The APP vs the PPA – Wrestling Style

In the late 80’s the WWF reigned supreme when it came to “professional” wrestling. It was at a climax of their popularity that an upstart rival promotion, the World Championship Wresting, WCW, exploded onto the scene. They did so by signing a large number of the “sports” top pros exclusively to the WCW brand. It was a “real” explosive move in the world of a “make belief” sport. In the coming years, it played out like one of wrestling’s conjured bits, with bitter rivalries, heated exchanges by their respective ownership, and strong legal maneuvers. In the end, only one promotion came out on top.

What Happened

The WCW came into being by baiting the WWF’s top talent with larger contracts and hopes of being part of a better company. While all the WWF’s stars did not jump ship, many of the top names did. The result was an immediate jump in popularity and ratings for the new promotion.

This left the WWF reeling, but only in the short term. The WWF was an empire built by the shrewdness of one Vince McMahon. Vince never tried to play the “we will pay you more than the other guys” game. Instead, he relied on a stable of new up and comers along with those stars loyal to his company. The WCW was successful at continuing to poach some of those new stars. However, this strategy was unsustainable. The WWF continued to successfully promote new story lines and create new stars.

It was years in the making, but after short run of success, the WCW began to fade in popularity and viewership, and eventually was purchased and absorbed by the WWF. Some of those wayward stars never recouped their status with the WWF, but most were eventually welcomed back, if not immediately, over the time of their remaining careers.

What is happening with the APP and PPA?

In case you were not aware, late in 2021, the PPA made a splash by signing a large number of Pickleball’s most recognizable names to 3-year exclusive contracts. While they were successful in signing some of the sport’s top names, they were not successful at signing all of the top pros. In the short term, they have made a flashy start. The PPA quickly marketed themselves as the premier league and the APP as a secondary D league. However, they did not deliver the knockout punch they had hoped to their adversary, the APP.

They APP survived the initial hay maker the PPA threw at them, circled around, and looks to possibly positioning themselves to win the long game. They have done so by relying on their stable of up and comers. In a young sport, the field of future stars seems vast, untapped, and almost incalculable. The APP has done a great job at showcasing this new talent and that bodes well for the viewer. I am a fan of all Pickleball Pros, but I can tell you, I can’t watch another match where Ben Johns pummels and then submits Tyson McGuffin. I have spent the last five years watching the stars the PPA has signed and it’s welcoming and refreshing to watch all the new talent that the APP showcases.

What does that mean for the Amateur Player and the Viewers?

The PPA has come across to me as unapologetically unfriendly. They tell you their sole purpose is to exist for their pro players. They tell you that as an amateur you should be happy to “Play where the Pros Play”, and that, is your reward for being a fan of the PPA. It is intangible, but the PPA feels like an institution. It feels corporate cold.

On the flipside, the APP feels warm and grass roots. Look, I am no fool. I understand they are both organizations that are out to build an empire. However, I personally approached the year, excited for the two professional tours, and now, I have quietly started to root heavily for the APP.

On a positive note, the PPA has done a great job on televised presentations of their product. Taking a cue from baseball, they have opted for smaller seating designs which make the crowds look bigger and the atmosphere livelier and fun.

What I find unappealing about the PPA is the hard sell. Their pros routinely push the company agenda. In a recent post-match interview, Leigh Water, a player whom I greatly enjoy watching and actively root for, concluded by reciting a canned and seemingly exercised statement about how only the PPA has all the best pickleball players. In another recent interview, Ben Johns was asked about possible rivalries and he opted only to mention two players whom he handedly disperses on a regular basis. No mention of a JW Johnson who has beaten him both in singles and in doubles, and who is an APP player. In fact, when APP players enter a PPA tournament, they routinely show up PPA contracted players.

Although hard core Pickleball fanatics are growing at all ages, the 40+ age group still comprises the bulk of the fan-ship. This is a group with a lifetime of experiences. You may be able to hard sell your product to a younger fan, but the older fan is more savey. At times, I find the PPA’s rhetoric an offense to the viewership’s intelligence. Look PPA, don’t piss on my leg and call it rain.

What does the future hold?

As we all know, the future is unwritten. However, like the WCW, the PPA cannot continue to handout 3-year contracts to all the new talent that is bound to arise. While PPA ownership has deep pockets, I can tell you from experience that companies with big pockets don’t get that way by throwing money around. Companies with big pockets get that way by demanding better performance by those under contract, and right now, its going the other way.

This week, the APP along with Major League Pickleball, two organizations in close affiliation, are coming on strong with a New York coming out party. MLP will ring the Wall Street Bell, a group of APP/MLP players will have an exhibition match in a NYSE ball room, the APP will have its first annual tournament in Flushing Meadows, the Mecca of USA Tennis, and the whole thing will be capped off by MLP’s next team league draft.

The future of Pickleball may go like the battle the WWF and the WCW waged. After an early PPA splash, it looks like the APP is coming on strong. Like the parable of the Tortoise and the Hare. Slow and steady may win this race.

What the Hell Happened at the Pickleball US Open this Weekend?!?

This weekend an unprecedented event happened in Pickleball. Unfortunately, it did not happen on the court. What did happen was that CRBN paddles were banned mid tournament for use at all Pro and Non-pro events. If you keep close tabs on the Pickleball world, this should not have been a surprise. There are very few facts coming out about what actually happened, and this has led to wild speculation happening on social media and at local courts. What will follow is a brief summary of what we know transpired.

What we know

On March 15th of this year, “Today In Pickleball” reported on their social media feed, that the PPA was about to ban CRBN paddles at their tournaments. People began to throw major accusations stating that this was due to the recent defeat of Ben Johns at the hands of JW Johnson who plays with a CRBN paddle. The PPA then chimed in and stated that these rumors were false and that seemed to simmer the outrage.

Nothing else seemed to surface in the following weeks except from Ben and Collin Johns who separately discussed in different interviews that the CRBN paddles were rougher than USA Pickleball tolerances allowed. Collin Johns, on the podcast “Picklepod”, explained his sponsor Electrum had a similar issue with a bad “batch” of paddles. In any case, two of most prominent pros discussing the matter publicly were the Johns’ brothers, and neither play with CRBN paddles.

The matter seemed to be put to rest going into the US Open. Early on, with what has to be, in my opinion, the best Pickleball match in the history of Pickleball, Ben Johns playing with his new Joola paddle, narrowly defeated JW Johnson, playing with a CRBN paddle. There was a nervous energy in the crowd, that seemed to be pulling for the young JW. Ben was pushed to the limit as JW actually had several match points but was unable to pull out the victory.

Then…a few days passed…and it happened. Mid US Open Tournament, USA Pickleball banned all CRBN paddles from use at any sanctioned Pro or Amateur event, including the US Open. This left may players, Pro and Amateur alike, with no paddle of preference to play out their tournament. What lead up to this? What we know is that someone challenged the validity of CRBN paddles mid tournament. And let’s face it…if a regular Joe makes this challenge nothing happens…but someone or some organization of importance made the challenge. Field testing was done which then led to laboratory testing which then led to the decision to ban the paddles.

Then it gets crazy. A video surfaced on social media where Joola paddles also got field tested, and they also did not pass a field test. Chatter can be heard where the paddle repeatedly fails all the while someone requests for more tests. And that’s all we know about the video. People then started to post negative remarks on Joola’s social media accusing them of being behind the CRBN ban. Then, Joola made a formal statement, CRBN made a formal statement, USA Pickleball made a formal statement and none of them actually shed any light into what is actually happening. As it turns out, looks like the report that “Today In Pickleball” originally posted was most likely correct. The PPA probably saw the backlash and opted to pursue a more covert option by pressuring USA Pickleball into doing the actual banning of the CRBN paddle. Joola paddles were not banned.

What I believe

I am professional with 25 years of business leadership experience, and that has allowed me to experience a hand full of mergers, acquisitions, and startups. What I know is that Big Money means big expectations. Everyone is happy to sign on the dotted line, but most don’t understand the responsibility that comes with these expectations. Major investments have been made, notably with the PPA, the APP, and Ben Johns. It would be a major setback if the face of the PPA gets toppled off of the throne on year one of his reported three-year contract. JW Johnson has already beat Ben in both singles and doubles this year. After the doubles lost, PPA players were vocally towing the PPA line, stating that play was too windy and that future tournaments needed to have provisions for too much wind. In any case, had Ben lost to JW in the US Open, we what we are seeing right now, would pale in comparison to the crap show that would follow.

It has been rumored that Ben and those who have banked on Ben are leading voices of dissent with regards to CRBN paddles. This has put pressures on Ben that he undoubtedly did not expect. In his last appearance of the Freestyle Boy’s podcast, he depicted a 2022 where the APP would quickly become a second-tier organization, the PPA would be the leading organization in all things Pickleball, and the sun would shine every morning on his Pickleball kingdom. What has actually transpired is the field has gotten tougher, the APP is flourishing, and his Big Money backers have been flexing their muscles in order to protect their investment. But it’s getting ugly. The luster of Ben’s name is beginning to tarnish with some fans. People are calling him the poster boy of Joola and the PPA in negative connotations. Some are saying it’s time for a new face of Pickleball.

I take no pleasure in seeing this for Ben or any other person for that matter. However, being the face of an organization means being put in situations that may be unexpected and uncomfortable. Joola and the PPA have made an investment in Ben’s name and status and people will support him or be dissuaded on his brand by the events that are happening right now. To quote the Notorious B.I.G., “Mo Money, Mo Problems”. Good luck Ben, it’s going to be a more interesting year than you expected.

Behold the $333.00 Paddle

Recently, Selkirk “released” their latest paddle. I have put the word released in quotations because what Selkirk has done, is best described as unique. The paddle in question is the Invikta Project 002, and you cannot simply buy it from Selkirk or Pickleball Central for that matter. It is only available from Selkirk Labs, a separate website and from an inferred separate organization.

Reading from their site, they imply that Selkirk Labs is some ultra-progressive group of engineers and scientists that are working in secrecy with top pro Tyson McGuffin to develop and produce only the most innovative and groundbreaking equipment. And you cannot simply purchase the paddle form Selkirk Labs. You have to apply for membership like it’s some sort of secret brotherhood/sisterhood where only a few will be admitted.

Per the Selkirk Labs website, by being accepted as a member, you gain access to products in their beta phase. That is, products that are not in their final stage of development. It is implied that your access will allow your feedback to help develop the next groundbreaking Selkirk design by being able to buy first. Membership allows you the “privilege” of buying the Invikta Project 002 paddle for the low low price of $333.00. Per their website, the paddle comes with a high-end paddle cover that looks like something out of a Louis Vuitton catalog. It also comes with, get this, a wallet sized stainless steel certificate of authenticity along with its own velvet sleeve, like someone out there producing knock of Selkirk Paddles and there is a need for such over the top authentication program. Per their own words, this certificate of authenticity is valued at $33.00 dollars, and the “Louis Vuitton” case, valued at $88.00 dollars. Which brings the value of the $333.00 dollar paddle down to an acceptable $212.00 dollars. However, you don’t get that choice. No, if you purchase the new Invikta Project 002 you have to walk around like some Kardashian with you red leatherette paddle cover…and maybe a handheld poodle. I suppose you can also flash your certificate of authenticity card at the court, like some James Bond type, pinky held high, and prove your membership to “the club”.

So at least the paddle has an above average warranty. Nope, no it does not. In fact, it has less warranty than a regular Selkirk paddle. Regular Selkirk paddles come with a lifetime warranty, which I know personally, they are very glad to honor. The Invikta Project 002 only comes with a one (1) year warranty. And they tell you up front that the paddle will not be warrantied if it begins to rattle…like they already know this is going to happen.

Finally, they tell you that this paddle is not made for the ordinary player. In fact, they state that this paddle is best suited for players with a ranking of 4.5 or better. With this stipulation, along with the implied limited membership, Selkirk has developed an air of exclusivity when in fact most likely none exists. You see, you can’t make money if you choose to only sell your product to a select few, even at $333.00 a paddle.

Finally, it has been rumored that the next generation of this paddle will be edgeless. That would be great, except that Gearbox has been doing this for years, not to mention the ProKennex line and the Diadem Icon both which have their versions of edgeless designs. Each of which were rolled out without the buyer having to become a member of some secret society.

So, power to Selkirk if they get people to buy into their ruse. I truly believe the Invikta Project 002 is going to be a great paddle. I have no reason to believe otherwise, as Selkirk has a long history of making a good product. It’s not even the price that I objected. I can even admire the marketing ploy. However, you won’t get me to purchase a $333.00 dollar paddle knowing that per their own description is not a fully developed paddle and that should only sell for $212.00 because the other expenses are folded in to two items I don’t need or want.

I can only imagine this will entice the other paddle makers to artificially inflate the price of their paddles as well. It seems that providing less for more money is the going trend in pickleball these days, and this will only stop until we the consumers say, enough! Unfortunately, they know we are all pretty much addicted to the sport…and we “aint gonna” play with wood paddles.

Big Pickleball Is Coming for Us

I started playing Pickleball late in 2018. Back then I knew nothing about dinking let alone what it meant to play in tournaments. When talking about tournament play, I remember the old guard complaining about the rising cost of tournaments. Back then $50.00 would get you lunch, a shirt, some kind of goodie, and if you won, a nice heavy medal. Still the old guard thought rising cost was outrageous. I remember thinking their worries were unwarranted.

After a short while I mustered the courage to sign up and play in my first tournament. That tournament was the Duel in the Desert in Casa Grande Arizona. It was and still is one of the best Private tournaments around, with their 32 courts and multitudes of players. I emphasize private because today we have “Big Pickleball” running tournaments. In fact, they are proliferating so fast they may run your local tournament out of existence. It’s an exciting time for Pickleball, but also one that is changing the face of pickleball. I am hopeful that the changes will be for the better, although there is no guarantee I am correct.

Today, you can still attend very fun community run tournaments. For example, a very well run and very fun tournament in our area is the Robson Ranch Desert Slam 9th Annual Pickleball Tournament in Robson Ranch in Eloy AZ. This tournament will run you $65.00. The community treats you very well and you run into many of the same players you see at the “Big Pickleball” run tournaments. In contrast, I just attended the PPA Tours Foot Solutions Arizona Grand Slam. I spent in the neighborhood of $140.00 for registration alone. Gone are the days of any extras. For my entre fee I received no shirt, no goodie bag, not lunch ticket, and nothing else but the “privilege” of playing where the pros play. I earned a gold medal which was great for my pride. However, the medal I received was unworthy of the event. I showed it to several of my tournament competitors; one of them called it plastique. In fact, it was so low grade, it bent in my bag on the way home. I understand that “Big Pickleball” is a business and they need a return on their investment. But the excitement of the tournament was definitely tarnished by the sub-par medals that were given out.

In his November edition podcast, The Freestyle Boys, Ben Johns talked about how the PPA pros are now requiring minimum amenities and conditions in order they attend any tournament. He talked about how he would strongly consider not attending such tournaments as the USAPA Margaritaville Pickleball National Championship and the Minto US Open Pickleball Championships unless they met their minimum standards. I believe that the intent and plan is that these tournaments will not meet said standards. After all, a tenant of the PPA’s business plan is for their brand to provide the only venue where you can “play where the pros play”.

I understand the Pro’s perspective, however, the issue is that people like me and my fellow amateur players are a main source of the revenue that is going to pay for these minimum standards. And it is very clear the PPA’s expectation is that we the amateur should do without, in order the pros get their amenities and minimum requirements. Going without means no referees until the medal rounds, no shirt, and a low-grade reward for those of us who reach the podium. What I don’t understand is how quickly we went from the privilege of having pros in our sport, to having entitled professionals that demand their amenities come at the expense of the amateur’s tournament experience.

Not all “Big Pickleball” is the same. The APP still provides you with a very nice shirt and a nice medal if you happen to place. Additionally, I learned that the Legacy Sports Complex in Mesa Arizona recently hosted a tournament and provided referees for every match. However, make no mistake, this is a battle ground. The amateur tournament player needs to understand that we can control our destiny based on our decision and what tournaments to attend. Also, we will have to live with the consequences of decisions and the journey it takes us. I can only urge you to choose wisely and above all, support your local clubs, your local gear provider, and continue to support your local tournaments. Remember, We Are the Revenue.

Pickle Wars

There is a war going on. It is a war that is taking place behind closed doors. But like any war, it is going to have casualties.

The players: the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA), the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP), and Major League Pickleball (MLP).

What are these organizations?

§ The USAPA has been the traditional organization that has developed and promoted the growth of pickleball in the United States. They publish and drive the pickleball rule book and maintain the UTPR rating system.

§ The PPA is a professional player’s league whose original purpose was to promote and increase the revenue stream and payout for professional players. Their tournaments also include a complete list of amateur events that take place at the same venue as their pro events. Their tournaments are not USAPA sanctioned. While the PPA uses most of the USAPA’s rules and guidelines, they have shown a trend that will eventually move away from the USAPA altogether.

§ The APP is a professional player’s league led by CEO Ken Herrmann, and like the PPA holds tournaments that have payouts for the winners of their professional events. Their product also includes a complete list of amateur events that take place at the same time and venue as their pro events. Their tournaments are USAPA sanctioned. The APP by design has worked closely with the USAPA and has shown a desire to be in congruence with the USAPA in whole.

§ MLP is a league with currently no amateur events associated but look to provide broadcasted events featuring pro players and content that is pickleball related. Their inaugural event in 2021 proved to be a success. It does not aim to compete directly with the PPA or APP. Their events take place in Dripping Springs Texas at their Dreamland facility.

What is happening:

On January 2, 2022, it was announced that the PPA was acquired by Tom Dundon of Dundon Capital Partners LLC. Dundon also acquired Pickleball Central and Pickleball Tournaments. They also aggressively pursued a list of the top 30 pickleball players in the country with purported 3-year contracts with exclusivity to the PPA. Exactly how many have signed on is not clear. In addition, there are player by player negotiated exemptions of which we still know even less.

On January 8, there was an announced strategic partnership between the APP and MLP. We know almost nothing about what this means other than it is a definite move either caused by the PPA’s new ownership, or maybe who’s timing was usurped by the PPA’s announcement. There is more clarity coming about this move in a scheduled release of information following the APP’s Boca Raton event schedule to end January 23rd. It is rumored that this announcement will define a more direct association between the APP and USAPA.

The undertone is that there is a pro-USAPA and an anti-USAPA movement at play. The PPA has openly made moves in opposition of the USAPA’s direction, not to undermine the organization, but in advocacy of their own mission which is in benefit of pro players. The APP has always played well with the USAPA which on the surface benefits the amateur player.

To exacerbate the situation, at last year’s USAPA Nationals, arguably the most anticipated tournament of the year for pickleball playing amateurs, the tournament implemented what some pros considered an anti-vaccination and pro-mandate stance. Ben Johns, widely considered the best men’s player in the world, reacted negatively to the USAPA’s policies and has been quoted as saying that it makes him want “to never play at Nationals again”. He and Kyle Yates, who also had an adverse reaction to the policies, was among several other players that did not attend the Nationals Tournament. It is noteworthy that the USAPA Nationals is held at the Indian Wells Tennis Center, and it was alluded that these policies were those of the Tennis Center.

The result is a quickly growing divide between the PPA and the USAPA friendly APP. Amateurs may also be adversely impacted if the new PPA umbrella of companies, in specific Pickleball Tournaments, chooses to escalate the situation by not allowing APP tournaments on the Pickleball Tournaments website and portal. For those unfamiliar, the majority of tournaments nationwide are advertised on Pickleball Tournaments. Additionally, the USAPA has not endeared itself to its base ever since it implemented its “new and improved” rating system a couple of years ago.

While the events and actions taking place are amongst forces outside the average pickleball player’s circle of influence, the result could be catastrophic to the game. If you believe the statement an exaggeration, research the popularity of racquetball, which at one point had the same exponential growth trajectory as pickleball. As the popularity soared in the 60’s and 70’s, and as different investors and promoters steered the growth, the result was a collapse in the sport’s popularity. An argument can be made that all the things that sunk racquetball are different than what is facing pickleball. However, the challenges and perils are similar, and one can only hope the result will be different.

In my lifetime, golf was the fastest growing sport in the world as NASCAR was the fastest growing sport on television. While both still have their large following, that projected dominance worldwide and nationwide respectively never materialized for these sports. Ten years ago, I purchased tickets and attended a Ladies Professional Golf Association event, (LPGA). The pros were delightful and accommodating because they knew the future of their leagues was in the fans. I find that pickleball’s top pros and possibly the growth of pickleball, is moving away from what has endeared pickleball players to this sport. While I sincerely wish the USAPA, the PPA, the APP, and MLP the best success, I hope that the game of pickleball does not become a casualty of a war in which the average amateur players have no interest.

Pickleball, Covid, and the 2020 Tournament Season

As a Pickleball Player in Arizona, I think of my season starting in September and going through April. I consider the off season to be May through August when only mad-dogs and hard core pickleball players brave the heat. Early in 2020, I had plans a plenty. I had PB lessons, tournaments, and goals laid out for the rest of the year. Little did I know that the Covid was lurking around the corner and that it would upend my plans.

As the Covid bloomed into a full pandemic, Pickleball play came to an ugly halt. Courts were locked up and players sheltered in place. I hastily purchased a 10 foot practice net, and the wife and I found a secluded place in a neighborhood park to practice. In those days I did not know if I would get to play again in 2020. I saw the Covid peak in the coming months. I saw tournaments cancel and I saw my Pickleball life dwindle. Then, in the middle of this, I saw and signed up for the Las Vegas Open Tournament. Thinking it was more folly than an actual possibility, I clacked away on the Pickleball Tournaments sign up page.

As time passed by, I slowly saw play start to come back. First a few brave souls that started to show up as our community unlocked the courts. Later I found a group of die hards that played at the Dave White Park in Casa Grande. Some players I knew, many more became new friends. Still no clear sign that the Las Vegas Open would actually take place. Late in August a 16 court complex opened up in Gilbert Arizona. There, a glimpse of Pickleball past began to emerge. Just in time as the Las Vegas Open seemed to creep closer into reality. As it got closer, I dared to believe that it would actually happen. Finally with some late Covid related restrictions, the tournament became a reality.

Next week, the week of September 21, the Las Vegas Open will take place. After a long wait, seeing other tournaments cancel, and having my fingers crossed on both hands, it looks like I will get to play in a tournament! I will get to see friends/foes and will get the excitement and challenges that come with tournament play. This weekend I am laying out my lucky gear. I am staging my tournament bag with all the possible accoutrements that I may or may not need. Compression sleeves, tennis elbow and knee braces, and my game day play list…all have come out of the moth ball rack, dusted off, and ready for play.

Monday morning I will be heading out to Las Vegas, with Lesly Gore’s – Sunshine and Lollipops song loaded on the Spotify and playing loudly as I head out of the Phoenix Valley westward on the US 60 towards Las Vegas. Happiness will reign on this day. However, if you see me with my ear buds at the tournament, beware Sunshine and Lollipops will not be playing. For this day, I reserve the likes of Iron Maiden’s – Trooper and System of a Down’s – Disorder. So don’t expect a sunny disposition on tournament day. If I don’t’ see you, I hope you get your play on wherever you be be…see you on the courts real soon.

Its the USAPA Nationals!!!

Pickleball Picklebob Margaritaville

The USAPA National Championships, once held at Palm Creek in Casa Grande Arizona, have moved to Indian Wells California.  That’s old news for a lot of folks.  What is exciting to me is that on September 5th of this year, Margaritaville was named as the title sponsor for the 2018 edition of the tournament.

As Pickleball is growing in popularity, the US Open made big moves in recent years and positioned itself as the premier tournament in the nation.  With Minto as their title sponsor they have attracted the best players in the Americas to come and play.  Now the USAPA National Championships have made a similarly if not more impressive move.  By moving to the Indian Wells, located within a 4-hour drive from large populations in California, Arizona, and Nevada, they capture the base of players that reside in the west side of the country. 

More impactful is that Indian Wells is a world class facility and with the Margaritaville partnership, the tournament has set itself to challenge and compete head to head with the US Open.  As each competes in the near future to outdo each other for the title of premier pickleball tournament in the country, the result can only be good for the sport and for all of us who play.  Whether you play in tournaments or not, the coming of age of the sport into mainstream will benefit all players.  As a newer member of the Pickleball community, I look forward with excitement to the coming years as popularity in the sport grows.  Hang on…it’s going to be fun!

PICKLEBALL LONG AND PROSPER! 🙂

FROM: THE PICKLEBOB BOOK OF WISDOM

Pickleball is Back (in Arizona)

Good times have returned to Arizona.  Not only has the weather subsided here in the desert.  Gone are the temperature highs of 115 degrees.  Here to stay is the beautiful fall weather of 80 degrees!  Like an avid bird watcher, I have lurked my neighborhood and have spotted my first Saskatchewan and Minnesota license plates!  Soon our neighborhood grocery store will be packed with more out of state plates than Arizona plates.

That means one thing…more pickleball players!!!  While the numbers are still low, it will only be a short while before you must wait your turn to get on a court.  And that is a welcome site.  This past weekend also kicked off the Arizona season for tournaments. 

Yes, we have had our share of tourneys over the summer, but bulk of the season starts now.  Last weekend we had the Catalina Pickleball Mixer in Tucson, next week will the Vistancia PB Tournament in Peoria, and the week after that the SPA Monster Smash in Surprise…all Arizona tourneys.  And the list just goes on and on into a litany of playing opportunities if you are up for them.

My advice is get your stretching and hydrating going, dust off your paddles and shine your shoes, and find yourself a local court and get ready to play because the good times are on their way back!

I have a mistress…her name is Pickleball and Pickleball Accessories 🙁

From: The Pickle Bob Book of Wisdom

USAPA Rating System

On September 12, 2018, the USAPA completed their Phase 2 of their new ratings program.  For those of you not up to date, the USAPA has been revamping the Pickleball rating system and subsequently, the ratings it gives its players.  They have instituted a new system with the aim of standardizing ratings not only locally, but throughout the country.  The belief is that ratings are influenced geographically as the skill sets of large geographic pockets of players differ from region to region. 

As human nature goes, any change brings out a small army dissidents to the new system.  However, you must give the USAPA credit.  It’s an organization that is growing fast, not only in terms of the number of people, but also in the demographic of its players.  While clubs are opening as far as Malaysia, younger and younger players are beginning to discover the sport.

To this end, the USAPA is trying to better control ratings.  One of the recent changes I noticed was with first time members.  When I joined, I simply self-rated my abilities and I was on my way.  However, a friend of mine recently started his application process and he was asked to provide a letter of reference from a current player as part of his application process.  As a rated member of the USAPA I was happy to provide him with this letter of reference stating my perception of his rating.

Today, the USAPA has started their Phase 3 of the their rating systems improvements.  While new changes and requirements may feel unnecessary or cumbersome, it is just part of the control measures the USAPA will need in order to improve player ratings.  In the end, I feel strongly that when the USAPA concludes its ratings program, and as time progresses, we will have a system that is far and beyond better than previously existed.  All I can say is be patient with the USAPA…and as they would say in England…Keep Calm and Pickleball.   

When you Pickleball…your adversaries are also your friends 😦   

From: The Pickle Bob Book of Wisdom 

Pickleball Tournaments

Tournaments, they’re not for everyone.  I have heard some say they don’t like them for a variety of reasons.  Some play for the pure joy and the camaraderie that is created playing with your local group.  Others out right have told me the competitive play makes them nervous and they don’t like the feeling.  Ultimately tournaments may not be for everyone and that is ok. 

However, if playing tournaments is in your future, I would like to tell you about a few things that may help you in your future endeavor. 

There are two types of tournaments, sanctioned tournaments and unsanctioned tournaments.  In order to play in sanctioned tournaments, you will need to register with the USAPA as a player.  That is the USA Pickleball Association.  You can register at www.usapa.org.  The registration process is simple and the annual fee is $20.00.  For unsanctioned tournaments you don’t need to be registered with the USAPA.  If you are unsure about tournaments, playing in an unsanctioned tournament may provide you some incite into tournament play without any long term commitment.  However, remember that one of the functions of sanctioned tournaments is managing player ratings, so playing in an unsanctioned event will not aid in determining your USAPA rating. 

Sanctioned tournaments are more structured.  They are required to cary such things as general liability insurance, referees, and reporting of results to the USAPA.  If you are interested in finding a tournament in your area, the absolute best place to look is www.pickleballtournaments.com .  For the larger tournaments, you will need to be ready with your personal information minutes prior to the registration time.  Some larger tournaments fill up so fast, hundreds of slots can fill up in a matter of 10 to 15 minutes, so your desire to play in a given tournament does not guarantee you a slot.  There are many smaller tournaments that don’t fill up for weeks.  If you have never played in a tournament, I would suggest one of these smaller tournaments.

Once you have signed up there are some important things to remember.  Tournaments will generally have plenty of water and player snacks.  However, you need to plan on brining your own snacks.  Tournament play takes a lot more effort than regular neighborhood play.  Plan on beverage and snack selection designed for athletic activities.  The generic trail mix is also a great option, but as anything in life, its better to bring too much and have left overs, than not to bring enough.  Not having enough fuel can be detrimental to your play and also your well being.

Finally, remember, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  In my last tournament we had a referee go down to dehydration and exhaustion.

Finally Finally, note that tournament play can add a whole different level of pickleball fun, and personally, I have found that my play has improved dramatically since I started playing tournaments.

I hope the information I have provided helps you in the event you are looking into tournament play.  if you have specific questions or require a little more guidance, please drop me a line at thepicklebob@gmail.com, and please follow my blog.

WHEN YOU PLAY PICKLEBALL…AND YOU GET TO SLAM A BALL…SOMETIMES YOU HURT THE ONES YOU LOVE 😦

FROM: THE PICKLE BOB BOOK OF WISDOM