Capital Area Pickleball Association
Serving Dane County Wisconsin

PICKLEBLOG

  • 1 Mar 2024 8:35 AM | Abigail Darwin

    Below is the current netted status of outdoor pickleball courts in the Madison Area that CAPA leadership is aware of. This information is current as of March 1, 2024:

    • Bakken Park, Cottage Grove – nets will go up around April 15 (according to their Parks Dept., although courts are open, so players can bring in their own nets now)
    • Community Park, Cottage Grove – nets will go up around April 15 (according to their Parks Dept.)
    • McGaw Park, Fitchburg - nets are up on all the courts
    • Garner Park, Madison – nets are up on all the courts
    • McFarland Park, McFarland – nets will go up April 1-15 (according to their Parks Dept.)
    • Taylor Park, Middleton – 4 of 8 courts have nets up
    • Winnequah Park, Monona - all 4 portable nets are out, but they may get put away again temporarily if we get snow
    • Wyndham Hills Park, Sun Prairie – nets are up on all the courts, lights work from 5 a.m. - 7:15 a.m. and from 4 p.m. - 10 p.m. daily
    • Haven Park, Sun Prairie – nets are up on all the courts
    • Orfan Park, Sun Prairie – nets are up on all the courts
    • Mandt Park, Stoughton – 3 of 6 courts have nets up
    • Harriet Park, Verona – nets are up on all the courts
    • Kilkenny Park, Waunakee - nets are up on all the courts

    If you know the netted status of other outdoor pickleball courts in the Greater Madison Area, please put that information in the comments or email me at akdarwin@gmail.com, and I will try to update this blog daily!


  • 27 Feb 2024 9:25 AM | Abigail Darwin

    There are two kinds of serves in pickleball – the volley serve, which you hit out of the air, and the drop serve, which you hit after it bounces.

    Drop Serve

    If you want to use a drop serve, there are significantly fewer rules to follow. You mainly have to remember that you cannot add force to the bounce (you literally have to just drop it). You can drop it anywhere on the playing surface, whether in front of or behind the baseline. And you can hit it however you want.

    Volley Serve

    If you want to hit a volley serve instead, then there are three rules you have to follow:

    • You must hit the ball with the paddle head below your wrist.
    • You must make contact with the ball below your waist. (“Waist” used to be defined in the official Rulebook as the navel until 2020, but the rules are no longer that technical. So now, “waist” just refers to the general area where you bend.)
    • You have to hit the ball with your arm making an upward arcing motion.

    Where to Stand

    When serving either a drop serve or a volley serve, you must stand behind the baseline, between the sideline and the centerline, on whatever side of the court you are serving from.

    Where Must the Serve Land?

    The serve must land in the service court that is diagonally opposite the server across the net. The serve may also land on any of the service court lines, including the centerline, the baseline or the sideline. The ball cannot, however, land in the kitchen or on the kitchen lines. If the ball hits the net and bounces into the correct service court, it is considered “good.”


  • 21 Feb 2024 8:55 AM | Abigail Darwin

    If you play doubles in pickleball, there are some things that you and your partner should consider communicating about before a game or tournament to maximize your effectiveness as a team. Here are some important topics that you and your partner may want to discuss before you ever set foot on the court:  

    • If there is a short shot, who will get it? This is a particularly important point to discuss if one player is a considerably faster runner than the other. On the other hand, if both partners are in equal physical conditioning, then they would probably agree to each run down their own balls! The exception to this would be if one of the players were out of position, in which case, it might be wise to yell “yours” and let the other player try to get the ball.
    • If there is a lob, who will get it? Do one or both partners intend to hit every lob as an overhead? Do one or both players intend to run down every ball that is launched over him? Or, would one or both players prefer that in a lob situation, the other player run down the ball behind their partner, yell “switch,” and then they would temporarily switch which sides of the court they are defending? This may be particularly helpful in a situation where one of the players has a neck or shoulder injury.
    • If both or neither player have forehands in the middle, who will cover the middle? Both players could have a forehand in the middle in a stacking situation, for example. So, in that case, the player with the stronger forehand would want to be the one to take most of the shots that land in the middle. However, if one of the players is a leftie but the team does not like to stack, for example, then there could be situations where neither player has a forehand in the middle. The players should discuss whose backhand is stronger to handle shots that land in the middle in those situations.
    • The players should decide ahead of time that they will call every ball that is even mildly ambiguous by yelling “got it” or “mine/yours.” That way, very few or (ideally) no balls will be missed, especially those that come down the middle.
    • The players should agree to call “watch it,” “bounce,” or something similar, to assist their partner if a ball looks like it is going to land outside the bounds of the court. Note that according to the 2024 Official Rulebook, Rule 6.C.10., a player CAN call a ball “out,” before it bounces, and it is only considered partner communication. Only after the ball bounces is saying “out” considered an actual line call! See Rule 6.C.11.
    • If one player accidentally hits a short lob, they should yell, “Heads up!” to alert their partner that she may wish to retreat to the baseline and/or just generally protect herself!
    • The partners should decide if they want to stack. Stacking can be done either because one player is left-handed and one player is right-handed, in order to ensure that one player always has a forehand in the middle, but it can also be done to ensure that one player with a stronger forehand or a weaker backhand is always on one side of the court.
    • Partners should always call each other’s lines in or out, so that their partner can focus on hitting the ball.
    • The players should discuss whether the other’s preference is to hit third shot drops or third shot drives.
    • Discuss whether the other one likes to lob a lot.
    • The players should also discuss whether their partner is a patient dinker or whether they are instead someone who likes to speed up the ball in a dinking match.
    • Discuss whether to do casual poaching, and retreat back to prior positions afterward, or whether to do more hard-core, switch-sides-of-the-court-style poaching.

    Partner communication is critical to being a good partner in pickleball. But remember that everyone’s communication style is different, and no matter how much you and your partner prepare before the game, there will still be unexpected situations that crop up! As long as you and your partner are having fun, you know you have found a keeper.


  • 15 Feb 2024 5:36 PM | Abigail Darwin

    Ah the kitchen … or if you’re fancy, the “Non-Volley Zone,” or if you’re really fancy, the "NVZ." It is that 7-foot-long by 20-foot-wide area right in front of the net on each side of the pickleball court that gives players so many fits. It has an aura of mystique surrounding it, particularly for many beginners. In this blog post, we will discuss what is and is not allowed in the kitchen.

    I am aware that there are many myths swirling around out there about the kitchen, so I already know that some of you will read what I am about to write below and will doubt whether what I am saying is true. Because of this, I am going to cite to the actual rules in the USA Pickleball 2024 Official Rulebook to back up what I am saying.

    What is Allowed in the Kitchen:

    • If a ball bounces in the kitchen, you can step inside the kitchen to return it back over the net. See Rule 9.F. This happens frequently when dinking, for example.
    • You can stand in the kitchen during a game and during a point for as long as you want. See Rule 9.G. It is not a good idea (for reasons we will discuss shortly), but if you are just captivated by the kitchen and have always wanted to venture in there, go ahead. See Rule 9.E. I promise that, as a general matter, with a few exceptions discussed below, simply going into the kitchen will not itself prove to be some sort of illegal violation. So, do it. Saunter into the kitchen, just because you have always wanted to walk in there during a point; you can even pose for a selfie while you are in there! (Just be sure to discuss with your partner in advance that you would like them to cover the entire court while you are doing your thing.)
    • A person can return a ball even while their partner is standing in the kitchen. See Rule 9.H.
    • Any shots, except a serve, can be hit into and land in the kitchen. See Section 1, Unique Features, and Rule 4.M.3. This means any volley, overhead, groundstroke, dink, drop, or drive – as long as it is not a serve – can be hit into the kitchen.

    What is NOT Allowed in the Kitchen:

    • You cannot volley – that is, hit a ball in the air before it bounces -- while you are standing in the kitchen. See Section 1, Unique Features, and Rule 9.A. Even having one of your toes on the kitchen line constitutes a violation, because the kitchen line is considered to be part of the kitchen. (Since we are on the topic, the kitchen sidelines are also considered to be part of the kitchen, too -- just FYI.) See Rules 2.B.3 and 3.A.22.

    -So, to recap, you cannot hit a volley while standing in the kitchen, on the kitchen line or on the kitchen sideline. See Rules 2.B.3 and 3.A.22. In addition, however, you also cannot hit a volley from OUTSIDE the kitchen and then FALL INTO the kitchen if your momentum from hitting the volley propels you in. See Rule 9.B.1. This whole “momentum making you fall in” thing constitutes a violation even if the ball has already bounced on the other side after you hit your volley and has come back over! Your momentum would even cause a violation if the point had already ended and the ball was dead! See Rules 8.E. and 9.C.1.

    -If an item of clothing or anything on you, like a cap, sunglasses, or a handkerchief, falls into the kitchen while you are (or as a result of you) hitting a volley, that is considered a fault, and your team loses the point. See Rule 11.H.

    -Note that if you linger in the kitchen – like if you stay in there to take a selfie – it is likely, dare I say probable, that your opponents will try to hit a shot right at you. In pickleball, if an opponent’s shot hits you before it bounces, it is the opponent’s point. See Rule 7.H. And, if you are standing in the kitchen, the only way you could hit a ball that is coming right at you would be to hit it in the air as a volley. That would be a fault, because you cannot hit a ball in the air while standing in the kitchen. See Section 1, Unique Features, and Rule 9.A.

    • A serve cannot land in the kitchen or on the kitchen line. See Rules 3.A.22., 2.B.3., 4.M.3. and 6.B. That serve would be considered “out.”

    -Also, if a serve hits the net and lands in the kitchen, that serve is also considered “out.” See Rule 4.M.5.

    You might be wondering who calls kitchen violations when they occur. The answer is that in regular, non-officiated play, anyone can call a fault on anyone, including themselves! See Rules 13.D.1.a., 13.D.1.b., and 13.D.1.c. And, because pickleball is such a friendly sport, self-policing is what usually happens in the case of kitchen mishaps. After all, you are the one most likely to realize that you stepped into the kitchen when you hit that volley!

    Since knowledge is power, after reading this post, it is my hope that you will have less fear and a lot more confidence on the court! Happy pickling!


  • 11 Feb 2024 1:24 PM | Abigail Darwin

    We all know that exercise is important, and as we age, physical
    activity becomes even more valuable for preserving physical and mental
    health. However, the prospect of getting regular exercise can be
    daunting when it isn’t fun (for example, running countless loops
    around a track or climbing a stair stepper to nowhere).

    This is where pickleball comes in! Pickleball is the fastest growing
    sport in America. It is a combination of tennis, ping-pong and
    badminton. Although pickleball was invented in 1965 just outside
    Seattle, it has gained increasing popularity in recent years,
    especially (but not exclusively) among Baby Boomers. According to the
    Sports & Fitness Industry Association, the number of pickleball
    players grew 14.8% between 2020 and 2021. In a 2022 report, the Sports
    & Fitness Industry Association noted that as of 2022, 4.8 million
    Americans played pickleball. And, of the 1.4 million “core”
    participants (those who played 8+ times per year), over half were 55+
    years of age, and approximately one-third were 65 or older.

    Here are some reasons why pickleball is an ideal sport for seniors:

    -It is a low-impact sport that is relatively easy on the joints. The
    smaller court size (44 by 20 feet) and lower net (compared to tennis)
    and plastic, whiffle-like ball make it easier on the hips, knees and
    shoulders, compared to other sports like tennis or basketball. To give
    you an idea of how small a pickleball court is, you could fit about
    four standard pickleball courts on a single tennis court! Pickleball
    entails less running and jumping than tennis, making it less likely to
    result in injuries. In addition, serving is underhand (not overhand,
    like in tennis), which makes the game easier to play and less taxing
    on arm muscles.

    -It can improve health. Despite being a low-impact sport, it involves
    a lot of physical movement and can be fast-paced, making it an
    excellent form of cardio exercise. In a 2016 study published in
    Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 12 middle-aged players burned
    40% more calories playing pickleball for 30 minutes than by walking
    for the same amount of time. In addition, a 2018 study in the
    International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology found that
    middle-aged and older adults who played one hour of pickleball three
    days per week for six weeks improved their blood pressure,
    cholesterol, and cardiorespiratory fitness levels. Maintaining a
    healthy blood pressure, cholesterol level and cardiovascular system
    can help prevent hypertension, stroke and heart attack.

    -It provides opportunities to be social. Pickleball is often played
    as doubles, and often with complete strangers who just happen to also
    be at the same pickleball courts as you. This means that seniors can
    make new friends and/or stay connected with family and friends who
    also enjoy playing the game.

    -It boosts mood and reduces the risk of depression by increasing
    endorphins and providing opportunities to socialize. A 2018 study
    published in Leisure Studies found that older adults who played in
    pickleball tournaments had a lower risk of depression.

    -It improves physical coordination and balance. Pickleball requires
    the use of quick reflexes and eye-hand/eye-foot coordination. By
    playing the sport and improving balance and coordination, seniors can
    reduce their risk of falls and injuries.

    -It provides mental stimulation. Playing pickleball requires focus,
    strategic thinking and quick decision-making. Studies have shown that
    mentally stimulating activities can help to improve cognitive function
    and reduce the risk of dementia in older adults.

    -Pickleball is relatively easy to learn. The rules are fairly simple
    – points can only be earned by the side that is serving, and the
    winner is the first side to get to 11 points, win by 2 - and the game
    is played on a small court with a relatively slow-moving ball, making
    it a fun and engaging sport that can be picked up rather quickly by
    almost everyone, regardless of age, body type or athletic ability. It
    is a sport that can be played competitively or recreationally, and it
    provides players with skills to improve upon the more they play.

    -It is a relatively inexpensive sport that can be played standing or
    in wheelchairs, year-round, both indoors and outdoors. Paddles start
    at about $10, balls are about $3 each, and most outdoor courts are
    free. Many YMCAs and school gyms provide affordable indoor courts
    during the winter. In addition, the Silver Sneakers program, offered
    by many Medicare Advantage plans and some Medigap plans, covers gym
    membership at many facilities that include pickleball. You can go to
    the USA Pickleball Association’s website -
    https://www.places2play.org/ - and enter your zip code to find places
    to play near you. And, if all else fails, you can always buy a
    do-it-yourself pickleball court kit from Amazon.com and convert a
    tennis court near you into a pickleball court quite easily! The USA
    Pickleball Association’s website even includes “Do it Yourself”
    instructions for creating your own pickleball court almost anywhere.
    See 
    https://usapickleball.org/what-is-pickleball/court-diagram/do-it-yourself-guidelines/ .

    -It is a game that can be played together by people of all ages.
    Currently, the average pickleball player’s age is 38, so it is a sport
    that can be enjoyed together by individuals of different generations.
    Even kids can play the sport!

    So, the next time you are thinking you should exercise more but
    wishing you could find a fun activity to make the exercise not feel so
    grueling, consider trying pickleball.   


  • 7 Feb 2024 1:18 PM | Abigail Darwin

    Most players would agree that one of the most critical pieces of equipment for excelling at the sport of pickleball is the paddle. Have you ever wondered whether a smooth or textured surface is better for adding spin? In this blog post, we'll explore which type of paddle is better for adding spin to your pickleball game.

    Smooth Paddles

    Smooth paddles are generally less expensive than textured paddles, making them a good option for beginners or players on a budget. However, smooth paddles may not be the best choice for players looking to add spin to their shots. The smooth surface does not generate as much friction on the ball as a textured surface, making it harder to apply spin.

    Textured Paddles

    Textured paddles have a surface with grit, tiny grooves, or patterns that creates friction on the ball. This increased friction makes it easier for players to add sidespin, topspin, underspin, or any other kind of spin you’d care to name to their shots! Applying spin generally makes it harder for opponents to return the ball. Textured paddles are generally more expensive than smooth paddles, but the increased winning advantage it could give you on the court may be worth it.

    Different Types of Surface Textures

    If you are looking for a paddle with a textured surface that will allow you to add more spin to your shots, you will notice that some paddles seem to have what looks like grit painted onto them and others that seem to have the texture built into their very fiber (usually carbon fiber, no pun intended!).

    Although paddles with “paint grit” feel very rough when first taken out of their original packaging and can add a lot of great spin initially, the grit wears down very quickly after just a few sessions of heavy play. And while these paddles may be less expensive, you will soon be left with a smooth and un-spinful paddle.

    The most durable and spin-iest paddles tend to be the ones that are made of carbon fiber or graphite and which have a rough texture that almost feels like it is built into the paddle face. Although these paddles are more expensive and the texture will still wear out over time, they are by far some of the best quality paddles on the market today and will likely help take your game to the next level!


  • 1 Feb 2024 1:06 PM | Abigail Darwin

    USA Pickleball has finalized and released the 2024 Official Rulebook. Twenty-seven rule changes and/or new rules were approved for 2024, and here are a handful that you should know about.

    • Faults for incorrect server, incorrect receiver, and player position errors have been eliminated. In officiated tournament play, the referee will now correct any such player errors before calling the score. See Rule 4.B.9.
    • The words “deliberately” and “unintentional” were removed in Rules 7.L (the carry rule) and 11.A (the double hit rule), respectively. As a result, a referee in officiated play no longer has to determine intent. Any carry is now a fault, whether it was deliberate or not. Note that a double hit is still permitted, as long as it happens in one, continuous motion.
    • Rule 10.B.2.c (medical time-outs) allows an injured player to tack on any available remaining standard time-outs after the 15-minute medical time-out has expired. This is intended to allow the player more time before potentially having to retire from a match. The 2023 rule seemingly implied that an injured player would have to retire if they were not able to resume play after the 15-minute medical time out was over.
    • Rule 13.L allows players in non-officiated play situations to request that a referee or Tournament Director make an official determination regarding whether an opponent’s paddle is legal for play.
    • Rule 11.E has been amended to allow a replay of a completed rally in tournament play if a ball is cracked or broken and all players agree that the cracked or broken ball affected the outcome of the rally. No replay is provided merely because the ball is found to be damaged or “soft.” The ball can, however, be replaced.
    • Although the rule has not changed yet, the USA Pickleball Board of Directors is considering potentially changing scoring from its current form to rally scoring. However, this new rule change is still in pending status, as the Board wants to collect more data before issuing a final decision.


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