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, September 3, 2018

Did I miss anything?

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I have been missing in action. Frankly, I needed a break after nearly 3 years of daily posting. I have been busy living the pickleball life, though. I had to tie up some loose ends after the Land of the Sky Tournament, I won a gold medal at the Lake Lure Tournament, I refereed at the SSIPA Tournament in Charlotte, and I got certified as an IPTPA instructor, among other activities.  Whew.

Off the courts, I have been working on a couple of projects, including thinking about the future of this blog. I have not yet fully determined how to move forward but I will do so eventually. I enjoy reading, watching, and - especially - writing about the game. For now, I am keeping the Resources section of expert videos and articles up to date. I expect they will continue to be a resource for whatever direction I take. 

One thing I can definitely say - the future blog will no longer be daily (unless someone wants to collaborate with me). Another change will be that all blogs I post will be original material. 

I will be back with more information when I finally figure it out. Until then, I'll continue to live the pickleball life. I hope you will, too.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Land of the Sky Media Coverage

It takes real planning to organize this kind of chaos...

The Land of the Sky tournament is over and all is calm now. But it was hopping over the past weekend. One of the visitors to the tournament was the local television station - WLOS. Their report is shown below.

Hendersonville hosts Land of Sky Pickleball Tournament

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — A new tournament in Hendersonville showcases some of the best players in the area in a fast-growing sport -- pickleball.

BUN PICKLEBALL TOURNY.transfer_frame_374.jpgThe Land of Sky Pickleball Tournament began Friday at Xcel Sportsplex.

The tournament includes 218 players of all skill levels.

According to the USA Pickleball Association, pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.

Players say they love pickleball because it is inexpensive, easy to learn and a great chance to socialize.

"Access in this area is very limited, and one of the purposes of this was to expose the game to more people and get the word out about how fast it's growing," co-tournament director Paul Aaron said.

Organizers said 60 percent of the players are from out of town, so it is expected to have a good impact on the local economy.

Play continues through the weekend.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Is Anything "Good Enough"?

Excellence is an attitude...

First, I'M BACK!. It has always been my intention to provide a new post every day (with the exception of Recycle Sunday, of course). But I was a co-tournament director of the Land of the Sky tournament this past weekend. The tournament work and following recovery were too overwhelming to allow blogging. I have finally recovered enough to have a new post, although not an original one. It is Thursday and that means it is DJ Howard's turn.

DJ's tip this week is all about attitude.

DJ's weekly tip:

Good enough isn't good enough.

Wanna move up a level? You have to get better and be better more consistently.

A philosophy that says, "just get it in and that's good enough" is NOT good enough! 

The higher you go in level, the better you have to be at each aspect of the game.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Recycle Sunday - Analysis of a Single Point

A blast from the past...

This week's Recycle Sunday article was originally published March 4, 2016.


Pickleball is a game with lots of action compacted into a short time. Sometimes a single rally contains a ton of information. Such is the case with the championship point at the recent Grand Canyon State Games as shown in the below video from Pickleball Channel's Facebook page. 

The team on the near court consists of Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner, generally considered one of the best, if not the best, women's doubles teams in the world. Lucore is in the white shirt and Hamner is in the pink shirt. Let's go through some of the play:

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Out Front

Make practice fun...

Jordan Briones continues his Primetime video series with another dink drill. This drill focuses on hitting the ball out in front raher than allowing it to get close to your feet. The video is titled #1 Dink Killer | The Main Thing That's Killing Your Pickleball Dinks

The theory that drives Jordan's discussion is that the single biggest negative impact on players' dink games is allowing the ball to get to the body. This causes players to make adjustments such as wrist snaps that have bad results.

Instead, Jordan states that players should hit the ball in front of their body in order to make a more consistent dink. He uses a visual to illustrate the danger zone.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Pickleball Performance Training - Squat and Hinge

It's all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you're properly trained...

The next post from our fitness guru, Nat Littauer, is specific to strengthening the body parts that help prevent injury and maximize performance at the NVZ line. Nate discusses 2 exercise movements - the squat and the hinge.


Pickleball is a game of close quarters. While it contains similar components of other court sports such as tennis and badminton, it has a unique aspect that needs to be considered when playing and training to hone your Pickleball skills. The kitchen line is where a majority of the Pickleball action takes place, and in order to succeed at the line you must be prepared for a few things.

First, the initial rush to the line after a serve in order to have a good vantage point creates a huge amount of force when you stop at the line. These forces, due to the quickness of the movement to get there, can place large amounts of stress to the hip, knee, and ankle joint. Second, the amount of vertical movement that takes place when you make and return the various shots in order score/not be scored upon.

In order to adequately prepare for these two major aspects of movement at the kitchen line, we need to train to primary patterns: the squat and the hinge. Before I go any further, I know that in the past people have often relayed the message from a 1960's Sports Illustrated article saying that squats are bad for knee health, however this movement pattern has been highly researched and proven to aid in injury prevention when performed correctly. The hinge is also the movement pattern that is often associated with the deadlift, which many have also thought to be a movement that is bad for the back (this also comes down to proper teaching and technique to maintain safety). 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Land of the Sky Survey

It takes real planning to organize this kind of chaos...

The Land of the Sky tournament is over.  It seemed to meet with good success, but feedback is always important. Our goal was to make this a players' tournament where the focus was on them. Please help us get better by completing the short survey below. Be sure to click on "Finish Survey" at the end.

Recycle Sunday - Etiquette - Before Serving

A blast from the past...

This week's Recycle Sunday article was originally published March 1, 2016.


Experienced players tend to just walk to the serving position, check for opponents' and partner's readiness, call the score, and hit the serve. Such is not the case with beginners. In order to get comfortable with the rules and etiquette of serving, the following guidelines should be considered.

1. The server should ensure that he is serving from the proper court and that all players are ready, including both opponents and the server's partner.  This player can stand anywhere on his side of the court. It is good practice for the server to ensure his partner is properly positioned near the baseline or wherever their strategy dictates.

2. If the receiver is not ready to receive the serve or their partner is not in position, they should indicate so by either holding the paddle hand straight in the air, holding the non-paddle hand in the same way, or turning their back completely to the server. The receiver may do this because of a distraction, ball on court, movement behind the server, partner not in position or they need time to adjust a piece of equipment. It is not sportsmanlike to use delay of serve as a stalling tactic.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

SwiftNet Portable Pickleball Net

Anybody have duct tape...

Is that a familiar refrain at your courts? The typical portable net system has lots of benefits but it is far from perfect. The center post wearing a hole through the top of the net is just the one problem I picked to open this post. But there are always folks looking to build a better mousetrap or, in this case, a better net. 

Pickleball, Inc. has developed a new net system they call the Swiftnet. It is lighter, faster to assemble, and more closely plays like a permanent. Sounds great. But be aware that improvements don't come cheap. This net will retail for $350, about 2-3 times more than traditional nets. Judge the net for yourself.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Land of the Sky - Invitation to Government Officials

It takes real planning to organize this kind of chaos...

When the Land of the Sky tournament planning was in its infancy, I knew one of my objectives was to try to leverage its impact with local government officials. While tennis courts sit idle (and rotting) in every county park, pickleball players are constantly searching for places to play. I think that county officials are simply unaware of such a non-traditional sport and its support among constituents, especially in a retirement area like the NC Mountains. My plans always included inviting decision-makers to the tournament. That invitation is below. Let's hope it works.


Two hundred+ athletes will descend on Xcel Sportsplex in Fletcher, NC next weekend. But these athletes will be different than those normally seen at the home for youth volleyball and basketball. Instead, these athletes include a 15-year old and a 76-year old playing a sport in which they can compete together. They will be participants in the Land of the Sky Pickleball Tournament, the largest tournament to ever be held in the NC Mountains.

Pickleball is advertised as “the fastest growing sport in America”. It has about 3 million participants of all ages. Its appeal lies in four factors:

Pickleball is first and foremost FUN. It takes only as much time and effort as you want to expend in order to play at the level you choose. It is a very social sport with a small court allowing verbal interplay among the players. The short games allow players to gather on the sidelines while waiting their turns to play. These gatherings also provide opportunities for social interaction. 
Pickleball is active and healthy. It lowers blood pressure, reduces body fat, improves coordination and balance, and helps maintain mental acuity. While pickleball is an active sport, it is not overly strenuous due to the small court and short games.
Pickleball is easy to play and inexpensive to start. At its simplest, the game is batting a wiffleball over a net. The only equipment needed is a paddle and appropriate shoes.
Pickleball is competitive – at least as competitive as you choose. The etiquette of pickleball allows for both social play among those who choose to remain novice players as well as aggressive play for those who want to let their competitive juices flow.
Visitors to a pickleball tournament will immediately notice the noise. Fun, laughter, and verbal interplay are common among players and spectators. Families and friends travel with players to watch and participate in the fun. Tournaments allow followers to be completely immersed in a pickleball atmosphere for 2-3 days. The desire to participate causes many players and companions to travel to distant sites for extended stays.

I would like to extend a personal invitation to you to join us at the Land of the Sky Pickleball Tournament. Play will be throughout the day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Higher level play will be on the weekend. Saturday will be the most action-filled day with all players participating in mixed doubles. Come see why pickleball is growing so fast and learn the potential for expanding venue access in our area.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Volleys Defined

Know your options...

DJ Howard's tip this week is all about volleys.

DJ's weekly pickleball tip:

There are three main types of volleys: blocks, punches, and swings.

Before I go further, you must first understand the difference betweeen a "volley" and "rally". A volley is a shot hit out of the air, whereas a rally is a series of shots hit back and forth. Got it? I am talking about volleys, not rallies.

Use BLOCK volleys when:
  • The ball is coming toward you very fast
  • You are trying to control the ball
  • You are trying to hit a drop
  • You want to avoid popping the ball up to your opponent
  • You don't know what else to do - note, this should be rare!
A block volley is used more as a "reset" type of shot most of the time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

More Cooperation Between the USTA and the USAPA

The evolution continues...

We have talked a lot about how tennis clubs are viewing pickleball as a potential source of help for their prospects. Another step in the process is a recently announced test program for blended lines. It was discussed in Tennis Industry Magazine.

A Blended-Court Solution?

A cooperative pilot program using 60-foot courts for pickleball may offer opportunities for both
players and tennis facilities.

By Peter Francesconi

For tennis facilities, one of the more challenging aspects of accommodating the needs of pickleball players is how to handle the lines on the court. A pickleball court is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide, dimensions that don’t fit neatly into the lines of a standard 78-foot tennis 30 court, and aren’t quite  the same as lines for a 36- or 60-foot court. 

But a potential solution, suggested by the USTA with the support of the USA Pickleball Association, may be at hand, and may offer advantages and opportunities for players and facilities. In a free pilot program, the USTA has offered to add the pickleball “non-volley” line (also called the “kitchen” line) to existing 60-foot courts (or to new blended-line applicants). The non-volley line is 7 feet from the net on each side. 

On 78- and 60-foot courts, the distance from service line to service line is 42 feet, and the width of the singles sidelines on a 60-foot court is 21 feet - both just slightly off from pickleball’s 44- by 20-foot court. But the USAPA has agreed that recreational pickleball, which accounts for the vast majority of play, can take place on a 60-foot tennis court. (The pickleball net height is different, too - 34 inches at the center and 36 inches at the posts, as opposed to a tennis net height of 36 and 42 inches. Temporary net adjusters are available to pull it down to pickleball height.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Johns' Backhand Roll

Specialty shots from the pros...

The Jordan Briones' video this week is a little different in that Jordan does not even make an appearance. Instead, the video shows Ben Johns demonstrating his technique for the backhand roll, a shot that was featured in Pickleball Magazine. The video is titled The Backhand Roll with Ben Johns. I usually try to enhance the video by taking some screenshots and explaining the concepts in text. But this video does a great job of slowing the action and analyzing the shot-making technique. I am at a loss for words.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Land of the Sky - New Flyer

Go big or go home...

I have not written about our tournament for a while. One reason is that the preparations are consuming my day. (That's the reason for a lack of original content blog posts recently, too.) My recent reply to questions about the tournament has been  "I am excited for it to get here but I will be elated when it is over". I was told today that sounds like an expectant mother. that sounded about right...except that I don't get the parking spot.

There are lots of details that I have been working on - volunteers, referees, budgets, etc. But, as the designated computer guru, I have mostly been working on the tournament brackets and promotions. I hope you saw all of the Carolina "Picklebalisms". They were a fun way to keep the word out about the tournament.

One of the important changes was to add the tournament webpage to this blog. Just below the header at the top is a link labeled Land of the Sky Pickleball Tournament 2018. That links a reader to everything you can imagine about the tournament (at least everything I can imagine). An important piece of information included there is a new flyer. It was changed to show the elimination of the pro divisions - a frustrating story for another day - and the addition of the BBQ in the Barn. Having said that, below is the new flyer.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Recycle Sunday - The 80% Rule

A blast from the past...

This week's Recycle Sunday article was originally published February 20, 2016.


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?

Several weeks ago, I had my question answered in a conversation with Jerry Peterson, a multi-gold medal winner in national tournaments in 2015. Jerry told me that the best players do not jump on the first opportunity just because it may create a win. These players wait for an opportunity that presents an 80% chance for a winning shot.  They will not take the shot if it is 50/50 or even 75/25. They wait for a near certain winning shot.

Jerry Peterson

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Pickleball Performance Training - Warm Up Structure

It's all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you're properly trained...

Let's follow up yesterday's post on the importance of warming up with an explanation of what elements form the foundation for an effective warm-up. This is the second post from Nate Littauer of Xcel, who has developed a pickleball performance training programs available to all players in the local area. Nate will also have a special presentation during the upcoming Land of the Sky pickleball tournament. Details will be forthcoming.


In my last post regarding Warm Ups for improving your Pickleball performance, I addressed the benefits of a proper Warm Up and how it decreases injury risk. But what is a proper Warm Up? What does it look like and how long does it take? These are common questions that many people have input have on and personal opinions. 

The difficulty lies in the fact that no single Warm Up routine is the right one. There are so many different Warm Ups that prove themselves to be highly effective for achieving a ready state for play, so no specific routine can be classified as "the best way." What we do know, is that there is a common pattern among Warm Ups that proves to be correct, or in opposite, Warm Ups that are not correct.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Pickleball Performance Training - Importance of Warming Up

It's all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you're properly trained...

I wrote a post several months ago on a new pickleball performance training developed by Nate Littauer of Xcel. As the name implies, the training develops strength and balance related to the specific movements of pickleball play. We have a core group of local players that has gone through 13 weeks of the program. I feel certain that each of us strongly believe that the program has been very helpful.

Nate has offered to contribute an occasional post to this blog. I find that to be an exciting opportunity to develop a cutting-edge program for a growing sport. Today is Nate's first post with an important topic that most players completely ignore - the importance of warming up.


Like any other sport, the increased popularity of Pickleball has brought a new form of fitness and competition to a wide age range and demographic. According to USA Pickleball, the estimated participation increased more than 12% from 2016-2017! That is a huge increase for any sport. And like any sport that grows, the athletes that play need to be on their top game to perform.

In talking with some the local area players, one of the few things that was brought up as a concern was injury prevention. Pickleball is unique in that the playing population has a huge age range. The style of play allows players to play competitively far longer than most other sports, which is great for those with a desire to compete. With that increased age demographic, the types of injuries that could be sustained can result in issues such as knee replacements, hip replacements, and tendonitis. These were all concerns of area players.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


Grace is always remembered...

DJ Howard's tip this week is something we all need to keep in mind. Grace never gets old.

DJ's weekly tip:

Show grace.

New players at your courts?

Be kind and include them. Show them the ropes of how you do things at your courts. Help them with the rules. Maybe gently offer some basic advice on how to play and where to move. Do not over-coach, but be willing to teach them what they need to know to want to stay with the game.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

2018 Connestee Falls Scholarship Pickleball Tournament

Take me to the mountains to play pickleball...

The 2018 Connestee Falls Pickleball Tournament flyer was recently released. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Setting up Erne

Getting the fundamentals right...

It is Tuesday and w all know what that means - it is Jordan Briones time! This week's video is an interesting one for me since it is about a shot I have never even tried - the Erne. Let's describe the Erne first. It is a shot that is hit by a player standing outside the court beside the net post. It is usually a surprise shot. I wrote 2 articles about it in June 2017 - The Erne Shot and More on the Erne Shot.

What was left unsaid in those articles was the specifics of setting up the Erne for success. Jordan does that in his video How To Setup The Erne In Pickleball.

The not-so-secret part of hitting the Erne is that it must be off a down-the-line shot. Otherwise, the ball would out of the reach of the player attempting the Erne. So the secret part is setting up the opponent to hit the ball down the line.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Erne Strategy

As you pounce on a mouse, I pounce on your dink...

The Erne shot fascinates me - probably because I have never done it. But I'm going to give a shot after writing the next 2 day's posts. I previously wrote about the Erne in The Erne Shot and More on the Erne Shot. But they did not go into the detail I needed to gather enough knowledge to try the shot. After tomorrow, I think I will.

But first, let's view a Mark Renneson video titled Pickleball Strategy: Erne in which Mark discusses the effectiveness of the shot.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Recycle Sunday - Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Honest Self-Awareness

A blast from the past...

This week's Recycle Sunday article was originally published February 16, 2016.


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.