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Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket: Making Pickleball Less “Devastating” to Amateurs

Murmurs from the Losers' Bracket Frank Cerabino 12-26-2022

We here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket did not shed any tears after learning that USA Pickleball banned the one-handed spin serve. (*For those new to Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket, this is a (mostly) humorous tongue-in-cheek opinion piece – don’t take us too seriously).

After outlawing the “chainsaw serve” in 2022, the gods of pickleball subsequently decided that even a serve that begins with a one-handed spin of the ball with the non-paddle hand ought to be banned.

The USA Rules Committee cited five reasons for its anti-spin decision, starting with the finding that serving the ball should be as bland and inoffensive as possible.

“Original purpose was to just use the serve to get a begin play,” the rules committee posited. 

As a hardcore mediocre player with a serve that scares no one – except occasionally myself when I can’t get it in – I had no idea that my lack of competence was actually fulfilling the dual purpose of protecting the bedrock principles of The Founding Picklers.

It turns out my lack of skill is really just a virtue: I’m a pickleball originalist.

Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket: Making Pickleball Less “Devastating” to Amateurs | Pickler Pickleball

But banning spin serves is bound to disappoint a lot of skilled players who have spent hours on drills to perfect their serves. That’s probably why the rules committee went out of its way to state five reasons for banning spin serves.

Explaining was a bad idea. The five reasons, even to a non-spinner like me, seemed, well, contrived, at best. And they may open up some unintended spin-off rules – apologies for the pun.

For example, one of them says, “Effective spin serves require more court space to allow a receiver to react.” 

Can’t you say the same about effective smashing? Wouldn’t that also be a reason to ban hard smashes that hit near the baseline or go on a sharp cross-court angle?

And doesn’t wide dinking lead to around-the-post shots and the extra real estate that necessitates?

But the one that got me the most was the fifth and final reason: That spin serves needed to be eliminated because they are “particularly devastating for amateur players.”

Oh, boy. I had no idea that amateur players could veto pickleball play based on how “devastating” competence on the court can be.

If that’s the case, we here at Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket have a list of five other rule changes we’d like the rules committee to entertain in order to make the game more friendly to the unskilled and less devastating to the victory-challenged.

1. No more tall players

Is it just me noticing this? There are getting to be far too many tall players taking up pickleball. These players have devastatingly long reaches for balls that might be winners when otherwise hit to shorties or people of average height.

And lobbing over them? Forget about it. So unfair.

Tall people also make third-shot drops much harder due to the way they can stand on the NVZ line and pull balls out of the air very close to the net.

I work hard on my third-shot drops, only to be devastated every time a 6-foot-4 guy keeps stuffing them back at me out of the air with long-reaching effortless roll shots. 

2. No more young people

Your energy level is exhausting. I come out to play pickleball for fun, not to be reminded of my mortality.

I’ve worked for years to get to be a 3.5 player. To play against a 20-year-old dude in cargo shorts who has picked up a paddle for the first time last week and is already a 4.0 is spirit crushing.

Play tennis, where you belong, until you get age-related movie discounts or permanent knee injuries. Then limp over to the pickleball courts where you will be welcomed with Voltarin-gel slathered open arms.

3. No more stacking

Stacking just gives one side a positional advantage when it allows both players in a lefty-righty doubles team to always have their forehands in the middle of the court.

So unfair, especially to amateur players who have barely mastered simple, traditional side-switching and wouldn’t dream of stacking.

4. No more $200 paddles

So many amateur players are introduced to the game with Amazon starter sets. To put them on the court with experienced players with their multi-layered, lead-weighted, new technology ball-striking devices can be soul crushing.

5. No more lefties

It’s too confusing to remember where their backhands are and … er, um … Oops. Never mind. 

I temporarily forgot that I’m a lefty.


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

Murmurs from the Losers’ Bracket: The PPA, the APP and Monty Python | Pickler Pickleball

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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