Pickleball Superstar: Lucy Kitcher
1. Tell us about your earliest memory with racquet sports? How did you get started and how did it progress?
As a child I didn’t do any racquet sport but at the age of 11 I started gymnastics. At the age of 15 I started coaching gymnastics which I continued as an adult until my daughter switched to soccer when she was 10 years old. Since I was then taking her to soccer several times a week, I started playing myself once a week. One day I saw a post about pickleball at the soccer park, so I went to check it out. Once I had a paddle in my hand I was hooked! Everyone was friendly and encouraging and after that I couldn’t wait for soccer practice so I could play again!
2. How long have you been doing the pickleball trips? Why do you like doing them?
I started these trips in 2017 and they have progressed a long way since then. I started with one trip in the first year and now I have ten or more! Every trip I do, I try and make at least one improvement for the next one.
The thing I enjoy the most is watching players improve. Many of the players who come on my trips have never had formal instruction and really have no idea that there is so much to learn! Each day after we finish the coaching and they play their round robin with the players at their skill level, it is exciting to see them implement the new shots and strategies they have learned. They are so happy when they make the right shot selection or use the right technique and they win the point!
3. I've noticed your price which includes everything including pickleball instruction, lodging, all food and drink is extremely reasonable. Please expand on why this is such a bargain.
My five day trips are so affordable especially when you realize what's included.For one price, you get your accommodation, food, drink (including alcohol), pickleball instruction as well as all the other activities around the resort. Many people have told me I need to raise the price, but my goal is to make it affordable so as many pickleball players who want to can improve their skills and have fun doing it! If you sign up for a three day clinic you could easily pay the same price, but you would have to pay for your accommodation, food, drinks and everything else on top.
The price includes daily pickleball instruction. Every day all the players participate in the pickleball activities from 8-12 and then after lunch some players like to enjoy the resort, especially in the locations further afield like Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. But many players will come back in the afternoon for open play and a King of the Court.
I arrange the players by skill level in the mornings so they are learning and practicing with players who are at the same level. At the end of each good morning, there is a fun round robin which enables players to move up or down a level based on their individual progress. This means that the players stay in groups close to the skill level, but also have a chance to play with a variety of players. When I give instruction in the morning I try and keep the teaching varied for all learning abilities. One day I will give demonstrations and then everyone will practice that skill and the coaches will give individual tips. Another day I will have games assigned at each court to practice the skills we have worked on and the coaches pick one skill each to work on with each group
One day we do a round robin tournament where I assign partners and groups so that the teams are even. We have a cocktail evening with award ceremony on the last night with awards from the events help throughout the week.
Other people advertise clinics or trips at a similar price but they are only providing the pickleball. You still have to pay for your accommodation and food.
4. Tell us about one person you've met playing pickleball who has been an inspiration.
Steve Kennedy was a tennis pro and he started playing pickleball around the same time as me. While he didn’t know anything about pickleball when he started, his tennis background gave him so many ideas of things to practice to improve. Plus he had the drive to win! I remember when he put the ball on the top of the net and said he was going to let it dribble down the net and I had to stay behind the kitchen line until it started falling. Then I had to quickly get to the ball and get it back over the net. I thought he was crazy until I realized it was actually possible and I no longer had to say good shot when that occurred! This is how little we knew about pickleball when we started. We went to a tournament in North Carolina so we could qualify for nationals. The referee handed us the server band and he asked who was wearing it. I put it on. As soon as the referee called the score, 0-0-2, Steve served the ball and immediately the referee yells “fault!” as I should have served the ball! After that, we learned a lot more about the game and in April 2017 we won the US Open.
5. Give me an insider tip. I am a 4.0 player. What would you recommend to get to 4.5? :)
Progressing one skill level is simple - no matter what your level. Consistency. Pickleball is a game of percentages. You just have to get your ball over the net and on the court one more time than your opponents. If you make an unattackable shot, you will win!