two decades, it’s a huge missed opportunity to cover the WTA as a sport, rather than cover individuals like Serena and Venus Williams, Naomi Osaka, and those who came before.”
The author does go out of their way to make clear that there’s nothing wrong with pickleball and that they’re glad it is growing.
Pickleball’s accessibility and diversity is a key part of its strength. The number one player in the game is a 16-year-old woman (see above). Those elements help to separate the sport from the usual sins of the sports world.
The piece wraps: “Go ahead pickleball. Have your day. Just do us all a favor and put some of those women’s matches in the premier windows now that you have a platform.”
By the way, it's worth mentioning that today is National Girls & Women in Sports Day.
Hey, we want to learn more about you...
Will you take this quick survey for us? Pretty please?
The PPA Tour Takes Over Phoenix
The pickleball world is still buzzing about Major League Pickleball. Most touring pros were able to stick around in Arizona to roll right into this week's PPA Tour Desert Ridge Open.
One team riding the MLP wave is the undefeated men's duo from the LA Mad Drops. Thomas Wilson and Julian Arnold will try to keep their hot streak alive in Phoenix.
Anna Bright is mixing up her dance card and will partner with Vivienne David and Riley Newman. Bright and Newman could stand the best chance of playing spoiler to Anna Leigh Waters/Ben Johns's championship run.
Fan favorites Jorja Johnson and Andrea Koop add depth to the women's doubles field. They could shake up the women's doubles hierarchy and climb onto the podium this weekend.
The men's singles draw has an enormous 49-player qualifier bracket. The top finishers in the draw will earn a spot in the stacked men's singles field. Anna Leigh Waters will have 16 challengers in the women's singles field.
Catch the action starting Thursday morning on PPA TV. Fancy yourself an expert in pro pickleball? Click the Vote Now button on ppatour.com to predict this weekend's winners and earn a little bit of pickleball spending money.
Find Your Next Game
The free, web-based tool for finding pickleball community. Learn more here.
Headlines & Quick Hits
- Former tennis star Gigi Fernández is now a pickleball pro
- Pickleball is out, padel is in with athletes like Messi, Beckham, Williams
- Va. community divided on restricting the sport due to noise complaints
- Amanda Anisimova and tennis world shocked by strange pickleball 'hindrance' video
- The switch
- 10x more entertaining than tennis
- A brilliant Mesa moment
- Dekel Bar is Everything Everywhere All at Once
A review from the Dink Fam:
What did you think of today's newsletter?