Pickleball dominated August. It popped up in multiple major publications and shined on network TV. Even the ‘worldwide leader in sports’ failed to resist the pickle boat.
Pickles the dog, on the other hand, was dominated by August. It's now confirmed that pickleball's quirky name was inspired by pickle boats, not the Pritchard family's beloved (or so we thought) pooch. Gotta be tough to learn that your 'lasting' legacy was all a lie. Sorry, Pickles.
Do you think we're still hovering at 4.8 million players, the frequently regurgitated figure from a Sports & Fitness Industry Association report? The sport commands headlines, new courts are surfacing everywhere you look and it's one of the few activities that transcends demographics.
You tell me.
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No Thirds For You
Jim Ramsey from the PPA Tour and Pro Pickleball Stats once again crunched the numbers to deliver some curious insights.
In the Tournament of Champions men's doubles final, the Johns Bros employed a certain return strategy, possibly to their own demise.
The idea is to return serves to the player that is the bigger poach threat. Forcing that player to hit the third shot makes it harder for them to crash the NVZ and execute the 'bake' part of the 'shake and bake'.
In the men's final against rivals Matt Wright and Riley Newman, the brothers elected to force Newman to hit nearly every third shot in the match. Why? They wanted to neutralize his aggressive poaching tendencies (by keeping him back). In total, Newman hit 94 thirds, leaving only 2 for Wright.
The brothers executed the strategy almost to perfection, but ended up losing the match. But it doesn't mean the strategy isn't effective, it just means that Wright and Newman have plenty of other weapons besides the poach.
We've all played with the person who poaches relentlessly. It's frustrating, annoying and...undoubtedly effective when left unchecked. As a counter, hit the ball to the more dangerous poacher, who is usually on the left side with their forehand in the middle.
Keep them away from the NVZ and back as long as possible. Don't let them run free and dictate the point right off the bat.
Additionally, employing any strategy consistently and sticking to a game plan can instill a sense of confidence. It allows you to choose how the point will unfold and feel in control, at least initially.
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A Big Month for Pickle
August has been a MASSIVE month for pickleball. It made its network tv debut on CBS with follow-up broadcasts on CBS Sports, Fox Sports 1 and Tennis Channel. The sport was featured on the mothership, ESPN's Sportscenter last weekend and was showcased again on the Today Show yesterday.
Pickleball has also been covered in some of the biggest publications in the country. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN, USA Today and Boston Globe have all released stories on pickleball this month. It is becoming a go-to topic for sports reporters like Darren Rovell who has made a habit of tweeting about the game. He's the first big-name sports reporter to do so consistently.
All this buzz is catching the attention of major sponsors. The APP Tour announced the addition of Lexus to its sponsors, and brands like Casamigos, Skechers and Hyper Ice have recently leaned into the sport.
There's no doubt that pickleball is firmly in the mainstream. The challenge will be maintaining that momentum as the other major sports start up again this fall.
And it's not only the major sports. Multiple other 'emerging' sports are jockeying for the spotlight. Major League Cricket, backed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nedalla, recently raised $110 million and announced plans for major expansion of the league.
F1 Racing, the UFC and the MLS have all taken massive leaps in the past couple years. The Premier Lacrosse League and ESPN inked an 8-figure multi-year broadcasting deal in March.
Sports are big biz. Hopefully pickleball will be, too.
Everything You Need For Pickleball Under One Roof
Rhino Pickleball has paddles, balls and portable nets perfect for players at all levels. It's the best selection of training aids to support player development. Up your game with court markers, cones and other fitness accessories that take drill work to the next level.
MLP by the Numbers
Apparently, Friday is stats day. The numbers are in from MLP Newport Beach. 002 Stats has put together a data package covering the 23 matches played.
Their approach revolves around players' Kill-to-Error Ratio (KER). It's the number of kills (winners) per game divided by their errors.
For the average player, that number ends up right around 1. Anything above 1 is positive and a large number like 5 or 6 is a sign of a great offensive game.
The stat aids in decision-making for team owners and helps players track match-to-match consistency. Two notable performances come from Zane Navratil and James Ignatowich (we're sorry we ever doubted you, James).
- Ignatowich had a personal high KER of 8 in a single game. Eight kills and only one error. That'll do it
- Navratil was one of the highest ranking players throughout the event, maintaining KERs of 6 and 5 in gender and mixed doubles, respectively
KER is specific to offensive output and is less useful for evaluating defensively-minded players. While not the only way to evaluate performance, it's a step in the right direction.
More Movement Ahead of MLP Columbus
MLP Columbus is the last event in 2022. After that, rosters reset and a new draft will take place for 2023. That means teams can go all out for the finale. Take chances and make mistakes, because win or lose, it all resets on October 17th.
Four players were traded both this week and last week (8 total). In this week's swap, the Hard Eights told John Cincola and Susannah Barr to get on The Bus; they'll be rolling the dice on Kyle Yates and Milan Rane.
In addition to the trades, it is prime time for the MLP waiver wire. Today is the final day for teams to place players on waivers. Any spots that open up will be filled with the shuffle draft on Monday.
The full list of players available to be drafted can be found here. It includes Gabriel Tardio and Lacy Schneemann who subbed in and turned heads at the Newport Beach event. Our pick? Pesa Teoni.
Mark your calendar for the final event of 2022, October 14-16.
It Feels Right
Rob and Stone deep dive into last weekend’s Tournament of Champions. Results, line calls, strategy and whether or not the trip to Brigham City is even worth it nowadays.
Stone was part of a blockbuster trade between the Mad Drops and Jackrabbits. The boys breakdown the trade and analyze MLP roster construction. Get your notepads out pickleball nerds, there’s a lot to take in.
Headlines & Quick Hits
- Let’s make Raleigh a national leader in pickleball
- What is Pickleball? A Guide to Making It Your Go-To Cross-Training Activity
- New players are one click away
- PICKLEBALL IS A PSY-OP
- Pickleball popularity exploding in central Virginia
- Don't think, just keep swinging.
- Wicked fast hands, "yeahhhh"
- Pickleball is here to save shopping malls.
- Baby Dyl out here taking ankles
New Glarus, WI
This court was done right. It is 5" of concrete reinforced with rebar to hold up through the brutal freeze-thaw of the midwest. For a nice natural touch, owners elected to create a natural ball barrier with wildflowers and prairie grass. CampBnP in Wisconsin is available for rent on AirBnB.
If you’ve got this one beat or want to show off your own homecourt, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.