Pickleball Singles: Why Play?In addition to being a pretty good cardio workout, playing singles allows me to work on my ground strokes. Primarily I am concentrating on depth and control. In singles, you often times don’t hit to the middle of the court, instead, you aim closer to the sidelines so you can keep your opponent on the move. To hit effective, deep, groundstrokes you really need to work on your weight transfer.
If you didn’t grow up playing tennis, like I did, this may bring you out of your comfort zone. One way to start getting comfortable with singles is something I’ve recently seen at a tournament in the Midwest. It’s called Skinny Singles…no that is not a pickleball dating site. It is pickleball played on only one-half of the court. Some tournaments have found this event to be less intimidating than full court singles.
This is also a great way to practice if you have only one other person. Having a narrower court will really help you work on control! Just like in doubles you want to hit with a purpose, only instead of dinking short, your goal is to hit it deep and keep your opponent away from the net. Your goal is the capture the net, to take time away from your opponent and make it difficult for him to pass you.
If you haven’t played singles pickleball why not just go out today and start hitting ground strokes with a partner. Practice from the baseline, as well as, a few feet in. It is great to practice hitting from different positions. I always like to encourage players to play in tournaments for the experience and to support the sport in general.
It can be a lot of fun to play a good friend one on one.
If you have ever taken a lesson from me you may know that I stress pickleball fitness. Not because I really love going to the gym…but because it is critical to my ability to be on the court.
Before I began playing pickleball I had a ton of major injuries. I have had back, knee and shoulder surgery. Because of these things, I need to keep my body as strong as I can. I also need to work hard to avoid injuries on the court, and I want my students to be as injury free as possible. That I why I stress three keys:
I challenge all of you who don’t exercise off the court to spend 5-10 minutes, 3 times a week focusing on exercises that will improve your game. Most should focus on balance and range of motion exercises. This can be done without any equipment!
I have recently added some CrossFit exercise for fun, but I don’t think that is for everyone. I try to challenge myself physically but always gear it towards what will help me on the court. Pickleball fitness not only helps us be stronger and faster when we play but more importantly minimizes further injury.
I admit it I am a pickleball geek. I love learning about the history of the sport. I am fascinated by pickleball’s evolution, the many advancements that are being made. If there is something that will improve my game in any way…sign me up!
I GREW UP PLAYING TENNIS
As most of you know, my background was in tennis. As competitive tennis players go, I do not have the typical player’s body. I am 5’5”…many of my partners were literally a foot taller than me. Because of my physique, I knew that I had to be extremely technically proficient. When I was younger I played with a racket that wasn’t very popular. It was a bit heavy and had a very small sweet spot. But it enabled me to have more control, which was key to my game. As I got older, I switched to a more powerful frame that allowed me to continue to compete. So much of the modern era of tennis has been shaped by the development of the equipment. Just imagine Serena Williams playing with an old wood frame? It would probably break pretty quick.
Pickleball’s evolution is also being affected by the changes to the rules governing paddles. Adding texture to the face of the paddle has opened up lots of doors. It started with just one or two manufacturers and now everyone has at least one option to offer.
While most paddles have a polymer core…we now have over 50 different kinds of polymer out there. So when you are comparing two polymer core paddles the differences may be greater than you perceive.
I have always been very sensitive to weight and balance of my tennis racket and pickleball paddle. I could probably identify some paddles with my eyes closed, simply by picking them up. While weight is important, I believe balance is even more important. This is why I recommend many players experiment with lead tape.
IMPACT OF TENNIS ON PICKLEBALL’S EVOLUTIONWhile changes in equipment have and will continue to impact our sport, we all recognize that the influx of former tennis players has also had an impact. Some former tennis players don’t attempt to adjust to the smaller, faster pickleball court. These players believe they can bring their traditional big backswing and followthrough to a pickleball court. In fact, this swing will work against them…there just isn’t time.
However, the former tennis players that play at the pro level have a few things in common. Next time you watch a pro event at a tournament or on YouTube, look for these things:
You can clearly see a difference between pickleball now and even five years ago. And while you might not like all the changes that have occurred I doubt any of us will stop pickleball’s evolution. For one, I am excited to see where we will be in another five years!
Art has been playing pickleball since Nov 2017. He enjoys playing this active, low physical impact game of skill and strategy. And finds that it can be played at all levels competitively while being a wonderful way to make new friends.