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Simon Machine Sign Out Usage and Procedures

The Simon Machine is stored at the MSA Fieldhouse for the winter.  Anyone may use it to practice strokes, etc.  It is located in the imove area which is open after 9 am on M/W/F.  It is plugged in across from the hallway entrance near the other set of doors to the courts.  Just unplug it and roll it onto the courts.  Balls and a ball picker-upper are included. Please remember to plug it back in when returned to imove.
I would suggest you do this right at 9 AM or after 11:30 or so unless the courts are not filled.

 Simon Machine Information and Drills


Need a paddle or other pickleball equipment?  Give Linda Jirous a call at 616-238-4412 or send her an email at   Linda will let you handle the paddle before you purchase it to ensure the grip and weight are right for you–super customer service! Another incentive for using Linda’s services would be the 10% she will donate back to the Club from all purchases.

Pickleball Central

Grand Rapids Pickleball Club is in a ClubRewards program

The Grand Rapids Pickleball Club is into PickleballCentral’s ClubRewards program. They have created a discount code of CRGrandRapids for our club. The code is not case sensitive. The code is active now.

The code will provide 5% off everything purchased from Another 5% of the purchase price goes into a “kitty” for the club. Over the year, 5% of every purchase that uses your code will go into the club’s kitty.

 Pickleball Training

New and interested members can obtain assorted training information from the website (, from videos in You Tube, and from various books and DVDs that are available through commercial websites dedicated to pickleball.  Grand Rapids pickleball can also provide group instructors as may be requested from time to time and as insturctors may be available.  Such instruction will get new players up and going in a very short time frame.

Forehand Ground Stroke Training Video

Volley Training Video

Ten points on becoming a better player:

1.  Practice your serve so that you can hit corners and change the type of serve when it is appropriate to do so.  Speed the serve up and slow it down so that you opponent is never sure what the serve will be.  Keep the serve deep most times.

2.  Attempt to reduce and eliminate your unforced errors.  Until you can hit the side shots consistently (more than 70% of the time), attempt to either place the ball down the middle or preferably, at your opponent’s feet.  The important point is getting the ball across the net so that your opponent makes the unforced error.

3.  Lob shots are a very low percentage shot for beginners.  You’re better off hitting the ball low and down the middle almost every time.  By low, practice hitting the ball so that it is no higher than six inches above the net.

4.  Better players have both a soft and hard game; however, soft shots are more the rule than the exception.  If you hit the ball hard at your opponent, chances are fairly high that the better players will either let the ball go out of the court or return it to you just as fast or faster.  Work on that drop shot that falls just over the net into the kitchen.  Generally, a dink game rules.

5.  Overhead shots – don’t attempt to overpower these shots.  It’s more important to get this shot back into the court than seeing how hard you can hit it.

6.  In most cases, stay with your partner.  Go to the kitchen together and to the base line together if need be.  If your partner moves to the right or left, you do the same and keep an approximate equal distance between you.

7.  Communication is paramount in pickleball.  “Mine” and “Yours” are frequently heard  on the court when both players are in sync.

8.  Do not hit balls that are going out of the court.  If you return balls that are going out of bounds, it just allows your opponents another chance to win the point.  Practice this even in your warm up drills before the game.  If a practice ball is going out when warming up, let it go out.  If during your practice or warm up drills you hit “out” balls, chances are that you’ll do the same in a game.

9.  Always know where you are on the court.  Too many beginners tend to hit balls that are going out of bounds when they’re standing on the side line. They return the balls not even aware that the ball would have been out had they let it go.  Better players always know their position on the court.

10.  When you play with better players, watch their play, and be receptive to any comments they have to help improve your game.  They’re generally trying to help you by either showing you shots or going over pickleball strategy.  Take their comments constructively.

The is pickleball skills & drills videos website that offers personal stories, skills and drills shows, and online resources for pickleball enthusiasts, and is a community for players, clubs, and ambassadors to connect and share.

Tip from a Pro: OPEN PLAY

This month’s “Tip from a Pro” comes to us from Jessica LeMire, the 2014 USAPA 19+ Women’s Doubles National Champion. 

Open play unites pickleball players of all ages and skill levels to compete with and against one another, breeding camaraderie, encouraging friendly competition, and building community. Yet, playing among a variety of skill leveled players can be tricky at times. You may wonder how you can make the most of open play opportunities. Frankly, it depends on your mindset and what you want to get out of it. Whether you are there to socialize with friends or improve your game (or both!), keep in mind the OPEN PLAY acronym to make the most of your time on the court.


When competing in open play matches, it can be easy to turn on the “cruise control” and simply “go through the motions” with your shots. If you are trying to further your game, each time you step on the court challenge yourself to make one or two objectives or goals specifically for that game. Consider choosing a shot or strategy to focus on. For example, you might concentrate on hitting a soft third shot or aim to hit to your opponents’ backhands.

Practice refereeing

Have you ever worked as a referee at a tournament? Most pickleball tournaments rely on the help of generous volunteers to ref. It can be intimidating, especially if you haven’t done it before. Use open play time to practice your reffing skills. Keep track of the score and first and second server. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled to the action at the kitchen line, watching for foot faults.


Open play involves playing matches without the tournament hype or pressure. Take advantage of this opportunity by testing paddles you have been wanting to try, different grips, shots, and strategies. Figure out what works and what doesn’t.

New friends

Pickleball is unique in that it brings together people from all generations and athletic backgrounds. Take time to enjoy the social aspect of the sport. Engage with and get to know the members of your pickleball community who are likely to be as addicted to the game as you are!

Pat your partner on the back

Be encouraging to your partner. When they hit a great shot, let them know, and if they are struggling, strive to pick them up. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. Be careful about offering unsolicited coaching. Also, remember to compliment your opponents on their awesome shots.

Lean in to learning

Be open to learning. One of the best things about pickleball is that it is easy to pick up; however, it is a very versatile game filled with strategic nuances. In other words, there is always something more to learn. Use open play to broaden your repertoire of strokes and strategies. Observe how others hit shots and work their opponents. Consider asking another player to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses by watching you during one of your matches.

Assist new players

Think back to when you first started playing. It’s likely that someone took the time to help you learn the game. Pay it forward by sharing your expertise and knowledge of the rules and basics of the game with someone who is new to the sport. Be careful about sharing too many details with a first timer as it can be overwhelming to learn everything at once.

You can do it

Practice positive self-talk. Utilize open play to strengthen your mental game. Work on developing an arsenal of positive, confidence-building thoughts. Also, remember to be gracious to yourself. When you are trying to make improvements on your game and playing with partners you may not be used to competing with, chances are you will make mistakes and that is okay. Open play is the best time to make them!

You can make the most of open play by having the right mindset and setting goals for yourself. Even though it is likely that you will play with individuals of all skill levels, there are things you can do to advance your game and have FUN!

More about Jessica LeMire

Jessica began playing pickleball three years ago in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich. Her accomplishments include bronze in the Open Women’s Doubles at the USAPA Nationals (2013 & 2014) and gold in the Women’s Doubles 19+ at the USAPA Nationals (2013 & 2014) with Marsha Koch, silver in the Mixed Doubles 19+ at the USAPA Nationals (2013) with Rafael Siebenschein, bronze in the Mixed Doubles 19+ at the USAPA Nationals (2014) with Brian Staub, and silver in the Open Women’s Doubles and gold in the Women’s Doubles 19+ at the So Cal Summer Classic (2014) with Marsha Koch.

Tip from a Pro: How to play with a better player

This “Tip from a Pro” comes to us from Prem Carnot, aka “The Pickleball Guru.”

Playing with better players forces YOU to play at the top of your ability, pay for your mistakes, and fast-tracks you to a higher skill level, but it does almost the OPPOSITE for your opponents. Playing with you keeps them from having to play at the top of their ability or paying for their mistakes. Whatever your level, how can you graciously get to play with better players so as to improve your game? As a better player, when do you “remember your roots” and when is it fair to ask them to step aside so you can get in some higher level play?  Here are some tips…

To play with opponents who are STRONGER than you:
• Ask politely and give them an out. “Do you all mind if I get a game in with you, or would you rather play on your own?”
• Ask when they are warming up or cooling down.
• If you do approach in the midst of higher-level play, ask “Hey, do you mind if I get a game in with you all before you quit today?” and let them continue.
• If they do play with you at the beginning of the day, be conscientious about letting them leave. “Hey, I see you can get a good game in against those guys, I’ll sit this one out and maybe we can play again later if you have a chance.”
• If you ask a stronger player to join a game with you, HIT TO THEM! No one likes to sit on a court watching their partner hit all the balls. They’re doing you a favor by playing with you, so hit the ball to them at LEAST half the time. It will make you a better player, make it more interesting for them and more likely that they will play with you again.
• Don’t be obnoxious if you beat a stronger player in recreational play. We all play our best when we play with better players. When we play with weaker players, it can be challenging to stay focused, so remember that they may not be playing at the top of their game.

When you play with opponents who are WEAKER than you:
• Remember, someone took you under their wing when you first started playing. Pay it forward and play regularly with players who are weaker than you.
• When you do, let them know in advance how long you’re planning to play, you might say, “I’d love to play with you all for a game or two, but then I’d like to get in with those other players.”
• Don’t be patronizing—or overly aggressive. Pick a shot you want to improve upon and focus on hitting that shot. Or, try to reduce your number of unforced errors. Focus on patience & keeping the ball in play rather than slamming every put-away shot.

Prem Carnot offers clinics, lessons & video analysis for pickleball players of all levels & especially for players of other racket sports who are new to the game. For FREE monthly pickleball tips & to find out what strategy a National Champion used to make his highly-skilled opponent look like a newbie (that you can use the next time you’re out on the court), go to

Click for Pickleball Skill Level Definitions and Assessment Sheets