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Pickleball Pro Catherine Parenteau Provides her Top 5 Training Tips for Crossover Professional Athletes

Pickleball Pro Catherine Parenteau Provides her Top 5 Training Tips for Crossover Professional Athletes

On Friday, January 28, top Olympic medalist swimmer, Michael Phelps, joined the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals former football wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, in a series of exhibition games playing pickleball against some of the top pros in the game, at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa for the Carvana Desert Ridge Open, the first stop of the 2022 Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour.

Fitzgerald quickly made himself comfortable in front of a sold-out spectator crowd on championship court, keeping up with the seasoned pickleball pros and winning some impressive points that had the crowd fired up.

Phelps walked onto the court as fans were excited with anticipation to see how his Olympic strength would translate onto the pickleball court. He looked to be having a great time, but the pro teammates quickly stepped in to teach him the rules of the game and try to get him up to the kitchen.

This isn’t new to hear of a professional athlete to pick up a pickleball paddle to see how their skills translate on the court of America’s fastest growing sport. I caught up with the top-rated pickleball pro, Catherine Parenteau, who got the chance to play on Fitzgerald’s team against Lucy Kovalova and Phelps, to get her top 5 training tips on how professional athletes can get started and work their way to calling themselves a multi-sport professional athlete.

1. The Rules
• Remember the double bounce rule, serve and return must always bounce
• Remember the kitchen rules, you cannot make contact with the ball from inside the kitchen or on the kitchen line
• Remember to “serve and stay”, “return and run forward”
2. Speed & Agility
• Try to practice footwork exercises that enhance your ability to do quick lateral movements, this is key on a pickleball court
3. Strength
• At the kitchen line your legs do a lot of the work as you are dinking, strength in your hamstrings, quads, and calf muscles is key
4. Working as a team
• Communication is key in pickleball, you want to make sure you are on the same page as your partner when it comes to movement on the court and the game plan
5. Drilling vs. playtime
• Pro athletes know this already, but drilling is how you get better faster. You will get better just playing points, but the process is much slower. Repetition is key!

Both Phelps and Fitzgerald have pickleball courts at their homes, so we look forward to seeing how they continue to improve their skills and see them competing at a future pickleball tournament.

For other pickleball training tips and to follow Parenteau’s tournament schedule, follow @CatherineParenteau.pb on Instagram and

Laura Vossberg Gainor is the founder of @VossbergGainor, a pickleball marketing agency working with some of the nation’s leading pickleball brands. In addition, she is the founder of @PickleballintheSun, your source for the best pickleball destinations and experiences.

Drive Up Your Metabolism in and out of the Kitchen

Drive Up Your Metabolism in and out of the Kitchen

Oh, metabolism. We dink that term around almost as much as Anna Leigh Waters wins, but what is metabolism, really? Can we blame “slow” metabolism on weight gain? If so, how can we drive it up to burn more calories?

The truth is scientists still have a lot to learn about metabolism. It seems to be as unique to individuals as their pickleball serve. Here’s some general information about what we do know, and a few tips that may keep yours at its best.

What is Metabolism? Simply put, metabolism is the process of converting the food we eat into energy. Through a series of complex chemical reactions, humans can metabolize energy from carbohydrates, protein, fat, and alcohol. If we take in too many calories, our bodies store them as fat. If we don’t get enough calories, we break down our own stored fat or muscle tissue to meet energy needs.

Our bodies burn energy, even while we’re resting; 24 hours a day, our hearts pump, our lungs breathe, and our cells repair themselves. The energy we use during these basic survival functions is called resting energy expenditure (REE) or basal metabolic rate (BMR). Beyond BMR, the energy we use is more individualized depending on the physical activities we choose. For example, an hour of tournament singles will expend more energy than an hour of dinking drills.

What is “Slow” or “Fast” Metabolism? Some people burn more calories during rest than others, which is sometimes called “fast” or “high” metabolism. Some factors that might cause someone’s metabolism to be higher include: • Genetics – Certain genetics predispose people to burn more or fewer calories. • Size – Larger people have higher energy needs. • Muscle mass and body composition – Muscle cells require more energy than fat cells. • Gender – Men tend to have a higher muscle mass and lower body fat than women, causing them to burn more calories at rest.

We used to think our metabolic rate slowly declined as we got older. A large study in 2021 revealed that metabolic rates remain steady from about age 20 through age 60, and then begin to slow. What, then, might be causing unwanted weight gain as we get older, and how can we boost our metabolism?

Boosting BMR out of the Kitchen While genetics do play a role in metabolic rates and body type, the ball is in your court when it comes to lifestyle choices. With the exercise we get playing pickleball, we’re all on the right track. But there may be even more you can do to boost your metabolism and your game.

• Weightlifting or Resistance Training: Muscle tissue cells require a lot of energy to function and stay healthy, even during rest. Consider adding resistance exercises to your workouts that build large muscle groups. For example, squats build your quadriceps, glutes, and calf muscles, all of which will help you get low at the net.

• High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by low-intensity exercise, repeating this pattern several times. Several studies have linked HIIT with burning energy long after the workout is complete.

• Manage Stress: Too much of the stress hormone, cortisol, may influence weight gain and cause disruptions in metabolism. You can help manage stress with simple things like deep breathing, and with enjoyable activities like pickleball.

• Rest Well: Having poor sleep habits has been linked to negative effects on metabolism. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Boosting BMR in the Kitchen Some foods and eating habits have been linked to faster BMR. While they may only make small differences in calorie burning, over time these differences can add up to pounds. • Drink coffee: Scientists have noticed links between coffee drinkers and slightly lower obesity rates. They suspect it may be related to caffeine’s metabolism-boosting effects.

• Add ice to your water bottle: On its own, drinking plain water can increase your metabolic rate, but adding ice to your water may raise it even more.

• Turn up the heat: Some studies show that eating capsaicin, the component in chili peppers that makes them spicy-hot, may help boost metabolism. Most studies involved capsaicin supplements, not the peppers themselves.

• Eat during the day: Some research shows that our metabolic health is at its best when we follow a normal circadian rhythm, eating during the daylight hours and avoiding late-night calories.

While we can’t fight genetics or time, we can control some things when it comes to our metabolic rate. By following these metabolism-boosting tips, you can help keep yourself lean and court-ready for years to come!

Behind the Scenes with Pro Zane Navratil

Behind the Scenes with Pro Zane Navratil

Age: 26
Hometown: Racine, Wisconsin
Current Residence: Brookfield, Wisconsin
Marital Status: Single
Profession: Pickleball playing and teaching professional as of
July 2020, formerly an auditor/CPA for Deloitte
Pickleball Ranking: WPR #2 in the world
Favorite Performance: The first pro title at the APP Punta Gorda Open in
January 2021 and the APP Chicago Open Men’s
Doubles with Altaf Merchant

What is your greatest asset? My ability to remove my ego to see objectively what is going on in a match. My CPA training gives me an opportunity to look at the game in an accountability way, by the numbers, percentage pickleball. There is risk, reward, and return on investment.

You are known for your chainsaw serve. What was your inspiration and how did you develop that serve? My friend John Cincola and I were hitting topspin groundstrokes. The spin on the ball given to you has an impact on what you can return. We experimented on spinning the toss and found it to be effective. There are three ways to add spin off the toss. The first is off the paddle; this was the original chainsaw. The second is off the paddle hand, holding the paddle in the right hand and the ball in the right hand. The third is spinning the ball with the non-paddle hand.

What would you like to see happen in pickleball? Pickleball is different from tennis. I would like to see people go nuts whenever they want to during a point, not just applaud at the end of a point. I would like it to be more like basketball and football, more fan involvement. The Big 12 Conference has the best tennis attendance because they encourage fan participation. I would like to see that in pickleball.

What is your sports background? I played high school tennis and college tennis at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.

What person was the most influential in your life? My high school tennis coach, Harold Swanson, taught me to learn things myself. He never gave me the answers. He taught me how to learn the game.

Where does your name come from? My parents just liked the name Zane. My father’s last name is Czech, and my mother is from India.

What three famous people would you invite to dinner? Joe Rogan, Novak Djokovic, and Elon Musk.

What is your favorite national park? Zion. Angel’s Landing was the coolest hike.

Who is your favorite celebrity? Joe Rogan. I love to listen to his podcast.

What book influenced you the most? “The Inner Game of Tennis” by W. Timothy Gallwey.

In what period of history would you choose to live? I would choose to live 10 years ago, 10 years younger so that I could be better at pickleball in the present. In 2005, there was less social media and phones; there was more interaction and I like that.

What kind of music do you listen to? Classical—Mozart, Bach, and Tchaikovsky.

What three items would you take to a deserted island? A smartphone, pickleball equipment, and Legos.

If you could send a message in a bottle to your younger self, what would it say? “Fear regret not failure.” Failure is a stepping-stone to success. You learn more from your losses than from your wins.

New Tournament Series Focuses on Next Generation of Pickleball Players

New Tournament Series Focuses on Next Generation of Pickleball Players

Buoyed by a new tournament series that is focused on a younger age bracket, the next generation of pickleball players is shattering the myth that pickleball is a seniors-only sport.

The tournament series, which the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) launched in 2021, is the first of its kind. It is primarily focused on developing champion pickleball players in the 16-23 age range. Aptly named the APP Next Gen Series, the tournament’s mission is to create a platform for America’s top young pickleball players to compete and receive coaching from senior professionals.

“The mission for APP Next Gen is to develop America’s next champions,” said Ken Herrmann, CEO and creative founder of the series. “This is done not only through match play, but by educating both the player and parents about the road their child is taking if considering a career in professional pickleball.”

The APP Tour is the Official Pro Partner Tour of USA Pickleball and has been endorsed by both the Senior Pro and Super Senior Pro councils. Herrmann said he launched the APP Tour in June of 2019 after he spent time developing a vision for all players, ranging from amateur to professional.

Part of that vision was focusing on young players. “This current generation of players is the future of the sport,” Herrmann explained. “If we are able to get this sport into the Olympics, then it is this group of players who will be wearing those Olympic jackets walking into the stadium. Next Gen is not only an inspiration for those players currently here in America, but also for the thousands of international prodigies who have grown to love the game.”

Next Gen has partnered with Chicken N Pickle restaurant/ entertainment centers for the entire series. Each stop on the tour is a three-day tournament held at Chicken N Pickle locations in Oklahoma, Kansas, or Texas.

A tournament held Nov. 19-21, 2021, in San Antonio welcomed 48 players competing for $15,000 in total prize money, with equal prize money for the men’s and women’s divisions. The series also pays out the top five players for each division, based on the cumulative standings for singles, doubles, and mixed doubles events.

As part of the Next Gen Series, players receive mentoring from senior players, which continues after the tournament. This mentoring program prepares young adults to represent the United States in future international and APP Tour professional competitions.

John Sperling and Julie Johnson, two of the highest-ranked seniors in the sport, were the first two senior pro mentors, said Herrmann. Mentors provide seminars on topics like training, media interviews, creating schedules that balance family and tournament time, the mental aspects of the game, off-court training, nutrition, and fitness programs to improve quickness and skill sets. Following the tournament, the senior pro mentors also make themselves available for players who might need extra help planning tournament schedules, discussing sponsorships, or “just being a sounding board for the player and family,” Herrmann added.

Herrmann added. “From tournament play, to on-court drilling and then seminars with the senior pro mentoring program, each player left with guidance and direction to improve their games,” he continued. “The senior pros provide an educational element that is not being done anywhere in the sport and is unique to the Next Gen Series.”

Players must have a USA Pickleball Tournament Player Rating (UTPR) of 4.0 to compete in the Next Gen Series. A select number of wildcards are available for those under the age of 16 who meet the UTPR criteria. A committee formed by the senior mentoring program determines the wildcards, and potential wildcard players are asked to submit an essay explaining why they should be considered for one of the open spots.

Currently, eligible players are placed in a single open division with all ages combined. The tournament is held Friday-Sunday and consists of singles, doubles, and mixed doubles matches. Players are encouraged to play all three days of the tournament, as total cumulative points determine the top two finishers—and who wins

the prize money—at the end of Sunday’s play. The top two finishers also receive paid wildcard entries into a Tier 1 APP Pro Tournament that is assigned to each Next Gen Series event.

There were three different types of players who attended Next Gen San Antonio, each with different objectives, but the same goal,” said Herrmann. “That goal was to leave the event a better player, and I think everyone achieved that. The players who attended had aspirations of either performing well and winning the $15,000 prize purse, having the opportunity to train alongside some of the most talented younger players on the APP tour, or developing friendships that could last a lifetime through pickleball.”

In November’s San Antonio event, former Division I tennis player Yana Grechkina, 23, took home gold in the women’s division. Breakout teen JW Johnson, 19, took the gold in the men’s division.

“Winning Next Gen was pretty special to me,” said Johnson. “It’s one thing to win when you’re the underdog and a young kid, but it’s completely different to win when you’re with a group of your peers. The thing I loved most about it was the whole atmosphere at Chicken N Pickle. It is like a giant party all the time with everything going on, and I thought it was one of the best atmospheres for pickleball.”

Hermann agrees, stating that he was impressed with the crowd size at the tournament, both in person and via the livestream.

“We’re pleased with how engrossed the public was with these young players, by making comments during the livestreamed matches,” he added. “The crowd was filled with excitement and supported the three-day event generously.”

In 2022, the Next Gen Series has tournaments scheduled in Oklahoma City (Feb. 4-6); Wichita, Kansas (March 18-20); and San Antonio (July 8-10). Although the general format will stay the same, with singles, doubles and mixed doubles tournaments, some tweaks may be made for the upcoming tournament in Oklahoma City. For the latest news or to register for the APP Next Gen Series, visit

What Does USA Pickleball Certified Actually Mean?

What Does USA Pickleball Certified Actually Mean?

The mechanics of the process are driven by USA Pickleball's Equipment Evaluation Committee, which was formed in 2016, with the support of National Testing Systems--USA Pickleball's independent third-party lab and testing facility in Baltimore, Maryland.

By Carl Schmits

If you've been involved in the sport of pickleball over the past six years, you have witnessed both growth and evolution rarely seen in any industry. Besides the visibility of new and converted venues, the increase in the number of tournaments including two organized Pro Am tours the recently announced Major League Pickleball team format, and USA Pickleball's new National Championship series leading to the world-class Margaritaville USA Pickleball Nationals Championship event--is simply amazing

Subsequently, this growth has been greatly reflected within the equipment industry as well. We've seen more new paddle introductions and manufacturers in the last 18 months than the previous five years, Including some of the largest brands in sporting goods delivering newly designed paddles and competition balls.

A question often heard is. What does it mean to be USA Pickleball Certified?" In a nutshell, the certification process ensures that paddles and balls are manufactured to specifications that support one of the USA Pickleball board's objectives of maintaining the integrity of the sport. The mechanics of this process are driven by USA Pickleball's Equipment Evaluation Committee (EEC), formed in 2016, with the support of National Testing Systems (NTS)-USA Pickleball's independent third-party lab and testing facility in Baltimore, Maryland.

The EEC is a data-driven group that works closely with the rules committee and the manufacturing community with an objective of ensuring a level playing field for both manufacturers and athletes. Primary areas of concern on paddle performance are spin-inducing friction and power-enhancing attributes with a focus on preventing unfair competitive advantages in a sport that has an extremely wide range of playing types and skill levels. For balls, dimensional consistency and rebound characteristics drive most of the tests.

Over time, our rules, specifications, standards and means of testing have evolved in response to or in anticipation of, innovations in technology, manufacturing/testing processes, and/or policy Interpretation. we’ve learned much in observing the evolution of other racket and paddle sports, and now changes in materials and those sports, thus aiding in our decision-making.

It is an ongoing process to research more representative and comprehensive methodologies of testing for critical performance characteristics using
Industry-standard ASTM test methods to evaluate surface friction, ball rebound, material behavior, etc. Benefits of Implementing these industry-standard protocols include increasing reproducibility by the manufacturers while reducing variation in testing. In 2016, a testing method was put in place to measure the material hardness of tournament balls, with the goal of ensuring consistent play ability and rebound characteristics. As part of our goal to Improve the relevance, accuracy, and consistency of our testing procedures, and as a logical transition from the first phase of testing for those performance characteristics, we implemented an industry-standard ASTM compression test method that is the norm in the sports industry.

Also in 2016, a test was devised to limit extreme friction-inducing characteristics that were a result of surface irregularities common in that period’s paddle.

structural materials and finishing graphics. In addition, articles 2.E.2.a and 2.E.6 were put in place to address applied surfaces and finishes that increased friction. Since then, there has been a significant trend in materials, both in construction material and finishes, that required re-evaluating both the means of testing as well as what the acceptable threshold should be. As a result, the EEC implemented an AST test using coefficient of friction that evaluates that attribute regardless of the surface material or cosmetic finish.

Most recently, new paddle configurations have started to emerge, e.g., "open throat. In response to that, the EEC has developed a test to assess a paddle's overall flexibility to ensure that it falls within an acceptable performance range. In addition to the above advancements in testing. this year the EEC has formally launched a Compliance program to better ensure that paddles and balls continue to be manufactured to original specification throughout their life cycle. This is modeled after similar programs in other racket and paddle sports.

Leadership: Pickleball's Greatest Asset

Leadership: Pickleball's Greatest Asset

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in North America, and probably around the world. It is becoming quite popular in some countries but is still unknown in most. So how do we replicate the tremendous success in some nations to other regions of the world? The answer is: vision, perseverance. resilience and overall leadership.

There are several challenges that we are confronting to expand the sport in Mexico. For starters, the name itself becomes a barrier. The word pickleball is difficult just to pronounce for people whose native language is something other than English. Furthermore, it doesn't have any suggestion of being a racket sport.

That doesn't mean it can't be sold; it just means that we must be very creative. After all, soccer, tennis, baseball, and ping-pong are names with different language origins. Another challenge has to do with the accessibility of the sport

Pickleball has grown tremendously in Canada and the USA because racket sports are highly accessible in public areas. You can find public tennis courts, or basketball courts, in just about any small town or big city. In some countries like ours, however, racket sports are mostly located in private clubs. Therefore, they are perceived as elitist sports.

It is believed that because soccer is the most popular sport in our country, it is highly accessible. I refute that. The results in international competition support my argument. European countries like Germany, France, Italy and Spain have an infrastructure that makes soccer very accessible to everyone. Obviously, there are other factors for their international success, but this is the very bottom layer of their success. Although soccer is played wide in our country, well-designed and built installations are limited for a country of approximately 135 million people.

High demographic growth of our cities for the past 40 years has made the cost of land very expensive. Large areas required for soccer fields inside large cities become very difficult to sustain.

One other challenge we are confronting is the idiosyncrasy of our nation. As I mentioned before. racket sports are perceived as elitist, only played inside private clubs. Soccer success around the world, on the other hand, is based on how it has been positioned since the very beginning as a sport of the people. Male people, I might add. Until very recently, women's soccer and most sports now highly practiced by women did not have the support that they are beginning to have. So, racket sports have remained niche or specialized sports mainly played at private clubs and mostly practiced by a male population.

The incredible thing about pickleball is that it has the ingredients to overcome these and other challenges. It is easy to learn and inexpensive to play. It is fun and it is great exercise. It is highly inclusive. The nature of the rules allows for a wide diversity of population to practice it.

In Mexico we will have a very exciting calendar of events for 2022. We will start the year hosting two APP tournaments in February, one in Guadalajara and the other in Cancun. Come join us to play awesome pickleball, meet new international players, and visit our beautiful country.

Point Length Comparison

Point Length Comparison

Let’s compare pickleball point length and actual play time to tennis. Buckle your seat belt, as the facts are quite stunning! Statistic #1: What is the average length of a point in tennis versus pickleball?

Despite the fact that we remember the extra-long points in both sports, the average point length in tennis is only three shots. That includes the serve and return of serve, making those two shots disproportionately important. How does this tennis point

length compare to pickleball? The average point length in pickleball is three times longer than tennis, at nine ball strikes per point! How is this possible? Two primary reasons: first, the serve is far less dominant in pickleball than tennis; and second, the rules in pickleball encourage touch shots due to the kitchen line rule being an important part of the sport.

Statistic #2: What is the average amount of time per hour that the ball is in play in tennis versus pickleball?

Now let’s take that a step further. Considering the breaks between points, we have analyzed how much time is spent playing versus waiting in both sports. In every hour of tennis, the ball is in play just 11-12 minutes! It may sound crazy, but this is an accurate statistic. How about pickleball? In every hour of pickleball, the ball is in play much longer... a total of 26-28 minutes!

Armed with this information, pickleball players can now discuss the benefits of pickleball over tennis much more clearly than ever before. Pickleball offers more cardiovascular exercise and fitness than tennis. The truth is in the statistics!



NHL legend Kris Draper has been so completely taken by pickleball that he transformed his Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, backyard hockey rink into a pickleball court during the warmer months.

Hoisting the Stanley Cup, perhaps the most revered trophy in all of sports, epitomizes the pinnacle of success in the National Hockey League. And, for Kris Draper, nicknamed “Nailz” for his energizing 20-year career—the majority of which was spent with the Detroit Red Wings during their glory years in Hockeytown—lifting Lord Stanley’s chalice was a lifelong dream whose reality far exceeded his expectations.

“Definitely the greatest feeling as a hockey player that I ever felt,” he says. “I remember in 1997 at Joe Louis Arena, Joe Kocur called my name and handed me the cup and said, ‘Go for a lap.’ I remember grabbing the cup from Joey, raising it over my head, and realizing this is the greatest moment in my hockey career. You dream about this as a kid all the time and when you play in juniors, that’s all you ever think about...the time when you can grab the Stanley Cup and skate around the rink with it. It was an unbelievable feeling.” Draper would realize that feeling three more times while wearing the Red Wings jersey.

Perhaps his finest season on the ice was in 2003-2004 when he scored 24 goals and tallied 40 points, helping Detroit win the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL team with the highest point total during the regular season. Not to be outdone, Draper’s defensive exploits were recognized as well. The West Hill, Ontario, native won the prestigious Frank J. Selke Trophy that same year, given to the sport’s top defensive forward.

The competitive fires that burned so deeply in Draper during his illustrious hockey career have now been transferred to the pickleball court, where even his opponents across the net wonder if he’s envisioning himself back on the ice at Joe Louis Arena. He plays hard, just as he did when he wore the #33 sweater for the Red Wings. Taking up pickleball, however, took some convincing.

“A friend of mine invited me over to his house to play pickleball,” Draper recalls. “At first, after hearing the name, I kind of chuckled and said ‘No thank you.’ Then, after a while, he talked me into it and convinced me it was a sport that I would really enjoy. I went over to his house, and we played for about two to three hours. I was hooked pretty quickly, and since then I try to play pickleball four to five times a week and I have been playing for just over a year. I’m totally into the sport of pickleball now and look forward to taking my game to the next level and beyond.”

So completely taken by the sport, Draper transformed his Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, backyard hockey rink into a pickleball court during the warmer months. “The rink in my backyard is outfitted with boards and a permanent cement floor,” he explains. “All summer long, I [was] playing in my backyard. Early in the summer, I bought a Tru-Shot net and got the lines painted and turned the rink into a full, functioning pickleball court. It was great because the whole family used it too. It was the summer of pickleball! I have also played at public courts in Royal Oak, and during the winter I also play indoors at the Sports Club of West Bloomfield. I can’t get enough of this sport.”

As a hockey player, Draper was often referred to as a “grinder”—a relentless player who never gives up on a puck and continues to skate hard every second of every shift—playing for legendary coach Scotty Bowman. Along with linemates Darren McCarty and Kirk Maltby, they were known as the Grind Line and were an integral part of the Red Wings squad who elevated the stature of the team and were instrumental in winning those four Stanley Cups.

“The Grind Line was something I was so proud to be a part of,” Draper says. “We played a fast and physical style of hockey, and obviously we grinded it out game in and game out. I feel that is similar to the way I want to play in pickleball tournaments. We earned the name on the ice, and I haven’t yet earned a nickname on the pickleball court quite yet. I know my style of play will be a bit like my time on the ice, but of course I can only move around so far on the court—and crashing into the net is a no-no because I have to keep remembering to stay out of the kitchen when I’m not allowed in there.”

With most professional athletes, hand-eye coordination is one of the strongest attributes, and that rings true with Draper. Stickhandling the puck, especially through traffic in the defensive zone, is of paramount importance and many of those same qualities have transferred to his initial play in pickleball.

“I definitely see some similarities between the two sports,” Draper explains. “Playing in the NHL requires great hand-eye coordination and I think that is a skill that has enabled me to play fairly well early on with my pickleball game. One of the aspects of pickleball that I really enjoy is getting into battles at the net when the volleying gets fast, quick, and hard. That’s when my competitive juices really get flowing. When I get in a competitive atmosphere, I really want to win.”

The spirit of competition never leaves the mindset of former professional athletes. It’s part of their DNA, and improving his game on the pickleball court is a top priority for Draper—who played in the NHL until the age of 40, which is an incredible accomplishment in a sport as physically demanding as professional hockey. “Playing in the NHL until the age of 40 is something I am very proud of. I’m also very proud to have played over 1,000 games in the Detroit Red Wings uniform,” he adds. “And a big reason for that was that I was able to stay relatively healthy during my career. I have always had a passion for working out. With that combination, that allowed me to play 20 years in the NHL.”

Draper’s longevity in a Red Wings sweater is in line with the likes of Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom and his good friend Steve Yzerman, now the general manager of the Detroit Red Wings. “To be mentioned in the same sentence as those players is truly an honor,” he says. “I can’t believe, [thinking back to] when I was playing in my early junior days in the Ontario Hockey League, that one day I would be mentioned in the same breath as a Gordie Howe and a Stevie Yzerman. Well, it’s just an overwhelming feeling. One that I will always cherish.”

When not playing pickleball as much as he can, Draper is also the director of amateur scouting for the Detroit Red Wings and gets to work closely with Yzerman. “My role is to travel around the globe and look at top prospects that could be potential draft picks for the Red Wings,” he explains. “I am in charge of running our draft. It is great to have Stevie Y back in Detroit with the passion to make the Red Wings Stanley Cup contenders once again.”

Aside from Draper’s family and job with the Red Wings, his other passion clearly lies within the 20’ x 44’ dimensions of a pickleball court. Not exactly the size of blue line to blue line, but it suits the “grinder” just fine. And, as with any high-achieving athlete, Draper—who plays with the Engage Maverick paddle— is continually working at his game, some aspects of which can be frustrating for the 50-year-old player: “I would say [it’s] when I don’t hit the third shot drop. I know how important that shot is to get myself and my partner to the net, and when I don’t hit a good one, it is aggravating.”

He thrives on challenges and looks forward to the days when he’s playing in tournaments to see where he stacks up against other players. Draper truly enjoys the competitive aspects of the sport, as he has met a lot of great people within the local pickleball community “As of right now, I have really enjoyed playing the game,” he says. “I have had the opportunity to play with outstanding players here in Michigan, but I would like We played a fast and physical style of hockey, and obviously we grinded it out game in and game out. I feel that is similar to the way I want to play in pickleball tournaments.

to try my skills at a tournament in the near future to see where my game is at. I am so looking forward to that challenge. Being a former professional athlete, we hold ourselves to a high standard and I always want to improve my game. I enjoy working on areas of my game that I feel I need to get better at, and I also enjoy watching the top players in the world.”

Challenges are what made Kris Draper a great hockey player, one of Detroit’s favorite sons and a Red Wings legend who’s proud of the Stanley Cup banners he helped to get hung in Joe Louis Arena. Now his focus is on the sport of pickleball, and while his “grinding” style may not play quite as well on the court as it did on the ice, there’s no doubt “Nailz” will find a way to make his game and style of play successful as he moves forward in the sport of pickleball.

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

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 and @USAPickleball on Instagram.

How Pickleball Really Got Its Name!

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

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

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.

#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. •