BOSTON – Pickleball. You read about it. You see it. And you most certainly can hear it.
As pickleball continues to make face in the headlines, on social media, and make way across the country, it most certainly is not slowing down anytime soon. With over 36.5 million+ players turning to the sport since August 2021, the latest and greatest pickleball swag, equipment, and content is out there for readers to indulge.
Players are getting involved in tournaments, leagues and joining the ever growing community.
I got the chance to speak with players from the 2023 Owl’s Nest PickleFest Powered by Eleven-0 this past weekend at Owl’s Nest Resort in Thornton, NH. So whether you are an experienced “pickler,” you’ve tried it a few times, or you have no idea where to start, let me walk you through the top five pickleball essential must-haves from some Eleven-0 players themselves.
Picture of Ari Kane McCormack 2023 – THORNTON | Photo courtesy of Eleven-0 Premiere Pickleball
1. Water, water, water!
You will need to stay hydrated and fueled to be ready to go for the next game. As we have seen, anyone can play and the opportunities to play are endless, however, it is important to recognize that you are on court for hours at a time, inside or outside, and you need to take care of yourself. Hydration does not just start when you go out on court, it starts several days, sometimes weeks before you begin your competition.
Players reported that sometimes they didn’t even realize how long they were on court for. One player exclaimed, “I never realized how much of an actual workout it was until I started playing for longer periods of time. I’m sweating, I’m having fun, so I always need more water.” So remember to pack that water and carry it with you for each game.
2. A positive attitude
With any sport, comes frustration when we are tasked with advancing our skills to the next level through competition. Seasoned racquets professionals who attended our event mentioned the importance of having a positive attitude when stepping foot on a pickleball court. For instance, one racquet professional stated, “hydration is important, but most importantly, you want to bring a positive attitude and fight for the last ball because it is not over until it’s over.”
Sports require a set of mental toughness, calmness and overall positive demeanor to keep us focused, ready, and determined to come out victorious. Another racquet professional who teaches on a regular basis had the opportunity to compete and said, “you come out here with the mindset that you are here to have fun, meet new people, and build your own personal community.”
As a working professional who encourages players, coaches, and supports them on their pickleball journey, I believe that a positive attitude makes a huge impact on a player’s overall success.
3. A good paddle and shoes
The options for paddles and shoes are endless. Each time I refresh the page, I see a new paddle, new shoe or a new company eager to get into the pickleball space and make a product.
You want a paddle that works for you. I can list a bunch of paddles, tell you what works and doesn’t work, but you need to go out there and try for yourself because you and I might not like the same thing…and that’s okay. You want to find something that fits the look, style, feel, and performance you are looking for. My best suggestion is to go to your local club, ask to demo a few paddles and do the research.
You aren’t going to go out on the court wearing a pair of $1 flip flops from the latest Old Navy sale. You want to have the right shoes to not only move correctly, feel and look good, but most importantly prevent injury. Court shoes are important for your overall safety and well-being when you step foot on that court. As someone who grew up playing competitively in tennis and is on court a lot more and I mean a lot, I have to say Asics is the best comfort and support for the price and always has been for me. However, we are all different, play different, and expect different things when we step on court. There are more and more shoes coming on the market and I am excited to try some more out for myself.
The bottom line is you want to set yourself up for success. One player mentioned, “You look good, you feel good, you play good.” I agree completely with this. You want to protect your body and make sure you are going out there to play to your full potential but also feel confident while you are doing it. And that’s what helps you go from good to great.
A court is hotter than you might think. On average, a pickleball court is about 15 – 20 degree Fahrenheit hotter than the air temperature. You are going to get hot, like really hot.
A lot of players stated, “I got really sweaty out there.” As they wiped the sweat off their forehands with a towel, they leaped back out onto the court excited to take on the next game. Another player mentioned, “You are going to work up a sweat, so get ready.”
Pickleball was designed to be played outdoors and any outdoor play brings the sun out as we are on court. As the heat cranks up, you want to keep yourself shaded as much as possible. Give yourself the opportunity to stay cool, protected from the sun, and a chance to add an accessory to the overall outfit.
Eleven-0 founder and CEO, Jodi Cullity reports that wearing a hat, “makes me feel and look like an athlete when I am out there playing. I personally don’t wear sunglasses, so having a hat is
essential for me to keep the sun out of my eyes. Hats give me the chance to wear my hair up and keep it in place, so I am not distracted as I am running after a ball.
Ari Kane McCormack is originally from Worcester, Mass and is currently a Boston, Mass. resident. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Regis College and is working as a racquet professional who is certified by the Professional Pickleball Registry (PPR), Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), and is a Net Generation certified coach. She currently serves as a Pickleball Strategy Specialist & Professional for Eleven-0 Premiere Pickleball based out of Foxborough, Mass. in addition to her role as a Racquets Event Specialist & Professional at the Kingsbury Club in Medfield, Mass. Learn more about the fastest growing sport in the USA with Ari as she explains the ins and outs of the game to players, their family, and anyone looking to get involved in the industry.
Keep playing –
By Ari Kane McCormack Pickleball Strategy Specialist & Professional Eleven-0 September 1, 2023