SITUATIONAL USE OF PADDLES

Most of the time I play indoor pickleball and use the Head Extreme Tour paddle.

The Head Extreme Tour paddle is lightweight and, as such, allows me to swing faster, something that comes in handy when you are using the softer indoor balls. I have also found that I can put a lot of side spin on the ball when I want to, sometimes letting me get some aces on serves.

I also use the Extreme Tour outdoors when the wind is not an option. In fact, I used it in October at the Horseshoe Bay tournament and won gold in Men’s 4.0 doubles.

This past week I was playing in a tournament in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where the wind was howling. The picture below gives an indication of how strong the wind was – note the temporary nets lying on their sides.

The firsts match I played was men’s “Skinny Singles.” Essentially, in Skinny Singles you use only use half the court. You can use either diagonal courts and change each serve, or use half court directly across from each other. I prefer the first method, but in this tournament, we used the “straight across from each other” method. FYI – I no longer have the mobility to play regular singles, so I like Skinny Singles. Skinny Singles also puts the dink game back in play, whereas ingles on full court is not a dink game – it is more like tennis singles. Finally, Skinny Singles can really help your doubles play as it makes you focus on placement of the ball.

Anyway, I signed up for Skinny Singles in the 65-99 bracket. Originally it seemed like there would be a lot of players, but ultimately it came down to just three with no age delimiters. That meant I had to play men younger than me, in one case more than 20 years younger than me. I started off with my Extreme Tour paddle and tried my “down the middle” ace. What happened was the wind took the ball about three feet outside of the service box. Time for a new strategy.

I switched to my Head Radical Tour paddle.

The Radical Tour is heavier than the Extreme Tour and, because of that, I can drive the ball lower and overcome the effects of the wind. Even after losing the first match (to the youngest player) I wound up winning silver. I was happy with that.

My next match was men’s doubles. Again, I signed up for 4.0 in the 65-99 bracket. What happened was that the actual bracket was “Men’s Doubles Age Groups 4.0 and 4.5: 6-39,40-49,50-59,60-99.” (The 6-year-old failed to show up). So, not only were my partner an I going to play men younger than us (in one case almost 40 years younger than me), but we were going to play against some 4.5 players.

Shockingly, and I mean shockingly, my partner and I took silver. Once again, I used my Radical Tour to defeat the wind.  By the way, no one came close to beating the gold medal winners, so I was pretty happy with the results.

My partner was Chris Mitchell of Pickleball England. Go to their website – it is quite a program.

Pickleball England Home Page

Here we are getting our medals.

Anyway, I am a firm believer that you really should have different paddles for different situations.

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