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.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Pickleball Moves You

Remember Newton's Law, not the fig cookies...

This week, DJ talks about how pickleball can help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Stay in motion. Its good for you!

DJ's weekly tip:

Play pickleball to keep your body in motion.

Newton's first law can be summarized as follows: an object in motion tends to stay in motion, an object at rest tends to stay at rest.

Did you know that pickleball is a great way to keep your body in motion? You're moving your arms and legs and getting your heart rate up. It's good exercise! When it comes to your physical makeup, the old adage is true- use it or lose it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sarah's Ideal Grip

Control means letting go...

I gave a lesson to near beginner last week. As I always do, I check the grip first and explain the advantages of the continental grip. But there is more to the grip than the paddle handle's relative position in the hand. Sarah Ansboury talks about some of the important parts of the grip in her RVPickler article The Ideal Pickleball Grip, an excerpt of which is below.

Ideal Pickleball Grip

The ideal pickleball grip requires you to hold the paddle with your fingers.  There should be space between the palm of your hand and the handle of the paddle. Rather than your thumb running up the handle, it should go around the handle. This will minimize the risk of hyper-extending your elbow or over-utilizing your wrist.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Target Dink Drill

Make practice fun...

Jordan Briones continues his Primetime video series with another dink drill. This drill focuses on hitting targets in order to to move your opponent around. The video is called "3 Cone" Dink Pattern Drill | Pickleball

The drill starts as other dink drills do - with a player positioned at the NVZ line on each side of the net. But prior to that, 3 cones are positioned on the side of the feeding partner. The cones are set close to the net within the width of a half-court and dividing the half-court into thirds.  The set up is shown below.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

A hero is somebody who voluntarily walks into the unknown...

Today is not a day for writing or reading about pickleball. Today is about remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to create and sustain the freedom that allows us to play games. So, whether you are grilling hot dogs or playing pickleball today, take a moment to think about and thank our fallen heroes. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Recycle Sunday - Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Return of Serve

A blast from the past...

This week's Recycle Sunday article was originally published February 12, 2016.


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.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

USAPA and AAU Partnership

Athletes pursuing greatness...

The USAPA had an announcement on Thursday that could bring big dividends to the sport of pickleball.

Strategic Alliance Between USA Pickleball Association & AAU Aims to Grow the Sport of Pickleball

Partnership Joining USAPA and AAU Will Provide Competitive and Recreational Opportunities for Adult and Youth Athletes

The rapidly-growing sport of pickleball is coming to the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), as the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) and AAU announced a strategic alliance that will provide both youth and adult programming for athletes across the country.

Pickleball is a court sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. The game is played both indoor and outdoor on a surface one-third the size of a regulation tennis court and a net lowered to 34 inches. Players use a paddle and polymer ball, similar to a Wiffle ball. The game has grown exponentially across North America in recent years.

USAPA has done an exceptional job building their adult membership base across the country and making pickleball one of the fastest growing sports in America, said Dr. Roger J. Goudy, President and CEO of the AAU. This strategic alliance allows us to utilize our combined expertise and resources to provide athletes of all ages with first-class competition experiences in the sport of pickleball.

Friday, May 25, 2018

2018 US Open TV

A rabid sports fan is one that boos the TV...

The 2016 US Open had one hour of television coverage. The 2017 US Open had two hours of television coverage. This year CBS Sports will increase that coverage to 3 hours. Like last year, the coverage is not live, but is delayed. the schedule is shown below.

It starts tonight!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Aggressive Play versus Banging

I need an aggressive, but smart, attitude...

This week, DJ explains why it is important to be aggressive in your play. But aggressive does not mean hitting every ball hard. Yet another reinforcement of percentage pickleball!

DJ's weekly tip:

Understand the difference between being a banger and playing aggressively. There IS a difference!

A "banger" is a player who hits the ball hard because he or she can't do anything else or simply doesn't want to do anything else. They rip the ball and hope that the pace of the ball can make the opponent make a mistake or hit a weak reply. They rarely hit drop shots or lobs or use much in the way of strategy. This type of player is typically impatient and will get frustrated if too many of their hard hit shots are returned.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Pickleball - On the Money

National publicity is always good.

CNBC's show On the Money had a feature on pickleball this past weekend.  Despite the usual errors by the under-informed (check out the NVZ violation on the overhead), its a pretty good video.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Taking Time from Opponents

Getting the fundamentals right...

Dave Weinbach returns in this week's Jordan Briones Primetime video, with another tip about play at the NVZ line. The video is titled Pickleball Impact Zone with Dave Weinbach | How To Take Time Away From Your Opponents.

Dave first describes what he calls the "impact zone". This is the area in front of his body where he wants to hit the ball.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Land of the Sky - Carolina Pickleballisms (Part 4)

Go big or go home...

Several weeks ago, I showed the first five Carolina Mountain pickleball colloquialisms that I hope people find attractive and humorous, but most of attention-grabbing. Each week for the next couple of months I will post a (mostly) daily picture. Here is the fourth set.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Recycle Sunday - Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Drop Shots

A blast from the past...

This week's Recycle Sunday article was originally published February 11, 2016.


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.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Learning from Lessons

Mastery is in the reaching, not in the arriving.

Lessons can be great motivators...but only if the student comes with the right attitude to walk away with the right learnings. Sarah Ansbory has an article to discuss the right way to approach lessons. It is titled 3 Keys to Making the Most of Your Pickleball Lesson and excerpts are shown below. The ideas are a good things to keep in mind if you are attending the Mark Renneson clinic I posted yesterday.

I was recently asked, “Who are the players that are able to apply what they learned during a pickleball lesson to their game?”   I thought it was a great question! So I gave it some thought…

Friday, May 18, 2018

Mark Renneson In Asheville

Experts start as beginners...

Mark Renneson will be in Asheville next week to provide instruction opportunities to all levels of players. Intermediate and advanced players will have group drill and training sessions and all players can sign up for private lessons. This is a great opportunity to work with of the best instructors in the game. The sessions will be held at Stephens-Lee Recreation Ctr.,  30 George Washington Carver Ave, Asheville. Click here or the image below to go to the website.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


Go hard or go home...

While all of D.J. Howard's tips are targeted toward improvement, today's is very specific. It talks about improvement through practice and three key elements of effective practice.

DJ's weekly pickleball tip:

Want to improve? Remember the acronym F.I.T.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

United We Serve Pickleball Tournament

Steeplechase Capital of the World...

Registration in now open for the United We Serve Pickleball Tournament to be held on June 9-10 in Camden, SC. The tournament will include Mixed Doubles, Women's Doubles, and Men's Doubles. Players can register online at 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Two-Ball Dink Drill

Make practice fun...

The next video from the Jordan Briones Primetime video series is focused on two key parts of the game - dinking and hand-eye coordination. The video is called "2 Ball" Dink Control Drill | Pickleball

The drill starts with just as you would expect in a dink drill - a player positioned at the NVZ line on each side of the net. Both players simultaneously starts the drill by hitting a dink to their two balls are active at the same time. The objective is to keep the two-ball rally going as long as possible by hitting simple dinks back to your partner. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Land of the Sky - Carolina Pickleballisms (Part 3)

Go big or go home...

A couple of weeks ago, I showed the first five Carolina Mountain pickleball colloquialisms that I hope people find attractive and humorous, but most of attention-grabbing. Each week for the next couple of months I will post a (mostly) daily picture. Here is the third set.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Recycle Sunday - Pickleball Statistical Analysis - Unforced Errors

A blast from the past...

This week's Recycle Sunday article was originally published February 10, 2016.


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.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Overcoming Psychological Barriers

Don't let failure limit your game...

Yesterday's post - titled Psychological Barriers - was an article written for a farm's newsletter written by my nephew (in-law), John-Scott. The article used the analogy of a string fence's ability to contain massive animals to the human predilection for using past failures to psychologically bar future risk-taking.

John-Scott's article was similar to a post I recently wrote titled Learn to Overcome Adversity in which I discussed using experience and discipline to overcome mental lapses due to distractions from past failures. I want to briefly discuss an item in his article with which I disagree by showing my reply to his article:

Just 5 days ago, I wrote an article for my blog titled Learn to Overcome Adversity. The point of the article is that past failures can easily (and negatively) impact peak performance.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Psychological Barriers

Don't let failure limit your game...

Today's post might be the most unusual topic and source I have ever included. It is an article written for a farm's newsletter. But not just any farm or author. It was written by my nephew (in-law) who, together with his father, uncle, and other family raise beef cattle in Pennsylvania. John-Scott and I have some mind-melds that amaze me and this falls into that category.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post titled Learn to Overcome Adversity. The topic was about using experience and discipline to overcome mental lapses due to distractions from past failures. Only 5 days later, John-Scott wrote the following article discussing the psychological in a whole 'nother world from pickleball. He is a better writer than I am and I want to use it to make the same point. I will follow up with more thoughts tomorrow.

John-Scott's Thoughts
A collection of all things marketing, grass farming, and living.

The bull was standing not fifteen feet in front of us.  He’s a solid chunk of grass powered muscle and I was chattering away about the fact, rattling off pedigree information and reporting on previous calf crops sired by the beast currently subjected to our scrutiny.

Despite the proximity to such an awesome animal and my enthusiastic and unending descriptions, my guest seemed distracted.  He came to look at our herd bull, but, as we stood in the pasture to accomplish that objective, the guy couldn’t keep his eyes off the fence.

When I finally realized the cattleman wasn’t listening, I stopped talking and allowed the silence to settle in between us.  I was interested to learn what had him so preoccupied.  After a brief intermission he acknowledged the void in conversation and asked, in total disbelief, ‘Is THAT all you use to hold him in?’

‘THAT’ was in reference to a single strand of braided nylon rope interspersed with thin metal filaments and hanging delicately on small fiberglass posts.  From any angle it is viewed, the perimeter does not look substantial enough to stop a poodle, let alone 1,800 pounds of testosterone fueled Hereford.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Myth of Sides

"I'll Take Everything on My Side"...

DJ Howard's tip this week is about court coverage and communication. These are two topics that have been discussed a lot here but a new perspective is always welcome.

Myth - "I have my side, you have your side."

There are two sides of the court, but that does not mean each player ought to cover precisely one half of the court. On the contrary, all things being equal, there ought to be overlap over the center by each player. Since all things are NOT equal, each player's positions should shift left or right along with the location of the ball on the other side of the net, meaning the center line is no longer the middle of the two players. The middle of a doubles team is NOT the center line most of the time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Foot Faults

Sasquatch has one big disadvantage...

I refereed at least 10 matches at the Senior Games last week. In all of those matches, I had to call only one NVZ foot fault. That seemed unusually low but I did referee the games with either the most experienced or least experienced players. The better players knew better than to foot fault and the less experienced players never even approached the line. Some of that may also have been as a result of having a referee. Other games were reportedly different. I was told there was a lot of foot faults in those games.

Many players are not aware that the primary job for referees is to watch for foot faults. One likely reason for this is that it is very hard for players to make the call unless the violation is obvious. Players normally have their eyes on the ball and not on either their opponents' nor their own feet. Today's post is excerpts from a Sarah Ansboury article on the topic titled Pickleball Foot Faults: Do You See Them?

Today we are going to focus on pickleball foot faults.  We will talk about the causes and how we can detect them in ourselves, our partner and those we are playing against.  Do you think you see foot faults during play?