Major League Pickleball (MLP) and DUPR partner with Life Time in Strategic Alliance to Elevate Fast

Kevin Brown
January 8, 2024

Life Time to host multiple MLP tour events during 2023 season and adopt DUPR as official rating system





Chanhassen, Minn., (Nov. 7, 2022) — Nearly five million people are now playing pickleball according to the latest data from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association and today, Major League Pickleball (MLP) and DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating) announced a strategic alliance with Life Time (NYSE: LTH) to continue elevating the sport through hosting tournaments and events at iconic Life Time locations, adopting the DUPR official rating system across all Life Time clubs, partnering on improved technology and offering shared marketing support.


“This is an exciting time for all of us involved in making pickleball a sport that everyone chooses to play – whether competitively, for fun, for physical and mental health, to be a part of a welcoming community or all the above. I’ve never seen a sport so unifying,” said Life Time Founder, Chairman and CEO Bahram Akradi. “Through this strategic alliance among our organizations, we will take pickleball to the next level through elevated events, experiences, ratings and execution with one standard in mind – being the best. We are thrilled to be working with MLP and DUPR.”


As a part of the partnership, Life Time will adopt the DUPR rating system and technology across all of its pickleball programming, making the sport even more accessible by creating even playing fields and providing best-in-class technology to run events. MLP will also be bringing at least two of its marquee team-based events to Life Time locations in 2023.


MLP has made news in recent months with its roster of new team owners including iconic professional athletes, serial entrepreneurs, best-selling authors and speakers, billionaire investors and more. As the 2023 season gets underway, the league will grow to 16 teams, double its events from three to six and surpass the $2M mark in player prize money and payouts.  


“We could not be more excited to create this strategic alliance with Life Time,” said MLP and DUPR Founder Steve Kuhn. “Life Time owns and operates the most pickleball courts of any company in the U.S., located within the most beautiful athletic country clubs in prime locations creating the perfect environment to host MLP events. Additionally, aligning with DUPR to provide the most accurate global rating system will provide immense benefit to players, regardless of which Life Time club they’re playing at across the country. Together we’ll see the sport continue to explode in growth as we aim to hit our goal of 40 million players by 2030.”


Further details of the deal were not disclosed. For more information visit: MLP, Life Time and DUPR.


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About Major League Pickleball

Major League Pickleball (MLP) is the first of its kind professional team league and the standard-bearer for the fastest-growing sport in the United States. Led by Founder & CEO Steve Kuhn, MLP is committed to perpetuating the sport's larger role in society and permeating every facet of pickleball's business, marketing, and community relations. With iconic team owners, a co-ed team format, an innovative draft, easy to understand scoring, groundbreaking broadcast quality, and the highest prize money events in pro pickleball, MLP's goal is to elevate and grow the sport in everything it does. For more information on Major League Pickleball, visit MajorLeaguePickleball.net and follow Major League Pickleball on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.


About DUPR

DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating) is the most accurate and only global pickleball rating system trusted by the world’s premier Pickleball clubs, tours, and professionals. All players, regardless of their age, gender, location, or skill, are rated on the same scale between 2.00-8.00 based on their match results. DUPR is free and anyone can have a rating.


About Life Time®

Life Time (NYSE: LTH) empowers people to live healthy, happy lives through its portfolio of nearly 160 athletic country clubs across the United States and Canada. The company’s healthy way of life communities and ecosystem address all aspects of healthy living, healthy aging, and healthy entertainment for people 90 days to 90+ years old. Supported by a team of more than 30,000 dedicated professionals, Life Time is committed to providing the best programs and experiences through its clubs, iconic athletic events, and comprehensive digital platform.

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April 17, 2024

Building Strength and Mobility Off the Court: Exercises to Support Pickleball Performance

The only way to improve your pickleball skills and reach your full potential is through structured practice and consistent competitive play. However, injuries and chronic pain are preventing some pickleball players from reaching their full potential on the court, leading to frustration and missed opportunities to enjoy the game they love.

UBS reports that in 2023 alone, there were almost $400 million in injury claims. But you don’t have to be a statistic. 

Many pickleball players are solely focused on playing, neglecting the importance of off-court training — leading to muscle imbalances, poor movement patterns, and increased risk of injury. Without addressing these underlying issues through targeted strength and mobility training, pickleball players may find themselves sidelined by injuries or unable to improve their skills and perform at their best.

In this article, we'll explore the science-backed benefits of incorporating strength and mobility training into your pickleball routine and provide you with simple and effective steps you can take today to help you reduce injuries, move more efficiently on the court, and unlock your full potential as a player.

The Benefits of Resistance Training for Pickleball Players

Resistance training is essential for global health and wellness, but especially for pickleball players. A well-structured plan builds strength, endurance, and resilience to injury.

Research demonstrates that resistance training:

  • Increases fat-free mass & decreases body fat % 
  • Increases muscle strength and power
  • Improves bone density and balance, reducing the risk of fractures from falls or impacts
  • Strengthens tendons and ligaments, minimizing the risk of overuse & traumatic injuries

By incorporating resistance training at least twice a week, you'll build a strong foundation for your pickleball game and extend your life expectancy. A recent study with over 90,000 participants found a 41% reduction in all-cause mortality when resistance training was combined with at least 150 - 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). 

And yes, pickleball qualifies as MVPA!

Designing a Resistance Training Plan for Pickleball Players

A well-designed resistance plan should target the major movement patterns: push, pull, hinge, squat, twist, and carry. These movements are functional for daily living and are the foundation of many sporting actions.


When designing your resistance training plan, there are a few critical variables to account for:

Intensity

Intensity refers to the weight or resistance you use when performing an exercise. It can come from various sources, such as dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, or even your body weight. The heavier the load, the more challenging the exercise becomes for your muscles.

Intensity Guidelines

Beginner: If you’ve been doing resistance training for less than 6 months, choose a moderate intensity and focus on performing each exercise with good technical proficiency.

Intermediate: If you’ve been resistance training for less than two years, choose an intensity that challenges but doesn’t change your form.

Advanced: If you’ve been resistance training for 2+ years, you’ll need to use higher-intensity loads to continue to see improvement. After several warm-up sets, your primary sets should push you within a few reps of failure while maintaining excellent form.

Volume

Volume refers to the overall workload your muscles handle during a training session or week. It takes into account the number of exercises you perform and the sets and repetitions you complete for each exercise.

A dose of approximately 10 sets per muscle group per week is a general minimum prescription to optimize your workouts. Research indicates there are potential benefits to higher volumes for underdeveloped muscle groups, but you should always progress your volume slowly. 

Avoid increasing your total workout volume by more than 15% per week, or you will dramatically increase your risk for injury.

Frequency 

The US Department of Health & Human Services and the World Health Organization recommend that adults perform at least two total body strengthening sessions per week. 

Rest Interval 

As a general rule, rest periods should last at least 2 minutes when performing multi-joint exercises. Shorter rest periods (60-90 secs) can be employed for single-joint exercises.

The Role of Mobility Training in Pickleball Performance

Research indicates that improving mobility through targeted exercise programs can reduce the risk of injury in various sports. Mobility refers to the ability to move your joints through their full range of motion and to be strong and stable in those positions. 

For instance, a mobile pickleball player should be able to flex their hips, knees, and ankles at the kitchen line to return shots. An immobile player may place undue stress on their lower back from bowing at the waist instead of bending the hips, knees, and ankles to return shots.

There are several areas of the body where poor mobility can lead to pain and injury:

  • Ankles: essential for quick direction changes and to prevent ankle sprains
  • Hips: important hinging, squatting, and rotating 
  • Shoulders: crucial for overhead shots, serving, dinking, and more
  • Knees: critical for squatting and generating force to move quickly

How & When to Train for Mobility

Because mobility training is a low-stress activity on the body, it can be done daily. Incorporating mobility exercises into your warm-up and cool-down routines is an efficient way to incorporate them into your exercise plan, and it can significantly impact your performance and injury resilience. 

Focus on exercises that move your joints through a full range of motion, such as shoulder, elbow, knee, and hip circles. Squatting and lunging patterns, as well as yoga pushups, are exceptional exercises for enhancing mobility.

Here are a few mobility training exercises you can start today that target various muscle groups of the lower body and upper body to improve overall movement quality: 

Cossack Squat

Targeting hips, hamstrings, and adductors/groin
  • Start with your feet wider than your shoulders, toes pointing out. 
  • Lift your arms straight out in front of you, shift your weight onto the right leg, and sit back as if there is a chair behind you. 
  • Keep the other leg straight, bend the right knee, and lower it as far down as you can without lifting the right heel and keeping the chest lifted. 
  • Return to standing and alternate sides until you reach 16-20 repetitions. 

Cat-Cow

Targeting spine mobility and upper back

  • Start on all fours with hands underneath the shoulders, knees underneath the hips, and back straight. 
  • Arch the back, lifting the head and tailbone to the ceiling. 
  • Reverse the movement by rounding the back, tailbone, and shoulders, pulling the belly button towards the spine, and looking towards the hips. 
  • Alternate positions for a total of 8-10 reps in each position. 

90/90 Hip Rotations

Targeting hip joints and glutes

  • Begin sitting on your sit bones with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and knees at a 90-degree angle. 
  • With your back straight and core engaged, you can rest your hands behind you for support (progress to lifting your hands and maintaining balance).
  • Rotate your hips to one side, keep a tall upper body posture, then slowly rotate back to the opposite side, alternating rotations for 8-12 repetitions. 

BONUS:

Here’s a video sequence for improving knee mobility with Dr. Kyle Richmond, a rehab and mobility expert.

Watch video HERE

Integrating Strength and Mobility Training into Your Pickleball Routine

Consistency is key to reap the full benefits of strength and mobility training. 

Aim to incorporate resistance training at least twice weekly, focusing on exercises targeting major movement patterns. Also, consider making mobility training a regular part of your pre-and post-match routine or a regular at-home training program.

Using a personalized training app like AIM7 can help streamline your off-court training. With customized resistance training plans based on your fitness level and available equipment, as well as guided warm-ups, cool-downs, and daily mobility sessions, AIM7 makes it easy to integrate strength and mobility training into your routine.

Get your free 60-day trial by using the code (A760FREE).

Conclusion

Pickleball is a challenging sport that demands a combination of skill, strength, and mobility. By prioritizing off-court training and incorporating resistance and mobility exercises into your routine, you'll reduce your risk of injury and unlock your full potential on the court. 

Remember, the key to success is consistency and a well-designed plan. So grab your weights, resistance bands, and pickleball paddle, and get ready to take your game to the next level!

By Erik Korem, PhD & Susie Reiner, PhD

Educational
Partners
April 10, 2024

The Power of Sibling Partnerships in Pickleball

On April 3rd, at the Major League Pickleball Premier Level Draft, the New York Hustlers selected Jackie Kawamoto with the 16th pick of the 2024 draft.

Shortly after, the Los Angeles Mad Dogs used the 26th pick to select Jackie’s twin sister, Jade Kawamoto.

The final rosters for the MLP Premier teams are comprised of the 48 most in-demand players in professional pickleball. Six of those coveted spots went to three pairs of siblings: the Kawamoto sisters, Ben and Collin Johns, and Jorja and JW Johnson.

Whether as practice partners, doubles teammates, or competitors, sibling teams have a unique chemistry that is difficult to replicate. Their shared history, communication skills, trust, competitive edge, and motivation all contribute to their success on the court.

For Jackie and Jade, the sibling advantage has helped them rise rapidly through the ranks of professional pickleball.

“Just having that person to always practice with was definitely an advantage for us,” says Jackie. “I'm a righty and Jade is a lefty, and we move together very well. I think that's our biggest strength. I know where I need to be when she gets pulled wide, and vice versa. I know all of her shots. We just know each other's game so well.”


“We've practiced with each other our whole lives, so it comes naturally,” adds Jade.

Like many professional pickleball players, the Kawamoto sisters have a background in competitive tennis, playing throughout their childhood and into college. 

Their journey with pickleball began in 2019.

“At first it was just fun, something to do with the family,” says Jade. 


“It didn't take long for all of us to get hooked and pretty much play nonstop,” adds Jackie.

They started competing in 2021, and in less than 3 years, they’ve become top rated pros. The Dink recently rated Jackie and Jade the number five women’s doubles team in the world for 2024, and their 5.9+ DUPR ratings demonstrate how far they’ve progressed in their short time since finding the sport.

“Chemistry is such an important part of this game because of the nature of the game and how quickly it goes,” Jackie explains.

Jade adds that the emotional support is just as important as the training.

“When you grow up with each other, and you're the same age and have gone through similar experiences… I know it's a cliche or whatever, but it does help you on the court to have someone that knows your emotions and knows how to bring you up when you're down,” she says.


This season, that bond faces a new challenge. Where the Kawamoto sisters played together for the ATX Pickleballers in 2023, this year they’ll meet as rivals.

It’s fitting, perhaps, that their new teams represent the sister-cities of New York and Los Angeles, two American metropolises that share similarities and a healthy rivalry.

For Jade and Jackie, meeting head-to-head is an opportunity to keep improving their game.

“We were pretty competitive with each other when we were younger,” Jackie recalls. “It always pushed us to be a little bit better.”

“We still like to be competitive with each other,” Jade says, “but mostly in a fun-spirited way, not like ‘I have to be better than you at this’. It helps us get better if we're trying to have that competitive mindset, but also keeps it fun.”

Community
MLP
April 2, 2024

Cliff Drysdale Tennis and Peter Burwash International Have Joined Forces with Minor League Pickleball!

Cliff Drysdale Tennis and Peter Burwash International have joined forces with Minor League Pickleball to bring a new and exciting experience to racquet sports enthusiasts across the nation. This strategic partnership will see a series of innovative events and competitions hosted at various CDT and PBI managed properties starting this 2024!

Minor League Pickleball is an innovative team competition where teams of four players (2 women and 2 men) compete against each other in a novel and engaging format, with twists on traditional match-ups and scoring for games, matches, and tiebreakers. Teams compete against each other in Matches using the MLPlay™ format, featuring team matches that are composed of four 21-point games, one women’s doubles, one men’s doubles, and the final two games consisting of mixed doubles. Teams play in a round robin pool, with guaranteed matches and a playoff bracket to determine the winning team. All participating players must have a DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating) account, and teams are formed by combining the DUPR ratings of all four players.

“We are thrilled to partner with Minor League Pickleball, a fantastic event concept that highlights many of sport’s most appealing qualities,” said Scott McCulloch, President and COO for Cliff Drysdale Tennis and Peter Burwash International. “Providing our members, guests and loyal community of pickleball players with engaging play options and competitive offerings is one of our top priorities, and Minor League Pickleball events will help strengthen our programs across the nation.”


“Minor League Pickleball is focused on providing amateur players with the most dynamic and exciting opportunities to compete. By partnering with Cliff Drysdale Tennis and Peter Burwash International, we’re able to reach even more players and host MiLP events at some of the most renowned racquet sports facilities in the world. We’re excited to work together to bring more people into this exciting game and create more engaging opportunities to play,” said Caroline Luelf, Director of Minor League Pickleball. 

Caroline Luelf, Director of Minor League Pickleball, expressed her excitement about working with CDT and PBI to expand the reach of the sport and create more opportunities for players to enjoy the game. The events will be held at select locations across the U.S., including private clubs, public facilities, and resorts, with a special travel experience planned for July at Omni Amelia Island Resort.

All players who compete in MiLP events will accumulate points to earn an opportunity to compete in the Minor League Pickleball National Championship, scheduled for December 13-15 and featuring a $50,000 prize purse.

Upcoming Minor League Pickleball events at CDT and PBI managed facilities:

April 13-14: JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa (Palm Desert, CA)
April 20-21: Esplanade Naples Golf and Country Club (Naples, FL)
May 4-5: Weston Racquet Club (Weston, FL)
May 18-19: Tyler Athletic and Swim Club (Tyler, TX)
June 22-23: John Newcombe Country Club  (New Braunfels, TX)
July 19-21: Omni Amelia Island Resort, Travel Package  (Amelia Island, FL)

To register for events and learn more about Minor League Pickleball, visit: www.dupr.com/minorleague

To learn more about Cliff Drysdale Tennis, visit: www.cliffdrysdale.com 

To learn more about Peter Burwash International, visit: www.pbitennis.com

Partners
Updates
Minor League