The $1000 Paddle and 100 gold milestone for Ben Johns

plus, 3rd shot drive vs 3rd shot drop and are the USA tour wars over?

100 gold medal milestone for Ben Johns

Last weekend, Ben John’s secured his 100th gold medal on the PPA Tour at the Cincinnati Open. Ben has consistently dominated the sport since he burst onto the scene in 2019, racking up an impressive resume that includes 17 triple crowns (winning all 3 events in the same tournament).

The bad news for everyone else is that he is still getting better and he’s only 24.

To celebrate this milestone, Joola released a limited edition (only 100 made) gold Ben John’s Perseus paddle retailing at $999.95! So if you have some spare change, you can pick up one of these paddles up here. Last time I checked today, there were still 19 left. Alternatively, you can pick up 4 ‘ordinary’ Perseus paddles for the same price here.

However, it was no triple crown for Ben this weekend as he missed out on the singles gold medal match to Federico Staksrud. Federico took the first game 11-9 but then it looked to be business as usual with Ben taking the second game 11-2 and led in the third game 8-2. Federico took a timeout and then railed for a 11-9 third game win and the title.

Check out that match and others from the PPA Tour here.

Pickleball makes The Times

A great article appeared in The Times this week which which acted as a great advertisement for pickleball. Coverage like this encourages more people to sign up at their local clubs.

If you missed it, you can check out the full article here.

Rally 21 tournaments a hit with UK pickleballers

Rally 21 - New Milton

This year, pickleball clubs around the UK have been participating in Rally 21 pickleball tournaments. These events have been largely run by Louise Stephens from London Pickleball and Sam Basford of SB Pickleball.

These tournaments are team-based events run MLP style with rally scoring (you score a point on every rally regardless of whether you are serving) to 21 points.

On Tuesday a happy bunch of pickleballers at New Malden participated in a match that ended in a draw with the black team winning on points.

Rally 21 - Milton Keynes

3 weeks ago, the biggest Rally 21 event to date took place in Milton Keynes which hosted over 60 players. This competition was also a tight affair with the black team winning 61-60. The event was rounded off with Pizza, Karaoke and ‘adult drinks’.

Some Rally 21 events have also been run as inter-club tournaments in a friendly event where one club takes on another to win bragging rights.

If you’re interested in knowing more about when the next Rally 21 event is then join the London Pickleball Facebook group where upcoming events are posted. If you’d like a Rally 21 event run at your club then email [email protected] for more details.

Sam Basford on the past, present, and future of Pickleball.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sam Basford, director at Pickleball England and founder of SB Pickleball. We spent a nice day in Basingstoke talking pickleball.

I recorded an interview that covered:

- How Sam got into Pickleball
- How Pickleball has grown in the last 7 years and in particular the last 12-24 months
- The Pickleball English Open & Nationals events
- What are the latest developments in Pickleball in the UK
- An insight into working with Pickleball England
- What are the opportunities in Pickleball?
- The future of Pickleball in the UK

Check out the interview on YouTube or via your favourite podcast app. Search ‘Pickleball Addiction’.

Coaching Corner

3rd Shot Drop vs. 3rd Shot Drive

The school of thinking has changed over the years. What should you do with the 3rd shot? Drop or drive?

I’ve heard some people suggest that the 3rd shot should always be a drop and you should practice it religiously. Why then have we seen a rise among pros of drives on the 3rd shot instead of drops?

Well, it’s simple. When pros look at the results, they can see that drops are not always the most effective course of action. Depending on a number of factors, you need to consider whether you would be better off dropping or driving.

The main factors you need to consider are:

  • The height of the ball

  • The depth of the return

  • Your body position

  • Your opponent’s position

Height of the ball

  • As a rule of thumb, if the ball pops up high then you most likely want to put the pressure on your opponent with a drive as the opposing team transitions to the kitchen.

  • If the ball stays low, then you want to get underneath it and execute a drop.

But height is not the only consideration. What about the depth of return?

Depth of return

  • Generally, if the ball is returned deep you will likely want to execute a drop.

  • Given the distance the ball has traveled, your opponent will have had more time to get to the kitchen and the ball is more likely to have bounced lower meaning a drive is not the best course of action as mentioned above

Your body position

  • In most cases you want to hit the ball at the top of its apex for a drive (ideally around waist height) and on the way down when executing a drop.

  • When the ball is coming towards you, do you have time to get in the right position to take the desired action?

  • For example, if the ball is returned flat and deep, do you have time to take the steps back needed to allow the ball to drop so you can get underneath it and execute a drop? If not, then you will likely want to meet the ball early and drive it instead.

Your opponent’s position

  • If your opponents have already made it to the kitchen then the drive becomes a less desirable option as it becomes easier for your opponent to defend and counterattack.

  • If your opponent has already made it to the kitchen, then often the drop is the best course of action.

  • If your opponent is still right at the back of the court, you want to keep them there, so you don’t want to give them the opportunity to make their way to the kitchen by executing a block. In this case, a drive is usually the best course of action.

The above is just a guide; of course. There are variations on this play and times when you want to mix it up.

Paddle Spotlight

The Diamdem Icon v2. This paddle, at 13.7mm thick is one of the more player-friendly power paddles on the market. Generally, thinner power paddles are harder to control but Diadem has counted this by injecting foam around the edge of the paddle which provides a larger sweet spot that makes it easier to control.

They also added a layer of film between 2 honeycomb cores to dampen vibrations and to make these paddles softer and more comfortable to control.

As is the case with power paddles, the ball comes off the face of these paddles quickly making it a good candidate for speedups and drives.

Finally, the paddle also comes in an edgeless design, which means you won’t have to worry about errant edge hits sending your ball off in a random direction.

This mid-priced paddle has lots of good things to shout about and won’t break the bank.

Upcoming Tournaments & Festivals

If you’d like to promote your event for free in the pickleball addiction newsletter. Just drop me an email at [email protected].

Herts Mixed Doubles Tournament
16th - 17th September

North West Festival
29th Sept - 1st October
Register here

Pickleboobs & Balls Charity Festival
30th September
Register here

Sussex Pickleball Festival
1st October
Register here

English Nationals
26th - 29th October
Register here

Chesterfield Festival
5th November
Register here

Sherbourne 3.0-3.5 Fun Festival
18th November
Register here

Hampshire Pickleball Festival
26th November

Guildford Gender Doubles Day
January 7th 2024
Register here

Hertfordshire Tournival
20th January 2024
Register here

Dinkin’ in the Midlands
3rd - 4th February 2024
Register here

Cambridge Team Tournament - Stour Cup
24th - 25th February 2024
Registration Opens 10th December.
Email: [email protected]

Leigh Pickleball Festival
25th February 2024
Registration opens soon!

Hertfordshire Festival
9th March 2024
Save the date!

Around the World

US Tour Fued reaches a conclusion

In last week’s newsletter I mentioned that the pro game in the US was in disarray due to the two leading tours being involved in a feud which resulted in the collapse of a proposed merger between the MLP and the PPA.

This collapse resulted in both organisations desperately trying to sign as many pros as they could to high-value exclusive contracts. You can read the full summary here.

Well, in an unexpected turn of events, the merger is back on, at least for now!

The official announcement says:

“Today, leading professional pickleball organizations MLP by Margaritaville (MLP) and Carvana PPA Tour (PPA Tour) announced an agreement to merge under a unified and definitive professional pickleball holding company. The consolidation of the two entities is backed by a $50M investment from SC Holdings, D.C. Pickleball Team owner Al Tylis, PPA Tour owner Tom Dundon, and a roster of existing MLP team owners.”

The new combined organisation, which will be governed by a board of decision-makers on both sides, is expected to provide a streamlined schedule whilst maintaining the 2 distinct brands.

Not everyone is happy though. In the shake-up, some players managed to secure much better deals than others, even if their skill level was not comparable. The PPA and MLP has said player contracts will be honoured or in some cases, renegotiated.

Overall however, almost everyone agrees that this is a much better result for pickleball where top players can compete on the same stage and without opposing factions.

I’ll share more over the coming weeks as the dust settles.

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