In life, a series of events can lead you exactly to where you are today. And, if any one of those events is missing, where you might be in life may be completely different. We recently sat down with pro pickleball player, Dekel Bar, which this seemed to ring true for. The series of events goes something like this for Bar:
- Bar grew up in Israel, and devoted himself to the sport of tennis. He was on the tennis courts since he was 9 years old, and went pro in tennis by the age of 18 years old.
- During his time on the tennis tour, Bar met Collin Johns—another top pro pickleball player (who many know as world #1, Ben Johns’, older brother and common pro men’s doubles partner). Bar and Johns frequently played in the United States and Israel, as well as trained and traveled together.
- Bar continuously injured his abdominal muscles during his serve on the tennis court. As a result of these continuous injuries, Bar had to leave his pro tennis career behind.
- Bar and Johns stopped their tennis careers at about the same time. At which time, Ben Johns asked both Bar and his brother, Collin, to try to play pickleball.
- Bar played pickleball. However, the moment was short lived, as Bar traveled back to Israel to enroll in college and obtain a degree in economics and entrepreneurship.
- Bar would travel to the United States during his off-time from school. He was able to play in a few pickleball tournaments, including the Tournament of Champions in Brigham City, Utah. After just playing a handful of times, Bar placed fourth in pro men’s singles and pro men’s doubles (with, at the time, a first-time partner in Adam Stone).
- Bar traveled back home to Israel. Then, the COVID pandemic started, which allowed Bar to study remotely from anywhere in the world. As a result, Bar moved to Naples, Florida, which—to put it mildly—has much better pickleball than Israel.
- Bar worked with the pro pickleball contingent in Naples, Florida, which quickly accelerated his pickleball game.
- Now, Bar is a full-time pro pickleball player, as he plays on both the PPA and APP pickleball tours. He is also the new touring pro at Dreamland in Dripping Springs, Texas (the home of Major League Pickleball), where he lives in a cabin on the property, along with fellow pro pickleball players, Rob Nunnery and Vivienne David. Bar also has two pickleball businesses and multiple large sponsors, like EngagePickleball.
Without Bar’s tennis background, without his friendship with Collin and the entire Johns’ family, without his injury moving Bar away from the sport of tennis, without enrolling in school to give Bar the flexibility to travel, without COVID allowing Bar to move to Florida and still continue his education, and without moving to Naples, Florida, where there is a ton of opportunity to play pickleball, Bar may not be one of the best pro pickleball players out there today. Bar notes that he is deep into pickleball “by accident,” but he is thrilled to combine his hobby, job, friends, and everything altogether with the sport of pickleball.
Looking to the future, Bar hopes to be the best pickleball player he can be and, eventually, move to the #1 spot in a field of a lot of talented players. While Bar hopes that the pro pickleball scene continues to get more and more professional and organized, Bar strives for himself to be known in the pickleball community for being a “good and tough” player that gives it his all on the court, but does not let the on-court results affect who he is off the court. Bar also has goals to finish his degree, as he sees his business aspirations as a back-up plan to full-time competition. He specifically hopes to further his business aspirations in and around the sport of pickleball.
When asked about a few of his secrets to success on the pickleball court, and how he will go about accomplishing these pickleball goals of his, Bar noted that he tries to stay focused on the moment. Pickleball is a game of momentum and a game that always allows time to comeback, so it is important to stay focused on every singles point, whether you are up or down. Bar credits his time on the tennis court for helping him zone everything out, but what is happening on his court.
Bar also notes that having great partners that each know their role, what the other person needs, and how to have fun (like his common pro men’s doubles partner, Adam Stone), helps. And, when it comes to Bar’s signature Erne (which Bar thinks he still has room to improve), Bar encourages every pickleball player to try it. Although Bar’s unusual height (Bar is 6’3”) and length doesn’t hurt his ability to Erne amongst the best of them, Bar notes that timing is everything with the Erne, and everyone can Erne with a little practice, which means a lot of trial and error.
So, be on the lookout for Dekel at pickleball tournaments across the country, and maybe even a few of his Pickleball Getaways abroad. He will be the cool, calm, and collected pickleball player with insane height and reach into the Kitchen that he will use to Erne all over the pickleball court. And, in the meantime, heed Dekel’s advice—stay in the moment and work on those Ernes!