pickleball

Scott Moore, center, the top Senior pickleball player in the world for a number of years, explains an important part of pickleball during his clinic on the outdoor courts at the Itasca County Family YMCA.

In the world of pickleball, Scott Moore carries a big name.

Moore, six-time Major Triple Crown winner and 20-time US Pickleball Association (USAPA) national champion from Colorado Springs, Colo., was in Grand Rapids July 10, representing his High Performance Pickleball company and giving a clinic on pickleball. He has been the top Senior player in the world for the past five years.

According to literature about the clinics he presents, those who attend receive intensive, semi-private training in strategy, technique, skill development, positioning, effective practice games and mental toughness.

“It is such a multi-dimensional game and it does include aspects of all racquet games,” Moore said via telephone Thursday. “It also is multi-dimensional in that it is extremely social, it’s extremely competitive and physically challenging, and it’s also very strategic and mentally engaging as well.

“It just combines aspects of so many different sports and so many disciplines that I just really fell in love with it when I started playing six-and-a-half years ago.”

Bob Holycross, who is involved with pickleball in Grand Rapids, said there were about 35 participants overall who took part in the clinic which was conducted at the outdoor courts located at the Itasca County Family YMCA.

“I understand that pickleball is foreign and that a not a lot of people don’t know what it is, but Scott Moore in the pickleball world is probably equivalent to a Tiger Woods in the golf world,” Holycross explained. “He is that well-known and he is considered the premiere world Senior pickleball player and we had him here in Grand Rapids conducting a clinic for us.

“We are just so in awe and appreciative for he and his wife Susan coming to Grand Rapids to conduct this clinic for us.”

Added Ann Will, who also is involved locally in pickleball, “The best thing was that it was a great learning experience for all of us to see pickleball at that high level. As an educator all my life I love learning new things so I am fascinated in learning how to do things correctly and (Moore) is just a master teacher. Not only does he demonstrate but he can break it down and teach it. That’s a big gift that I think Scott has.

“Hopefully everybody who was involved in the clinic can raise their level of play to make them even happier.”

Holycross said participants of the clinic will be sent a survey to assess their thoughts on how the clinic went but he said the initial reaction was that it was extremely positive.

“It was positive in terms of what people learned and the experience of seeing and playing next to (Moore) and to be able to ask questions of someone of his background and ability was truly a unique experience for most of us,” Holycross said.

Moore said he excels at the game because he is a racquet sports junkie and that he has had a racquet or a paddle in his hand for pretty much his whole life.

“I think pickleball for me is the perfect game and I play it the best of any of them because it combines all the skill sets that I have,” said Moore. “It also, in my opinion, is the best sport ever created because it combines elements of so many other sports. It’s social, it is able to be played by all, it is not that expensive to play, and there are courts popping up all around the country and the world. So, it is very accessible.”

Moore said pickleball players tend to be extremely social and welcome new players to the sport.

“No matter what your skill level, age or ability is, you can have a great time playing pickleball,” Moore explained. “Most sports are dominated by the most powerful, fastest, strongest players but pickleball is a great equalizer because it is a game with a tremendous amount of finesse, thinking and strategy involved. So, you can play with people much younger and even more athletic than you. It is a great equalizer both generational and gender.”

Moore travels around the U.S. teaching clinics while sons Daniel and Jonathan – who are also accomplished and ranked pickleball players – teach clinics in Europe and Asia.

“What we try to do at the clinics is give people a foundation to build their pickleball skills up,” Moore said. “We teach 10 principles of pickleball that my son – who is a six-time national champion – and I have developed over the last five years. We basically try to simplify the game for them so that they know the right location – or what we call the right spot – and the right shot selection. So once you know the right shot from the right spot, it becomes a much simpler, easier game.

“That’s what we are trying to do for people, to play for more percentage pickleball and more margin for error so they don’t beat themselves.”

Holycross said he didn’t expect to get so attached to the sport of pickleball and he added that the sport is very addicting to people when they start playing it.

“This sport can be very addictive to many people,” Holycross smiled. “It has happened to me. I wasn’t planning on that but I just really enjoy the game and I play it as often as I can. I am 70 years old and I feel very comfortable and physically able to compete on the court playing pickleball. That is just awesome and at the age I am, I hope to continue to do it for many more years.”

Holycross said pickleball locally started with a small group in Wayne Thorson’s Morton building about a decade ago. He said it transitioned to playing at Portage Park in Cohasset at the hockey rink, but more people have picked up the game. The Itasca County Pickleball Association is only four years old but it has accomplished plenty in a short time.

“The objective of the Pickleball Association is to bring the sport of pickleball and support it throughout Itasca County,” Holycross said. “Last year we had 126 dues-paying members and this year I expect to exceed that. We have been able to build the terrific venue at the YMCA with the cooperation of the City of Grand Rapids, the YMCA, the Grand Rapids Basketball Association and the Itasca County Pickleball Association partnered to make this happen in a terrific effort.”

Moore said that pickleball will eventually become a sport in the Olympics, although it may take a decade or more for it to come to fruition.

“It’s in dozens and dozens of countries but we still need to continue to develop that,” Moore said. “Minnesota is doing really well building courts. Some states are better than others; you drive through Utah and almost every little city has pickleball courts. They figured out it is great for the communities to have families playing together. It’s great for health, it brings people from out of town to play so there’s tax money.

“So it is just exploding all over the country; it is the fastest-growing sport in America and perhaps the world.”

For more information about pickleball in Itasca County, contact Bob Holycross at 218-244-8289. People can also Google “Grand Rapids MN Pickleball” which will get people to a Web site with more information. The Itasca County Family YMCA also has information on its Web site.

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