Capital Area Pickleball Association
Serving Dane County Wisconsin

PICKLEBLOG

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  • 19 Jun 2024 2:13 PM | Abigail Darwin

    According to a May 23, 2024, blog post on the website, The Kitchen, when considering American cities with a population over 100,000, Madison has the second most outdoor, dedicated pickleball courts in the country!

    The top 10 U.S. cities with the most pickleball courts per 10,000 people are as follows:

    1. Louisville, KY (3.8)

    2. Madison, WI (2.3)

    3. Honolulu, HI (1.9)

    4. Saint Petersburg, FL (1.8)

    5. Port Saint Lucie, FL (1.6)

    6. Bakersfield, CA (1.6)

    7. Boise, ID (1.5)

    8. Albuquerque, NM (1.4)

    9. Virginia Beach, VA (1.2)

    10. Saint Louis, MO (1.2)

    Of course, for those of us who live in Madison and the greater Dane County Area, we know that several of the smaller communities surrounding Madison actually have many more dedicated pickleball courts than Madison proper. In addition, there are many tennis courts in both Madison and the surrounding communities that are also lined for pickleball, providing everyone with additional court space over-and-above that provided solely by the dedicated pickleball courts.

    Here is a summary of the prevalence of outdoor pickleball courts in Dane County. Numbers provided below include: (1) courts, (2) community population, and (3) courts per 10,000 people:

    • Black Earth, 1 total, 1,452, 6.89
    • Cottage Grove, 12 dedicated, 8,857, 13.55
    • Cross Plains, 4 dedicated, 4,010, 9.98
    • Cross Plains, 5 total, 4,010, 12.47
    • Deerfield, 1 dedicated, 2,454, 4.07
    • DeForest, 4 dedicated, 10,893, 3.67
    • DeForest, 5 total, 10,893, 4.59
    • Fitchburg, 8 dedicated, 30,834, 2.59
    • Fitchburg, 10 total, 30,834, 3.24
    • Madison: 6 dedicated, 272,903, 2.20
    • Madison: 58 total, 272,903, 21.25
    • McFarland, 8 dedicated, 9,378, 8.53
    • Middleton, 8 dedicated, 22,328, 3.58
    • Monona, 4 total, 8,585, 4.66
    • Mount Horeb, 6 dedicated, 7,682, 7.81
    • Oregon, 6 dedicated, 11,610, 5.17
    • Sauk Prairie (combination of Sauk City and Prairie du Sac), 8 dedicated, 7,881, 10.15
    • Stoughton: 6 dedicated, 12,846, 4.67
    • Stoughton: 8 total, 12,846, 6.23
    • Sun Prairie, 12 dedicated, 36,653, 3.27
    • Sun Prairie, 14 total, 36,653, 3.82
    • Verona, 4 dedicated, 14,521, 2.75
    • Verona, 6 total, 14,521, 4.13
    • Waunakee, 7 dedicated, 14,998, 4.67
    • Waunakee, 14 total, 14,998, 9.33
    • Westport, 1 total, 4,183, 2.39
    • Windsor, 3 dedicated, 8,754, 3.43

    Much of the information which was used in putting together this blog post was pulled from the CAPA website’s “Outdoor Courts” section. Be sure to check it out for more detailed information about the specific names and locations of courts in your community.


  • 11 Jun 2024 11:32 AM | Abigail Darwin

    USA Pickleball is the National Governing Body for the sport of pickleball in the U.S. If you play in tournaments, then you appreciate the importance of having a paddle that is “USA Pickleball-approved.” For a paddle to be approved by USA Pickleball, it has to meet certain specifications related to material, surface roughness, size, and weight. USA Pickleball approval of equipment is intended to ensure and preserve integrity and fairness for all players. The USA Pickleball seal of approval is so important that you will not be allowed to play in most tournaments if you do not have a paddle that is included on the USA Pickleball-approved equipment list.

    This year, there has been a significant development that may impact some of you. Specifically, USA Pickleball has de-certified some new and very popular Joola paddles. These paddles include:

    •  Anna Bright Scorpeus 3 14mm
    • Ben Johns Hyperion 3 16mm
    • Ben Johns Hyperion 3 14mm
    • Ben Johns Perseus 3 14mm
    • Ben Johns Perseus 3 16mm
    • Collin Johns Scorpeus 3 16mm
    • Hyperion Alpha 2024 16mm
    • Hyperion Alpha 2024 14mm
    • Magnus Alpha 2024 16mm
    • Magnus Alpha 2024 14mm
    • Perseus Alpha 2024 16mm
    • Perseus Alpha 2024 14mm
    • Scorpeus Alpha 2024 16mm
    • Scorpeus Alpha 2024 14mm
    • Simone Jardim Hyperion 3 16mm
    • Tyson McGuffin Magnus 3 14mm
    • Tyson McGuffin Magnus 3 16mm

    To read the official USA Pickleball statement about why it de-certified these paddles, as well as some FAQs on this topic, go to https://usapickleball.org/news/usa-pickleball-statement-on-decertified-joola-paddles-and-equipment-testing-standards/.

    According to Joola’s website, if you purchased one of these paddles, you can return it by July 15, 2024, for a full refund. Instructions for doing so can be found at https://joolausa.com/frequently-asked-questions/ under “Gen3 Paddle Returns.”

    If you are curious about whether your paddle is USA Pickleball-approved (whether it is a Joola or a non-Joola paddle), you can find out by going to www.equipment.usapickleball.org.


  • 4 Jun 2024 3:48 PM | Abigail Darwin

    Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States, and it is also starting to pick up steam in other countries as well. So, you might be curious as to whether you will see pickleball being played at this summer’s Olympics in Paris? The answer is unfortunately not, but take heart, because it may not be long until pickleball will be played in the Olympics!

    For a sport to be in the Olympics, it must be governed by an International Federation that must implement the World Anti-Doping Code. For a sport to be added to the male sports slate, it also has to be played widely in at least 75 countries and on at least 4 continents; for a sport to be added to the female sport slate, it must be widely played in at least 40 countries and on at least 3 continents.

    Because it did not meet these conditions timely, pickleball will not be part of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and was not included on the additional sports proposal for the 2028 Olympic Games, which will be held in Los Angeles.

    So, the next possible opportunity for pickleball to be included in the Olympics will not occur until 2032, when the Olympics will be held in Brisbane, Australia. But it’s not actually that far-fetched to believe that pickleball could be part of that year’s Olympic Games. Pickleball already has several international federations, including the World Pickleball Federation (WPF) and the Global Pickleball Federation (GPF). The WPF has 60 member countries on 6 continents. The GPF has about 40 member countries on 5 continents, and the GPF’s mission is to earn Olympic recognition and the eventual inclusion of the sport in the Paralympic and Olympic Games.

    I don’t know about you, but I am already looking forward to 2032!


  • 29 May 2024 4:16 PM | Abigail Darwin

    Choosing a paddle can be a daunting task and may seem downright overwhelming with all the different options available on the market right now. Here are a few factors to consider to better ensure you make the right paddle purchase for you:

    • Paddle playability and size of the “sweet spot”

    o “Playability” refers to how easy a paddle is to immediately pick up and play with for players of most levels and styles. The “sweet spot” refers to the area on the paddle where you can hit the ball most effectively and solidly. Paddles differ with respect to how playable they are and how large their sweet spot is.

    • Your playing style

    o One key dimension here to take note of is whether you are more of a “power” player (love to hit the ball hard) or whether you are more of a “control” player (love to win a point with a well-placed shot). Control players generally prefer a lighter paddle with a carbon fiber or graphite face, a thick core, and a larger sweet spot. Power players tend to prefer a heavier paddle with a longer handle and a composite surface to add more power and leverage to their shots.

    o Another key dimension to take note of is whether you like to add spin to your shots. If so, you will want a paddle with a heavily textured surface.

    • Shape/size of paddle

    o Generally speaking, paddles come in two varieties – larger faces and shorter handles, or slightly smaller faces and longer handles. If you are someone who is shorter and/or who likes to hit two-handed backhands, you might prefer a longer handle and a smaller paddle face, and vice versa. However, keep in mind that long, narrow paddles tend to have smaller sweet spots and tend to be head-heavy.

    • Grip size

    o Many paddle brands offer different grip sizes for people with different hand sizes. If you have a small hand, be sure to look for a paddle that offers a smaller grip size.

    • Paddle weight and balance

    o Paddles can weigh anywhere from about 6 to 9.5 ounces, and the weight may be evenly distributed throughout the paddle, or it may be balanced toward the head of the paddle. The heavier the paddle and the more it is balanced toward the head, the more powerful the paddle is likely to be, but the less control you are likely to have over your shots. Heavier paddles can also tire out your arm more easily, but they can also require less strength to hit a hard shot toward your opponent.

    • Paddle materials

    o Paddles can be made of many different materials, including wood, aluminum, carbon, graphite, composites (such as fiberglass), and plastic. Generally speaking, paddles with a carbon fiber or graphite surface will offer better control than those with a composite surface. Paddles with a composite surface will generally offer more power but less control over placement. Carbon fiber and graphite paddle faces tend to enable the ability to spin the ball better than a composite paddle face as well.

    • Price range

    o You can find paddles in a wide array of price ranges from about $10 to over $300! While it is not necessary to buy the most expensive paddle out there, I would also caution against buying the cheapest paddle you can find. Higher quality paddles tend to be made with better materials and will allow you to do more advanced techniques as you progress in your learning of the game, such as adding different kinds of spin.

    • USA-Pickleball-Approved status

    o USA Pickleball is the official national governing body for the sport of pickleball. If you intend to play in any tournaments, then before buying a paddle, you should make sure that the words “USA Pickleball Approved” appear on the paddle. This indicates that the paddle has been inspected by USA Pickleball, has met certain standards, and has been deemed acceptable for official tournament play. To be USA Pickleball Approved, paddles must be of a certain size and weight, must not have a surface with too much texture, and must have a core made of approved materials.

    You can buy a new paddle online, such as through pickleballcentral.com or Amazon.com, or in-person at your favorite local sporting goods retailer.

    Happy pickling!


  • 20 May 2024 9:20 AM | Abigail Darwin

    As the temperature rises, so does the risk of experiencing heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Recognizing the warning signs and understanding the differences between these conditions can help keep you safe and healthy when playing pickleball this summer.

    Heat Exhaustion

    Heat exhaustion occurs when the body overheats, often due to strenuous activity – like pickleball -- in hot, humid weather. Symptoms include:

    • Heavy sweating
    • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
    • Muscle cramps
    • Fast, weak pulse
    • Fatigue, weakness, or dizziness
    • Headache
    • Nausea or vomiting

    If left untreated, heat exhaustion can escalate to heat stroke, so it is essential to seek shade, rest, loosen your clothing, and hydrate immediately, when you first experience symptoms. Get medical help right away if you are throwing up, your symptoms worsen, or your symptoms last longer than one hour.

    Heat Stroke

    Heat stroke is more severe and occurs when the body's temperature rises to 104°F or higher. It can cause damage to the brain, kidneys, and muscles. Warning signs include:

    • High body temperature
    • Slurred speech
    • Hot, dry, damp, or red skin
    • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
    • Confusion, agitation, altered mental state, or unconsciousness
    • Seizures

    Heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention, so call 911 if you suspect that you or someone else is suffering from this life-threatening condition! In addition, move the person to a cool place, and help lower their body temperature by putting cool cloths or ice on them. Do NOT give the person anything to drink unless they are fully awake and alert and sitting completely upright. Otherwise, doing so could cause them to choke and aspirate.

    Prevention is Key

    To avoid heat-related illnesses, on hot, humid days, be sure to stay hydrated, wear light-colored and breathable clothing, and take breaks in cool, shaded areas. Additionally, never leave children or pets in hot cars while you are playing.

    Conclusion

    Knowing the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and taking steps to prevent them can make all the difference when it comes to enjoying a safe and healthy summer.

    Happy pickling!


  • 15 May 2024 11:55 AM | Abigail Darwin

    As we head into late spring and summer, we are entering prime pickleball tournament season here in Wisconsin. Win or lose, maintaining a positive mindset while playing in a pickleball tournament is crucial for attaining peak performance. It can be easy to get wrapped up in the moment, especially if you just hit an unforced error, or if you realize you are about to play someone who you think is significantly better than you, but keeping a level head can make all the difference. Here's how to stay upbeat and focused throughout the game and not let negativity and anxiety control you.

    Why Staying Positive Matters

    Keeping a positive mindset during a tournament can help you overcome adversity, improve your performance, and allow you to maintain a healthy perspective on the game. It enables you to manage stress, make better decisions on the court, and enjoy the experience.

    Controlling Anxiety

    Tournament jitters are normal, but they can impact your game if left unchecked. To manage anxiety:

    1. Take slow, deep breaths to calm your mind and body. For example, in between points, slow-count 1-2-3-4 as you inhale and then exhale through your nose.
    2. Visualize positive outcomes and focus on your strengths.
    3. Stick to your pre-game routine to create a sense of normalcy.

    Maintaining Focus

    Tournaments can be physically and mentally draining, but staying focused is key to success. To maintain focus:

    1. Break down the game into smaller segments to stay present and engaged.
    2. Use positive self-talk and visualization to keep your mind on the task at hand.
    3. Avoid distractions, such as by not paying attention to spectators, and by focusing on the ball, your paddle, or the lines on the court to bring your attention into the present.


    Not Getting Too Down on Yourself

    No one's perfect, and mistakes are a natural part of the game. To avoid getting down on yourself:

    1. Reframe negative thoughts by focusing on what you have done well; think about the next point, not the last one.

    2. Practice self-compassion and give yourself credit for the hard work and practice you've put in.
    3. Celebrate small victories and successes for both you and your partner throughout the day.

    For many people, staying positive during a pickleball tournament can take some practice and dedication, but the payoff is worth it. By managing anxiety, maintaining focus, and avoiding negative self-talk, you can build a resilient mindset and enjoy the game to the fullest. Remember, the cardinal rule of pickleball is to HAVE FUN!

    Happy pickling!


  • 8 May 2024 12:55 PM | Abigail Darwin

    Have you ever wondered how pickleball came to be a sport and why it has such a funny name? Well, if you have, you are not alone! Consider this your history lesson for today:

    Pickleball was invented in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, just off the coast of Seattle, Washington. It was invented by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum one day while sitting around at the Pritchards’ home with their families, while everyone was bored with nothing to do. The men wanted to create a fun activity with odds and ends laying around the Pritchards’ house and garage that they could use to play a game.

    Pritchard had a badminton net set up on an asphalt court, but he did not have enough rackets for a full game. So, instead, they improvised using spare ping pong paddles and a wiffle ball. The group found that the wiffle ball bounced fairly well on the asphalt court, but they thought that the net seemed a bit high, being set up to the badminton regulation height of 60 inches. So, they decided to lower the net down to 36 inches.

    Over time, the families introduced the sport to their friends and the game took off from there, becoming more formalized and regulated over time.

    But how exactly did the sport get the name “Pickleball”? There are two different potential origin stories, depending on who you ask. According to Pritchard’s wife, Joan, the game was called pickleball, because the combination of different sports reminded her of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. However, according to Barney McCallum, the game was actually named after Pritchard’s dog, who was named Pickles! So, no one really knows for sure where the name came from, and both stories may actually be true!

    For more information about the history of the sport, see USA Pickleball’s, History of the Game.


  • 30 Apr 2024 11:53 AM | Abigail Darwin

    Pickleball is a game of strategy, and one of the most effective strategies is the third shot drop. This shot can be a literal game-changer, helping you control the pace of the game and setting yourself up for a win. But what is it, why is it effective, and when should you use it?

    What Is the Third Shot Drop?

    As the name suggests, the third shot drop is a shot that can be used in the third shot scenario of a pickleball game. The third shot drop is a shot that is hit by the serving team after the serve and return, usually from near the baseline. It is essentially a long dink, hit with more follow-through, that should land just past the net, in the non-volley zone (also known as the kitchen) on your opponent's side of the court. The ball should land softly and not bounce too high, lest that allow your opponents to slam the ball back at you.

    Why Is It Effective?

    The third shot drop is effective because it takes away your opponent's attacking options. By hitting the ball into the kitchen and not too close to the kitchen line, with a low, small bounce, you force your opponent to hit the ball up, giving you time to get to the net and set up for the next shot. It also gives you more time to react to your opponent's shot, as the ball will be traveling slower than if you had hit a hard shot. The third shot drop also makes it difficult for your opponents to be able to volley your return.

    When Should You Use It?

    You should use the third shot drop when you want to slow down the pace of the game and take control of the rally. It is especially effective against opponents who like to attack and hit hard shots, as it takes away their ability to hit groundstrokes and drives.

    How to Master the Third Shot Drop

    To master the third shot drop, you need to practice hitting soft shots from various places on your side of the court that barely clear the net and land in your opponent’s kitchen. Start by practicing your drops from the baseline, and gradually move closer to the net as you become more comfortable with the shot. Remember to keep your wrist locked. All motion for the third-shot drop should come from your shoulder, not your wrist. Be sure to make contact with the ball in front of your body. You want to hit the ball using a low-to-high, smooth motion with your paddle.

    Video Demonstration

    Here is a link to a YouTube video that demonstrates how to effectively hit third-shot drops: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH4ijT1APLU

    Disclaimer: The video was made by someone promoting Selkirk paddles. The views and opinions expressed in the video are solely those of the content producer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of this author, CAPA, or other associated parties.

    Conclusion

    The third shot drop is an important shot to master in pickleball that can help you control the pace and strategy of the game. So, grab your paddle and start practicing your third shot drops today!

    Happy pickling!


  • 23 Apr 2024 3:38 PM | Abigail Darwin

    Now that Spring seems to have sprung for real, more pickleball players are feeling the urge to hit the courts. Here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure that you remain safe and healthy this Pickleball Season:

    1.       Warm-up and Stretch: Before jumping into the game, it’s essential to warm up your muscles and stretch. This helps reduce the risk of strains and sprains.

    2.       Wear Proper Footwear: Opt for court shoes with excellent traction to minimize the risk of slips and falls. Avoid running shoes, as they may not provide the stability and lateral support needed for the game.

    3.       Never run backwards: If you have to get a ball behind yourself, hop sideways, or turn and run, but never just run backwards! It is a recipe for tripping and getting a concussion.

    4.       Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after playing pickleball. Staying hydrated helps regulate body temperature and reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses.

    5.       Use Protective Gear: Consider wearing eye protection to avoid injuries caused by rogue balls, hands, or paddles. Players with knee, elbow, shoulder, or ankle issues may benefit from wearing braces or supports. Be sure to also wear sunglasses and sunscreen with adequate UV protection when out in the sunshine.

    6.       Communicate Effectively: Good communication between players is essential for preventing collisions. Make sure to call out your shots and movements so your teammates know what to expect.

    7.       Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Keep track of other players and spectators and be sure to clear away obstacles, such as extra balls, water bottles, towels, clothing, backpacks, etc. from the playing area.

    8.       Maintain Proper Technique: Learn and practice proper pickleball techniques, including the appropriate grip and swing. Incorrect technique can lead to injuries over time.

    9.       Listen to Your Body and Know Your Limitations: If you’re feeling pain or discomfort while playing, take a break, and consult with a medical professional if necessary. And, although it’s essential to challenge yourself on the court, avoid pushing too far beyond your limits. Incrementally increasing the intensity of your games can help reduce injury risks.

    10.   Stay Consistent with Maintenance: Regularly inspect your pickleball equipment for signs of wear and tear. Replace worn or damaged items to ensure optimal performance and safety.

    Incorporating these safety tips into your pickleball routine can significantly reduce your risk of injury and help ensure an enjoyable experience on the court.

    Happy pickling!


  • 17 Apr 2024 11:57 AM | Abigail Darwin

    In pickleball, a “banger” is someone who consistently hits balls really, really hard, and who generally likes to overpower his/her opponents on every point. Chances are that if you play enough pickleball, you will eventually encounter these type of player opponents on the court. They can seem intimidating, unless you know effective strategies for modifying game play to allow you and your partner to stay in control of each rally. Some of these strategies include:

    1.       Return their serves deep to keep them back at the baseline as long as possible. Then, when they inevitably drive their return back at you or your partner, volley it back gently, just barely clearing the net and landing in the kitchen on the other side. This may win a point for your team, or it may result in them popping up the ball and allowing you or your partner to smash it back at them, or it may result in a dinking session (which they are unlikely to win, due to their likely inexperience with mid-game dinking).

    2.       Hit third shot drops to them, attempting to draw them into dinking sessions (which again, they are likely unaccustomed to and are therefore, less likely to win).

    3.       When returning volleys back to them, try to hold your paddle with a looser grip (perhaps 3 on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is loosest), so that if the ball is coming at you really hard, your volley return back will be soft and will result in the ball just barely clearing the net and landing in the kitchen on the other side.

    4.       An alternative suggestion for returning volleys is to return firm volleys at one of the banger’s feet. This will force him onto his heels and into a defensive position. He won’t be able to step into the ball and swing with all his strength. He may either miss the ball entirely or pop the ball back up to you, allowing you to smash a return back at him.

    To execute the firm volley, make sure you have a firm grip pressure on your paddle (perhaps 7 or 8 on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is firmest) and be sure to extend your arm during the volley.

    5.       When serving to them, try to keep your serves to their backhands. Most people have less ability to drive their backhands than their forehands, so the ball is less likely to come back quite as hard.

    6.       Be sure to adhere to the adage of “chest high, let it fly!” This means that if a ball is coming at you at your chest level or higher, it is likely to end up going out of bounds. Many times, bangers hit balls so hard, that they will end up going out of bounds if we would only let them go instead of trying to volley them back. Remember to let balls go if they are going to land “out.”

    Ultimately, defeating bangers usually means letting them make the mistakes or drawing them into a soft game.

    And if YOU are a banger, remember that pickleball is a game that requires the ability to hit both hard and soft shots; shots with drive, as well as those with finesse.

    Pickleball is a game with many layers and many strategies, which is what makes it so fun!

    Keep pickling!


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