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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 CatherineParenteau.com.

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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.