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An Unforgettable Year at Nationals

by The Dink Media Team on

Pickleball Jeopardy. Improve Your Stance. Washington Post.

I'd like to solve the puzzle!

Pickleball infiltrated another American pastime last night. Last month it was Jeopardy. This time it's the WHEEL-OF-FORTUNE.

Is it a coincidence that the celebrity contestant to solve the puzzle was actor/comedian Paul Scheer? Scheer will make his playing debut on the CBS show 'Pickled' Thursday night at 9pm ET.

Nationals just wrapped up was record breaking. Anna Leigh Waters stole the show, and made her case for why she may be the true pickeball GOAT.

Bahhhhh (That's goat speak for, "Let's go!")

USAP National Championships Results

Stop Standing Like The Tin Man

Your stance at NVZ is everything. It dictates the effectiveness of your dinks and defense, and your attacks and counters.

It's common for players to narrow their stance and stiffen in anticipation of, or in reaction to, a quick volley or speedup. In the midst of play, you tighten up. Don't let that happen.

“[When my feet come together], I call it tin man, I just can't move,” says pro Callie Smith on Instagram. Once you straighten up your stance, you're a sitting duck. A narrower stance means less mobility. You're more likely to be forced off the line, you're less likely to avoid a body-bag, you're less able to react to a lob (or even a short dink) and the list goes on.

It's especially common in tournament play or competitive matches. We all do it - we stiffen up and play tight. Half of the battle is maintaining the presence of mind to stay relaxed and play loose.

Focus on widening your stance (but not too wide) with your knees bent so you can shift, sidestep, reach, and turn, while remaining balanced. Think Floyd 'Money' Mayweather in the ring. Light on your feet but also fluid with your upper body. Be a metaphorical wall, not a literal one.


Try this. Watch the women pros, they are especially good at it: between points, they often bounce on their toes a few times before settling into a wide, low stance with bent knees. They sway laterally a couple of times. It's a mental and physical reset that forces you to assume a relaxed, but athletic stance before the next rally commences.

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Registration is now open and will fill quickly. Reserve your spot now.

Record Breaking Nationals Attendance

The USA Pickleball National Championships boasted a record-breaking 5,522 fans in attendance for Championship Sunday. The massive bleachers were packed, each rally consumed the crowd's attention, and the result was one of the most iconic scenes in pickleball to date.

Fans of Anna Leigh Waters witnessed another triple crown performance. Singles went as expected: Waters won over Lea Jansen 11-5, 11-7, 11-6.

In women's doubles, it was Catherine Parenteau filling in for the injured Leigh Waters (more on that below), pairing with ALW for gold.

To complete the triple crown, Waters and Riley Newman showed up with one of the most impressive displays in pickleball history. They played aggressively, treating two of the best players in the world, Ben Johns and Parenteau, like a couple of 4.0s.

Newman/Waters played lights out, winning 11-3, 11-0, 11-3. They touched paddles and walked away within half an hour. Was this some of the best pickleball we have ever seen? It was an absolutely dominating performance, and it's not as if Parenteau or Johns were having a bad tournament; each had already secured a gold in gender doubles.

And it's not that Anna Leigh Waters has been overshadowed, but it is true that the GOAT (greatest of all time) conversation typically revolves around Ben Johns. Is it time to start using more goat emojis when we mention Anna Leigh? Our answer: yup.

Of course, ALW's mixed gold meant Ben missed out on his. Johns collected two golds of his own though, winning straight games over Julian Arnold in the singles final and double-dipping JW Johnson & Dekel Bar for gold alongside brother Collin.

Partner Controversy

What would Nationals be without a little drama? Last year it was the vaccine requirement making headlines, this year it was a partner controversy.

Leigh Waters sustained a leg injury in mixed doubles on Friday. This left ALW partnerless for women's dubs.

Catherine Parenteau, who was scheduled to play with Allyce Jones, called a last-minute audible to make a title run with ALW...kicking Jones to the proverbial curb.

The move from Parenteau was not met kindly across social media. She and USA Pickleball were called out for leaving Allyce Jones partnerless and unable to compete, while showing favoritism to other pros.

"Oh well, not the first time or the last time that happened. Let's just remember - loyalty and integrity are more important than some medals. I know who I'm cheering for tomorrow" - Lucy Kovalova on IG

"This is bad on USAP - gross" - Andrea Koop on FB

Allyce Jones took to IG to share her thoughts on the matter: "USA pickleball needs to stop showing favoritism to some pros with registration to this tournament. It needs to be fair across the board."

Jones' usual partner Meghan Dizon missed the registration deadline, and USA Pickleball wouldn't budge and allow a late entry. Parenteau contacted Jones a few days prior to play, and the two decided to pair. But when Parenteau wanted to make a last minute switch to ALW, USA Pickleball was willing to budge. USA Pickleball appeared to be selective with their accommodations.

Business decisions were made, and technically, no rules were broken. For USAP, ALW takes priority. For CP, a shot at gold is what matters. But was it worth the backlash?

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How Much Exercise Do You Really Get on the Court?

While very few question the social benefits of pickleball meetups, scientists are determined to measure players’ actual physical exertion during games. Their answer: it’s not as much as you think.

An article in the Washington Post breaks down a recent study that measured the heart rates and step counts of players aged 29-73.

The study found that you’d need to play as much as 4.5 hours of pickleball per week to meet the recommended federal guidelines for moderate exercise. Eighty percent of singles exercise was deemed “moderate intensity” by the study, while the rest was only “light intensity.”

And to that we say, blasphemy! Erroneous, erroneous on all accounts. Hey Washington Post, how much did Big Tennis pay you to write this piece?

The study predominantly revolves around step-count as the determining factor for level of exertion. But then they drop this little line: But players’ heart rate readings indicated both singles and doubles competition might be providing more of a workout than the step counts showed.

Oh, got it, ok. So heart rate, which every elite athlete in the world now bases their entire training regimen on because it's a far more accurate predictor of exertion than mere step-count, comes second to how many steps the participants took in this study?

Pickleball is a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout. The abrupt starting and stopping causes heart rate to fluctuate and places significant amounts of metabolic stress on muscle tissue. Attempting to account for that by measuring steps simply doesn't paint the whole picture. But, we digress.

On another note, 4.5 hours is nothin!

No matter the physical benefit, we all know pickleball keeps us sane (well, sane enough). Isn’t that what counts?

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The Dink Media Team

The Dink Media Team

We're the premier pickleball media outlet featuring news, tips, reviews, and highlights with over 1 million subscribers, followers, and listeners.

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