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From tennis to pickleball: Collin Shick's transition to the paddle


By Collin Shick

on Apr 02, 2024

Pro Selkirk athlete Collin Shick in a ready stance with the Power Air Invikta shape paddle

 

I started playing pickleball regularly in August of 2022, right around the same time I started medical school. After college tennis concluded earlier that year, I found myself craving competition following a summer spent away from everyday sports and practice for the first time in my life. I started playing pickleball every day, working it into my schedule as if it were a college tennis practice. 6 months later, during spring break, I participated in my first PPA tournament, progressing from the qualifiers to the final.

I think the key to the quick transition for me from tennis to pickleball was my genuine love and addiction to the game and being coachable, not stubborn early on. It is definitely true that not all skills from tennis transfer equally to the game of pickleball. I was lucky that some of my biggest strengths in tennis including speed and being a good doubles player were very helpful in pickleball. However, I have observed a common pitfall among good tennis players: a reluctance to grasp the fundamentals of this new sport, often attempting to apply tennis strategies with unwarranted confidence as they rip forehands into the bottom of the net. When learning a new game, I firmly believe in the importance of seeking guidance, listening to more experienced players, and maintaining a teachable mindset.

A year later, my pickleball journey has exceeded my wildest expectations. I am now taking a year off from medical school to play a full year of pickleball, relocating to Charlotte, NC. Here, I get to train every day with Team Charlotte consisting of Jack Sock, Brooke Buckner, and Eric Roddy.

Last year, after my Florida PPA singles run, Jack first invited me to come play in Charlotte with them, as he already knew my younger brother Braden from tennis. Determined to improve my doubles game at the time, I started making multiple weekly trips to Charlotte from Chapel Hill, often getting back home past midnight. These sessions not only contributed to my improvement, but they also provided some of the most enjoyable pickleball experiences I’ve ever had.

We practice differently than I imagine most pros do, playing a million competitive games, going for absurd shots, and having crazy points that we always wish were on video for our future YouTube channel. This focus on exhilarating athletic rallies and unconventional play was something Jack and I especially enjoyed and thought it would be a ton of fun to play in tournaments together after all of Team Charlotte committed to the PPA for the 2024 season.

After committing to a year off medical school and moving to Charlotte, I got the awesome opportunity to play the 2024 season with Jack in men’s doubles and Brooke in mixed doubles. We keep things entertaining in Charlotte from our “Backyard Pickleball” to golf on the weekends (and at tournaments) to competitive card games on the road. During the first couple months of the year, I had to prepare for my first medical licensing exam, and long study days were made much easier by the enjoyment we all shared. I am thrilled for the rest of 2024. 

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