What Pickleball Commentators Should Really Be Tracking


While pickleball continues to gain popularity and evolve as a sport, it is still in its infancy compared to more established games. In 2020, the pickleball community witnessed the launch of two professional tours, namely the Association of Pickleball Professionals (APP) and the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA).

If you tune in to watch matches on platforms like YouTube, ESPN, or Selkirk TV, you’ll notice the score updates and hear the voices of seasoned commentators like Scott Golden and Lauren McLaughlin. However, one aspect that is often missing, unlike in other sports, is the availability of detailed statistics such as winners and errors.

In this article, we will delve into some of the most crucial elements to track in the game of pickleball, shedding light on the key statistics that can enhance our understanding of the sport.

  1. Number of Shots in a Rally

The number of shots in a rally can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of players in both long and short rallies. Generally, as players progress in skill level, the number of shots in a rally tends to increase. However, it is worth noting that the professional level of pickleball is witnessing a shift towards a more aggressive style of play, which may influence the dynamics of rally lengths in the future.

  1. Third Shot Effectiveness

In pickleball, players typically opt for a third shot drive or a third shot drop, with lob shots being a rarity, especially at higher levels of play. Therefore, tracking the effectiveness of the third shot is crucial. An effective drop shot is one that prevents the opponent from launching an offensive attack.

On the other hand, an effective drive is a shot that is low over the net and strategically aimed at the opponent’s body or directed down the line, forcing them to stretch and retrieve the ball. In essence, an effective third shot is one that denies the opponent the opportunity to seize the offensive advantage.

  1. Winners to Unforced Errors Ratio

Statistics such as winners and unforced errors, commonly tracked in sports like tennis, hold equal significance in the realm of pickleball. Limiting mistakes is paramount if you aim to elevate your game.

Professionals at the pinnacle of their craft rarely miss dinks or third shots, and when presented with an opportunity to hit a winner and conclude a point, they seize it with precision. Monitoring the ratio of winners to unforced errors provides valuable insights into a player’s consistency and ability to capitalize on scoring opportunities.

  1. Serving and Return Percentage

The ultimate goal in pickleball, as with any sport, is to execute every serve and return flawlessly. However, even professionals experience occasional misses, particularly as players adopt a more offensive approach to serving. As highlighted by Shea Underwood in a recent article for Pickleball University, Morgan Evans recorded over 20 aces in a recent mixed doubles tournament, underscoring the significance of monitoring this statistic moving forward.

By diligently tracking these essential statistics, commentators and fans alike can gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of pickleball. These insights not only enhance the viewing experience but also provide valuable data for players to analyze and refine their strategies. As the sport continues to evolve, it is imperative that we embrace the importance of statistical analysis in pickleball, just as it is prevalent in other established sports.

So, the next time you find yourself engrossed in a pickleball match, take a moment to appreciate the hidden statistics that shape the game and the players’ performances.

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

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