2021 First Quarter Newsletter

Change is On the Way!

Seattle Metro Pickleball Association, SMPA, turns four later this spring, and as with any organization, we evolve to stay in the game and serve our members. We will lose two Board members this year, and at the Annual Meeting that we hope to have sometime in the months to come, members will be allowed to vote on the new Board members recommended by a selection committee. We will have a change of officers as well, since at least one of the termed-out Board members will vacate their “offices.”

SMPA plans to make long-overdue changes to the website, and abandon the occasional newsletter in favor of a blog. And while we’ve pleaded with members for photos and news, we want to encourage members to take advantage of the means of commentary on our actions through our Facebook pageemail, and yes, even Twitter.

Grab a Squeegee, Bring a Towel

Kirkland adapts to new squeegee for clearing water from courts

Winter’s rains will soon drift into spring rains, and while we can’t go indoors to play, SMPA is committed to doing all we can to keep outdoor play a reasonable option for area players. Do make use of the pickleball venue scheduling site, PlaytimeScheduler, to learn about scheduled games all over the metro area, or set up closed play groups.

Following on the successful distribution of court rain shuttles, that is big squeegees, to pickleball courts around Seattle, SMPA expanded the distribution to include more courts. You can now find the squeegees locked near the courts at Green Lake, Bitter Lake, Kirkland’s Everest Park, and soon at Luther Burbank pickleball courts on Mercer Island. All locks will eventually be word locks that you can open with the code “DINK” – and take a moment to make sure the squeegee is locked when you are the last one to leave the courts.

Each squeegee cost SMPA just under $200, and as of early February, we have distributed nine, with a tenth one generously donated by North Seattle pickleball fanatics Patti and Gary Hackenberg.

Want more nets?

As pickleball players flock to Green Lake and Shoreview courts, where there are semipermanent nets in place, not all know how those nets came about. There have so far been two methods for acquiring and placing the semipermanent nets as a means of improving access for those who don’t own portable nets and to increase play opportunities.

This is how the semipermanent nets came to be, and how SMPA works with members to get them in place.

  • Seattle Neighborhood Matching Grants, or SPRKs grants, helped provide the nets for Miller Playfield courts and Green Lake pickleball courts. In brief, a local play group initiated the grant process, SMPA signed on as the required fiscal sponsor, the city approved the grant and purchased the nets, and SMPA and local players satisfied the “matching” portion by holding player events and clinics. This program was suspended in 2020 as the pandemic drastically limited tax revenues and Seattle struggled to meet other demands for city funds.
  • Local players in Shoreline acquired semipermanent nets for Shoreview pickleball courts through a more direct fundraising effort. Shoreview players started collecting donations, then partnered with SMPA to make use of our Association’s IRS 501c3 status. This allowed a broader array of players to make donations to SMPA that were earmarked specifically for the Shoreview nets. From start to finish, the fundraising effort took 3 months, SMPA purchased the nets with a generous discount from Pickleball Central, and the courts have remained packed ever since. The SMPA Board is creating a set of guidelines and a process for those metro area groups interested in following the model of the Shoreview players to acquire nets or other equipment that support the SMPA mission of improving play opportunities for players of all ages and abilities.

2021 Seattle Metro Pickleball Classic Tournament

Until we know what Washington State and City of Shoreline Covid-mitigation constraints will be in place, the SMPC tournament planning committee asks that you continue to save the tournament dates, July 22 to July 26, 2021. The tournament committee hopes to announce registration and formats and later, you can sign up for a volunteer slot on the SignUp Genius page.

Covid Restrictions Continue

Many courts are sticking with local requirements for mask wearing and physical distancing, so do pay attention to the rules when you’re heading out to play. The consequences can be locked courts or play limited to singles only.

While indoor play isn’t available for now, where there is indoor play, at Gorin Redmond Tennis Center, masks are required in addition to strict limits for numbers of players in the facility. None of this is news to most players. For the sake of us willing to follow rules as long as we can play pickleball, we encourage you to be a part of the solution and help knock down this virus so that we can all return to unrestricted play.

Footwork Drills

The internet is loaded with video instructions for every shot in the book. When it comes to footwork drills, there’s little to go on. This footwork drill gem popped up, and looks to be a great warm up in addition to helping improve your agility on the court. Check out Footwork Drills.

Reserving Seattle Pickleball Courts

The Seattle Parks department announced a few changes to their tennis and pickleball court reservation policy.

The city of Shoreline has yet to reopen their reservation system for courts, so for now, use of their courts is on the first-come, first-served basis.

Improving Pickleball Skills during Lockdown with Jeff Jolly

Let’s face it, the one-two punch of COVID restrictions that have forced us to play outside during the winter monsoons have left most of us with severe pickleball withdrawals. Withdrawal can lead us to binge watch British Antique Road Show. While sitting on the couch, we can feel our pickleball skills atrophy with each “The ugly vase you bought for 5 pounds is worth 12 million.” What is a pickleball player to do? The answer is amazingly simple, and can be done almost anytime except for when driving or performing surgery. The answer is visualization. That’s right, using one’s imagination to practice the perfect serve is almost as good as actually doing it. That’s because your brain doesn’t know the difference between actually seeing something or imagining it. Professional athletes such as Tiger Woods have been using this technique since his teen years to perfect his swing. That seems to have worked pretty well for his career.

How can you use visualization to improve your skills? Visualization lets you take the action from a conscious action to a unconscious reaction, a reaction of your choosing.

Find a comfortable and quiet place (that sofa, for example) and take as little one minute up to as long as 30 minutes. The amount of time is completely up to you, but note that it’s better to do a small amount every day rather then 3 hours on a Saturday.

  • Close your eyes and think of a specific skill you want to improve, like serving the ball hard and fast. Or, maybe blocking a hard drive to just drop in the non-volley zone (NVZ).
  • With your eyes closed, take a couple of deep breaths and imagine yourself on a pickleball court.
  • Visualize this as a movie script. What sensations are you feeling? Is there a light breeze? Is it sunny or cloudy? Can you feel the pressure as you stand on the balls of your feet? What other muscles are contracted and ready?

When you are ready, see the ball coming at you as if in slow motion.

  • Feel your muscles contract as you swing the paddle and make contact with the ball.
  • See the ball going where you want it to go.
  • Get back in your ready position.

Try this and see how much you can improve instead of worrying about your return to play. What do you have to lose, except another game?

We keep asking you to join SMPA and to encourage your pickleball playing friends to do so as well. Why? The growth of pickleball created long waits for court time, with many local cities too caught up in dealing with budget shortfalls and managing homelessness to proactively answer to the demand for pickleball courts. That’s where SMPA comes in. We have worked hard over the past four years to be the voice of pickleball in dealing with Seattle Parks and Rec, and have put our membership clout to good use when we speak for all players in the metro area.

Our membership fee is low, while our reach grows with each new member. Jump in and join SMPA or renew your SMPA membership. Use this Join or Renew button, to redirect you to the MemberPlanet website. MemberPlanet securely manages our membership database so that we can focus on pickleball development. Whether you become a Lifetime Member or select a year-to-year renewal, your membership shows that you are committed to the work of SMPA in helping grow pickleball throughout the Seattle metro area. Your membership qualifies you for a discount on gear with Pickleball Central and Smash Pickleball.