December 15, 2015

Point of Contact is the Key: 

This video discusses factors affecting line call rules including the rule itself, court lines, compression of the ball and point of contact. 

Following are the rules:


6.A. Served balls that clear the non-volley line and land on any other service court line are good.

6.B. Balls in play (except on serve, see 6.A) that land on any court line are good.

6.C. A ball contacting the playing surface outside of the baseline or sideline, even though the edge of the ball overlaps the line, is considered out of bounds. (revised April 1, 2011)

6.D. Code of Ethics for Line-Calling.

Pickleball is played according to specific rules. It also requires a code of ethics for line-calling responsibilities when performed by players. The line-calling responsibilities of players are different from those assigned to referees or line judges. The officials make impartial judgment calls with all players’ interests in mind. The player, when assigned line- calling duties, operates under the principle that all questionable calls must be resolved in favor of the opponent. The basic elements are:

6.D.1. Players will call the lines on their side of the court (excluding the non-volley line, if being called by a referee).

6.D.2. The opponent gets the benefit of the doubt on line calls made. Section 6: Line Call Rules 25

6.D.3. Spectators should not be consulted on any line calls. Spectators may be prejudiced, unqualified, or not in position to see the call, and therefore cannot participate.

6.D.4. All participants should strive for accuracy in making line calls.

6.D.5. No player should question an opponent’s call unless asked (except that any player may appeal a call to the referee in an officiated match). A player should ask the opponent’s opinion if the opponent was in a better position to see the call. An opponent’s opinion, if requested, should be accepted. The opinion of a player looking down the line is more likely to be accurate than one looking across the line.

6.D.6. Don’t call a ball “out” when you are looking across the line unless you can clearly see the space between the line and the ball as it hits. The player’s depth of field judgment, based on the laws of parallax, prevent accurate judgment in these cases.

6.D.7. All “let” or “out” calls must be made “instantly”; otherwise the ball is presumed good and still in play. “Instantly” is defined as calling “let” or “out” prior to the ball being hit by the opponent or before it has gone out of play.


Last Revised: March 31, 2014

Source: Thanks to Alison and Doug Bailey

How to Play Smart Pickleball:

Ten Basic Tips

This video provides strategy and tips for playing smart pickleball. It discusses shot selection, court positioning, etc. The focus is on pickleball strategy.

Source: Joe Baker


November 06, 2015

The Basic Overall Strategy:

How to understand what's going on in a pickleball match.

This video introduces the basic overall strategy of pickleball so that spectators and newcomers to the game can understand what good pickleball players are doing and why. After watching this video, you should be able to understand the logic behind the shot selections and why the players are doing what they are doing through each phase of a pickleball point.

Source: Joe Baker

The Michael Bellis Story

“I can’t imagine how good you would be without your disability.”

I’ve heard this comment many times in the two and a half years I’ve been playing Pickleball. I’ve also heard, “Are you ok?” “Did you injure yourself?” “Are you in pain?” I can understand why people are curious, as my mobility issues are obvious. At age 31, I suffered a spinal cord injury that left me permanently disabled, technically an incomplete paraplegic.

I’ve entered a handful of Pickleball tournaments since I took up the game, and being around strangers in new surroundings always creates a lot of speculation about what, exactly, has happened to me. Rumours spread – some true, and others not so much. Let’s just say being attacked by a bear is a bit of a stretch!

The truth is, I was golfing and swung the club like I had a million times before and by the time I had finished my swing, my lower body was completely numb. A disc had ruptured and crushed my spinal cord leaving me paralyzed, a rare condition called cauda equina syndrome. I required emergency surgery followed by a month in hospital and six months of rehab to get on my feet again.

Since my injury in 2005, I had to hang up my golf clubs and leave my job as Director of Golf at a private course. I don’t have the balance and lower body strength to move the ball where it needs to go anymore. While I still enjoy a good round of golf (I can even post a decent score) it’s no longer my passion. I don’t get those butterflies when I head to the course. All those feelings of excitement and joy have been transferred to my new passion: Pickleball!

Post injury, I suddenly went from a high-level athlete to a guy rolling around in a wheelchair. And, like anyone would, I struggled with that reality. My prognosis was all speculation, and after two years I stopped seeing improvements. Defeated, I just gave up. In the years that followed I put on an extra 75lbs. I developed a powerful addiction to alcohol and pain medication and spiraled into a deep, dark mind set.

Recently, I’ve been told I’m the kind of person that people just want to be around, yet back then I was toxic. I merely existed, coasting through the days and years under a black cloud. Thankfully, things have changed. Yes, I am still disabled. I can’t run or jump and I’ll always walk with a limp. I deal with internal issues and chronic pain. Despite this, instead of feeling shame and embarrassment about my condition, I wear my injuries like a badge of honour.

In May of 2012 I had hit rock bottom, so I checked into a drug and alcohol treatment centre. After a life-changing month, I never looked back. While I now live free of my addictions, sobriety and recovery is still a huge part of my daily life. I wouldn’t be writing this story if I had continued down the path I was on. I am proud to say I will be clean and sober three years next month.

As for the 75 lbs, they’re gone too, along with a bunch extra – 135lbs in total! I reached my highest weight in 2010, when I tipped the scale at 360lbs. I look back on those years and feel so sorry for that guy. My whole life I was defined by my athleticism, even putting myself through university on a football scholarship. When that was taken away I totally gave up on myself, and I gave up on life. I don’t think I would have made it through that dark time without the love and support of my beautiful wife, Kristi.

Kristi is a health coach and she could see how much I was struggling, both physically and emotionally. I just wasn’t open to her advice at the time. It put a major strain on us both, and on our marriage. After my month at The Orchard Recovery Centre, I was ready for a fresh start. I had new hope and was prepared to make changes. I walked out the door determined, with the words of my counselor ringing in my ears, “Suit up and show up.” I continue to live by that piece of advice to this day and it has certainly served me well on the Pickleball court.

When I returned home, I told Kristi it was time for me to get healthy, and asked for her help. I fully embraced what has become our health program, and had instant results. I was energized. I gained mental clarity and confidence. After a seven year hiatus, I was reminded how my body is supposed to feel. I also welcomed releasing the extra weight that I’d struggled with my entire life – I’m Haida and have always been “big boned”. I wasn’t capable of going for a jog or doing typical workouts, so you can imagine I was pleasantly surprised to find the pounds falling away easily. I did the activities I could manage. I started with gardening and I walked the dog daily. I got a gym membership and rode the stationary bike. I discovered new workouts I could manage involving core and resistance. And, I watched myself transform.

On a rainy night in November 2012, I had just finished a workout on the bike and was heading home when I heard a voice from the Fairwinds’ gymnasium, “Hey, we need a fourth for Pickleball!” So, I took my motto to heart and joined in – suit up and show up! I figured if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t play again. Obviously, I loved it!

After that first night playing, I came home and YouTubed every Pickleball video there was. I recall wondering, where has this game been my whole life?! I threw myself into learning the skills, playing at least three times a week. I’ve created strong friendships with my Nanoose Bay playing partners and, more recently, have been charmed by the delightful players at the Nanaimo Pickleball Club. I stay in contact with many of the awesome folks I meet when playing out-of-town, and look forward to seeing their improved games and new tricks at the tournaments.

The picklers have become my social circle, on and off the court. Many of them have their own challenges and we lean on each other for support and take inspiration from one another too. I’ve made some true lifetime friendships.

Pickleball has hugely impacted my life. It got me moving again, dramatically improving my mobility and agility. It played a major role in my weight-loss journey. The physical activity and friendships have supported my sobriety. I have rediscovered the confidence I had ten years ago. I’ve submerged myself in the game, the characters, and the community of this awesome game. It’s so much more than winning matches and medals, although the competitor in me enjoys that part too.

by Michael Bellis


October 15, 2015

The serve not only kicks off the rally, but it is your first chance to gain an advantage. You can only score when you serve, and, even though the receiving side has the edge, a tough serve can score right away, or generate an easy return. Good serving can tip some of the advantage back to your side. Don't be afraid to miss your serve. Remember, you are expected to lose this point. Pushing hard when you serve has everything to gain and nothing to lose.

When I took up the game, I pictured it to be like miniature tennis, and tried to make shots like Roger Federer. I learned two things very quickly: (1) Pickleball is not tennis, and (2) I am no Roger Federer. Gradually I realized that pickleball is like an even smaller version of tennis, table-tennis, or ping-pong. Pickleball has more in common with ping-pong than with any other sport.

Expert ping-pong players rely on spin. And spin, and spin. This is especially true when they serve. A whiffle ball is just as nasty as a ping-pong ball when it spins, and you should make spins a major part of your service repertoire.

There are four major of types of spin shots – top spin, under spin (also called back spin), left spin and right spin. These last two terms are ambiguous, but I will use them to refer to where the ball is struck. Just as a top-spin ball is struck over the centerline, so a left-spin ball is hit to the left of center. This causes the ball to spin and break to your right, and your opponent's left. This is poor nomenclature, certainly. Left-spin means it breaks to your right? Sorry about that.

We will look at these service spins individually, but we should keep in mind the legalities of the serve. Every serve must be hit underhand, and placed into the cross-court service box. The rules judge that a serve is underhand based on several factors: (1) the ball must be struck below your waist. (2) If you were to draw a line from your wrist to the front of your paddle, that line must be pointing downward, and (3) your arm must be moving upward at the time of contact. We want to serve hard, of course, but we also want to serve legally. A good side-arm motion and wrist snap will put a lot of spin on the ball, but such serves almost always violate (2). Tough serves, yes, but not legal serves.

Service Position

Start your serve about a full step behind the baseline. Most players like to step forward just before they strike the ball, but since you cannot step into the court before hitting the serve, give yourself room to move forward. You can position yourself anywhere along the back half of the baseline, the half kitty-corner from the target service box. Personally, I prefer to line up as close to the center as possible. This gives me a shorter distance to serve, and gives me a straight shot if I choose to serve "down the T". Unfortunately, this also forces me to move quickly to the side to get into position for the next shot. You may prefer to line yourself up for your serve near where you intend to play for the service return.

Next, bend your knees, and drop low. Toss the ball up for your serve, let it drop below your waist, and swing at it, rising up out of your squat and pushing into the ball. This will generate power. Watch a tennis professional serve. They get their power from their legs, not their shoulders and arms. You can't serve an underhand pickleball serve with anywhere near the power of a tennis serve, but the same principles apply. Use your legs and your body to put impetus on the ball.

Notice, I have not said a word yet about spin. The spin comes from your wrist and the paddle face, not from your service position. Use the same starting position for every serve, disguising the spin and location for as long as possible. Consider a perfect serving opponent, serving you while you are in the left court: On the first serve, just as he(1) pushes into the ball, he whips his wrist inward and turns the paddle face to his right. The result is a serve that hits your left sideline and spins even farther outside. The serve completely fools you, and you miss badly. He aces your partner, and turns again to you. You see exactly the same stance, and start. You spring nimbly to your left, but this time he keeps the paddle straight and rockets a top-spin serve right on the center line.

Get the idea? Your paddle face and wrist action will reveal both the spin and your location. But these are last-minute clues. A good server forces their opponents to read and react very quickly. If you start every serve in exactly the same way, then your opponent cannot get a jump on your intent. Try to make every serve look the same, up until the very last possible instant.

(1) In my previous life, I taught college, and so I am supposed to know about gender-neutral discourse. But I am too old to use inane modernisms like he/she and too cranky to abuse grammar by using “them” to refer to solitary, albeit androgynous, pickleball players. All the fictional players in this guide are male, and are referenced with masculine pronouns

Serving Percentages

A common question is this: What percentage of my serves should go in? This question was asked at a recent clinic, and the visiting poobah declared, "95%. If less than 95% of yours serves are going in, then you are serving poorly." I don't buy that. Indeed, I do not think that serving percentages are very meaningful – that is not a statistic that really tracks winning. A better measure is this: Take the ratio of your service winners to your service errors. These are the gimme points. A gimme to them when I miss a serve, and a gimme to us when they miss a return, or hit a weak return that sets up an easy point. Aim to win at least as many gimme serves as you lose. In other words, you should make as many service winners as service errors (One ace, one error. Great ratio!). This has nothing to do with the percentages served in. The harder you serve, the more you can afford to miss.

Under Spin Serves

This is the most common serve in expert table-tennis matches, and so, by analogy, it ought to be very common in pickleball. It isn't. I tried it for a while, and still use an occasional under spin serve as a surprise, but my backspin serve is pretty weak. Let's analyze:

The serve is performed by hitting the ball low, and whipping your paddle downward, generating this backspin. A great under spin ping-pong serve will just barely cross the net, hit the table, and bounce backward toward the server. The receiver is forced to reach way into the table to retrieve the ball, and has almost no chance of making a hard offensive shot.

There are three drawbacks to this in pickleball: (1) We are not allowed to serve short in pickleball. The serve must be in the service box, which is set back in the court, not in the forecourt. (2) Even if we make a legal short serve, i.e., just inside the service box, this helps the returner approach the net, which, Principle One, is just where he wants to play. A ping-pong player can't jump onto the table and rush up to the net. (3) The rules insist that our paddle is angled downward when we contact the ball on a serve. If you snap your paddle downward to create backspin, chances are quite high that the paddle is at an illegal angle when you strike the ball.

Indeed, the only way that I have been able to hit an under spin serve with consistent depth and pace is to use a sidearm motion and snap down on the ball. That serve is not legal. I have tried holding my paddle angled downward, and knifing it under the ball. This seems to be legal, and delivers a lot of spin, but the ball tends to go short, and pop up high. That's a poor serve, so I keep that one on the sidelines, except for a rare, Principle Four surprise serve.

I have not rejected the tactic, and I will keep working on my "knife" serve. Wicked under spin is very tough to handle, but a legal under spin serve hit with depth and speed seems beyond my skill level. It wouldn't surprise me, though, if someone were to develop such a serve.

Top Spin

This is the easiest serve to master. The laws require us to strike the ball below our waist, and in an underhand motion, but nothing in these laws restricts our follow-through. We can hit the ceiling if we want. This fairly natural follow-through brings our paddle up and over the ball, which imparts top spin. So this is the most natural serve, under the laws of the game.

Top spin tends to force the ball downward after it crosses the net. As such, even a very hard hit serve seldom goes long. You can hit these serves a lot harder than you'd expect.

If even the waterboy giggles at your serve, try some top spin. Take a bucket of balls out to a court and practice rocketing your paddle up and over the ball. Make sure that your serve is underhand, not sidearmed. In no time, you will have a fearsome serve, and the waterboy will be asking for your autograph. Trust me. This is the simplest way to improve your game. Don't worry about missing serves. You will develop more accuracy over time, but remember, when you serve, they have the advantage. So take some risks. Serve tough and snatch back that advantage.

Side Spin

As a right-handed player, I generate right spin by starting with the paddle near my side. When I move up and into the ball, I snap my wrist out and to the right, striking the ball outside the center. Likewise, a left spin serve is done by snapping my wrist, and paddle, inward, and hitting the ball a little left of center. I tend to aim these serves at the center of the service box, letting the english on the ball pull them toward the side lines.

The left spin serve is my bread-and-butter serve, since it breaks to the backhand side of a typical (right-handed) player. Perhaps half of my serves have left spin. But then, Principle Four, I will mix in some top spin or right spin serves to the other side of the box, just to keep them from cheating too much to the backhand side.

Should You Serve Short? Deep?

In general, serves should be as deep as possible. A short serve brings your opponent forward, which is his goal anyway, and allows him to hit sharper angles on the return. Still, Principle Four trumps all. You have to throw in some occasional short serves.

Steven Bloom 


September 22, 2015

The game of Pickleball as we know it was invented by three neighbors in Bainbridge Island, Washington in 1965.  This short film by Mark Woytowich outlines how Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum conceived this great sport back in 1965.

Source: Mark Woytowich  |  Pickleball Wisconsin 

Principle One:

The first side to the net wins.

This is easy, and something players learn the first time they step onto a court. The net is a huge, huge advantage. Simply picture yourself about to play the ball from deep in the court, looking up at two monstrous opponents, paddles raised, looming over the net and ready to smash back anything you try. You know, and you know absolutely, that you have lost this point.

Get to the net. Win. It is that simple.

Principle Two:

The side receiving the serve gets to the net first.

This is equally obvious. After all, if you are receiving their serve, your partner is already positioned at the volley line. Both opponents, meanwhile, are stuck way back in the court, for a very good reason – the rules dictate that both the serve and the return must bounce. They must play deep, waiting for your return to hit the floor.

You, in the meantime, are hustling up to the net after you return, joining your partner and presenting your opponent with that terrorizing specter pictured in Principle One.

Put these two principles together, and we get

Principle Three:

The receiving side wins every rally.

Naturally, this is an exaggeration, but the receiving team will win 60 – 70% of the points contested.

There are other sports with similar service biases. Volleyball, my second passion, has the same service asymmetry. The receiving side goes on offense first, and has a large advantage. At the elite level, the receiving team wins around 70% of the points. In beach volleyball, where there are only two defenders trying to stop this offense, the "side-out" percentages are even higher.

This serve-receive edge has major implications in the strategies of the sport. If you watched volleyball in the Beijing Olympics, you may have wondered at the atrociousness of the serving. Players would strike their serves with all their might, hitting so hard that they had almost no control over location. Serve after serve after serve were hit out. Why? Surely players at the Olympic level should be able to hit the court!

Of course they can. But their coaches also know that easy serves are futile. Give an easy serve to a world-class offense, and you will watch it come back, right at your face, at about 100 mph. The only hope is to serve tough enough to crimp that offense. So the players serve as hard as they can, risking service errors for winners. Every coach preaches "One ace for one service error is a great ratio!" Indeed, if you can win half of your service points, no team in the world will beat you.

Another sport with a large service bias is tennis, though in tennis, the edge goes to the server. Again, strategies are geared to this imbalance. Players are taught to take care of their service games. The rest will follow. Play so that no one ever breaks your serve. If you can do that, Mr. Sampras, you've got yourself a career.

Pickleball, like tennis and volleyball, runs the same way. Guard your service edge at all costs. Don't worry about the rest. When I step onto a pickleball court, I have one simple goal – never lose a point. I figure if the opponents can't get to two or three points, then they won't get to eleven, and we win. I don't worry much about scoring points – those will come. Instead I put all my energy and focus into preserving our edge when we receive serve. We are supposed to win those rallies, and if we do, we can't lose.

This third principle, although quite fundamental, is one that pickleball players don't really understand. As an illustration, ask fellow players this: "What is the worst error you can make playing pickleball?" Inevitably, they'll answer, "Missing my serve! If I miss a serve, I am just giving away a free point." To which I must reply, "Nonsense." If my partner whales a serve at the sideline and just misses, I don't groan. I cheer. So it went out. We lost a rally quickly, but one we rated to lose anyway. Had the serve gone in, though, we'd have stolen away one of their points. One ace to one error. Great ratio.

No, in my mind, the worst error I make is missing a return of serve. That's a point we were supposed to win. When my return lands in the bottom of the net, then I have really given them a free point. Ouch.

Principle Four:

Keep 'em guessing.

Many times in a game you will have a choice of shots. Usually one of these choices will have a better, long-term chance of success. When I look at the individual phases of the game, I will try to emphasize what I consider to be the "high percentage" shot. This does not mean that the technically correct shot is the best choice. It is equally important to keep your opponents off balance and guessing. I would much rather hit a lousy shot that fools them than a great shot they were waiting for.

For instance, it is normally correct to hit at your opponent's backhand. But if you always aim for their backhand, they will simply move a few feet over, shrink their side of the court, and hit every shot with their forehand. So mix it up, and hit a few shots to the forehand side.

Likewise, service returns should be placed deep in the court. This forces them to stay back and gives you time to get to the net – Principle One. So, occasionally, drop in a really short service return.

Lobs are poor shots (for reasons that I will explain later), but if you never lob, you are too easy an opponent. Hit the "right" shot most of the time, but throw in a "wrong" shot often enough to keep 'em guessing.

Steven Bloom 



August 12, 2015

Enjoy this great video on how to play pickleball with  Pickleball Ambassador (USAPA) Dick Manasseri.  For more health and wellness tips, go to Live Long Live Well


July 18, 2015

A Guide to Magnesium Oil

Magnesium oil is extremely beneficial to your body, as you can be certain of its absorption. It is not actually an oil, but rather a super concentrated form of topical magnesium, used directly on the skin.

There are three different methods of applying topical magnesium for the best absorption.

The best way to apply magnesium is by spraying it directly on the skin, preferably in places where skin is thinner, such as the wrists, ankles, and underarms. After about twenty minutes, it is safe to wash off the residue with a wet washcloth. If you have some time to spare, it is also advisable to completely strip down and coat your entire body with a liberal amount of magnesium oil. This needs to be done when you have about thirty minutes before you need to shower. Simply rub the topical magnesium over your entire body, except, of course, sensitive areas. Then have thirty minutes of “me time.” Watch TV, read a book, or spread some towels on the couch and rest. After the allotted time, take a warm rinse in the shower, using no soap, to wash off the residue.

Another great way to absorb magnesium oil is to add six to eight ounces to your bath for a relaxing soak. Adding up to 32 ounces, however, is still fine, due to the amount of dilation.

For some additional pampering in your life, add six to eight ounces of magnesium oil to a foot soak. One tip to remember, though: Keep the water heated. Warmer water will bring more circulation to the feet and keep your pores open, enhancing absorption.


Magnesium oil sprayed directly on the skin has been known to sting a bit. The stinging will probably subside after a few doses, but has been known to be quite uncomfortable. This has usually been noted in cases when a person is magnesium-deficient; the sting may subside as your body reaches a point in which the magnesium level is adequate. If it is too uncomfortable at first, though, you may consider diluting the magnesium oil with water. Remember that this will mean you are getting less magnesium per spray. Another option would be to consider a soak in the tub or a foot soak. Keep in mind through this how good magnesium is for you!

Maximizing Absorption

Using a natural vegetable bristle brush to slough off dead skin cells is an excellent way to prepare your skin for absorption. Not only will this remove dead skin, it stimulates blood flow to the skin and stimulates the lymphatic system. For best results, do this only on dry skin immediately before applying magnesium oil.

Massaging is also beneficial when applying magnesium oil, since it stimulates blood flow not only to the skin, but also to the tissues, thereby enhancing distribution of the magnesium oil.

Another suggestion would be to shower before applying magnesium oil. Showering prepares the skin for absorption.

Things to Avoid

Applying lotion to the skin before applying magnesium will saturate the cells and hinder the absorption of the magnesium oil. Also, applying magnesium oil to freshly shaved skin will most likely enhance the stinging sensation.


For the first two to four months, one to two ounces per day applied directly to the body is ideal. The reason you need so much in the beginning is that your body is most likely magnesium deficient. You must first build a store of magnesium in the body before you can cut back and use magnesium oil as maintenance. Many factors affect magnesium levels, so personal usage amounts should vary according to your personal needs.

Magnesium may certainly be used more than once daily. It is almost impossible to have excess magnesium, as your body will excrete what it doesn’t need.


June 18, 2015

Is there really a 'right way' to play Pickleball ?? Yes. The right way generally refers to being patient and waiting for your chance to make the ' put away' shot. 
70% of all points won are due to opponent mistakes. Minimize your own mistakes. Go for 'high percentage' shots. That means don't try to 'paint the lines'. 
Aim a foot or two inside the lines or play more for the middle of the court until you become a bit more 
accomplished and can try for more difficult shots. 
The serve……get it in……try to keep it deep. Don't try power serves or spin serves until you are very 
consistent with your basic serve. 
Return of serve……get it in…….keep it deep. A soft return is often better than a hard return. It gives you more time to establish yourself at the kitchen line. Less mobile players have plenty of time to come forward. If your return is deep, your opponents are both in a defensive position at or near the base line while you and your partner are both at the kitchen line. You are both in an ' offensive ' position. You have the better chance to win that particular rally. 
You would be amazed at how softly Patrick Kane, one of the best players in the world, returns a serve. If it is good enough for Patrick, I think it is good enough for us. 
Next time you play work on your higher percentage shots and soft, deep return of serve. Hopefully, you will start to see some good results immediately.