2022 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year Announced

During the year, people throughout Pickleball Nation email us or use our NominateAPlayer.com website to tell us about their favorite players. They tell us about players who have dominated in tournament play, but many times they also tell us about players who have had tremendous impacts on their communities or towns or even the game of pickleball overall.  (We really like those.)

Throughout the year we may recognize a player, club or community of the month, or we may give a simple Facebook shout out. They are all deserving.  But once a year, we pull together all the nominations and feedback, to finally determine who is most deserving to be called the Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year.     It’s certainly not an easy task.

Past winners include amazing people such as Zane Navratil, Riley and Lindsey Newman, Stephanie Lane, Ben Johns, Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters, Enrique Ruiz, Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg, Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner, Daniel Moore and Scott Moore, Aspen Kern, Simone Jardim, Dick Johnson and we even recognized how important we believe the certified referee program has been to our sport.
You’ll notice all our past winners are definitely great players, but you will also immediately recognize they all are very giving of their time and talents to “help pickleball grow”, which of course is the foundation of our Pickleball Rocks mission.

2022 saw one player become the face of our sport. And before you start writing to us saying she was already the face. She was already the face to people inside pickleball. But in 2022 her face was introduced to millions of people seeing the sport for the very first time. Through ESPN, CBS, NBC and Tennis Channel, many of them were seeing her on a gold medal stand on a Sunday. So all the new players and potential players are seeing a 15 year old young lady having fun and simply dominating the women’s side of pickleball.
Some people call her AL. At our office, we nicknamed her APS (Always Playing on Sundays) because we saw her on the TV screen on championship Sunday every tournament she played.

Not only was she entertaining to all those first time viewers and attracting them to the sport, she also amassed about as dominating a single year record as we’ve ever seen.

Just think about this, in 2022 Anna Leigh played mostly PPA tournaments. In those tournaments, there were 78 gold medals handed out in singles, doubles and mixed doubles combined. Of the 78 gold medals available, she took home 38 of them including an amazing 7 Triple Crowns (she won singles gold, women’s doubles gold and mixed doubles gold all at the same tournament). Just as amazing, she played in 16 PPA singles gold medal matches, and won 15 of them. Oh and when her regular women’s doubles playing partner (her mom Leigh) sustained a season ending injury, AL simply continued to win regardless of who was by her side on the court.

So it was a monster year for her and the sport.

Please help us congratulate our female 2022 Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year, Anna Leigh Waters.

Our male choice for 2022 is also a very familiar face on tournament courts across the country.  Not too many players put in more miles this year.  And certainly no male senior pro won more medals in 2022.

But one thing that did pop out at us was the fact that this individual also puts a lot of time on the courts helping others.

Simply ask him to help at a clinic and there is no hesitation, he’s there.  But beyond that, it really caught our attention and was mentioned by almost everyone who nominated him, that Rick Witsken loves to work with kids.

You can catch him regularly giving kids clinics in the Zionsville/Indianapolis area.  Plus he is a NEXTGEN Senior Pro Mentor.
 

In coming to this choice we saw a player with a dominating record on the courts, but we also saw a special player who was going way above and beyond to help our sport grow, especially at the youth level.

His constant smile and positive attitude on and off the court is infectious, and we are proud to make Rick Witsken our 2022 Male Pickleball Rocks Player of the Year.

Pickleball Rocks Releases New Apparel: Just In Time For Christmas

New For Christmas

Soft, Warm
Hyacinth Color
1/2 Zip

Stretch 1/2 Zip
Pullover
Pink Rush Color

Soft Warm Hyacinth Colored 1/4 Zip

Silver Color
TShirt Hoodie

Black Color
TShirt Hoodie

Ladies Inspired
Navy Color

Mens Inspired
Navy Color

Ladies Heather Grey
3/4 Sleeve

Soft Shell
Cyan Color
Ladies Jacket

Ladies 1/2 Zip
Warm and Cozy
White Color

Mens Black
3 Stripe
Long Sleeve

Ladies Black
Racerback

Pickleball Rocks Opens First Retail Brick and Mortar Store In Brookville

If you haven’t heard of the sport of pickleball, you soon will.  Simply turn on the TV and on any given weekend you’ll see players competing in tournaments and leagues across the country and around the world.  Yes, over 70 countries now have people playing the fun sport of pickleball. Television shows like Good Morning America and The Today Show have recently showcased pickleball, and the news is abuzz about the fact that people like Tom Brady, Lebron James and Mark Cuban now own Major League Pickleball teams.

We personally have been playing pickleball in the tiny town of Brookville, Indiana since 2008. And yes, thanks to Brookville friends and residents Marilyn Hedrick, Larry Sheets and Charlie and Betty Allen, pickleball has been played here since 2006.

So with the simple cutting of a ribbon, we’ve launched the very first Pickleball Rocks Shop at 110 Main Street in our hometown of Brookville, Indiana.

This new site will be the first midwest store dedicated solely to the sport of pickleball and further solidifies Pickleball Rocks as the country’s best known pickleball apparel brand.  The shop will handle much of the world famous Pickleball Rocks branded apparel as well as their new branded paddles and portable nets. Additionally people will be able to demo paddles from major paddle makers like Gearbox, Selkirk, Engage and Pro-Lite Sports.

 

 

USA Pickleball Rocks
Pickleball Rocks Shop Mens Department

The store has its own indoor dinking court plus, during good weather, will have an outdoor demo court for trying out your future new paddle.  We are excited to move the Pickleball Rocks administrative office to 110 Main Street and additionally the new shop will act as the launch pad for all new Pickleball Rocks products before they go for sale online.

We are thankful for our many customers and fans. Pickleball Rocks because of you!

Why The Spin Serve Is Here To Stay

The spin serve is here to stay. What????

Seems like everyone is buzzing about the possibility of USA Pickleball banning the spin serve starting in 2023. And people are worrying about how we are going to be able to call it against our opponent if a referee is not there to do it for us.

 
We’ve read the proposed rule change and one critical thing popped out.  It states that a ball will naturally have some spin on it when it leaves your hand during the serve. That is very true.  It is really tough to toss a pickleball and have it exhibit zero spin.
 

What that statement told me was that USA Pickleball is doing a great job of keeping the intent of the original rules makers intact. The most basic rules of pickleball included the fact that there would be no decisive advantage gained through the serve.  That is why it has always been an underhanded serve.

So USA Pickleball is not trying to eliminate spin completely. They are eliminating what we would call gimmicky spin.

There will be no spinning the ball off our paddle.
There will be no holding the ball with your thumb and index finger and squeezing the ball hard to make it spin fast.
There will be no twisting of the wrist to make the ball spin different directions.

All of these things are very easy to see, and all cause excessive spin which can in turn make the ball do some crazy things when it hits the court on the opposite side of the net.

If this rule change passes the final board of directors vote, this type of spin will be against the rules. Is that a bad thing? NO!

My personal opinion, and it doesn’t have to be yours, is that I love keeping the opposing teams, offensive and defensive, as equal as possible.  That makes for great battles, great rallies, great games and great matches at every level.

So some are worrying about how to tell if their opponent is putting too much spin on the ball.

The simple answer is: DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT.  Spin has been on everybody’s serve since the first rally was played in 1965. The pure fact is that a little natural spin causes NO advantage for the server.  The kind of spin that makes the ball jump and do crazy things can only be accomplished by an exaggerated motion like the ones mentioned above.  You have to put some serious spin on a pickleball to make it move or jump, and those exaggerated motions are very easy to spot.

If your opponent is tossing the ball and it has a little spin on it, he or she is not breaking the rule. And the only spin they will be able to generate will come from their paddle making contact when striking the ball. Now that spin is a topic for another time.

In the meantime, have fun and spin away with your hand all you want……until January 2023.

See you on the courts,
Rocket

Click Here For Rocket’s Video Explanation

Click Here To See Rocket’s Video Demonstration and Explanation.

Pickleball Rocks Welcomes New Team/Club Sales and Event Sales Director

Pickleball 4 Kids

Today we are welcoming long-time sales professional, Kevin Lindley to the Pickleball Rocks team.
Kevin joins the team as our new National Team Sales and Event Sales Director.
Besides selling our famous Pickleball Rocks clothing all across the country, helping the sport grow has been our passion and mission for over 13 years. We’ve worked with communities, small and large, and we have worked with players of every age and ability level.

We are excited to announce that we have added a new business division to our Pickleball Rocks parent company. The new division was added to specifically sell low cost pickleball paddles and equipment to elementary, middle and high school physical education programs as well as college recreation centers, college club teams and YMCA’s.

Even more exciting is the fact that this new equipment division of Pickleball Rocks will be headed up by former Reebok National Sales Director, Kevin Lindley. Kevin has the dream resume for this new position. On top of his stint with Reebok, Kevin has spent the last 15 years leading the Team Sales group at Indianapolis Racquet Club, selling tennis equipment directly to colleges and schools across the country.

When we first talked to Kevin about him selling our pickleball equipment to those same schools and colleges, I literally held my breath until he said yes.

Soon we will be launching the new Pickleball Rocks branded paddle line along with a selection of low cost balls and portable nets. Everything in our new line will be amazingly affordable for our school and organizational customers.

For the last 6 months we have been stockpiling low cost paddles that are earmarked specifically to be sold to this new youth market.  Some of the paddle names you may recognize while some soon-to-be-added paddles you may not be familiar with, yet.

Our first project, code named “Pickleball 4 Kids” will use these low cost paddles to get the kids of America playing this great sport.  Growing pickleball at the youth level nationwide has been a passion of ours for years, and now, with Kevin’s help, we are going to help introduce the kids at warp speed. We believe every phys ed teacher and recreational program director will love working with Kevin.

When asked about his joining the Pickleball Rocks Team, Kevin said, “It really is a dream job.  I’ve absolutely loved working in tennis sales for years, and now I get to be involved with, not only the fastest growing sport in America, but I get to be an integral part of one of the best know pickleball brands on the planet. Everyone seems to know Pickleball Rocks and its products and their reputation for helping pickleball grow.  I’m super excited to get started.  I love that everyone on the team has the same vision, to get everyone playing, no matter what age they might be.”

So let your school know about Kevin and he will be in touch.

For a FREE equipment quote for your school, college or organization, contact Kevin at kevin@pickleballrocks.com

Kevin Lindley

To Learn More About The Pickleball 4 Kids Project and the recreational paddles available go to https://pickleballrocks.com/pickleball-4-kids/

Remember When Pickleball….

Memories are wonderful things, especially when it comes to pickleball.
We remember important milestones in the growth of the sport and we remember personal events that continue to make us smile (or sometimes cry).
I remember playing my first USAPA Nationals in Buckeye, Arizona.
As a new 16 year old, just getting my feet wet, I won the Mens Singles 5.0 Open division and pocketed my first pickleball paycheck of $1,000.  Wait, maybe that is just a fantasy.
But I do actually remember that first nationals for me.  It was in Buckeye, and I did manage to play in a big men’s singles bracket and come in 4th in my first singles tournament.  And I remember that almost every court at that nationals used a standard portable net on a taped tennis court. I also remember how hard it was to buy a paddle 13 years ago. Today we think it’s tough to buy a paddle because there are thousands of paddles to choose from.  I remember that I could only find three companies online who sold paddles, ProLite Sports, Pickleball Inc and Fran Meyer’s Pickleball Stuff.  I also remember that if you liked one of the paddles they sold, you couldn’t buy it on their website and pay for it with a credit card.  You had to mail them a check, and when your check cleared, they shipped your paddle. That was only 13 years ago.I remember that only 13 years ago, that clearly the best player on the planet was a guy by the name of Pat Kane.  I couldn’t find anyone to argue that, and Pat was in his early 60’s at that time. He simply won everything against everybody.

I remember living in southeast Indiana only 13 years ago and not being able to find any pickleball courts in Cincinnati (except suburb Middletown) or Indianapolis or Dayton.  Some volunteers in our tiny town of Brookville built 2 nice ones so we could play.  Those two courts became the seeds that spawned many midwest communities, towns and cities.

I remember that 13 years ago, seemingly nobody had ever heard of the sport of pickleball.  “What’s that?”  You spent a lot of time telling the pickleball story, especially the dog part. 🙂

I remember when every tournament treated players the same, no matter what level or age they were. We all shared a nice hospitality area and everyone pitched in to make sure everyone had a good time.I remember the joy on people’s faces when they would show up at our courts for the first time and they were welcomed with open arms to come out and play.  No paddle?  No problem, here’s one of mine. That culture by the way has never changed at our courts. Sad that some places don’t create the same experience for those new players. But that’s for another article.

I remember when there was no money prizes to play for and I remember when a tournament didn’t really need big corporate sponsors to be able to hold a good event.

The local grocer donated the bananas and the local insurance agent furnished the bottled water for the players.

Your memories of course are different from mine.
The key point about my memories is that they are from only the last 13 years.  It is amazing how the sport has changed and continues to change.  But it has seen all this change in only the last 10-13 years.   With recreational players and amateur tournament players growing in record numbers, it is a fun time to be a part of this great sport.  It continues to make memories for me, my family and all my friends who will soon be playing.
All good memories indeed.
While you play pickleball today, make yourself some memories and help someone else make some good ones too.
So Let’s Play,
Rocket