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PicklePod: Let's be blunt about pickleball with Travis Rettenmaier

by Jason Flamm on

Travis Rettenmaier is a professional pickleball player and owner of the Florida Smash Major League Pickleball team. He's also one of the hosts of the Tennis Sucks Podcast.

More importantly, he's someone willing to speak his mind and not pull any punches. Most importantly, he's this week's guest on the PicklePod (click here to subscribe).

This is gonna be good.

The Rattlesnake is a skeptic of the pro game

After denying that he wrote his own Wikipedia page, Travis discusses his skepticism about pro pickleball. Essentially, he says the rec game is booming, but we still haven't figured out how to showcase pro pickleball correctly.

A self-proclaimed pickleball junkie, Travis mentions one of the problems with the pro game (besides pros with man boobs) is that the game doesn't look dynamic.

According to him (and an article published on The Dink last month), anyone can look at pro pickleball and say, "I can do that." And that's a problem.

How to Make Pro Pickleball More Enjoyable to Watch
What makes pro pickleball so difficult to watch on TV, and how can it be better? We offer some solutions.

Pickleball is for the misfits

One of the charming parts of pickleball is that it brings people from all walks of life together. It's not uncommon to see the CEO of a large company dinking around with someone who chooses not to shower every day.

That openness and inclusivity are what brought Travis to pickleball and what makes him so passionate about the game, especially in his hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida.

A pickleball norm that drives you crazy

Host Thomas Shields asks co-host Zane Navratil and Travis, "What's one thing about pickleball that's the norm but drives you crazy?"

Travis answers by discussing how the current ranking systems are flawed and presents a different idea for determining the best pickleball players.

Zane's answer is to change the rules through experimentation. Not a shocker coming from someone known for the "Zane saw" serve.

Which, in case you missed it, he unretired last weekend against Christian Alshon.

Cheating is very, very prevalent

Ahhhh. This is the part of the podcast we've all been waiting for. Travis discusses the obvious cheating happening in pro pickleball.

From hooking to smashing your approved paddle with a mallet to give it more pop, you do not want to miss the tea spilled during this podcast segment.

Also, find out what he's talking about when he says, "This will be the demise of pickleball if things like this are not outlawed." 

You can buy skill, buy force, buy spin

Speaking of overpowered paddles, the guys rap about this hot topic lately and how current paddles make shots 50 percent faster.

"You weren't meant to hit passing shots off your back foot," Travis says. "I just don't think that's what the game was meant to do."

Controversies from the Red Rock Open

Another, in-case-you-missed-it-moment, Andrei Daescu smashed (a gross over-exaggeration) a ball at his downed opponent during a point at Red Rock. See for yourself here:

Was this fair game, or should he have gone elsewhere with the ball?

You can weigh in by subscribing to our newsletter and answering this week's poll question:

Best sh*t talkers in pickleball?

The PicklePod ends with a discussion on who talks the most (and best) trash in pro pickleball.

Who do you think makes their top five?


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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.

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