The (Bonus) Pickleball Lab

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Hey. It’s Mark Renneson. Technically, you aren’t supposed to get your next episode of The Pickleball Lab for another week or so — much longer if you are a quarterly subscriber. But I’m so excited about this project that I decided to put together a bonus micro-edition I can share with you before your next scheduled drop. I hope that’s ok with you.

In this bonus micro-edition of the Lab we have two things to offer:

1) An opinion piece about what it will take to truly make pickleball mainstream.

2) A fun drill that will improve your court awareness.

I’m happy that you’ve decided to be a subscriber to the Lab. We’ve got a lot in store that we’re looking forward to share with you. Oh, and for those of who who are on the quarterly plan — it’s not too late to switch things up to the annual subscription. It means you’ll get 24 (more, actually) of these emails instead of just 4. To make the switch, just send a note to hello@thirdshotsports.com or click the button at the bottom of this page and we’ll set you right up. Ok. Let’s get into it.


Opinion: Pickleball at a Crossroads

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Those of us who are involved with pickleball usually do so in a pretty intense way. We play — a lot. We talk about it — a lot. Our friends (if we have any that don’t yet play) are probably pretty sick of hearing about how they have to come out and try it.

We also see the sport gaining notoriety in more mainstream venues:

But there is still some serious work to do to solidify the sport’s place in the mainstream consciousness. We have some ideas about what needs to be done:

Support innovators. As a sport, pickleball is really in its infancy. We are at this stage where people, organizations and even communities are trying to figure out where they fit in the pickleball ecosystem. Whether it is a new professional tournament circuit, a group vying to become a governing body; or, to be honest, projects like The Pickleball Lab, there are many entities trying to navigate this relatively new world of pickleball fanaticism. We encourage you to take a look at the innovators in the sport and, if you like what they are doing, support their efforts. Your encouragement — financial or otherwise — means a lot to people going out on a limb.

Use political power. Whether it is advocating for new courts, securing funding for programs, or even running a tournament, it is important to use the political power that the pickleball community can command. We encourage you to join together with those in your area to see where you can merge your abilities with your needs, and leverage the ability to speak as a single bloc.

Increase the base. While the sport continues to grow, the demographics are still not reflective of society as a whole. In North America, there is significant underrepresentation in our sport of people who are visible minorities. For pickleball to be truly mainstream, it needs to be a sport and community that is welcoming to everyone regardless of age, gender, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Representation matters and pickleball has a long way to go to reflect North America’s demographics as a whole.


Drill: The Speaking Dinker

Great players have a way of seeing what’s going on even when they hit the ball. Your ability to pay attention to two things at once can spell the difference between hitting the ball to an opening or putting it in a dangerous spot. In this drill, players can practice hitting the ball while being aware of what their opponent is doing. This is a fun drill to add to your library of useful skills to practice. Enjoy!


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