Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Onix Outbreak Paddle Review

A Paddle That Lowers Errors

The Outbreak is a great offering from Onix, with several features that make it ideal for those seeking maximum stability, as well as seasoned tennis players.
Feel - The grip instantly reminded me of holding a tennis racket, with a larger diameter and distinctly "square" feel. This made it feel incredibly secure right away. I noticed no slip or need for grip adjustment throughout the games. For those who keep an index finger of the grip, the difference was even more noticeable in how much contact the grip kept with my other 4 fingers at all times.
Paddle Design - With a wide face and above average thickness, you might expect the paddle to underperform in the precision department. However, the shots remained consistent throughout the entire paddle face, making for a larger margin of error when making contact with the ball.
The textured face allowed for good ball control, and felt almost as though the paddle were catching the ball before quietly sending it back, emphasis on quiet. This is ideal for tennis players who are used to a larger backswing, as the paddle size, consistency throughout the face, and soft touch create a more forgiving response all-around.
Weight - The paddle is lighter than it looks, and by no means a power paddle. It was harder to send the ball out of bounds than I expected. Smashes were more accurate with less velocity, and felt very secure to execute. This is what I liked the most about the paddle.
This paddle is best suited for players transitioning from tennis, players who struggle with hitting shots out of bounds, players with larger hands, and players working to decrease their back swing habits. It is a forgiving paddle with good ball control and ability to minimize mistakes.
Thanks to Pickleball Central for providing the paddle to demo!

Kevin M Pilon

For more on Onix Paddles:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

DAPA Review of the Gamma Needle Graphite Paddle

During out club's open play, several of our players got the chance to use the Gamma Needle Graphite Paddle to get familiar with the paddle.  We wanted feedback on the weight of the paddle, the feel of the grip and how the paddle handles when hitting the ball.

One player said that he like the feel of the "tacky" grip which prevented the paddle from spinning in his hand.  He felt the Gamma grip was comfortable, even though it is shorter with smaller diameter than his current paddle.  This player especially like the longer length and was positive that he was able to reach more shots with that extra length.  The textured surface also helped him in adding spin to his shots.

Another player said he like the Gamma paddle overall.  What he particularly liked was the relatively light weight and the "grippy" handle.  He felt the paddle gave good touch and better control with his overhead smashes.  The Gamma paddle's surface is about 3/4" longer than his current  paddle which gave him a good reach, and he had  more contact with balls when reaching compared to his own paddle.

A third player mentioned that what she liked most about the paddle was the extra length.  She felt the longer paddle gave her more confidence when reaching for shots that she may not have been able to hit with her own paddle.

Another player's thoughts were that she really liked how lightweight the paddle felt, yet it had the power needed.  She was skeptical of the elongated paddle but the extra reach far outweighed the narrower face, as it helped get shots that she could not have gotten with own paddle.  She like the feel of the grip and size was perfect.  The paddle's surface gripped the ball so she could control her delivery angles.

Other comments included "awesome grip", "great for dinking" and "good sound".

All players who tried out this Gamma paddle had positive feedback and mentioned that they would definitely consider buying this paddle in the future.

On behalf of Duluth Area Pickleball Association, we want to thank Pickleball Central for the opportunity to provide our club the chance to try out the Gamma Needle Graphite Paddle.  Link to their website to purchase this paddle is:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Why Should I Enter a Tournament?

I have been receiving a lot of questions lately about tournaments. My wife and I love pickleball tournaments. In this FAQ, I hope to answer some of the questions I've received and encourage others to come to the tournaments with us.

I don't think I'm good enough for a tournament. Why should I go if I'll just get creamed?
The great thing about most pickleball tournaments is that the brackets are based on skill levels. For example, there might be a beginner, intermediate, and advanced brackets. You enter the bracket pertaining to your skill level. This way the tournament is competitive and fun for everybody.

How do I know what skill level I am?
There are specific definition for skill levels in pickleball. Before filling out the registration form, read them and evaluate where you are. You can also ask more experienced players (ones that have gone to tournaments) where they think you would fit best.

Pickleball skill levels are on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0. They are found here -

Most tournaments have skill levels from 3.0 and up, though I've seen some go as low as 2.5. You can play up a skill level but not down.

Why not age groups instead of skill levels?
Most small tournaments will only classify based on skill level. After all, does it matter what age you are as long as everyone is at the same level?

Large tournaments will have brackets by skill level and age. You can play up a skill level and/or down an age group, but not the other way. Some small or medium-sized tournaments will also have a "golden" division for seniors or a "high school" division for younger players. The skill levels in these divisions can vary greatly, though.

If you are still skeptical of not having age groups, I'll tell you about my first tournament experience. Both my wife and I were in our 20s. I had been playing pickleball since I was eight years old with my family. My wife is the most athletic person I know. When we arrived at the tournament, there were a bunch of what we considered "old people." We thought the young, athletic folks would take the day.

To make a long story short, we got creamed. We found out we didn't know what we were doing. In one game, we lost to a couple of 70-year-olds 11-2. (I would post the video here, but it's embarrassing.) Out of the many games we played, we only won one. We still had a lot of fun - and learned that age doesn't matter much in this game.

If I lose one game, am I out?
Every tournament is different. However, none of the ones I have entered are single elimination. At the very least, it is double elimination. Most of the ones I've been in involve some sort of round robin.

OK, maybe that would be fun. What else do you enjoy about tournaments?
There are many things I love about tournaments. Here are just a few.

Play competitive games
I know I'll probably win some and lose some, but that makes it fun. It is not much fun crushing teams or getting crushed. The skill levels ensure that there will always be competitive games.

Challenge myself 
I find tournaments to be a good way to see if I am improving. Win or lose, I love the challenge.

Play new people
Around here, we play the same people week after week. It is a lot of fun playing someone you have never met before.

Meet new people
At a tournament we entered recently, we talked to Chris Wong, a 5.0 player from Sioux Falls. He said that as he has progressed in the sport, he has come to realize that there is a huge social aspect to tournaments, even among the top competitive players. Especially among the top players. Tournaments are a chance for them to get together, catch up, grab a bite to eat, and just hang out. They get competitive on the court, but off of it they are great friends.

My wife and I have come to know quite a few people in the tournaments we've entered. We feel that we have "pickleball friends" all over the state. We enjoy meeting new people or catching up with ones we've played before. And we will probably only ever see these people if we go to the tournaments.

All right, you've convinced me. How much do they cost? Where are they? What else do I need to know?
We are pretty lucky here in Duluth. Not only do we live in God's Country, but pickleball tournaments are pretty close. There are quite a few tournaments in the Twin Cities. Various places in Wisconsin have some, too. There is one in Grand Rapids, MN, in September. Someday we might host our own!

I maintain a list on the website of the upcoming tournaments that are near us  -

The cost to enter a tournament is pretty minimal. It is typically less than $50 per team, usually much less than that.

What else do you need to know? I'll cover tournament prep in another post, but for now you can read this great article by a pickleball pro - Pickleball Tournaments, Plan for Success by Sarah Ansboury

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Pickleball in Duluth, MN

Do you want to play pickleball in Duluth? Come and join us!

We recently created the Duluth Area Pickleball Association to help spread the sport of pickleball in Duluth, MN, Superior, WI, and the surrounding area. We help organize play and search for locations to set up courts.

In addition to our calendar and information on the association, this website also has general information on the sport of pickleball and its strategy. Feel free to explore and drop us an email if you have questions!