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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Winning with Percentages

Don't play the man; play the odds...

Percentage pickleball. That's a popular phrase today, but one that is not well understood by many players. To some it means to take the first opportunity to crush the ball to win the point...and it goes out of bounds. To others it means making sure that every ball they hit is in-bounds and hope the other team eventually makes an error. In reality, the term refers to every single part of the game and the decisions made continuously during play. Many experts talk about percentage pickleball, but my understanding is that it originated with Coach Mo in The Villages. The information in this article is a combination of some elements he teaches as well as the teachings of others.

Pickleball is a microcosm of life - a series of decisions with the goal of reaching the desired outcome. Pickleball decisions include choices like court position, paddle position, speed and placement of shot, etc. Training helps to learn techniques but can't simulate real game conditions. Past experience helps players make appropriate decisions as they've lived similar circumstances in prior games. Both are long-term ways to learn percentage pickleball. But lessons from experts who understand the percentages can help to short-cut the learning process.

Monday, January 30, 2017

2017 Powerade State Games of North Carolina

Demon Deacons play pickleball...

The subject tournament recently opened for registration. It will be held at Wake Forest (Winston-Salem) June 9-June 11.


Wake Forest University Indoor Tennis Center
  (Registration will be done through
NEW IN 2017! 
Pickleball Players' Social included with registration! The social will be held Saturday night at Camel City BBQ in Winston-Salem. The social includes dinner, cash bar, raffle prizes and more! Menu coming soon...

11:59pm on May 26
    ** Those that register by May 5th will receive a free tournament t-shirt!

Men's, Women's and Mixed Doubles for 19+, 35+, 50+, 60+ & 70+

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE:                      Friday - Open Practice
                                                 Saturday - Men's and Women's Doubles + Players' Social
Sunday - Coed Doubles

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on our socialnetworks (FacebookInstagram or Twitter) for the most up-to-date   information.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Pickleball Widow(er)s

Honey, do you have anything to say before pickleball season starts...

Continuing the Sunday series of pickleball relationships, a guest author writes about a fate faced by many spouses of pickleball players.

Confessions of a pickleball player’s wife… who does not play or enjoy pickleball

Note: This post was written by a guest blogger in Michigan

There should be a support group for non-playing spouses of pickleball players. That’s what a friend told me one day; what a brilliant idea. Both of our husbands play pickleball; thank god mine doesn’t play as much as hers. Either way, until our son was born, pickleball was easily the most talked-about topic in our house – and I have little interest in pickleball. He needs a white noise generator to fall asleep, I just ask him to talk to me about his pickleball games.      Out. Like. A. Light

Pickleball is not just a sport in West Michigan, it exists as a culture all on its own. It has it’s own language, behaviors, objects, characteristics and social habits that make it unique among the rest of population. I can honestly (and proudly) say that I am not part of that culture. My husband on the other hand is neck deep.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Another Simple Drop Shot Drill

The wall always wins...

One good drill deserves another. Yesterday's post showed a simple one-person drill where a ball tossed straight up is caught with the paddle. While that develops touch, it doesn't represent reality in the direction and speed of playing bangers. Today's post includes a video from Mark Renneson called  Pickleball Strategy - How to Handle Fast Balls. It shows a drill that is a better test.

Mark opens the video discussing the various kinds of volleys ending with the most difficult of them all - the drop volley. Like yesterday's post, Mark suggests practicing the touch required by using the paddle to "catch" the ball. Instead of catching a ball falling from above, Mark demonstrates using a wall. He drives a ball off a concrete wall and catches it by absorbing the energy with the paddle moving backwards.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Simple Drop Shot Drill

I wondered why the ball kept getting bigger and bigger...and then it hit me...

We have now learned how 2 of the best players in the pickleball world hit their drop volleys. The essence of a drop volley is taking the pace off the ball by allowing the paddle to absorb the ball's energy. But that is not an easy thing to do. It takes practice and the best way to practice is to drill. 

Yesterday's post showed a couple of drills but they assume that the technique has been developed. Today's post is about a simple drill that allows a player to develop the touch to absorb a ball's energy. Better still is that it can be done alone and anywhere. The drill comes from a Pickleball Channel video called Simple Drill to Improve Your Drop Volley - Pickleball Quick Tip.

David Redding demonstrates the soft hands technique by exaggerating the need to absorb the energy by catching the ball in the next 3 photos.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Another Drop Volley with Drills

Pickleball has a reset button?...

Last week, we discussed bangers and how to defend against them. One option we discussed was the drop volley and we ended the week with Deb Harrison demonstrating her drop shot technique. As with most things in life, there is more than one way to hit a drop shot. Today's article features a Pickleball Channel video with Scott Moore demonstrating his drop shot technique. The video is called Defend Against Hard Hitters by Taking Pace Off the Ball.

Scott's Technique

Scott's emphasis is slowing down the ball when in a defensive position whether that is at the kitchen line or in no-man's land at mid-court. The first step in any shot is to get into the proper position. Scott states that your center should be low by bending your knees and lowering your torso.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Greenville Pickleball Spring Smash

Live dangerously - play in a tournament...

I recently received an email from Greenville Recreation announcing their first ever non-senior games event.  The email follows.

Hey Pickleball Players – hope everyone is doing well and playing lots of matches!  We have exciting news!  With the help of Upstate Pickleball,  Greenville County Parks, Recreation & Tourism will be hosting the first Greenville Pickleball Spring Smash on March 31st  & April 1st  at Butler Springs Parks in Greenville, SC.  This is not a senior games event and we will follow the USAPA rules.  Please follow the attached link for more information.  Online registration will begin Wednesday, January 25th at

Questions? – please contact Joe Lanahan at or me.

Thanks – hope to see you at Butler Springs at the Spring Smash

Joni J. Dilworth
Program & Volunteer Coordinator
Greenville County Parks, Recreation, & Tourism
4806 Old Spartanburg Road
Taylors, SC  29687
O/ 864-676-2180  X 126
C/ 864-303-8499
F/ 864-288-6499
Please note my email has changed to

New email logo
Accredited by the National Recreation and Parks Association

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Hendersonville Gym Search Update

Went searching for a gym...never came back...

For those that missed the email update, a copy is below.

To: The Pickleball Community of Hendersonville and surrounding area

Since I have been getting questions about the search for a new gym, I guess it is time for a second update. Those who received the first update on January 8 will recall that Hendersonville Racquet Club provided one option. Last week, I made contact with 4 more gyms. All but one are considering their options but have not yet responded with a final decision. The following is an update on each.

Hendersonville Boys and Girls Club
I had hopes that a win/win agreement could be reached based on the experience with the Brevard B&G Club and the schedule of the local club that shows gym availability until 3:00 pm each weekday. The initial response was to offer their standard usage contract for outside groups. It was a deal that would not work for us as it included terms like children-predominant representation, insurance, court taping, and $100 per hour rent, among others.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Pickleball Forum

I wouldn't need Facebook if there were somewhere to talk about pickleball...

A fellow player recently told me about a new Facebook group where pickleball topics are discussed. The group has an obvious name - Pickleball Forum. It is a public group meaning that anyone can read it. But only members can start new topics or comment on existing topics. Anyone can join.

The forum is cool because it is a totally random hit list of relevant topics - balls, rules, relationships, experiences, ratings, etc. What is particularly cool is that participants include some of the top players in the game as well as everyday rubes like yours truly. It gives a different perspective from different areas of the country (and internationally, too). We see that a lot of issues we have locally are universal in nature and we see how others have handled them.

The forum is very active with several new topics per day and many comments per topic. Some of that is probably due to it being so new. The USAPA apparently had a forum in the past that was discontinued. An outside replacement was developed but it failed to generate much interest. This Facebook platform is growing rapidly. I joined on January 6 when it had less than 700 members. As I write this on January 16, there are over 2,100 members.

If you are a pickleball fanatic or want to see if any issue you have experienced is addressed, check it out. Become a member so you can add to the discussions. But be aware that your wall will be filled with pickleball discussions. Enter the world of the Pickleball Forum only if you dare.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Playing with Friends

Pickleball is better when we stick together...

In the third of the "relationship" Sunday series, a guest author to Prem Carnot's website talks about the ups and downs of playing with friends.

The Secret: It doesn’t always work…

Submitted by Kelly Stauffer, member of the Lakeshore Pickleball Club in Grand Haven, Michigan

I met Kim 11 years ago while we worked together in the same building for Grand Rapids Public Schools. She is a teacher and I am a school social worker (we currently still work together). I had learned about pickleball several years prior while away on spring break. I was eager to share the game, and told Kim about pickleball.

Over summer break that year we played periodically, mostly singles, and once in awhile doubles, with some other friends that we introduced to the game. Because we both have summer breaks off, we do lots of fun things together, away from pickleball, from kayaking, camping, and going to the beach, to name a few. There is always an adventure with Kim.

Kelly, a friend, and Kim (Left-Right) pose for a picture at the popular Mac Woods Dune Rides along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Mears, MI.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Drop Volley Against Bangers

Deception is a tactic...

The past couple of posts have described the basic volleys used to defend against bangers. After those volleys are learned, it would be a great idea to add a little deception. Bangers typically feel most comfortable hitting low hard balls from the baseline. Because they can overwhelm many players with their power, they have not developed a complete game - including the ability to anticipate shots nor to hit balls on the move. 

When opposing players are on the baseline, one strategy is to hit a drop shot that they will struggle to reach if they even try. Deb Harrison has another video called Pickleball: Drop the Ball Against Bangers that describes the drop volley techniques  we will review in this article.

The drop volley is hit from the same body position as the block and punch volleys. The difference is in the paddle position and movement. Deb discusses 2 different drop shots defined by amount of paddle movement. The first is called the feather drop because it is hit lightly and with slight backspin. The paddle slices under the ball, making contact with the bottom. The paddle position extremely open with forward movement.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Adding to the Block Volley Against Bangers

Throw the first punch for a win...

A Deb Harrison video described the basic block volley in yesterday's post. She noted that 80% of banger's shots will be at torso height requiring a flat paddle face, meaning that the paddle must be parallel to the net. But what about the other 20% of shots - those below the waist or above the shoulder? Those volleys require some adjustments to the basic technique. Deb Harrison has a video that describes these shots, Pickleball Punch Block: Deb Harrison, Defending Against Bangers Part 2. This video also adds a new volley - the punch volley - as a weapon.

One part of the block volley technique never changes regardless of where it is hit - there is no paddle movement forward. The shot is a simple deflection back at the opponents. This means that the angle of the paddle face must change as the height of the shot being defended changes. A high shot requires the deflection to go downward, meaning the paddle face must be tilted down. If the high ball is blocked with a flat paddle face, the opponents will have an opportunity for a winning smash.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Block Volley Against Bangers

Keep calm and volley on...

Sarah Ansboury and the RV Picklers taught us yesterday that the best defense against bangers was to reset the point. This is most easily accomplished through a simple block volley. But there are other options available - such as a punch volley or a drop volley. Deb Harrison has videos explaining the techniques of each of these shots that we will review over the next several days, beginning with the block volley.

The block volley is hit with the paddle parallel to to the net to simply deflect the ball straight back to the opponents. A prerequisite is that the player is positioned to hit the volley as described in my earlier post The Ready Position at the Kitchen Line. The position is also described in the first Deb Harrison video Pickleball Ready Position at the Non Volley Zone, Defending against Bangers, Part 1 that also discusses the block volley. The 3 key elements of the ready position are:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Playing Against Bangers

Its time to do a reset...

We learned yesterday that bangers can expose our weaknesses. So what is the first step to counter them? Sarah Ansboury and the RV Picklers has an article in which she tells us that we should learn to block the ball and reset the point.

Rarely does a day go by that a student doesn’t ask for help playing against bangers. They might say, “I don’t know what to do when someone slams the ball at me.” Or, “I need to learn to block it.” Perhaps they say, “I hate playing against bangers.”

Regardless of how they might phrase it, the need is always the same. If you want to have success, you must learn how to block the ball so that you can reset the point.

Playing Against Bangers: Resetting the Point

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


I let my paddle do the talking...

Players who do nothing but hit the ball hard are everywhere. They can be the bane of some players' existence, especially those who haven't learned counter-measures. But, according to Mark Renneson, even those players should appreciate bangers since they expose weaknesses to be fixed. His article called In Praise of Bangers: Why We Should Thank Hard Hitters follows.

In Praise of Bangers: Why We Should Thank Hard Hitters
“Uh! I’m so glad I don’t have to play with those people again!”“Why?”“They don’t play proper pickleball. All they do is smash it as hard as they can!” “I see. So how badly did you beat them?”“We lost 15-5.”
This was an actual conversation I had with a 3.5 level player in 2014. I have since heard many more complaints about “bangers” and how their style of pickleball (i.e. hit hard in an attempt to overpower the opponents) is somehow improper, less pure and less “correct” than those who look to win by dinking and using the soft game. I think it is about time to address this negative attitude toward bangers and to unpack the mistaken assumptions that underpin it.

Why Bangers Bang

Monday, January 16, 2017

Blast from the Past

Don't forget the past. Learn from it...

My holidays were a little like Back to the Future in several ways. First, as I do every year, I traveled back to Pennsylvania, where I lived my first 23 years. But that isn't really relevant to a blog about pickleball. What is more relevant is what I witnessed on a visit to the YMCA where I had helped to get pickleball started earlier in 2016. 

I first went to the YMCA in May of 2016 to develop a pickleball program. I followed that up with a visit in the fall of 2016 and was happy to see how far the play had advanced in just a few months. The number of players had grown and several had become fairly good intermediate level players. But there remained a stratification of play where the strong and athletic dominated the weaker players. It was bangers versus beginners. During my brief stay, I encouraged others to learn the soft game to counter the bangers.

I was a little surprised at the changes I saw in my December visit. One surprise was the amazing progress that all players had made in 6 months. The stratification had significantly decreased. While the most athletic and strongest players almost always won, the weaker players were good opponents and provided competitive games. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Thumper Rule

If you can't say something nice...

Last Sunday's post was about playing with pickleball spouses. Today we will continue with the second in a series of Sunday posts about pickleball and relationships. If you're curious about the post title, here is a little trivia. The saying "if you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all" came from the rabbit character Thumper in the film Bambi.

I spent a recent morning refereeing a 3.0 tournament in The Villages. I enjoy reffing these players as typically folks are good-natured and you get the opportunity to call a bunch of foot faults. But this post isn’t about foot faults or refereeing.  Rather it is about what not to say to your pickleball partner!

Our contributing columnist Sarah Ansboury has written about how to be a good pickleball partner, and about communication with your partner. Today, I observed a few instances where a player clearly didn’t read Sarah’s book or post.

What Not to Say: “You Don’t want to Hit the Ball that High”

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Play and Practice with Intent

Be intent on improvement...

The new year is about resolutions. Last week, I posted about the most common of resolutions - fitness. Today's post will be about another resolution - improvement. A couple of months ago Sarah Ansboury wrote an article about goal-setting. The Pickleball Channel recently released Sarah in a video discussing similar issues. I have tied them together in this post to show one of Sarah's recommendations for making improvement.

I found I used to go to open play and sometimes would leave unhappy. I felt like I didn’t accomplish anything. I realized, I needed to be setting pickleball goals each and every time I stepped onto the court.

Open Play

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pickleball Spain International Tournament III and Cup Event

Now for something completely different...

Anybody up for a road trip? Well, a drive to the airport anyhow. A unique 2-tournament event was recently announced for Madrid, Spain. One event is a team competition with Team North America versus Team Europe (and "Rest of the World" Team). All entrants will be placed on a team. The second event is a more typical tournament with international players. The tournaments are scheduled for September 13-16.

Tournament information and registration are available at

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2017 Bradenton Pickleball Classic Results

You earn medals at practice. You just pick them up at tournaments...

Tournament season in the Southeast US is underway for 2017 (not that it ever ends). The Bradenton Pickleball Classic was played last weekend with several local participants.

Scott Siewert and Andrew Sanderbeck finished with a silver medal in the 4.0 Men's Doubles 19+, 50+ bracket.

Andrew and Scott
Congratulations to Scott and Andrew!

Teri Siewert competed in the 3.0 Mixed Doubles 60+ bracket.

Andrew Sanderbeck competed in the 4.0 Mixed Doubles 50+ bracket.

Scott Siewert competed in the 4.0 Mixed Doubles 60+ bracket.

Teri Siewert competed in the 3.0 Women's Doubles 50+, 60+ bracket.

Well Done All!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 Palmetto Doubles Invitational Pickleball Tournament

A Place Like No Other...

Another local tournament opened for registration January 1. The subject tournament is played in Aiken, SC on Friday, August 18 - Sunday, August 20. It is an indoor tournament so the heat and humidity of South Carolina are not an issue. The tournament is age and skill level.

From their website: 

Based on last year's experience, it is likely that the tournament will fill up quickly, so you are encouraged to sign up sooner rather than later. Your registration will not be complete until you are signed up with a registered partner. Registration officially closes on August 11, unless an event fills up before that date.  Please see the flyer for complete details.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tournament Schedule Update - January 2017

Life's a game. Play it...

North Carolina Pickleball has updated the upcoming tournament schedule for players in the local area.