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Yay! I’m so excited to be answering some of your awesome questions! Thanks for submitting them, and hopefully I’ve touched on yours ... if you have another question(s) for me, ask in the comment section below!
A lot of people asked about work-outs and/or routines to practice in order to help build or regain muscle mass/strength, and of course those things that would specifically help their pickleball. My “Fitness Hacks” Headline gives some ideas for non-gym exercises. But – and remember, I’m not medically trained – the best way to build both muscle mass and strength is to do weight training. I’ve found this is possible even without actual weights, and cheaper too! For example, a gallon of water weighs about 8.5 pounds – you can use a water jug instead of buying a dumbbell. Regardless of what you’re using as weight, the key is to get in a lot of repetitions to build up the strength. Commit to doing your chosen exercises 4-5 times a week, and once the task is getting “easy” increase the number of repetitions you do each time, and then also increase the weight. Hold the weight (whatever it is you may be using) while doing leg exercises as well. It can take 6 weeks before you start seeing visible results – so don’t get discouraged!! I like to listen to music (loudly) or a podcast (usually pickleball!) to take my mind off of the boring-ness of weight exercises.
It was fun to hear the questions and comments around the Hall of Fame, of which I am on the nominating committee. The important thing to know about nominating people for the HoF is that ANYONE can nominate someone! The nominating committee actually analyzes all of the submitted nominations and winnows them down the best 10 or so candidates to present to the selection committee. There are two categories of inductees – contributor and competitor. Go to the HoF site and hover your mouse over the word Nominate near the top of the page, then click on the applicant type. You’ll see the form pop up that you can fill out. The more detailed information about the person’s biography and attributes you can provide the better!
One question that I found specifically insightful asked why certification programs focus more on an instructor’s abilities rather than their knowledge. And for sure the best instructors are not always the best players! To this observation I suggest that, because our sport is quite young, the emphasis is on a student’s skill development over game strategy. And an instructor’s ability to execute a shot consistently, even if not necessarily at the highest of levels, provides insight as to HOW to hit the shot consistently. So that’s why an instructor’s ability to play gets emphasized. This shouldn’t preclude lower-level players, or those with disabilities, from being great instructors. For example, Naples Pickleball Center, Pickleball Capital of the World has an excellent instructor who plays in a wheelchair. And I’m sure there are many other similar instances I’m not aware of. But I agree, understanding and communicating the rules and strategies are definitely important, yet they will be undermined by a student’s ability (or lack thereof) to execute a shot.
On a related note, I loved the comments I received from club presidents and USAP Ambassadors, and even some teachers, about how useful a tool the kitchen videos, that I and my doubles partner Jennifer Lucore have done with Pickleball Channel, are as teaching aids. If you haven’t seen them, check them out here! The first is a myth-buster and the second has all the kitchen rules – including many of those “but what if…” scenarios.
I had someone (or two!) ask about competing while also maintaining a full-time job – For this, I have to refer you back to the Fitness Hacks Headline, as staying in shape is imperative. Also, watching tournament livestreams (while at work haha) when not able to be at the tournament helps by keeping an eye on who’s “hot” or if anything unusual happens. Plus you can reinforce good habits visually - like short backswings on volleys, or blocking some speed-ups. Basically it’s visualization while watching livestream – but you can also do that while going to sleep, or whenever! Of course when you are able to, there’s solo drills available, like rapid volleys against the wall or working on ball control with your paddle – use both sides of the paddle as well as the edges. Doing this helps your tracking of the ball. So those are all some tricks I use.
For the most part, I always recommend paddles that weight 8.0 ounces or less to help keep your arm healthy. But of course good form will always help – mainly that means hitting the ball IN FRONT of your body, and not trying to use the whole arm to achieve spin.
Thanks so much for all your questions, let’s do it again sometime!
Team Vulcan Pro Alex Hamner was inducted into the Pickleball Hall of Fame in 2020, noted for her 21 gold medals from USAPA Nationals, the US Open Pickleball Championships, and Tournament of Champions. She and her partner, Jennifer Lucore, have earned more gold medals than any other women in pickleball.