Father's Day special - The Brascia's

DUPR
June 16, 2024
2 min

Mary Brascia, a professional pickleball player on the PPA tour, currently ranked number 4 on the PPA leaderboards for women's singles with an impressive DUPR rating of 5.666 in doubles and 5.871 in singles, is among the top-ranked female players in the sport. Hailing from Southern California, Mary finds the greatest joy in playing pickleball with her family, and especially enjoys being coached by her father Vinnie Brascia.

“Our whole family is a pickleball family. We all play all the time and our family is super close. We enjoy spending time together so it’s really nice that we found a sport that we can all play together as a family”, Mary says.

Mary’s dad, Vinnie still coaches her and her sister to this day. Mary says,

"He knows me better than anyone, and he helps my sister and I play our best on the court because he knows the game really well.” Mary mentions she plays her best with her dad as her coach because it keeps her in a “positive headspace”.

Vinnie has always taken pride in both Mary’s and her sister Maggie’s passion for pickleball. He remains focused on their goals and maintaining a good relationship to the sport.

“My goal is for them to have fun and to achieve their potential as best as they can”, Vinnie says. As any good father would, he remains dad first, “I’m dad first and foremost, and always, and no matter what happens in a match I’m just going to give Mary a big hug and just say how proud I am for trying their best out there, cause this sport is hard.”



As we celebrate Father's Day this year, let's not forget the role that fathers play in shaping our lives and helping us reach our full potential. Mary Brascia's story is a reminder of the impact that a father's love, guidance, and support can have on their child's journey to success.

To hear more about Mary and her dad, watch the video here. Follow Mary's journey in climbing the pro pickleball rankings on her Instagram.

To all the fathers out there, Happy Father's Day!


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July 10, 2024

Can Pickleball Earn Its Place in the Olympics?

As anticipation builds for the upcoming Summer Olympics, pickleball enthusiasts find themselves asking a familiar question: why hasn't pickleball earned its place in the Olympic Games? 

The answer lies in the intricate process of gaining recognition from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a journey fraught with challenges and complexities.

At the heart of pickleball's Olympic aspirations lies the need for recognition from the IOC, which meticulously evaluates several key factors before considering a sport for inclusion in the Olympics. These factors include popularity and participation, international federation recognition, global reach, and alignment with Olympic values.

Ryan Maher, Vice President of Commercial Operations at DUPR, acknowledges the hurdles facing pickleball's Olympic journey. 

Despite the sport's surging popularity, Maher emphasizes that the path to Olympic recognition is far from straightforward. "There's a lot more politics and money that goes into it," Maher explains, dispelling the common misconception that popularity alone guarantees Olympic inclusion.

One significant obstacle hindering pickleball's Olympic aspirations is the absence of a unified international governing body. 

On May 15, 2024, United Pickleball Association (UPA), which owns Major League Pickleball (MLP) and the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA), announced the launch of United Pickleball Association of America (UPA-A) as the new National Governing Body (NGB) of the sport. 

Although USA Pickleball (USAP) has historically been the self-appointed NGB since 1984, the emergence of UPA-A challenges this status, particularly because pickleball is not yet recognized as an Olympic sport. The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) would designate an official NGB if pickleball became Olympic-recognized, providing funding and legislative support while establishing a monopoly over the sport's management.

Both UPA-A and USAP aim to become the definitive authority, offering various solutions and improvements. However, this rivalry might lead to issues such as differing rating systems, paddle approval lists, and rule sets, which could create chaos and hinder the sport's unified development. 

Maher elaborates, "A sport is not going to make it into the Olympics when you have so much political tension within the sport around who is the governing body internationally."

“The reality of it is that we're so early in the sport’s growth - not early in the sport, it's been around for a while - but so early on in this massive boom. We're not done seeing people coming in and trying to kind of take hold of the space. And it's just going to take a while for that all to tease out.”

DUPR, while not directly involved in federation politics, plays a pivotal role in standardizing player ratings globally, a critical aspect for Olympic consideration. Maher elucidates, "What DUPR is creating is a pathway from the amateur side all the way up to the pro side, which leads into the Olympic side." 

“If a country is sending their delegation of users to the Olympics, how do they know who those people are? Those players play in local events, earn their way to regional or national events, and that is all facilitated by the programming around a rating. With DUPR being aligned with the PPA and MLP, the two largest pro organizations in the sport. That's just where the rating side of the sport is going. That is a big piece of countries around the world, all filtering into these pathways for the sport to be entered in the Olympics as well.”

Financial considerations also loom large in pickleball's quest for Olympic recognition. Maher draws parallels with squash, another sport that faced a prolonged journey to Olympic inclusion. He notes, "It wasn't until the billionaires got involved that squash made its way." 

Another significant challenge highlighted by Maher is the standardization of equipment regulations, particularly paddle standards. As paddle technology advances, ensuring uniform standards becomes imperative to maintain fairness and integrity in the sport. 

“We need to standardize internationally. If we don't have someone who's governing standards internationally, that could be an issue," Maher says.

Despite the obstacles, Maher remains cautiously optimistic about pickleball's Olympic prospects. He suggests a realistic timeline, indicating that Olympic inclusion might not occur before 2036 but says, "There's no doubt in my mind that it will be someday."

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July 8, 2024

A Step-By-Step Guide for Staying Hydrated & Preventing Pickleball Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps can ruin your pickleball game. They strike without warning, leaving you sidelined and frustrated. But there's good news: you can prevent them with the right approach.

Pickleball players face unique challenges inthe summer heat. Long matches, intense rallies, and scorching temperatures create a perfect storm for dehydration and cramping. We'll explore why this happens and how to stop it.

By the end, you'll have a clear plan to stay hydrated and cramp-free. Let's dive in and keep you on the court all summer long.

Understanding the Cramp Culprits

Many players instinctively blame dehydration for their muscle cramps, but the reality is more nuanced. While hydration certainly plays a crucial role, muscle fatigue is an equally important factor often overlooked. 

Dehydration can indeed trigger cramps, but simply drinking water isn't always the solution. 

Electrolyte imbalance can cause cramping even if you're well-hydrated, which is why smart replenishment strategies are essential. Moreover, as muscles fatigue during intense play, the nerve signals controlling contractions can become disrupted, leading to involuntary spasms.

Research has shown that cramp-prone athletes tend to lose more sodium through sweat, making thoughtful hydration particularly crucial for pickleball players battling the summer heat. Studies have also demonstrated that electrolyte-rich sports drinks fortified with carbohydrates are significantly more effective than water alone in delaying the onset of cramps. 

By addressing both hydration and muscle fatigue, you'll dramatically reduce your risk of cramps. Let's dive into practical steps to keep you playing at your best.

Hydration: More Than Just Water

While chugging plain water before a match might seem like a smart move, it can sometimes backfire. Excessive water intake without proper electrolyte balance can actually dilute your body's mineral concentrations, potentially increasing your cramp risk.

Instead, focus on a more strategic approach:

  • Consume a sports drink containing electrolytes 2-4 hours before play to prime your system.
  • During activity, aim to replace 16-20 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost through sweat.
  • Consider using a hydration tracking app or smart water bottle to ensure you're hitting your targets.

Grab the Ultimate Pickleball Hydration guide for more information on pre-, during, and post-match hydration. It includes a special formula for determining exactly how much fluid you need to consume every 15-20 minutes to stay in peak form on the court.

[I WANT THE HYDRATION GUIDE]

Proper hydration not only prevents cramps but also enhances overall performance and speeds up recovery between games. By fine-tuning your hydration strategy, you'll gain a significant advantage on the court. 

However, hydration is just one piece of the puzzle – let's explore another crucial factor in cramp prevention.

Fueling for Success

The role of nutrition in preventing muscle cramps is often underestimated, but it's a critical component, especially during grueling tournament play. Proper fueling keeps your muscles energized and less prone to fatigue-induced cramping.

To optimize your nutritional strategy:

  • Consume a balanced meal rich in complex carbohydrates 3-4 hours before play to build up your energy reserves.
  • During tournaments, snack on easily digestible carbs every 60-90 minutes to maintain steady energy levels.
  • Consider using carb-electrolyte gels between games for a quick boost when time is limited.

These tactics help keep your glycogen stores topped up, delaying the onset of muscle fatigue that can lead to cramping. While pickleball may not be as intense as ultra-endurance sports, the principle of consistent fueling still applies. Research on team sport athletes suggests consuming 30 - 60g of carbs per hour during prolonged activity – adapt this to your specific needs and playing duration. 

By fueling smartly, you're helping your muscles function optimally and resist fatigue. This translates directly to fewer cramps and improved performance, especially in those crucial late-game moments. But there's one more vital element we need to address to complete your cramp-prevention arsenal.

Training for Resilience

Your overall fitness level plays a significant role in how susceptible you are to cramping. The less conditioned you are, the faster fatigue sets in, increasing your risk of muscle spasms. This is especially true when you push beyond your usual intensity or duration of play.

To build cramp-resistant muscles:

  • Gradually increase your pickleball training volume and intensity over time to improve your stamina.
  • Incorporate resistance training into your overall fitness routine to improve strength, power, and stamina on the court.
  • Don't neglect overall cardiovascular fitness – it's the foundation of your on-court endurance.

A well-rounded training program complements your hydration and nutrition efforts, creating a powerful trifecta of cramp prevention. Together, these strategies form a comprehensive approach to keeping you on the court and off the sidelines.

The Takeaway

Preventing muscle cramps requires a holistic approach that addresses hydration, nutrition, and fitness. By implementing the strategies we've discussed, you'll significantly reduce your risk of cramping and elevate your game, even in the most challenging summer conditions.

Authors

Pratik Patel

Erik Korem, PhD

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July 5, 2024

Paths to Reliability: How to Achieve a 60% Reliability Score…and Progress to 100%

The DUPR Reliability Score gives players more insight into how close they are to achieving a reliable rating. If your Reliability Score is above 60%, your rating is reliable, and you can be confident that you’ll have a competitive experience playing with others at a similar level. If you’re under 60%, whether that’s because you’re a new player, or you haven’t played in a while, it means you have more playing to do! But don’t worry, there are a variety of ways to reach a 60% Reliability Score, and, for overachievers, progress from 60% to 100%. 

Here are some paths you can take to get a good reliability score. Each match represents one game. Matches with more games will count more and progress you to reliability faster because there will be more information input into the rating system. 

Remember, the biggest takeaways are playing frequently (and inputting your results!) and playing with a variety of players. 

Reliability Progression Paths 

Just starting out or have less than 10 games under your belt? Here’s how to get to a reliable rating (60% Reliability Score). 

These paths assume the following: 

  • Opposing player or team ratings are all within 0.5 of your player or team rating. 
  • Teammates and Opponents are reliable (ie have a 60% Reliability Score).
  • Matches are with 2 or more unique partners (Doubles only) and against 6 or more unique teams.
  • Matches are each one game.

Note - There are many ways to achieve a Reliability Score of 60% or higher. The biggest takeaway is more is better! Play more games, play more with similarly rated players, play more with players who are more reliable than you and play with a wide variety of players. Those are the key factors in improving your Reliability Score. 

Already have a reliable rating? Here’s how to achieve a 100% Reliability Score

These pathways assume:

  • Players and opposing teams are all a similar level (ie within a 0.5 range)
  • Teammates and Opponents have a 60% Reliability Score (or higher) 
  • Doubles matches are with 4 or more unique partners 
  • All matches are against 12 or more unique teams 
  • Matches are each 1 game 

Note - The biggest takeaway is more is better! Play more games, play more with similarly rated players, play more with players who are more reliable than you and play with a wide variety of players. Again, these are the key factors in increasing your Reliability Score. 

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