US Open Pickleball Championships 2017

Excellent Pickleball Videos

Men’s Singles Pro Gold from the Minto US Open Pickleball Championships 2017 – Yates vs. Johns Watch 18-year-old high school senior, Ben Johns, take on his pickleball friend, Kyle Yates, in a tight gold medal battle during the Men’s Singles PRO match at the 2017 Minto US Open Pickleball Championships.  Having trained together in Fort Meyers, FL, both have experience watching each other’s game which makes the match more interesting.  This close match even includes a fantastic comeback in the first game to tie it up 9-9!  Good sportsmanship and an obvious mutual respect between these two top players are on full display here as you watch this impressive game.

Tami Thomas wins Gold at US Open Pickleball Championships

Tami Thomas: Instructor and co – owner of Pickleball Naples LLC wins Gold at the first US Open Pickleball Championships in Naples Florida. Tami beat two 5.0 players to get the Gold in the 50+ womens singles division.


I have been taking Yoga for 4 weeks, once a week. I have been sleeping better and I feel more relaxed physically and mentally.

Great Yoga Guru!

I have a long way to go my poses don’t look quite the same, I work on them every day!

Here is what I have learned so far:


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1. When you are learning to play pickleball, never avoid hitting your backhand ground strokes or volleys. If you avoid hitting your backhand you will never master the stroke.

2. When playing during a windy day keep track of the wind speed and direction constantly because it does change at times. If you play the wind properly then it will build confidence in yourself, in that, the wind is bothering your opponent more than yourself.

3. When you are feeling a little tight during a match, don’t hit tentatively or too slow. Hit at your normal steady pace, but give yourself more leeway to hit your target until your confidence returns.

4. Make a mental book on your own attributes and deficits. Only hit shots that you feel are a high percentage for your own ability. Know what shots you can make more than 50% of the time. Do what you do well and practice the things that you don’t do well then use them when you can make them 50% of the time.

5. Bounce up onto the balls of your feet, in the ready position, at the point of contact of the ball on your opponents paddle. A moving body reacts quicker than a stationary body.

6. If both backhands of your opponents are at the middle of the court, hit down the middle of the court.

7. If your shot makes your opponent take two steps or more your chance for winning the point increases immensely.

8. Don’t back up to play a dink off the bounce, when you can hit the ball in the air. Always try and hit the ball with your weight going towards the net.

9. Make contact with the ball at the highest possible point in the air when volleying and waist high on the bounce for your ground stroke. It will be a higher percentage shot and open up more angles with less chance of putting balls into the net.


Play Steady: The team with the most unforced errors loses. Not the team with the fewest winners.

Placement is more important than power.

Keep the ball as low as possible for every hit, unless you must make a defensive lob.

Place the ball at the opponent’s feet or bounce the ball right beside your opponent. He must hit the ball up, which quickly puts him on the defensive and you on the offensive. The team which must hit the ball up most of the time will lose. Keep the ball at your opponent’s feet no matter where he is on the court.

Says “Coach Mo”

The Mind Game

The Mind Game…

Scroll down for Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Part 1

Out of Your Mind Pickleball
By Harry Carpenter
What’s going on in your mind affects your pickleball game big time. Do you want to learn how to play the mental game? Want to make a quantum leap in your pickleball skills? Read on.
Long before my pickleball life, I entered a one day, round-robin tennis tournament in Van Nuys, California. The day before the competition, my two Yamaha rackets were stolen and the only available racket was my daughter’s. She had a habit of picking up the ball by scraping the tip of the racket on the court. The scraping wore a hole in the hollow graphite frame that you could stick a finger in. Since I had no chance of winning with that racket, I decided not to take the tournament seriously and just play for fun. Players were divided into two brackets of nine players each. Because I had nothing to lose, I played out of my mind. I wasn’t thinking about it but my game was on a high. I beat all eight players in my bracket. I played the winner from the other bracket in an eight-game set for the championship. He was a better player but I was still playing out of my mind. I was ahead 6 games to 2. Only two more games and I would win the trophy.Then, I began thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to beat this guy. I’m going to win the tournament.” That was the beginning of the end. When I started thinking about winning, I started losing. I didn’t win another game. I played in my mind rather than out of my mind.

Part 2

The Mind Game… One Thing at a Time
By Harry Carpenter
I had my first pickleball “Oops” the first time I swung a paddle; I missed the ball completely. I’m not the only person to whiff his first shot. Learning a new sport takes time. The first time you execute a complex motion, you talk yourself through it with your conscious mind. And, you do it one step at a time because your conscious mind can only do one thing at a time. Recall tying your first bow. The process was unnatural and took several attempts. After you tied a bow properly a few times, the process was delegated to your subconscious mind where it became a habit. Once it became a habit, you could tie a bow without thinking about it. Take something more complex, like a golf swing. I was taught there are 31 elements to a good golf swing. The first few times I swung a club, I thought about each step. This step-by-step motion produced a swing like a flickering old-time movie. It wasn’t until each step was turned over to my subconscious, which can do a zillion things at a time, that my swing became fluid. When a complex task is performed by the subconscious, it is:

  • Easy because your subconscious can handle an unlimited number of tasks at one time.
  • Effortless because it’s unconscious.
  • Graceful because it is a unified, coordinated motion, and
  • Natural because you don’t have to think about it.
It’s the same in pickleball; each shot has a myriad of things to think about, things like short backswing, stiff wrist, paddle face angle, feet movement, bent knees, weight on toes, push the paddle, follow through toward target, keep ball low but over the net, don’t step in the kitchen you idiot, etc. That’s too much to think about. To be successful each shot must be made a habit and performed at a subconscious level without that pesky conscious mind getting in the way. How do you do that? Answer in next month’s e-Newsletter.

Part 3

The Mind Game…
One Thing at a Time
By Harry Carpenter

How do you serve deep and in the court every time? Consistently drop the ball in the kitchen from the backcourt? Routinely smash a high ball and keep it in bounds? The answer is by etching the mechanics of each pickleball stroke into your subconscious mind — practice, practice, practice. By practice, I mean correctly repeating the same shot over and over. Some readers might be thinking that practicing pickleball shots is a good idea, but they don’t have an opportunity to practice. No one conducts drills where they play and they can’t get some chump to feed them balls so they can hit each shot 50 times in a row, including the serve, serve return, drop shot, dink, volley, smash, lob and overhead.

Let’s face it; the majority of pickleball players would rather play games than participate in practice drills. Well, that’s a dilemma: How are you going to practice technique if there is no one to practice with? Here’s good news; there is a way you can keep playing games and practice at home, while waiting for an appointment, or riding to work (assuming you are not driving.) You can practice in your head! Mental practice is as effective, and arguably more effective, than physical play. A study in Russia showed that optimum benefits in a sport were obtained with a ratio of 25 percent physical practice to 75 percent mental practice. Mental practice works because your subconscious mind does not know the difference between real and imagined. Vividly picturing and feeling yourself swinging a pickleball paddle and making a shot in your mind’s eye activates the same patterns of neutrons in your brain as when you physically make the shot. Mental practice forms and reinforces the software for making a stroke. Moreover, mental practice is perfect. Each time you make a shot in your mind’s eye, the swing is correct and the stroke sends the ball to the right spot; each time you reinforce the software in your brain for a perfect shot. On the other hand, when you play for real, every shot is not perfect; in which case, you are reinforcing the software in your subconscious for poor technique. You can raise the level of your game by practicing that dink, kill shot, and volley on a daily basis — in your mind. However, there is a key element to mental practice, which I’ll share in the next month’s article.


Part 4

The Mind Game…

Making It a Habit through Mental Practice… By Harry Carpenter
Here’s that key element for effective mental practice that I promised last issue. When you practice pickleball in your mind you must be in an altered state of mind – a state where the subconscious is dominate, not the conscious mind. An altered state of mind is natural and you go in and out of it every day; you just aren’t aware of it. Scientists call it the “alpha” state; athletes call it the “zone;” we call it “daydreaming.”
There are many ways to get into alpha. Here’s the most common: sit in a comfortable chair and let your body relax. Relax one muscle at a time starting from head to toe (or toe to head, it makes no difference.)  It might help to imagine a wave of light flowing down your body as you relax each muscle. Pretend this wave has the magical ability to totally relax your muscles, all your muscles including those involuntary muscles controlled by your subconscious. Did you catch the word “let?” Let your muscles relax; muscles can’t be forced to relax.
If imagining a magic wave of light sounds silly, here’s another bit of mental wisdom: Your subconscious mind is illogical and immature. So imagining silly images makes a stronger impression on your subconscious than using logical, sensible ones. Now that you are physically and mentally relaxed and in a dreamy state, see yourself executing an ideal drop shot from the service line. See yourself returning drop shots from all positions on the court. Each time you hit the ball, it drops in your opponent’s kitchen. See and feel your feet moving to get into the best position before you swing. Feel your leg muscles as you bend your knees to hit low balls. Picture making each shot over and over — always perfect. See it, feel it, hear it and delight in the emotion connected with hitting precise shots. Emotion, the electro-chemical power in your subconscious, makes this process more effective. Repeat this scenario with each stroke – serve, return, drop shot, dink, volley, lob, smash and overhead.
Athletes at all levels use guided imagery. Pitchers see themselves in their mind’s eye throwing the ball to an exact spot. Golfers see themselves making a perfect swing and picture the ball landing on the green near the pin. Skiers map the fastest way down a slalom course and imagine making perfect turns through each gate. Pickleball players envision deep serves, dazzling drop shots and blazing put-aways. Try it. And soon it will become habit!
Part 5
The Mind Game… Watch Consciously; Hit Unconsciously…

By Harry Carpenter
Your conscious mind can only do, or think of, one thing at a time, whereas your subconscious mind can literally do trillions of things at a time. It follows that smooth, coordinated (good-looking) strokes, are executed with your subconscious mind. You have practiced your pickleball strokes until they are ingrained in your subconscious and they have become habits. Since your strokes are now habits, you don’t have to consciously think about them. All you have to do is get your conscious mind out of the way and “let” your subconscious play the ball.
Getting your conscious mind out of the way and “letting” your subconscious play is not always easy. Your conscious mind has an ego that thinks it knows better, so it wants to be in control. Two bads happen when it takes charge of your pickleball play. One, you can’t play well when you are thinking, “I’ve gotta hit a winner; Should I hit a dink or smash it? Why did I hit that last shot into the net? That was dumb; What’s the matter with me? Look at all those people watching me.” Two, and even worse, you start thinking about winning or losing. These thoughts introduce some degree of fear — the fear of losing or the fear of being embarrassed. Any aspect of fear undermines confidence and sends your game down the tubes.
Here’s how to get your conscious mind out of the way: use your conscious mind’s limitation (i.e., that it can only think of one thing at a time) to your advantage. Keep your conscious mind preoccupied with watching the ball. Your conscious mind’s job is exclusively to focus on the ball. Think, ball as you watch it. Be aware of its flight path, its velocity, etc. If you concentrate on the ball, your conscious mind cannot interfere with your inner athlete, your subconscious. In a nutshell, when your conscious mind is focused on the ball, your subconscious mind is free to make that perfect shot.
Part 6
The Mind Game… Try Harder? Play Worse!

By Harry Carpenter
Ever had a night when you couldn’t get to sleep? You got frustrated and tried harder.  The harder you tried to sleep, the more awake you became. Or you were winning a pickleball match and you just missed a couple of easy shots and started losing. You vehemently urged yourself to play better. But the harder you tried to play better, the worse you played. These examples demonstrate that the harder you try to do something or the more you will yourself to play better pickleball: a) the harder it becomes to do it, and b) the worse you do at it.
Willing yourself to do something is a conscious process. Your conscious mind can only do one thing at a time, and it can’t directly control your involuntary muscles. Thus, you don’t play your best pickleball when your conscious mind dominates. Your subconscious mind, on the other hand, can do trillions of things at a time without conscious thought. It also controls involuntary muscles that are required for good strokes and rabbit-like movement. It is where your pickleball strokes are stored as habits so you can execute them smoothly without thinking about them. Plus, your subconscious computes information a million times faster than your conscious mind. Thus, you play your best pickleball by suppressing your conscious mind and allowing your subconscious to dominate. Pushing yourself to play better pumps up your conscious mind, minimizing your subconscious mind. Hence, urging yourself to play better achieves the opposite — you play worse.
Another factor, although subtle, is that when you will yourself to play better, you subconsciously introduce a fear of losing. Fear, a strong emotion, erodes confidence, and confidence is an important aspect of playing well. Okay, suppose you’re playing in a tournament and because of the pressure, or for whatever reason, you are playing poorly. What can you do? Will yourself to play better?  Don’t bother — it won’t help. This is what you do. Oops, I’m out of word space. Hope you’re not playing poorly in a tournament before the next USAPA e-Newsletter…
Part 7
The Mind Game… Try Harder? Play Worse! The Solution…

By Harry Carpenter
You’re in a tournament and you’re playing badly. You’re ticked off at yourself. What are you going to do? Tell yourself to quit making mistakes? Will yourself to play better?  Don’t bother; it won’t help; you’ll probably play worse. Instead, do the following: 1. Play in the Now — Your conscious mind thinks in the past, present and future; whereas your subconscious only operates in the present. Since you want your subconscious to be dominant, keep your mind in the present. Don’t think about that snide remark your opponent made or the shot you missed – that’s the past. Don’t think about the consequences of hitting the ball long or about winning or losing — that’s the future.  Focus on the ball — that’s the now. 2. Observe – Your conscious mind is the critic; it judges, discriminates and analyzes; whereas your subconscious mind accepts things literally. When you critique your strokes during a game, you bring your conscious mind to the forefront. To keep your conscious mind from taking over, don’t analyze your strokes, just observe them. If any adjustments are needed, your subconscious will make them — unconsciously. 3. Watch the ball – Think about, and keep your eyes on, the ball. You can only focus on one thing at a time with your conscious mind. Focusing on the ball blocks negative thoughts, keeps your mind in the present and keeps your conscious mind from interfering with your subconscious mind. 4. Relax – Tension impedes court movement and thwarts good stroking. Top athletes don’t tense all their muscles while they jump, throw, catch or stroke – only the ones needed to do the job. Any additional flexing hinders performance. So loosen up. Take slow, deep breaths between points. 5. Act with confidence – You’ve spent weeks practicing your strokes and strategies. Your strokes are ingrained in your subconscious so you don’t have to think about them.  Knowing your strokes are programmed in your subconscious gives you confidence that you can play as well, and better, than anyone in your bracket. Act with confidence; imagine you are confident and play confidently.

Warm up 1

Warm up

“The most important part of any sporting activity!” Jerry

A warm up is the act of preparing for an athletic event or workout by exercising or practicing for a short time beforehand. Warming up helps reduce your risk of injury and the aches and pains that come with exercise. The physiological reason to warm up is to assist your circulatory system in pumping oxygen-rich blood to your working muscles. The idea is to increase circulation throughout the body in a gradual manner. A proper warm up safely prepares the body for the increased demands of exercise. Cold muscles do not absorb shock or impact as well, and are more susceptible to injury.

A warm-up helps you prepare both mentally and physically for exercise and reduces the chance of injury. During a warm up, any injury you have can often be recognized, and further injury prevented.


Winning Strategies for Doubles part 2


By Barry Ford Sun City Grand Pickleball Club Surprise, AZ


Keep the Ball in Play


Mark Friedenberg comments in his book “The Official Pickleball Handbook” that 75% of all shots are won on errors. Do I need to say more…..just keep the ball in play any way you can. AND, don’t try a kill shot on your first opportunity unless it’s just perfect. Be patient and just get the ball back, preferably deep in the middle, while you wait for that perfect put-away! Your opponent may just hit the ball into the net.


Opponents Weaknesses & Paddle Position


On most occasions, your opponent will “telegraph” where they are going to hit the ball with the angle of their paddle and perhaps their body just before they hit the ball. It happens quickly. Cover that area.




Just one example: During warm-ups you can get an indication of your opponent’s potential weaknesses so that you can exploit them in the game. If they never hit a backhand shot….guess what. Also, when he/she returns a serve, if they tend to slide more to their backhand side then guess what. I’d serve to their backhand all day long and hit there as well during play.




Watch for tendencies. If your opponent always hits the same shot to the same location…then cover it. The opposite holds true as well. You need to vary your shots!


Don’t Play Catch


Too many players are hitting the ball back (horizontally) to their opponent while at the net. AND, the ball is coming right back! To win the point you should be hitting the ball at a down angle into the middle of the court at your opponent’s feet. If you’re hitting to your opponent and its coming back to you then your doing something wrong and may well lose that point.




Anticipate / “Open” alleys / Angles


Always assume that the ball will be hit back to you. Be ready. Anticipate your opponent’s returns. If you hit a particular shot, where do you think he/she will return the ball…..THEN COVER that area. Hit for the open alleys. Make your opponents move. Don’t play catch! Hitting angles wins points.




Move Your Feet


Have you ever watched the top tennis players and how they glide around the court? How they are always moving from side to side and front to back. That’s not by accident. Their feet are always in motion positioning their body to hit the next shot. The same should be true with the game of Pickleball. Keep those feet moving even when you’re at the non-volley line getting ready to hit that next shot. Planting your feet at the kitchen line is a no-no!




Your Body & Paddle Positions


I believe the game is won when all four players are at the net. Therefore you ask, what’s so important when you’re at the net. How about your reaction time for a start? If you agree, then keeping that paddle up and in front of you ready for a quick response to hit the ball is a key. It takes much too long to hit the ball when your paddle is either at your side or down below your waist. Try keeping the paddle up right in front of your face. Sounds funny but give it a try.


Remember this is one man’s opinion. It is not written in stone. Try what he says, take what works for you!
Jerry AMB Fleischmann Park Naples Florida