Greetings from the Commissioner

Team registration just closed and we have 453 teams signed up in our 2024 Winter League – that’s 20% growth over last year! And we already have 4,500 registered players with more signing up daily.  Our team of volunteers have been busy answering some really good questions, and it occurred to us that we should share the answers more broadly.  As such, that is the primary focus of this newsletter. I would also like to stress that everyone intending to play in APPL should read the APPL rules document.

APPL League Rules

If something is not covered in our rules document, we default to USA Pickleball rules.
USAP Rulebook
Happy Pickling! 

Greg Mather

Newsletter Highlights

Rating Sources Explained

Get some clarity on Ratings Sources

APPL Rules Refresher

A few APPL rules you need to know!

Player Seeking a Team Update

Great info for players still seeking a team.

What’s Coming Up to League Participants 

Here’s a quick review of what’s next as we prepare for matches in January:

  • Captain’s Zoom training week of Nov 27th. If you did not receive the Zoom link in your email yet, please contact your League Coordinator to forward it to you.
    • West Valley: Nov 27, 3 pm and Nov 30, 6 pm
    • East Valley: Nov 27, 6 pm and Nov 29, 4:30 pm
    • Casa Grande: Nov 29, 3 pm and Nov 30, 4:30 pm
    • Southern: Nov 29, 6 pm and Nov 30, 3 pm
  • Match schedules release Dec 4th
  • Match rescheduling window Dec 4th – 16th
  • Matches start Jan 2nd

Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.

Mike SIngletary, Pro Football Player and Coach

Ratings Sources Explaine

There have been a lot of questions asked about player ratings sources. When registering as a player, there are three rating sources to choose from on a pull-down menu – National, Captain and Appealed.

National – If a player has a rating from DUPR, UTPR, WPR or Pickleball Brackets (which includes USSP, PIG, Pickleball Canada, National Pickleball, and others) they must use the HIGHEST of all of those national ratings (Gender and Mixed) at the time of player registration.

  • DUPR states that provisional ratings do not have enough data (games) for the algorithm to provide an accurate rating. Upon APPL registration, players should NOT use a provisional DUPR rating, but instead use the next higher National rating.
  • A player is not allowed to register for a team with a skill level lower than their National rating.

Captain – If a player does not have a National rating, then the team Captain is responsible for determining the appropriate rating for that player.

Appealed – If a player’s National rating has been appealed by their Captain and APPL has granted a rating change, then the player must use the newly granted rating and select Appealed as the source on the player registration form. As a reminder, an Appealed rating applies to all teams for 2024. Rating appeals are valid for one year.

How Well Do You Know APPL Rules?

  1. In the view above from this angle, is the ball in or out?
  2. What ball brands and colors are approved for APPL matches?
  3. How much time is allowed between games and rounds?
  4. How do teams pay for their APPL Managed home-court venues?
  5. When are substitute players allowed to play in a league match?
  6. When is coaching allowed during a match?
  7. If you notice the wrong person served or received from the opposing team, do you automatically get the point since they made a mistake?

See answers at the end of the newsletter.

Player Seeking a Team – Next Steps

Captains who need players to fill their roster should contact their appropriate League Coordinator. Please include your Skill Level, Region, Age Group, Men’s/ Women’s/Mixed team and team name.  Your League Coordinator will send you contact information of the appropriate players from the Players Seeking a Team list.

If you are a player who submitted interest in joining a team via the Players Seeking a Team program, be patient.  Captains have until Jan 31st to add players to their roster.  If captains need players, they might be contacting you via the process described above.  If you did not get on a team by Jan 31st, we certainly invite you to try again next year. Better yet, start talking to your pickleball friends about forming a team.  APPL can help by sharing the contact information of like-skilled players who play in your region so that you can expand your pickleball network. More information about this program will be disclosed in Spring 2024.  

Team Uniforms Coming Soon!

We are working with our local supplier to set up an on-line store for you to purchase team shirts. There will be several colors available in both Men’s and Women’s styles. You will be able to upload your team’s name and artwork with some other customization options. 

Get ready to wear your team shirts with pride. 

A link to the on-line store will be activated on the APPL home page soon

Player Tips: Are Your Opponents Isolating You? 

A very common competitive strategy is to hit the ball to the weaker player and isolate them for that point and, if successful, for many points thereafter.  What should you do if you are being picked on and isolated?

Try not to take it personally.  It could be that this team likes to isolate one area of the court, meaning that they hit every ball to a particular sideline and you just happen to be in that spot on the court.  Hopefully when you are able to rotate from that spot, you will notice that your partner is being isolated. 

But what if you rotate to the other side of the court and the opponents are still picking on you?  Now, it’s just human nature to take it personally.  The key here is to gain back some control by developing and executing a plan.  So, call Time Out and discuss the plan with your partner so that you are on the same page.

Here are some suggested plans or strategies:

Plan One: Isolate one of your opponents.  Just go one-on-one with an opponent of your choosing.  Take control by executing a pattern of your choice, e.g., dink to their backhand, dink to their backhand again and then move it to their forehand.  Repeat this pattern and believe that you can outlast your opponent. The pattern just gives you something to focus on.  If the ball is hit to your partner, your partner should also stick with the plan and isolate the opponent you are picking on.

Note – Players tend to hit cross-court when stressed, so if you need a break, isolate the opponent that is straight across from you. Most likely they will hit the ball cross-court to your partner, giving you a breather and a mini-win. Celebrate because now you know what to do to break their pattern of isolating you.

Plan Two: Instead of isolating one opponent, move the ball around with the purpose of getting both opponents to move side-to-side.  

What you are looking for is a “hole” in their defense that you can hit your winning shot into.  Note that a winning shot doesn’t have to be hard.  It can be a well-placed dink that stretches your opponent, such that they pop the ball up, giving you the opportunity for a winning shot.

Plan Three:  Determine which of your opponents you can beat in a hand battle. When you find yourself in front of that opponent, speed up your dink and attack! 

Plan Four: Lob!

Bonus Plan: Develop a dink shot that you can consistently hit that is unattackable by your opponent.  For example, after drilling with your friend, you may find that you have the natural ability to hit 10 consecutive cross-court forehand dinks that your opponent cannot attack. Or maybe it’s backhand dinks down the sideline.  The first question is, am I in the right court position to utilize my strength. If so, then great!  If not, then learn how to stack* so that you can place yourself in that court position. Once you are in the right court position, figure out a sequence of shots that results in your opponent hitting the ball into your strength.

All of the above strategies will take time to learn. Drilling and practice may even have to be part of your weekly pickleball routine.  The good thing is that you will get feedback as to how your strategy and drilling are working when you play. Interestingly, that feedback will come from your opponents, as they will not be isolating you anymore.

*Stacking” is a strategy used to position you and your partner after the ball is served. Maybe you have an incredible forehand, so stacking will position you on the court so that your forehand will be in the middle.  It’s an important tool to have. Look it up on YouTube for further information.

APPL Rules Answers

  1. From the view and angle in the picture, this ball would be in. Section 6.D.6 of the USAP rules says that players shall not call a ball out unless they can clearly see a space between the line and the ball as it hits the ground.
  2. Balls used for all APPL league matches must be USAP approved outdoor balls, either new or in good condition, with an enhanced color for visibility similar to “optic yellow” or “neon”. Pink is not allowed.
  3. APPL allows one minute between games and up to five minutes between rounds. The five-minute break starts after the last teams in the round have completed their second game.
  4. After schedules are released and the number of home matches per team is determined, Captains using APPL managed courts will either be billed by APPL through PayPal or pay the venue directly. Captains will be notified which procedure applies to them after the schedules are released.
  5. A substitute player must be a registered player on the team. They are only allowed to play if, during a match, a player becomes physically ill or injured. Only one sub is allowed per match per gender.
  6. Coaching is only allowed after completion of each game (1 minute), between rounds and during time-outs.
  7. If a server/position error is identified and a player stops a rally in progress, the rally shall be replayed if the call is correct. However, if the call is wrong (there is no server/position error), the team who stopped the rally shall have committed a fault. If the server/position error is identified after the rally has played out, the rally shall stand.

Did you get some answers wrong? Click on the Rules links in the Commissioner’s note at the beginning of this newsletter to skill up!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

Robert Brault, Free-Lance Writer and Philosopher