I’m beginning to wonder if I’m developing a paddle problem.
Last week, I discovered that I had eight paddles – not counting those starter paddles I bought from Amazon in my pickleball exploration phase, or the Diadem Warrior I gave to my daughter.
Every time there’s a story about a new paddle coming out, I read it and think that maybe I should get it. I’m wondering if this might actually turn out to be a mental issue of some kind.
I know I’m not alone. I suspect many people are afflicted with this ailment.
So much so, it ought to have a name. How about “paddlephilia”?
OK, maybe that name is too creepy. We’ll have to come up with another one.
Like most sufferers of this ailment, we here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket cling to the hope that the shortcomings of our game is not a product of insufficient skills or innate athletic limitations.
We desperately prefer to imagine that we’re racking up the “L’s” due to an incomplete search for that magical, perfect paddle. It’s the one central equipment variable that is literally in our hands.
The right paddle will keep the balls we hit from striking the net, sailing beyond the baseline or producing those dreaded pop-ups that get slammed back at our feet. The right paddle will rescue our game.
The paddle manufacturers aren’t much help in the way they promote their paddles. Most paddles are advertised as the perfect blend of both power and touch – even though these are opposing qualities.
Like sirens, the paddles we don’t have beckon us with enticing claims that they will deliver the fearsome banger drives we’ve been lacking while also allowing our soft game to improve with surgical accuracy.
Why? Well, it’s all due to proprietary technological advances in paddle construction materials and processes that are vaguely described and best understood by NASA engineers.
While I suspect that a multi-hundred-dollar paddle will do less to improve my game than hours of drilling or lessons, I haven’t given up imagining that my personal growth is tied up in discovering that elusive, perfect ball-striking tool.
Some of my paddle purchases, like English soccer teams, have been relegated to a lesser division, lined up patiently in a spare bedroom hoping for a call to the equipment bag, a call that rarely comes.
I currently play almost all the time with three of my paddles: an Engage Pursuit MX 6.0, a 16mm CRBN2, and a Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro.
They’re on an unstructured rotation. When I head out to play I’ll put two of them in my bag. I’ll randomly start out with one of them, usually one I didn’t use during a previous session.
I might stick with that paddle for the entire session if I’m making most of my third-shot drops, and doing better than average in driving winners inside the lines and over the net.
But what usually happens is that my chronic mediocrity – while blessedly absent in short spells – reasserts itself at some point, leaving me to mumble to myself on the court. “Frank, Frank, Frank. What are you doing?”
It’s not long after that when I start acting like a baseball manager in the middle of a hitting rally by the opposing team. I start looking to the bullpen to make a change.
I’ll pull the spare paddle out of my equipment bag and give it a go, sometimes in the middle of a game.
Does it work? Do I magically start playing better again with the other paddle? Not usually.
But maybe I just haven’t found the right paddle…
MURMURS FROM THE LOSERS' BRACKET
Read past editions of Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket, including:
- The Ozempic Ad
- Ball On Court? Maybe Not
- The PPA, the APP and Monty Python
- Time to Get Help at Bangers Anonymous
- "It's an Injury Sport"
- A Pickleball Translation Guide
- What's Your Pickleball Nickname?
- Tennis the Menace
- Is There Such a Thing as "Pickleball Torture"?
- How to Be an Effective Pickleball Snob
- All You Need Is Glove
- The Lesson McDonald’s French Fries Have for Pickleball
- Tunes on the Court
- The Poetry of Empty Courts
- “Head Targeting” Rule Change Not a Brainy Idea
- Getting Beyond "Good Game"
- Why Are Pickleball Trophies Such a Big Deal?
- Stop Messing with the ATP
- When Discussions of Rules Turn Unruly
- A Former Pickleball Addict Speaks Out
- Separating the Drinkers from the Dinkers
- Turning Every Magazine into a Pickleball Magazine
- Zen and the Art of Pickleball Maintenance
- Spirited Pickleball Poetry
- Making Pickleball Less "Devastating" to Amateurs
- Finding Romance on the Pickleball Court: Top 10 Pickup Lines
- Sign of the Times: Pickleball License Plates
- Red Light, Green Light: Playing Traffic Cop on the Court
- The Pickler Limerick Challenge
- The Pickler Limerick Challenge Heats Up
- The Pickler Limerick Challenge Wraps Up
- Pickleball & the $100 Hamburger
- Before We Play, Partner, Please Sign This...
- Pickleball's Most Powerful Spoken Word
- It's Been a Hard Day's Night for Pickleball Skeptics
Be Kind to Your Local "Paddle Sheriff"
Frank Cerabino is a long-time columnist for the Palm Beach Post in Florida, a pickleball addict like the rest of us, and a newly published author. Check out Frank's newly released book, I Dink, Therefore I Am: Coming to Grips with My Pickleball Addiction (available on Amazon and a great read (or gift!) for any pickleball player), for pickleball tips and laughs!