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Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket: Confessions of a Paddle Addict

Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket Frank Cerabino 01-17-2024

It’s that time of year when people make resolutions. 

And we here at Murmurs from the Losers Bracket are no different. In the past I’ve made plenty of pickleball resolutions for the new year, and upon review, I can now say that it’s a mixed bag.

I stuck to some resolutions 

For example, I’ve stopped blaming the wind as the reason for making a bad shot on the pickleball court while playing indoors. And for the most part, I call kitchen faults against myself during rec games –- at least until the score reaches 8. 

But other resolutions remain elusive. The hardest pickleball resolution to keep has been the one about curtailing my insatiable need to buy more paddles. 

I had resolved to slow down my purchases of new paddles unless I (a) won the lottery, or (b) improved my skill level by a half-point or more.

Sadly, neither (a) nor (b) has materialized. I’ve not won Powerball, and I remain mired in a tough-to-budge 3.5 rating. I guess you can say, I’m stuck in the middle class both on and off the court. 

And yet, this hasn’t stopped me from continuing to buy expensive pickleball paddles. Yes, I’m a polypropylene addict. 

Considering that I’m already addicted to pickleball, I guess this means I have an addiction within an addiction. 

Every time I head off to the courts to play, I look at the result of my habit — a lineup of relatively new paddles — and try to decide whether I’ll play with the Diadem, the Selkirk, the Engage, the Paddletek, the CRBN or the Joola paddle this time. 

Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket: Confessions of a Paddle Addict

They’re the ones in my rotation now. There’s another pile of paddles that I’ve forced into early retirement due to their relative affordability. It seems I’ve made an unspoken decision that the more expensive the paddle is, the more likely I am to use it. 

And this is why my paddle possibilities are sure to grow longer. I can’t stop rationalizing that I’m just one paddle purchase away from a breakthrough.

Every time a new paddle is advertised, I’m all ears, imagining that every small modification is finally going to be the technological advance that’s going to elevate my game. 

I know. I know. This is foolish thinking. 

But I also rationalize this by telling myself that I’m extending the lives of my existing paddles. By putting another paddle in the rotation, I’ll be playing a little bit less with all my pre-existing paddles. This will mean it will take a longer time for them to get delaminated or lose their punch. 

But the truth is I’m just a paddle addict. And you other pickleball players are no help either.

Every time I spot somebody with a new paddle, I ask them if they like it. And the answer is always the same. 

“I love my new paddle,” they say. 

I’m impressed. At least I was. But I’m beginning to believe that everybody “loves” their new paddle for another reason. 

It’s because they just spent more than $200 to buy it, and they’d feel like a fool saying, “You know, I really can’t tell the difference from that $40 paddle I bought two years ago on Amazon.”

The other factor in my addiction problem is my soft spot for the advertising employed by paddle manufacturers. They know the right words to say.

It seems that every new paddle is launched with the promise that it has both superior pop and extra control.

I’m beginning to think that these two things are mutually exclusive. It’s like lite beer. You drink it for the relative lack of calories, not because it tastes better than a high octane beer with twice the calories.

But what do I know? Maybe there really is a magic paddle out there that will fix my drives, make my dinks drop perfectly, and turn my mediocrity into magic.

Got any paddle recommendations?

MURMURS FROM THE LOSERS’ BRACKET

Read past editions of Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket, including:

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!

I Dink, Therefore I Am | Frank Cerabino

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