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Spikeball, Pickleball, and Volleyball Battle it Out in 'Pro vs. Pro' Video Series

What do you get when you have the best players in spikeball, pickleball, and volleyball come together to show off their talents in their respective sports?

A “Pro vs. Pro” video series with top- ranked pickleball players Ben Johns and Kyle Yates playing pickleball and spikeball (a.k.a. roundnet) against Preston Bies, pro roundnet player, and Casey Patterson, pro beach volleyball player.

The video series on Preston Bies’ YouTube channel called “How to Roundnet” all started with Preston taking a break from spikeball to do a 50-day pickleball binge where he trained two hours a day.

Preston, 27, of Santa Barbara, California, got stoked about pickleball and wanted to play against the best. So he did a Google search for “best pickleball player in the world” and found none other than Ben Johns’ name pop up. He figured, why not message Ben on Instagram and ask if he wants to come out to California to do a pro vs. pro video series to play spikeball and pickleball, and to bring a friend with him.

So that’s exactly what happened. Ben called Kyle Yates and asked if he was up for the challenge, so both of them flew to California to learn how to play spikeball and show Preston and Casey how to excel in the game of pickleball. “Ben and I are always up to try something new, so when we are invited to play with the world’s best at anything, of course we’re going to say yes!” says Kyle. “My favorite part about the Pro vs. Pro competition was seeing just how to excel in the game of pickleball.

“Ben and I are always up to try something new, so when we are invited to play with the world’s best at anything, of course we’re going to say yes!” says Kyle. “My favorite part about the Pro vs. Pro competition was seeing just how amazing these other pros are at their respective sports. I was in awe of some of the shots Preston was able to hit in roundnet—and it was pretty fun to show off a bit and feel comfortable on the pickleball court!”

Not only did these incredible athletes excel at each other’s respective sports, they had some fun along the way—including Ben using a slipper as a pickleball paddle to see if he could still win against the spikeball pros in a match. Spoiler alert: Ben won.

“For playing pickleball just three months, Preston is pretty good,” says Ben. When asked if he was going to try to play roundnet again in his free time, he replied, “Free time is a word I don’t use a lot these days! But if I get the chance, I’ll absolutely play again.”

According to Chris Ruder, Founder and CEO of Spikeball, Inc.—with approximately 4 million spikeball units sold—there are about 10-20 million people who have played roundnet.

Another spikeball pro competitor, Chris Hornacek, who recently hit the courts with Tyson Aposotol for an intense singles match, is also a pickleball pro-in-the- making, which proves there are many parallels between the two sports.

“I announced on Instagram that I was playing pickleball and suddenly a ton of spikeball players were sending me direct messages saying, ‘Yeah, I play!’ and telling me where I should travel to play pickleball,” says Chris. “Everyone points you in the right direction on how to improve your game.”

With millions of passionate players for a backyard game that complements pickleball nicely, we look forward to this network of athletes continuing to join us on the courts and work their way to the top of the pro circuit. See you in November at the 2021 Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships!

To view the Pro vs. Pro video by Preston Bies and to see exclusive pictures, visit USAPickleball.org and @USAPickleball on Instagram.

How Pickleball Really Got Its Name!

In the summer of 1965, pickleball was founded by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Within days, Joan Pritchard had come up with the name “pickle ball”—a reference to the thrown-together leftover non- starters in the “pickle boat” of crew races. Many years later, as the sport grew, a controversy ensued when a few neighbors said they were there when Joan named the game after the family dog, Pickles. Joan and the Pritchard family have held fast for decades that the dog came along a few years later and was named after the game.

It’s an undisputed fact that pickleball began, and was also named, in the summer of 1965 by Joan Pritchard. If Pickles was around then, the dog story could be true. If Pickles wasn’t born until after 1965, the dog story would be confirmed as just a funny newspaper interview hoax—later confessed by Joel Pritchard.

Proof of when Pickles was born could help resolve the two-story name debate. As the official magazine of pickleball, we decided to dig up the past and report the truth, regardless of the venerable feathers being ruffled. We looked for dog records, uncovered photos, and interviewed several people who were there from 1965-1970. Based on evidence, we learned that the dog was born in 1968— three years after pickleball was first played and named. In other words, the Pritchard family story stands true that pickleball was not named after the dog, but rather in reference to the local pickle boat races.

Summer of 1965

Joel and Joan (pronounced “Jo-Ann”) Pritchard lived in Seattle and spent their summers at their home on Bainbridge Island, WA. In the summer of 1965, the Pritchards invited Bill and Tina Bell to stay with them at their Bainbridge compound. One day after golfing, Joel and Bill returned home to find Joel’s disgruntled 13-year- old son, Frank, in one of those moods.

Frank, now 68, recalls, “I was bitching to my dad that there was nothing to do on Bainbridge. He said that when they were kids, they’d make games up.” Frank bitterly responded to his dad, “Oh, really? Then why don’t you go make up a game?”


Well, Joel (age 40 at the time) loved a challenge, so he and Bill took off to the backyard badminton court where the 44 x 20-ft. regulation court had been asphalted earlier by Joel’s parents. The steady Seattle rain necessitated the paving of their court.

Joel and Bill went to the back shed and grabbed a wiffle ball from a plastic bat and ball set that Frank had been given for his birthday earlier that year. They located a pair of table tennis paddles, set up the badminton net, grabbed the ball and played that first game.

Broken paddles became a problem, so the men fashioned some pretty scary-looking paddles in Joel’s father’s garage workshop. It was at this time that the game started to take form. Frank recalls his dad saying, “You know who we need? We need Barney.” Barney McCallum lived six doors down on the beach and was very handy. He was able to construct more reliable, better-looking paddles. He quickly became an integral part of the game’s equipment, rules and formation.

One day, during the summer of 1965, the Bells and Pritchards were sitting around and made the decision to come up with a name for the game. Joan stepped up and said, “Pickle Ball.” She then explained the reference to leftover rowers who would race for fun in local “pickle boat” crew race competitions.

The Pritchards have always claimed that only their houseguests (the Bells) were in attendance when the name was decided upon.

College Crew “Pickle Boats” Inspired the Game’s Name

Joan grew up in Marietta, Ohio, and attended Marietta College. At that time, the school had one of the strongest crew programs in the country. Locals would all gather together to watch the races. Although Joan was never a racer, she was a loyal fan of the Marietta crew teams.

Joan and Joel met at Marietta and moved to Seattle (Joel’s hometown) in 1948. As luck would have it, the University of Washington also had a top-tier rowing program. In the ‘50s, the University of Washington hosted annual regatta competitions. As an enthusiastic alumna, Joan would go out to cheer on her visiting Marietta team.

The regattas pit the best varsity teams against each other. Afterward, like many college sports, the non- starters would participate in a separate competition. Since at least 1938, the leftover “spares” from multiple universities competed in a just-for-fun “pickle boat” race.

Frank recalled, “To hear my mother tell it, they sort of threw the leftover non-starter oarsmen into these particular pickle boats. She thought pickleball sort of threw bits of other games into the mix (badminton, table tennis, wiffle ball) and decided that ‘Pickle Ball’ was an appropriate name.”

He added, “I first heard my mother utter the words pickle ball when we were actually on the court. It was in that first summer of 1965 and the name stuck. I never heard the game called anything but Pickle Ball (later changed to pickleball).”

Pickles and the Summer of 1968

Three years later, in the summer of 1968, the Pritchards invited their friends Dick and Joan Brown, and their children, to stay on the property at the Bainbridge guest house.

Paul Brown, now 62, treasures his memories of that summer. He explains, “I remember the summer of 1968 well. The Pritchards invited us to stay at their compound, and even had a big birthday bash on the beach to celebrate my dad’s 40th birthday (he was born in 1928).” Paul laughs, “Fib Peterson brought the tall three-foot yard glasses, and the adults were all drinking beer.”

He reflects, “In the summer of 1968, I was 10, and so was the Pritchards’ daughter Jeannie. I remember the day we got the dogs. Jeannie and I walked a mile or so to Lynwood and came across a flea-ridden puppy litter (outside the Oligario house). We brought two home. Later that day, we were in the cabin and we named our dog Lulu. The next day I saw Jeannie and they had named their dog Pickles. That dog was overfed her entire life.”

Frank recalls, “I will say that I had a sixth sense that the name was going to be Pickles since we were actually on the pickle ball court at the time when Paul and Jeannie brought the puppies home, and my mother’s mind would run in those channels. Sure enough, she named our puppy Pickles and the Browns named theirs Lulu.”

To further correct the record, he added, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of the dogs referred to as cocker spaniels, and several other breeds, but they were cockapoos. So, the family didn’t decide to get a dog—my sister just came home with one. That girl could get away with murder!”

Where Did the Dog Rumor Come From?

Sometime between 1969 and the early 1970s, Joel was interviewed by a reporter from a national publication who was going to give the game some large-scale publicity. Joan and some of the neighbors were in attendance. Joel was asked where the name “pickle ball” came from. He told the reporter the true story about Joan’s naming the game from the pickle boats. He then proposed, as a fun story, the idea of writing that the game was named after the dog (by then a few years old). The reporter paused and said to go with the dog story since it was cuter and more memorable, and because the true story was a bit of a mouthful for the readers. The meeting was most likely the catalyst for the memories shared by neighbors who recalled being in the room when name discussions were being tossed around.

When other Bainbridge pickleball locals heard about Joel’s cute dog story with the reporter, they weren’t happy and let him know it. His legendary response was, “Don’t worry, it’s just a funny story. It will never stick.”

Frank says, “Barney and my dad agreed that this was the tale they would tell—and they told it for years. You can imagine how upset my mother was about that decision! Later in life, as the game grew, my father would admit in other interviews that the game was not named for the dog, but Barney to his dying day (a year ago) held that the naming was due to Pickles the dog.”

He concludes, “I feel strongly about giving my mom credit for naming the game—it’s her little piece of pickleball’s history, and One of the first handmade paddles something she’s never been given enough credit for."

Morgan Brown

This month’s Junior Spotlight shines a light on 14-year-old Morgan Brown from Naples, Florida. And even though she’s competed in many different sports, pickleball is her game! At 12, Morgan fell in love with the game and has been playing practically nonstop for two years. She’s currently a 7th grader at Pine Ridge Middle School and is proud to be a straight-A student.

The life lessons and values that are a part of pickleball closely mirror Morgan’s own principles and core beliefs. Pickleball has helped her through many difficult times and continues to teach her valuable life lessons.

Through persistence, grit and hard work, Morgan’s game continues to improve. She has progressed rapidly from being a “banger,” to concentrating on a soft-hands approach and focused placement. She maintains a positive attitude, is constantly smiling and always has fun. Morgan’s favorite shot is her two-handed backhand volley. Her all-time favorite pros are Simone Jardim, Ben Johns, and Kyle Yates. Her dream is to one day play in a tournament with them.

Morgan has had the good fortune of learning, playing, and winning with many great partners. She has played in and/or medaled in many tournaments, including the U.S. Nationals in Palm Springs, California, the US Open in Naples, and a tournament at the PicklePlex in Punta Gorda, Florida, where she took gold playing with her mother, Sharon Brown.

Morgan has won many medals in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, but her most memorable tournament was the 2019 US Open where she was noticed and sponsored by Paddletek. Recently, she has accepted sponsorships from PB1965 and Jigsaw Health and is the “face” of the Naples Pickleball Junior Academy. Morgan is so excited and humbled to represent these brands and looks forward to what the future brings.

“What I love most about pickleball is that it’s so friendly and I love how it’s a great way to meet new people,” she says.

The socialization, experience and camaraderie in pickleball has taught Morgan that practice, dedication and hard work will always pay off. She’s always watching videos, taking lessons or hitting against a wall. This has considerably helped her to become a 4.0 player.

During the summer, Morgan assists her mother, who runs the Veterans Park Pickleball Program. Specifically, Morgan plays when needed, checks and sells program memberships, helps in the pro shop, takes lessons when it is slow, and assists with the lessons when it is busy.

Morgan would like to become a Pickleball Ambassador to help inspire more kids to join the sport. She’s currently studying to become a referee and a Level One IPTPA Certified Trainer. Her long-term goal is to become a professional pickleball player and a veterinarian; and of course, to marry Ben Johns. When Morgan is not on the courts hitting or training, you can find her playing with her dog Finn, or filming TikTok and YouTube videos with friends.

Morgan will continue to follow her dreams to show the world that persistence, dedication, and intense focus pays off! •

Oops, I Gained the Quarantine 15: Five Tips for Pandemic Weight Loss

"You're a nutritionist!" one of my more direct pickleball friends reprimanded during our socially distanced water break. I had pointed out that absence of play during the pandemic somehow caused my leggings to shrink. With public courts shut down for months in the Pacific Northwest, it was my first time back.

Judge if you will; I am not alone. We players lost our favorite form of exercise as we knew it during the pandemic, finding ourselves dinking around the house with more access to the pantry. Drop in some situational blues from lack of social interaction, and you have a recipe for unintentional weight gain. Dietitian or not, I’m going to cut myself some slack this time.

Luckily for me, I knew what to do. Here are a few of my favorite tips for weight loss that have worked for myself and others.

#1 Rid yourself of the sabotage. Is your problem sugary drinks? Do you have a pantry full of nutrient- empty snacks “for the kids”? Do you keep a candy stash? Has your alcohol intake increased during the pandemic? I find it best to rid the home of temptations if at all possible. Don’t get me wrong—I believe that occasional indulgences are an important part of life if you enjoy them. Planning is key to prevent overdoing indulgence. If you avoid having your favorites handy, you can’t mindlessly grab for them in a weak moment.

#2 Eat only during the day. It doesn’t get simpler than this. As one form of intermittent fasting called time-restricted eating, this has become trendy for good reason. It’s what humans are meant to do! The 2017 Nobel Prize for Science was earned by researchers who discovered the enzyme that controls circadian rhythm. Since then, nutrition researchers have used the information to find that many diseases and weight gain can be prevented just by restricting eating to daytime hours.

For general health and weight maintenance, I recommend no more than a 12-hour eating window, fasting during the other 12, five days each week. For example, I choose to fast from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. For weight loss, I recommend an 8- to 9-hour eating window, for example fasting from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. And by the way, true fasting means everything besides water. It’s about allowing the liver and other organs to rest and repair, which they cannot do while processing caffeine, artificial sweeteners, etc.
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#3 Choose a healthy diet plan. In a dietitian’s world, this means choosing a plan that is not excessively restrictive so that you can get the nutrients your body needs. It’s especially important now to keep the immune system robust. Plant-strong, high-vegetable plans such as Mediterranean-style diets offer an abundance of nutrients, while the built-in benefits of high fiber and low calories promote weight loss.

#4 Start your meals with raw vegetable appetizers. Do you ever notice that once someone starts to cook
a meal, you begin to feel hunger? That’s a digestive- system hormone kicking in, often triggered simply by the thought of food. Some people are tempted at that point to find a snack to tide them over, which often leads to poor choices. Outsmart your body by keeping a prepared veggie plate in the fridge for easy access when the pangs begin. By filling up on those, you’ll fill up on nutrients before you’re tempted to over-portion the less nutrient- dense foods in your meal.

#5 Find a partner to help with exercise motivation. COVID-19 restrictions took pickleball away from most of us. While play may not yet be back to the way it was, it helps to encourage each other to keep moving so that we stay court-ready. Using the accountability of a court buddy with similar health goals increases success rates. Try going on routine walks “together” while chatting on the phone, or challenge your pickleball pals to complete favorite workouts found online. One hour of heart rate- increasing exercise almost every day is recommended for weight loss. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is especially effective.

Muscle building is also helpful for weight loss. Higher muscle mass burns more calories, even while resting. In addition, if you’ve gained weight because you’re moving less, you may have lost tone important for court safety. Many muscle-increasing exercises needed for court readiness, including squats, lunges, and push-ups, can be done at home with no equipment.

Regarding the Holidays

Everything is different this year, including celebrations. This can be used to a weight-loss advantage. There will certainly be fewer parties to attend, which means fewer of those end-of-year temptations. It’s a great opportunity to try out new recipe traditions that are both delicious and healthy, so that you can get back to feeling your best.

And may the new year bring you, your family, and friends health, happiness, fitness, and lots and lots of pickleball. •

A Proper Warm-Up

Traditionalists are not going to like this, but getting out there and dinking for three minutes is not a proper warmup. Think about it. All points start with a serve and return. Then there is a third shot or fifth shot drop. Maybe some dinks get in there, but if you can’t hit a few shots first, you don’t get to the dinks! Furthermore, dinks are easy. Using up valuable warmup time to do them is a waste of time. They don’t help you determine the wind speed and direction, or the court perspective and depth (some courts have close fences, etc.). Dinks don’t help much with information on court surface speed. With a three- minute dink warmup you’re not ready to play, and you really are woefully unprepared.

Instead, have a useful routine. Have one you can adapt to practice matches (10-15 minutes) and one you can adapt to tournament play (3 minutes). Do not waste a moment. The match really begins when you walk on the court, not when the referee calls 0-0-2. The minute your match is called, start stretching with an exaggerated walk, ankle lifts, and some side-to-side twists. When you reach the court, begin the warmup by starting with a purposeful first hit. Both players should be at the baseline. Instead of just casually putting the ball over the net to your partner, use that first hit to get your range. Start the ball as if you’re serving deep. Bend your knees. Watch where the ball lands.

In the warmup you must find the baseline, because it’s better to hit the ball long than short since it’s easier to pull the ball down and in rather than hit out on the ball once the match begins. Nerves shorten most shots, so you should warm up long rather than short on both your serve and your groundstrokes. If the ball is long, it’s an easy fix—bend your knees. That will bring the ball down into the court without your having to change your stroke.

Next, both players should move toward the No Volley Zone and simultaneously work on volley exchanges with control and pace. Make the shots playable for your partner, but hit them with authority. Once you have become comfortable with the deep volley, have one player step back and hit a few lobs so that you can check the angle of the sun, speed of the wind, and work on your footwork preparation.

Each player should hit a few drops to the partner at net, and the partner volley or place the ball deep in return. Now you’re ready to dink. Get down low and work the ball side to side. Work on your control and get comfortable with staying low. There is no logical reason to dink for three minutes and then play a match of serves, returns, first volleys, and putaways.

Confidence comes with preparation. Have a routine that gives you confidence and information on the conditions. You need to be able to count on your routine whether it’s a windy day, evening under the lights, against bangers, or against good third shot droppers. You’re ready and you have the checklist to help you adapt.
Warmup Focal Points:

1. EARLY PREPARATION. Paddle back early. If you play bangers you’ll be ready.

2. BEND YOUR KNEES. This will keep the trajectory of the ball at a lower angle so the ball you hit is a “heavy” ball.

3. WATCH THE BALL. Watch the ball from the moment you hit the starter ball in the warmup. It’s game time right then, not when the referee asks if the players are ready.

4. MOVE FORWARD. Warm up by moving forward into your groundstrokes. Your goal is to be King of the Mountain. That means you need transportation to get to the NVZ line. Good groundstroke follow- through is that transportation.

5. GET DOWN. Get down and stay down on your dinks. Practicing and warming up by staying low will make you comfortable in that position. Muscle memory and all that!

6. PADDLE UP. Keep your paddle up and leading the way on your volley. Don’t be lazy. Sight the ball early.

7. CONTROL YOUR OVERHEAD. Your overhead in the warmup needs to help you establish a rhythm. Establish a confident swing. No need to overplay it. The overhead in pickleball is a position shot; you establish good position and you prevent your opponents from obtaining good position.

8. CONFIDENT FOLLOW-THROUGH. Don’t quit on the ball. Stay with it. Warm up with an extended, exaggerated follow-through. You’ve got this.

9. PURPOSEFUL PRACTICE SERVES. Take practice serves and use that time to see how the conditions affect your serves. Make sure you know the wind direction and speed. See what kind of serves your opponents like to use. Gather information.

10. SYNCHRONIZE. Make sure your partner is ready. Ask if she needs any certain shot to hit to feel comfortable and ready. Forge a bond by making an encouraging comment. Your partner’s warmup is as critical as yours. Yes, the players are ready!

Pickleball to the Rescue

Pickleball’s popularity among first responders not only keeps them fit, it builds trust and camaraderie.

Inside firehouses and behind police stations, the sticky tape on the ground is evidence that pickleball has come to the rescue of the nation’s first responders.

Before her retirement from the Biloxi Fire Department as Battalion Chief of Health and Safety, Michelle Crowley saw firsthand how pickleball benefits the firefighters she worked with.

“We saw it happen in Biloxi when we started this pickleball revolution a few years ago,” she says. “It caught on with the fire stations because we could tape down a couple of pickleball courts in an area the size of a typical pumperhall and, instead of sitting on the couch, everyone was playing pickleball.”

Before ascending to battalion chief, Crowley was a captain and, after 17 years with the department, she’d seen it all.

“It was amazing for the firefighters to participate—to see so much attention being paid to their physical fitness,” she says.

With her station as part of a larger municipal complex, Crowley says pickleball courts eventually popped up across the street in the recreation facility, eliminating the need to tape down courts in the firehouse.

“They still play in the large facility across the street from one of our firehouses, mostly in the evenings, but also when they standby,” she explains. ”Spending time with each other is a huge part of building the bonds you need in this field. Everything is a team building skill with us, and a large percentage of the department took up pickleball because it’s an inexpensive sport they can participate in with just a paddle. It’s easy to access, and it’s good for them.”

Retired firefighter Jim Barnes of Idaho, and a co-founder of Selkirk Sport, discovered pickleball outside of the station and tried to introduce it to his department. And while it never got off the ground during his tenure there, he says the sport is ideal for emergency responders in general and firefighters in particular.

“Firefighters have the opportunity because they have the time [to play],” Barnes explains. “And a lot of departments are getting away from basketball because of injuries, so they wanted us to participate in low-impact sports like pickleball. Pickleball is perfect in that it provides camaraderie, and firemen are highly competitive in general. Anytime you have an opportunity for teamwork, competitiveness and physical fitness—which is one of the biggest things you need—you go for it. There are guys who don’t do the physical fitness like they should, so pickleball is a good opportunity to get guys out there who wouldn’t normally be out there. It’s also very strategic—all of these attributes are things we enjoy, so it’s a natural fit.”

Timothy Connor retired as a commander for a police department in Farmington Hills, MI, before moving to Tennessee. He didn’t discover pickleball until after his retirement in 2010, but wishes he’d known about it earlier in his career—not just for all the fun it’s brought him, but because it can help officers in ways most people don’t think about.

“I do some instructing, and you can approach it as going to battle, a gunfight of sorts—the kind of prep, focus, mindset—the tactics transfer from firearms to pickleball patterns fairly easily,” he says. “From a physical point of view, pickleball can enhance agility, balance, movement, your ability to maintain movement laterally, forward and backward, hand-eye coordination, perceiving and tracking moving targets and aiming. These physical things transfer from the court into the officer’s street life.”

What’s more, Connor adds that the mental aspect of the game is extremely beneficial to police work in that it sharpens focus, concentration, perception and reaction time. Playing in teams provides even more benefits because you have the opportunity to work on communication skills, which also mirrors police situations.

“The communication is especially important in a tactical situation. Those short, quick, concise, loud, one- or two-word transmissions all occur on the street as well,” he says. “When you’re working with a partner, it’s pure teamwork—assessing a fluid, tactical, changing situation on the fly as the ball’s moving back and forth. Things change from offensive to defensive and back. All those transfer from the street to the court and vice versa.”

While police officers typically don’t have the kind of downtime firefighters do, Connor notes that municipalities with forward-thinking, progressive management will usually work with local facilities to give officers a chance to work out during the workday.

“We used to work out for an hour and do aerobics or lift weights, but you could just as easily meet the guys somewhere in a parks and rec facility,” he says. “The only caveat is you’re subject to recall, so you can’t get too sweaty or dirty only to have the big one hit and be back on duty in 60 seconds.”

For all the first responders across the country who have never tried it, pickleball can definitely up your game off the court. Plus, the ability to have fun and blow off some steam during a shift can help a first responder’s performance when it matters most—while saving lives.

Crowley says one of the most enjoyable aspects of setting up pickleball for the first time in a first responder facility is watching how everyone underestimates the sport and the skills necessary to master it.

“You go out there thinking you have a lot of sports and athletics in your background. You think it’s a small court—this will be easy,” she says. “And it challenges you more than you realize.”