Pickleball: How to beat the heat as summer returns to the desert

·3 min read

Summer in the Coachella Valley has (unofficially) arrived, and we need to prepare for triple digits regularly for the next few months.  Since we love to pickle, how can we enjoy our favorite obsession and beat the heat?

1. Get up early!  It is nice in the morning, and if you can handle setting the alarm for 5:30 a.m., you can get in 2 hours of play before the heavy heat arrives. Get to the courts by 6 or 6:30 a.m. and play until 8:30 a.m.

2. Find an indoor venue. In the desert, we currently have two places to play that are inside in the air conditioning. The James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center in Palm Springs off Tramview Road has two air-conditioned courts. Palm Desert Civic Center has three air-conditioned courts, which are open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Demuth Park gym is under construction right now, but it will open in August with two air-conditioned courts.

3. Night play. It is still quite hot in the evening, but not as bad as during the day.  All the public courts in the desert have lights, and if you wait until dark, it is cooler than during the day. The public courts with lights are Demuth Park, Freedom Park, Fritz Burns Park, and Rancho Mirage Community Park.

4. Travel! Go to tournaments on the coast and enjoy the cooler temperatures. Newport Beach, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Coronado, San Diego, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, Tustin, Santa Monica and more host tournaments throughout the summer.  Check out pickleballtournaments.com to find out what tourneys are being hosted on what dates.  The Central coast also has pickleball venues and events, so check out Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles and Monterey.

If you are playing in the heat, what are some strategies you can embrace to keep you cool?

  1. Cooling towels — place on the back of your neck.

  2. Ice chest with water, electrolytes, snacks. Bring more than you think you need!  Hydration is crucial prior to the event, not just during competition.

  3. Ice bags to put on the back of your neck or even on your head!

  4. Hat or visor — or a hat with flaps that protect your neck and ears.

  5. Sunscreen!  Be sure to apply prior to exposing yourself to the sun.

  6. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting workout clothes.

  7. Bring shade to the courts.  Umbrella, etc.  Rest in the shade between games.

  8. Bring a chair to sit in between games, so you can rest.  Be sure to place it in the shade.  Bring a tent if possible.

  9. Eat and hydrate prior to going to the courts. Prevent problems by preparing your body ahead of time.

  10. Take your shoes off, when possible, to let body heat escape. Same with your hat.

Major tip: Do not wait until you are thirsty.  If you do, you are already dehydrated.  Your urine should be a light straw color.

Be sure to read this article from Jennifer Lucore, who is one of the top founding tournament players from San Diego. (bit.ly/3ModZLp)

Coach Mary’s Tip for the Week:  Hitting a winner

How many times have you had an opponent serve a nice high ball to you at the net, and you can visualize the slam to an open court for a winner?  Instead, you hit the ball:  in the net, out on the sideline or out past the baseline?

This drives us all crazy!  There is a simple solution, according to Alex Hamner, who has partnered with Jennifer Lucore for hundreds of doubles championships over the years.

Instead of looking to the open court where you want to put away your juicy winner, keep your eye on the ball.

Use your hips, your shoulders, your rotation with your non-paddle arm and your follow-through to drive the ball to your intended target.  Focus on the physical fundamentals of the skill, instead of getting excited about hitting a clear winner.  Check out Alex’s tip in this video: youtu.be/z6fzUhy1g1g

Pickleball columnist Mary Barsaleau in Palm Springs, Calif., on September 29, 2021.
Pickleball columnist Mary Barsaleau in Palm Springs, Calif., on September 29, 2021.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Pickleball: How to beat the Palm Springs area heat as summer arrives