Land of the Sky Tournament information can be found by clicking on the button above.

Newcomers to the site should note the pickleball book "chapters" in the left column and the repository of expert articles and videos in the right column.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Etiquette - Make Fair Line Calls

Playing pickleball is, first and foremost, supposed to be fun. Players are drawn to the game for that reason and fun should not leave the game no matter how competitive it gets. Arguing line calls detracts from the fun. In fact, it so detracts from the game that it was the subject of a rule change in April 2015. The relevant rules are:

6.D.1. Players will call the lines on their side of the court (excluding the non-volley line on a serve - i.e., short serve, if being called by a referee).

6.D.5. No player should question an opponent’s call unless asked (except that player may appeal a call to the referee in an officiated match). A player should ask the opponent’s opinion if the opponent was in a better position to see the call. An opponent’s opinion, if requested,  shall be accepted. The opinion of a player looking down the line is more likely to be accurate than one looking across the line.

The rule changes highlight the need for players to make fair line calls. In the spirit of keeping the game fun and avoiding conflict about line calls, here are some guidelines:

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Offbeat Sunday: Jillian Gets Way Too Competitive Playing Pickle Ball

I don't have a clue who Jillian is, but she has a video (called Jillian Gets Way Too Competitive Playing Pickle Ball) playing pickleball that fits an upcoming theme for a series of posts - pickleball etiquette. Enjoy the antics. Just don't follow her lead when you play.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

2016 Senior Games Update

I received 2 pieces in the mail today regarding Henderson and Transylvania Counties Senior Games.

Henderson County

Registration occurs March 1 - 31 at the Athletics and Activity Center from 8:30 - 5:00 M-F

Online Registration is available at HCPRD.COM

Friday, February 26, 2016


I can recall talking about one safety issue in over 100 posts. That issue was "do not backpedal to go after a ball". has a pretty comprehensive list of safety tips that are worth a reader's consideration.

  1. Don’t overplay your current physical condition. (“JUST ONE MORE GAME” has caused way too many accidents!)
  2. Hydrate. This means “drink water”. This means YOU. Drink BEFORE you are thirsty. Otherwise it’s too late.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ready Position Quick Tip

I previously posted an article on The Ready Position at the Kitchen Line in which I recommended positioning the paddle parallel to the body.

This recommendation was based on personal experience and alignment with many of the top players' techniques. For example, the above photo is Brian Staub, a national gold medal winner.

But I have always said that there are lots of techniques that work and everyone should find the one that works best for them. Mark Renneson has a quick tip in his newsletter expressing a different preference. From Mark:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Basic Dink -- Consistency

We seem to have a theme going recently with several posts about dinking. There is a reason - the dinking game is a very important part of a winning strategy. We first posted a new video to show 5 Steps to a Winning Dink. That was followed by a clinic and post where dinking was the primary subject. Today's post is yet another new video about dinking.

The video (called Basic Dink -- Consistency) comes from a top female player, Sarah Ansboury. Sarah describes the video as:

This video is focused on the basic dink, which means a consistent dink without much spin or pace on the ball. There are many strategies and techniques that come alone with the dink, but here we are focusing on a few tips most players can use to increase their consistency in the dink rally.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Finding a Tournament Partner

I have never been on any dating site such as or eHarmony. I can't imagine what kinds of questions are asked that attempt to create a lasting relationship. But, despite my naivete, I am going to try to do that here.  No, I am not going to ask a bunch of personal questions and I am not trying to set up romantic connections. I will attempt to provide a clearinghouse for players to find partners for tournament play.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

PBX Club

I have been intending to post this for a long time but have been negligent in its delay. A pickleball oriented podcast originates from right here in Hendersonville hosted by one of our Crosswalk players - Chris Allen. The podcast has amazing content, talking about strategies, tips, equipment, and much more with guests ranging from top players to rules experts. It is a great source of information about pickleball. From the PBX Club website:

 stands for “PickleBall Excellence.” PBX Club is a community of pickleball enthusiasts, devoted to playing our best and growing this great sport throughout the world.

Our #1-rated podcast*,
“The Pickleball Show” features tips, tricks and strategies for playing better pickleball, interviews with top pickleball players, pickleball equipment reviews, pickleball tournament info and more!

Click on picture above to visit the site!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The 80% Rule

As you might imagine, I watch a lot of pickleball. I watch videos of players of all levels. I watch live games while waiting for recreational play. I watch live games during tournaments. I watch to get ideas to write about. But mostly I watch to learn.

Many games have extended periods of dinking during which I have questioned why opportunities to make an aggressive play passed without avail. After reading the statistical analysis about Conversions, I wondered even more. The author wrote "that a team strong in offensively executed conversions would see a forced error in their opponent or score a point within two hits of their executed conversions". There is no more offensive conversion than turning a dink into an aggressive smash. So why wasn't it done?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Greater Greenville Senior Sports Classic 2016 - Update

I have posted about the upcoming Greenville tournament as recently as February 9. I received an email from the tournament director that has some additional information on registering for the tournament.

From Gary Allen:

The fourth annual GGSSC pickleball tournament will be played April 14 and 15, 2016.  This year will feature an open tournament for advanced levels and a one day age bracketed tournament.  Specifics for both tournaments are listed in the attachment.  There is a limit on the number of teams that can register, but there is still plenty of room left.  If you are a club representative, please make sure your members receive this announcement.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February 17 Beginner Clinic

The third session of our series of beginner clinics was held February 17 in the Hendersonville Athletic/Activity Center. We had 5 attendees who worked on the most basic shots from the kitchen line - the dink and volleys. The goal was to understand the techniques of hitting both shots as well as strategies such as targeting the opponent's backhand side.

The first exercise was hitting the dink to a player directly across the net with an emphasis on hitting a soft shot that lands in the non-volley zone. This was followed by practicing crosscourt dink shots on both the forehand and backhand sides.  The final dink exercise was practicing while moving from sideline to sideline, first directly across from a partner and then starting crosscourt from a partner.

After a short review of the Ready Position at the Kitchen Line, a short exercise in the punch volley was performed.


Future Clinics

No new clinics are scheduled at this time. We will look for future opportunities as new players express interest in learning to play. If readers learn of beginners interested in learning the game, please have them contact me. Additionally, any individual or group training can be arranged to cover any topic. Good luck and check back often for future clinic information!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

5 Steps to a Winning Dink

It should be clear that dinking is a very important part of pickleball based on the number of posts included here. We started with It Should be Called Dinkball, moved on to Dink Game Strategies and, finally, Rethinking the Dink.

Pickleball 411 recently created another video called Dinking 101 – Five Steps to a Winning Dink! to help explain the dinking game.

The video is titled "5 Steps to a Winning Dink" with the following key points:
  1. Be patient
  2. Bend at the knees
  3. Swing from the shoulder
  4. Watch the ball & follow through
  5. Return to ready position

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Honest Self-Awareness

We have spent more than a week discussing the statistical analysis of pickleball play as performed by Noel White. Noel offered one last observation from his research and I will present it below without comment.  From Noel:

The Palm Creek pickleball players who know me, are aware that I spend my pickleball time, when not playing, observing the play of others and primarily asking these observed others how they think they just played. Another variation is asking other game watchers what they are seeing going on in the playing in front of them.

When I can be diplomatic, rather than nosy, I am soliciting people’s perceptions and estimates of what is and is not working for them. I compare what they tell me with what I have previously witnessed.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Conversions

Noel White analyzed 5 areas of pickleball as listed in my post Pickleball Statistical Analysis. We have covered the first four of those areas over the past week and will now discuss the last area of his work. The subject is conversions, a term with which I was not previously familiar. Before we define it, let's see how important it was found to be. The conclusion (Results Nutshell) reached by Noel was:

90% of the time winning teams have the most total number of successful conversions. I have some rough estimates that teams using the most offensive type conversions win a high % of the time and teams that have the most defensive type of conversion shots lose a majority of their games

A 90% factor in winning seems to be pretty important, at least important enough to understand how to use it to our advantage.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Offbeat Sunday: Pickleball on Ice

Winter pickleball in the mountains is rare for those with outdoor courts. But we do get occasional opportunities to play due to our southern latitude. Can you imagine how hard it is to find court time in Canada? Luckily for Canadians, they are inventive...or maybe their brains are shown in this Mark Renneson video called Pickleball On Ice!.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Getting to the Net

My post on Pickleball Statistical Analysis mentioned 5 areas of the game that were observed and evaluated by Noel White. The fourth of these 5 areas was the service team getting to the net. The conclusion (Results Nutshell) reached by Noel was:

100% of the teams that take a conservative approach to getting to the net never make it to the medal rounds. Approximately 20% of the playing teams take a conservative approach to coming- to-the-net, while in the serving mode. This low-risk approach to the net (waiting for the perfect drop shot, etc.) results in playing defense from the back 1/3 of the court over 50% of their serving time.
90% of the time conservative getting-to-the-net teams (while serving) lose to equal or better competitive teams. A few conservative net-approach teams played defensively from the back 1/3 of the court over 60% of their playing hits when serving.

Yet again, the data is overwhelming.  Teams win games by getting to the kitchen line. Staying back is a huge disadvantage.  In my earlier post You. Must. Get. To. The. (No-Volley) Line, Prem Carnot stated:

Friday, February 12, 2016

Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Return of Serve

Following up on the statistical analysis discussions of the posts on Unforced Errors and the Drop Shot, we will now cover the third area of play listed in my post on Pickleball Statistical Analysis - the return of serve. The conclusion (Results Nutshell) reached by Noel White regarding the return of serve was:
The return of serve (the 2nd hit) significantly effects which team initially gets to play more of a serving round offensively and which team plays more of the serving round defensively. Approximately 50% of the time the return of serve makes it easy for the servers to get off a good 3rd hit. The other 50% of the time the return of serve is hit in such a manner that the serving team gets off a poor 3rd hit that is predominately a defensive hit.
Noel observed that approximately 50% of the service returns landed near the opponents' kitchen line or mid-court. These short returns allowed the serving team to advance to the kitchen with ease and eliminated the kitchen line advantage held by the returning team.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Drop Shots

I have discussed several options for the third shot, including the drive, the lob, and the drop shot. In my post on The Third Shot, I stated that the drop shot is the best option. I based that recommendation on observations, discussions with 4.0+ players, as well as personal play. Now, I have statistics that support the recommendation. My post on Pickleball Statistical Analysis mentioned 5 areas of the game that were analyzed by Noel White. One of these 5 areas was drop shots. The conclusion (Results Nutshell) reached by Noel was:

In the 2013 research sample, 73% of the time the winning teams hit a majority of the successful drop shots. In the 2012 research sample, approximately 90% of the time the winning teams hit a majority of the successful drop shots.

Noel's conclusion is clear - successful execution of the drop shot on a regular basis will lead to more winning. Teams that successfully hit more drop shots than their opponents won between 7 and 9 games out of 10 games played. This is true even with some built-in lost rallies due to the difficulty of the shot.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Unforced Errors

I have watched a lot of movies in my time. I can honestly say that my favorite movie line is Clint Eastwood's "A man's got to know his limitations" from a Dirty Harry movie. Nothing could more accurately describe the first strategy recommendation from Noel Whites' pickleball study mentioned in my post on Pickleball Statistical Analysis. The first conclusion listed by Noel was:

70% of the time winning teams have less unforced errors (many times significantly less) than the losing teams.

What does this tell us? It says that the team with fewer unforced errors will win 7 out of 10 games on average. That means players should give up the hero aspiration that creates attempts to hit risky winners. Instead, players should make greater efforts to keep the ball in play while waiting for opponents to err.

Now, let's dive further into the analysis to see how it makes sense.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tournament(s) Update - February 9

Some additional information has become available for two tournaments:

Greenville, SC - I highlighted this local tournament in a January 30 post. Since then, the on-line registration has opened. I started the registration process about a week ago and finally got registered today. The registration process was obviously flawed and we have worked through the process of getting it right. Some quirks remain but registration will occur. Be aware that there is a multi-step process in this enrollment-type registration. 

  1. A membership account with the county recreation will have to be established. As a member from last year, I do not recall all of the details but it is free.
  2. Registration is similar to enrolling for a class. A "prerequisite" is required for all Senior Games activities. The prerequisite is a one-time fee of $12.
  3. Enrollment for either or both of the pickleball tournaments completes the registration.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Pickleball Statistical Analysis

I am a big fan of statistical analysis. I believe that mathematics is unbiased and reveals the reality that mythology sometimes hides. It was with some disappointment that I mentioned in several posts that I have never seen any statistical analysis of pickleball play. I am happy to now say that particular void has been filled. I recently stumbled across an extensive analysis developed by Noel White, Club Statistician, Palm Creek Pickleball Club. I am also happy to say that the conclusions confirm the preponderance of observed play and my strategy recommendations. But, while the conclusions shouldn't surprise anyone who watches high level matches, the numbers supporting these conclusions just might.

Noel's study listed 5 conclusions (labeled "Results Nutshell") for 5 areas of play:

  1. Unforced errors
  2. Drop shots
  3. Return of serve
  4. Getting to the net
  5. Conversions

Sunday, February 7, 2016

February Beginner Clinics

The second session of our series of beginner clinics was held February 3 in the Hendersonville Athletic/Activity Center. We had 6 attendees who worked on the first 2 shots of the game - the serve and return of serve. The goal was to understand the techniques of hitting both shots as well as adjustments needed to increase or decrease both the arc and speed. Emphasis was placed, first, on keeping the shots in-bounds and, second, on hitting the shots into the back 1/3 of the courts.

Neither of these shots should be considered as attempts to win points. Therefore, there is no reason to take the risk of hitting a ball out of bounds by trying spin or targeting a small spot.  Instead, these shots should be used to set up the rest of the rally in the hitter's favor.
  1. The serve should be hit deep to keep the returner from gaining the kitchen line with ease. Even better is a deep serve to the backhand half of the service court to minimize the opportunity for an offensive return.
  2. The return of serve should also be hit deep to keep the server from gaining the kitchen line with ease. Even better is a deep return to an area between the serving team players.  This shot can cause the serving team to hesitate while deciding who should take the ball.  Even a millisecond of hesitation makes it more difficult for them to advance to the kitchen.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Less is More

Next week, I will post a series of discussions based on a statistical analysis of pickleball play by Noel White and published in That site also had a recent post in their blog that serves as a great intro to those posts. The article can be found here.

A Simple Strategy for Pickleball Success – “Less is More!”

A conversation about Pickleball Strategy with Lynn Carlson

A lot of people tend to chew up the scenery. I’m a firm believer in less is more, especially on the big screen - Mark Wahlberg, American actor and producer

 of the time winning teams have less unforced errors (many times significantly less) than the losing teams. - Noel White, Club Statistician, Palm Creek Pickleball Club, from his 2012-2013 analysis of pickleball tournament results.

Your New Year’s Resolution - does it involve finally learning what it really takes to take your game to the next level?

Friday, February 5, 2016

The 6 Player Team Game

Another variation of pickleball play that I ran across on the Northcarolinapickleball website.

Pickleball 6 Player Teams

Six player teams is the perfect way to do a "mixer" and get your event going. The pace is fast and exciting and, oh yes, it gives our sport a chance to experience cheer leaders like other competitive sports. The nice part is that you only need 1 court to fit in 12 players... Here is the basic shell.

  1. Divide your players into two 6 member teams
  2. Appoint a team captain - who makes rapid substitutions
  3. Designate which players will be offense and defense to start
  4. Team A sends in two offensive players
  5. Team B sends in two defensive players
  6. Team A serves and plays until side out
  7. Upon side out, 4 new offense/defense players rush into the game from both teams and continues play until side out - then repeat subs
  8. Game continues with rapid substitutions until one team earns 11 points
  9. Team members waiting to play cheer, cheer, and cheer their players, trash talking is accepted...keep it clean, however...
Important Note:  Each offensive player can only earn two points. As soon as they get their two offensive points, they are out of the game. This way every team player must earn points for their team. First team to 11 wins.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Backhand Ground Stroke - New Video

When I write a post for this site, I try to include the best information and videos available at the time. A relatively new and rapidly growing sport has new information created frequently however. I will always try to keep readers up to date with the latest information by adding updates as they become available.

Such is the case with a new Pickleball Channel video called The Backhand with Slow Motion - Yvonne Hackenberg about the backhand groundstroke that recently was sent to me. It is an excellent view of the proper hitting technique with slow motion action. It should be viewed in conjunction with reading my posts The Backhand Back Stroke and Strengthening the Backhand Ground Stroke.

The video highlights several parts of the stroke:
  1. Move your feet to get into proper position.
  2. Focus on your target to improve accuracy.
  3. Watch the ball hit your paddle to ensure clean contact.
  4. Keep opponents back with deep shots.
  5. Finish high.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

HCAAC Schedule

The Hendersonville Rec Center is closed this Friday and Saturday, Feb 5-6 due to a father-daughter dance.

It is closed for pickleball all Saturdays in February as the basketball camp continues.

Brevard Rec Center is open Friday from 9-12 for all levels of play. 

Four Seasons Senior Games

From the North Carolina Senior Games website:

Each spring, thousands of people enjoy participating in a Local Senior Games in North Carolina.  The qualifiers are invited to participate each fall in the Senior Games State Finals held in Raleigh.  Every two years, the State Finals winners qualify to represent North Carolina at the National Senior Games.  State Finals 2016 is the National Qualifying event in North Carolina for the National Senior Games in 2017 to be held in Birmingham, Alabama.

There is no more local pickleball tournament than the Four Seasons Senior Games held in the Henderson County Athletic and Activity Center. As a past participant, I was recently sent an update for the 2016 games.  The schedule for the entire slate of games is May 1-15 with the specific date for pickleball not yet announced. Registration closes March 31. The opening date for registration also has not been announced. In 2015, a registration kickoff event was held in early March with a lunch and discounted entry fee.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Meet Jerry Peterson

I met Jerry Peterson last winter while playing at Crosswalk. I knew Jerry was a great player by watching him on the court, but I had no idea how great he was until I saw an article about him in the Pickleball Central blog. One reason for my lack of awareness is that Jerry is a very unassuming guy, giving advice freely and blending into the Crosswalk group.  Jerry spends only his winters in Hendersonville as he lives primarily in Minnesota. 

I followed Jerry's play in the USAPA Nationals last fall where he won gold medals in both singles and doubles. The first time I saw Jerry after that event, I greeted him at Crosswalk in January with a "Congratulations!".  In line with his unassuming personality, Jerry's response was "Its good to be old". Needless to say, Jerry's strength is in his play, no matter how much he chooses to downplay it.

Please find below a copy of the Pickleball Central article.  It gives a good feel of who Jerry is in the pickleball world.  But my searching also came across another article from a Minnesota newspaper that discusses Jerry's real world and why pickleball should be part of any active person's life.  I won't copy it here but will provide a link to it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Powerade State Games of North Carolina

"When it comes to North Carolina pickleball tournaments, it doesn't get any better than the North Carolina Powerade Games. USAPA Ambassador, Joe Borrelli, and his army of volunteers is working tirelessly to make this years games the biggest and best ever. Registration begins in February for this fantastic event."

The registration starts February 1 at The information at this site is shown below.