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.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Feed the Frenzy Pickleball Tournament

Beginners only, please...

Registration is now open for the Feed the Frenzy Tournament to be held at Indian Trail, NC (near Charlotte). The tournament is one day of action with Men's Doubles and Women's Doubles on November 11.  The tournament is the first of its kind in our area in that it is exclusively for beginners - new players and never-before tournament entrants.  It will be limited to skill levels 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0.

Beginning players are often too intimidated to enter tournaments. The fear of the unknown is difficult to overcome. This tournament is a fantastic idea to help because everyone will be on an equal basis. Tournaments are a great way to get exposed to new styles of play and to join the greater community of pickle players. I would encourage folks to give it a try. Signups are at

Friday, September 29, 2017

Play Well With Others

You reveal your true self when playing with others...

One of the 5.0 players on the Pickleball Forum, Daniel Joseph Howard, contributes a weekly post with pickleball advice. The advice is generally about playing strategies or techniques. I have saved a bunch of those for possible use here on the blog. But this week's advice is a little different and it is a topic I have been planning to write something about player rotation and playing up/down with others, but his post is something upon which I cannot improve on his topic. The only changes are fixed typos and format to better fit a blog.

Disclaimer - this post may ruffle a few feathers, but that is not the intent so please do not miss the point!

Myth: You only get better by playing with better players.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Rules Clarification - Player Positioning

If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius...

I wrote about my first experience refereeing a match on Monday. After giving it more thought, I remembered that there were situations where players either were confused or misapplied a rule. It might be helpful to clarify these. Today, we will start with proper player positioning after the teams switch sides in the middle of a game.

First, let's get an understanding of the situation. In a one-game match or the third game of a three game match, the teams will switch sides at the mid-game point - after point 6 in a game to 11, point 8 in a game to 15, or point 11 in a game to 21. The crossover to the opposite side of the net often creates confusion about where players should be positioned. It is vital that the players be properly aligned or they will lose the rally.
5.B.6. If the ball is served by the wrong team member or from the wrong court, the service is a fault.
5.B.8. The receiver is the only player who may return the ball. If the wrong player returns the ball, it is a point for the serving team.
Next, let's establish some terminology so the discussion can be based on a common understanding of the court.

The above image shows labels for each partner's side of the court. The player on the right (even) side to start the game will always 1) serve and 2) receive serve from the right (even) court when his team's score is an even number. He will 1) serve and 2) return serve from the left (odd) side when his team's score is an odd number. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Product Review: Play Pickleball Today - P2 Paddle

Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance... 

I have only recently started to give product reviews with a recent review of a paddle and a ball picker-upper. I have also been asked to test another new paddle and write a review. This review will also appear on Amazon. It is for a Pickleball Today paddle - the P2 Contrast.


Let me first discuss the "feel" of the paddle. The paddle is made to standard dimensions with a weight of 8.6 ounces. It felt well-balanced and played that way. Its weight is a full 1.3 ounces heavier than my usual paddle, but its balance makes the difference feel smaller. I love the feel of the grip. It has raised ribs that allow the paddle to be comfortably gripped. The ribs align with a right-handed players fingers but may be less comfortable for a lefty. The paddle face was smoother than mine but the graphite was solid. Overall, the paddle felt well-constructed and I believe it could take a good amount of hard play. 

The first thing I noticed about playing with the paddle is that it is LOUD. I can safely say that it was by far the loudest paddle among the 20 players in my group. It is probably not a paddle for players whose clubs are near homes or are otherwise noise restricted. The second thing I noticed was the additional power I got from the paddle. I expected some increased power due to its weight and its being new, but the differential was more than I anticipated. My opponents (who are accustomed to my normal play) even commented on the different speed the ball had when it reached them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My First Referee Experience

The trouble with referees is that they just don't care which side wins...

I played in the tournament at Connestee Falls this past weekend. After my bracket concluded in the morning, the tournament director approached me and said that I was going to referee the playoff games for the afternoon brackets. I was a little apprehensive as I was not expecting this role and had not studied the rule book nor brushed up on the score-keeping. But I looked forward to the experience.

I had 2 main goals when I walked onto the court - do not interrupt the flow of the game and do not influence the outcome. I was focused on the teaching's of Inga Carr and her Reffing 101 class. Be ready with the score when the players were ready play. Feet...feet...feet! I did my best using the scoresheet but I forgot some of the minutiae like the dots for side-outs. But I always had the score right.

That does not mean that I always announced the right score though. During a women's doubles match, I switched the scores and announced 10-6 when it should have been 6-10. I quickly got a look with which I familiar when my wife tells me I am wrong. I immediately corrected myself.

Monday, September 25, 2017

2017 Suncoast Pickleball Boot Camp Photos - Week 1

There is no crying in pickleball. Suck it up camper...

Russell Elefterion (Coach Russell) kicked off his 2017 boot camps at Montreat last week. I dropped in on Wednesday to take some photos. I arrived just as the players were returning to courts from lunch so I had little time to talk wit them. The comments I received were highly complimentary of the instructors, the facility, and even the food. Job well done, Russell!

The Instructors

Phil Bagley

Deb Harrison

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Offbeat Sunday - Caption This Version Picklehead 2

An image is only enhanced by a caption...

Time to go to the Pickleball Forum again for Offbeat Sunday material. This one is about captioning a photograph and it was so good that it had to be broken into 2 posts.  This is part 2.

  • I'm going bald, not pickleballed!!!
  • Do I look like a Dink?
  • Somebody didn’t read the small print in their Head contract.
  • I dink, therefore I am
  • Which came first, the human or the Pickleball?
  • Breaking news: Woman receives first ever successful pickleball transplant. More to follow On the 6:00 news.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Product Review: Pickleball Pic

Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance... 

I won a great door prize at the recent Ambassador Retreat at Beech Mountain - the Pickleball Pic 35. It is a pickleball "picker-upper" that allows me to gather up 35-40 balls without stooping a single time. 


The Pickleball Pic 35 is a huge improvement over the PVC tube system I previously used. The tube was awkward at 5 feet long. It was also heavy since I could only find the thicker version of the pipe. Additionally, the tube held only 16 balls.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cummings Cove Invitational II Photos

Exhibitions are good learning experiences...

The pickleballers of Cummings Cove held their second invitational pickleball demonstration last Tuesday. Some of the top players in Western North Carolina played in a morning demonstration session. Cummings Cove players filled the roster for the afternoon session. The photos below provide a good snapshot of the day.

The Morning Exhibition

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Product Review: Amazin' Aces Bainbridge Paddle

Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance... 

I have not given product reviews in the past. This is mostly because I did not feel qualified nor did I play with enough equipment to differentiate the quality. But I have recently been asked to test a new paddle and write a review. This was a review I wrote on Amazon for Amazin' Aces 'BAINBRIDGE' Pickleball Paddle (Pro Series) | Edgeless Composite Paddle. The paddle details are shown below the review.


The Bainbridge was a trial purchase for me and I found some pluses and minuses. First, I need to say that I am an advanced player and have used several paddles over my 3 years of play. My current paddle is the Selkirk Omni Glen Peterson model which has a longer paddle face and a short handle. Some of comments are influenced by the differences between the Bainbridge and the Omni.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Palmetto Doubles Invitational Pickleball Tournament Results

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

Some local players participated in the Palmetto Doubles Invitational Pickleball Tournament recently in Aiken, SC. Photos are from Facebook.

Scott Siewert and Andrew Sanderbeck went 3-2 in the Men's Doubles 4.0, 19+ 50+ and won the silver medal.

Congratulations Scott and Andrew!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Targeting: Practicing Serves and Returns of Serves

Be sure to positively identify your target before hitting the ball...

I mentioned yesterday about the priority order of implementing targeting strategies and that players should move down the priority list as their skills improve. In addition to the drills shown in Chapter 2 - The Serve and Chapter 3 - The Groundstroke and Return of Serve, this post discusses how to practice these shots to improve your skills.

We will start with a Keith Bing video - Serve & Return Serve Drill: Hit the landing zone. This video shows 2 players marking off an area 5 feet from the baseline with the objective of hitting both the serve and return of serve into that area. The video cannot be embedded so click on the link above to view.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Targeting: The Experts on Depth

Be sure to positively identify your target before hitting the ball...

The past 2 Mondays have covered targeting strategies for the serve and the return of serve. Today would ordinarily be reserved for the third shot since this series is written to coincide with the topic of my skills & drills clinic held on Tuesdays. However, tomorrow's clinic has been deferred to next week. Therefore, I want to spend today reinforcing my articles with advice from experts. The targeting strategies for the third shot will be covered next Monday. 

Before I get to the experts, let me reiterate the strategies and their priority order:
  1. Get it in-bounds.
  2. Get it deep.
  3. Get it to the backhand or weaker player.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind is the limit of your skills. Move down the priority list only as your skills allow. That means practice and drilling to move down the list.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Offbeat Sunday - Caption This Version Picklehead 1

An image is only enhanced by a caption...

Time to go to the Pickleball Forum again for Offbeat Sunday material. This one is about captioning a photograph and it was so good that it had to be broken into 2 posts. This is part 1.

  • Keep your head in the game!
  • Pickleball? Never heard of it.
  • Shh, I'm doing my visualizing.
  • When pickleball has gone straight to the head, you come up with a new shoulder paddle grip.
  • Jason plays pickleball now!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Will Skinny Singles Replace Regular Singles

Skinny singles does not require a diet...

I previously posted a short article called Skinny Singles. Aspen Kern recently posted on the same topic in Pickleball Forum. I corrected some typos and otherwise made it more readable, but the text is Aspen's.

Half Court Singles (Skinny Singles)

10 years ago the number of players in the USA was small. It was difficult to even find 4 players to get a game of doubles going so I came up with a game I called half court singles or "skinny singles". It had most likely been played before but I was the first one to put it on youtube with the rules. About a year later we noticed Coach Mo was using it to teach his students down in The Villages. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Keep Your Eye on the Ball with Paddle Tracking

Keep your eye on the ball - even if you can't see it...

A recent article from Sarah Ansboury has caused me to revisit a topic I wrote about in May - keeping your eye on the ball. Sarah makes several good points and recommends a couple of techniques to help you with the right focus. The following excerpts are from Sarah's article Keep Your Eye on the Ball…A Simple Pickleball Tip on the RV Picklers blog.

Sarah's first recommended technique is one you have seen before. In Keep Your Eyes on the Ball - How to Do It, I wrote:
Matt Blom was an instructor at the Pickleball Summit and had students go through several ball toss drills while instructed to "watch the holes in the ball". This provides even more focus when a player is about to hit the ball.  Excellent advice.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pickleball Bounce Test

The way the ball bounces...

About a year ago, I posted an article titled A Pickleball Controversy? in which I used a Keith Bing article to show the problem with the then new Onix Pure 2 ball. Since then, the USAPA has announced that the ball will be banned from USAPA tournament use beginning in 2018. Also since then, Franklin has marketed a new ball - the X40 - that many players now prefer. Keith has done a new bounce test for 4 balls that show why the Onix ball remains the least-preferred ball among top players. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Disguise through Consistency

Body language gives away tendencies...

I recently wrote a series of articles about using body language to deceive your opponent. Shortly thereafter, Mark Renneson releases a video on the same topic. I want to work it in while the concept remains on readers' minds.

Mark's video, Pickleball Strategy: Disguise Your Dink, shows the deception that a consistent set-up provides when hitting either a dink or a drive. This is similar to one of the shots discussed by Morgan Evans in Disguise Your Shot. But Mark has some pretty good video to support the discussion.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

Targeting: Where and Why - The Return of Serve

Be sure to positively identify your target before hitting the ball...

This is the second post describing skills and drills sessions that I am leading with a group of experienced players. The first, Targeting: Where and Why - The Serve - focused on the serve targeting strategies. This post progresses to the second shot - the return of serve.

One reminder before starting - there is a set of premises that guide us in through the decision-making process. These were covered in the article Targeting: Where and Why.

Return of Serve Targets

The return of serve should be a relatively easy shot since no opponent is waiting for your ball at the NVZ line. Therefore, targeting for a return of serve can get very specific. 

Target 1 The first target is deep down the middle. A deep return of serve accomplishes 3 important things. First, it reduces the horizontal options for the opponent because the net covers more of his field of opportunity. Second, it will increase the difficulty for the opponent to get the net simply due to the increased distance he must move. Third, a longer return gives the returner more time to move to their ball and make a more controlled third shot.