Selkirk Sport - We Are Pickleball


The 80 / 20 practice principle, pickleball in Barnes & Noble, and an $800 win.

By Stephen Bass

on Oct 17, 2022

Welcome back! Today’s edition has 3 parts. 

  1. TIP - The 80 - 20 practice principle

  2. VIDEO - That time I played pickleball in a Barnes & Noble

  3. JOURNEY - My $800 win at last weekend’s tournament. 

Let’s start with the tip — The “80 - 20 Practice Principle”

Last weekend, I was watching some of the best players in the world compete.

Here’s what stood out….

85 - 90 % percent of the time, all four players ended up around the net — dinking.  

Which got me thinking about this question:

What shots happen most in games?

As I continued to watch, I realized — there’s four of them. (outside of serve & return).

  1. Drop” shot - when a player hits the ball so it lands right over the net — giving them time to run to the kitchen line.

  2. Reset - A variation of the drop shot. It typically comes after a player hits a drop shot high and has to recover by hitting a second, or even third or fourth shot just over the net into the kitchen.

  3. Dink - at the highest levels of play, you can’t just hit hard through people. Players have good hands and great touch. So that’s why you see so many “soft shots,” AKA “dinks” happening around the net.

  4. Hand Battles - At some point within a point, one player typically “speeds a ball up” when they see an opportunity to attack. This leads to a fiery exchange between players. Also known as a, “hands battle.” For Example:

And I know, I know, some of you are saying, “but what about the drive shot?”

At lower levels, this shot would definitely be in the top 4. But at higher levels, IMO, it’s hit less — but more strategically.

Now, you might be thinking, “okay! So what’s your point here Kyle?”

Well, here’s my point and you’re one tip for the week.

Take what I shared above and let it inform what you work on and for how long when you go out to practice.

Here’s what I’ve been experimenting with.

80% of the time, I work on what happens most in games.

  1. Drops
  2. Resets
  3. Dinks
  4. Hands battles

If you need a place to start, take a look at these videos for tips from top pro players!

And 20% of time, I work on more nuanced skills or work to add something new to my game.

  1. Lobs
  2. Drives
  3. Backhand flick
  4. Misdirection shots
  5. Speeds up shots
  6. Erne’s
  7. ATP

Where to Start:

If you do this, you’ll improve faster. Just think about the flip side for a moment.

If you spend 90% of your practice time working on ATP’s and Erne’s, you’re wasting time and ultimately — not working on the skills you’ll need most in games.

Now, when decide what to work on…

I typically choose two skills from the 80% group and one skill from the 20% group to work on.

Give it a shot and see how it works for you!

Because if you do — over the long term — I’m confident you’ll improve faster and see better results on court.

An Entertaining Video - “Pickleball in Barnes & Noble”

My Journey to Pro - “An $800 Win.”

Last weekend’s tournament didn’t disappoint. In a unique format that had multiple mini tournaments going on, I won one of the two mini tournaments I played with guy Devon!  

It was awesome because, with that win came $800 big ones. Now, the money is cool, but what it represents is even cooler.


It’s the first time I’ve ever won money playing pickleball.

And I don’t plan for it to be my last. 

Until next time, 


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