Meet Michael Cobb — The man who holds the DUPR record for number of pickleball games played

Clara Coyne
January 8, 2024

Think you’re a hardcore picklehead? Chances are, you’re no match for Michael Cobb who has played 1420 games in one year, averaging 27 games per week.


At 1400+ matches, you hold the record for most matches entered on DUPR, out of hundreds of thousands of users. When do you even sleep?

I have a special situation here in Kansas City, as I've been the regional director of iPickle Nation for three and a half years now. We run Round Robins five days a week using the DUPR system. It's the best thing out there, because it helps us put people in the right levels. It just seems to create really good competitive games. We probably run 15,000 matches through DUPR in a year.
Whenever the level is high enough, I play myself. That’s how I've been averaging 27 games a week, which is how I’ve gotten 1420 matches entered in DUPR since August of 2022 — so that's only little over a year’s worth. I don’t have a set goal I’m aiming for. As long as I can continue playing, I'll do it.  



What got you hooked on pickleball?

About four and a half years ago, I was at a community center working out in Kansas City, and I went to go get a drink at the water fountain and it was down below where the gymnasium was. I looked in there and saw people playing a weird game. There was a guy at the fountain, I asked him: “what is that?” and he goes, “it’s pickleball, you ought to try that sometime.”
The next day I was playing, and I've been hooked ever since. There’s a competitiveness to it, but you can play recreationally if you want to. That's the great thing about pickleball — it’s an easy game for anybody to play, but to master it, there's a little more to it. And also the camaraderie. There's no discrimination on who can play this game. I also think it's going to keep elderly people living longer, honestly.

What was your favorite match you ever entered?

About two and a half years ago, we went to St Louis to qualify for the Nationals. My partner — his name is Raven Pier — does everything barefoot. It’s amazing. He walks out in the snow, barefoot. If it's 100 degrees out, it'll be barefoot. On the pickleball court, he’s barefoot. So the last match of the day, we had to win it to qualify, and it was an intense match. It probably lasted close to 40 minutes, with a lot of back and forth. I made some phenomenal plays, and so did he. We ended up winning 15-13, and we got to go to Nationals. That was definitely my best match that I can remember.



What about the worst one — the one you wish you could forget?

The worst match I remember goes hand in hand with the best: we went to nationals and got our butts smoked. It was in California, and they forced Raven to wear shoes. I told him the night before when we were practicing, “Hey, Raven, let me give you a pair of socks”, knowing that playing barefoot with shoes might be hard on his feet. He said he’d be okay and played without socks. During practice, I noticed he wasn't moving as well, and usually he's a phenomenal player, so I knew something wasn't right. Well, after the matches were done and we had lost, he took off his shoes and he had bloody heels.


How do you feel about the changes to the DUPR rating algorithm?

When they changed the algorithm, it seemed drastic. We went from like a chess type algorithm to strictly almost on wins and losses and it affected people. My community was asking me, “what’s going on?” and I had to explain you were just revamping the algorithm. But I do think it's a great system. Of course, there's going to be some tweaks to it that need to be done. If I'm not mistaken, there's wins and losses and the first type of algorithm being mixed together now, so it has definitely improved tremendously in the past months.


Which features would you want to see added to DUPR?

If there was a way to check in-depth stats for the last hundred games, or eventually, once you get enough data, you can bring up a player and get insight into your stats with that specific player.


What do you say to players who complain about their DUPR rating?


90% of players will think they're better than they are. I mean, that's just a given. And that’s ok, but it means they have trouble accepting their classification at first. I always tell them, you're just going to have to play and keep it going because the more games you get in, the more accurate it'll be.


Full interview on YouTube: HERE


Check out Michael Cobb’s Profile: HERE

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May 17, 2024

National Pickleball League® and DUPR Announce Partnership, Joint Effort to Unify Global Pickleball Community Under One Common Language and Standard

For the 2024 season, NPL Will Adopt DUPR as Official Rating and Support Efforts to Enhance the League With Level-Based Play, More Opportunities to Compete and Grow Participation 

The National Pickleball League® (NPL) www.nplpickleball.com is pleased to announce it has entered into a partnership with DUPR, (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating) to develop the league and further enhance the competitive experience for players.  

DUPR offers organizers the ability to use its accurate, reliable rating to organize competitive, level-based matches, and use its community platform to reach hundreds of thousands of pickleball players to highlight their leagues and upcoming events. Most importantly, players  benefit from competing against others at their level for an even better experience.

“DUPR is the most accurate and reliable pickleball rating, and its team prioritizes collaboration and partnership to grow the game together. We are excited to bring DUPR’s rating and technology to our league, provide an even better experience for our players and partners, and showcase NPL to DUPR’s large community of pickleball players to bring more competitors into the league,” said Paul Bamundo, Chief Executive Officer of the National Pickleball League®. “Integrating DUPR also benefits our players beyond league play. DUPR provides connectivity to the entire global pickleball community, uniting all players across a common rating and standard. Now, our participants have the ability to know their level, find more opportunities to play wherever they are, and be a part of the global pickleball community.”

“We are honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with the National Pickleball League® and support their exciting formats for professional players ages 50 and up,” said Tito Machado, DUPR CEO. “NPL has built a dynamic and exciting professional league that showcases talented athletes and reminds everyone that age shouldn’t be a barrier. These players are the heart of the game and we hope that our rating and technology platform will help to make the experience even better, and offer more connections and opportunities to players to participate and achieve at the highest levels in pickleball.”

All results from NPL will be submitted to count for a player’s rating. Players can also follow the NPL league page on DUPR for updates on competition, scheduling and league standings. 

The 2024 season will consist of 12 teams representing cities from across the country. Each team will have a roster of 14-16 players, equally split between women and men, with more than 200 pickleball professionals playing in the NPL this season. 

The 2024 regular season kicks into high gear with competition event weekends taking place once per month beginning May 17-19 in Chicago, with $150,000 in prize money on the line, culminating in the season-ending Championships in October. The season opener will be livestreamed on the National Pickleball League® YouTube Channel @nationalpickleballleague with additional coverage of NPL events on CBS Sports this season. 

National Pickleball League® is among the many leagues worldwide adopting DUPR to enhance the experience for its players, and to support the growth and global unification of the game,  joining Honcho Pickleball League, National Team Pickleball League (NTPL), World Pickleball Tour (WPT) and La Cocina, and others. DUPR’s solution provides organizers with the ability to showcase their events to the most active and engaged community in pickleball, and enables players to find more opportunities to play at their level wherever they are. The platform is built on DUPR’s industry-leading rating, which looks at match results to provide an accurate, reliable evaluation of a players skill level across age, gender and location. 


About National Pickleball League®

The National Pickleball League® was founded in 2022 by Champions Pro players Rick Witsken, Beth Bellamy, and Michael “Hammer Mike” Chen. NPL Pickleball™ is a nationwide team competition for Champions Division (age 50+) professional pickleball players and made up of twelve teams in metropolitan locations in Indianapolis, Austin, Boca Raton, Naples, Denver, Oklahoma City, Houston, Seattle, Kansas City, Columbus, Coachella Valley and Princeton. National Pickleball League® is owned by National Pickleball League, LLC. The NPL is dedicated to expanding the reach of pickleball, fostering community engagement, physical and mental health, and elevating the sport to new heights. Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities with NPL Pickleball™ can email info@nplpickleball.com for more information or visit the league’s website at www.NPLpickleball.com.

For more information and to sign up for DUPR’s free platform, visit www.dupr.com

Community
Partners
May 16, 2024

DINKING ON DECK: THE CRUISE INDUSTRY IS RIDING THE PICKLEBALL WAVE

Pickleball player demographics, tight court dimensions and easy accessibility is making it a popular

addition to cruise liners and riverboats

Pickleball's unique blend of fun, friendship, fitness and accessibility has attracted millions of older people to the court in the last few years. These players can now combine their new favorite hobby with another activity beloved by retirees - cruises.

As well as hitting the demographics bullseye, pickleball is an attractive proposition for the cruise industry because of the low price of installing courts and their compact 20mx44ft dimensions, far easier to accommodate compared to those of tennis, squash or padel.

 

Many cruise ships already contain pickleball courts either indoor or on deck, but Pickleball International is taking its offering several stages further. The company was founded by former professional basketball player Eric Dailey Sr, who is now applying his 15 years' experience in basketball training, competitions and tours to the sport he fell in love with almost as soon as he picked up a paddle.

 

His sports travel enterprise included a partnership with cruise industry giants Caribbean International, which he is now expanding. Pickleball International offer cruises which include pickleball tuition from top pros, competitions and off-court physical preparation including yoga, spin classes, strength and agility training in top-of-the-range gyms and aqua training in the ship's swimming pools - in addition to all the usual cruise attractions: dinners, parties, casino nights and much more. 

 

AmaWaterWays Co-Founder

Eric says: "The training is an important part of the offer for this demographic of pickleball players. We can't play like we're 17 any more! We have a world-class yoga instructor and facilities to prepare our players' muscles for four hours of fun on court each day."

 

Caribbean International's ship, The Odyssey of the Seas, has three indoor pickleball courts. Five-day cruises set sail from the UK, Greece and the USA (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) to the Caribbean, Australia, Hong Kong and Alaska. A maximum of 24 players go on a single trip and all standards are catered for by Pickleball International's roster of highly qualified pro coaches ('Z' Orano, Pedro Penteado, Jay Jaudon and Fiona Edwards).

 

"These cruises are for guys who want to improve," says Eric. "If you're a DUPR 3.0, that's fine, go have fun and learn. If you're a 5.0, there will be plenty of competitions to get your teeth into. It's a great opportunity for anyone who loves pickleball and loves to travel."

 

UK-based Amadeus River Cruises have pickleball courts on their Amadeus Cara and Amadeus Silver III and offer pickleball-themed cruises on which you can take on locals at clubs along the way.

 

Janine and Damian on board

AmaWaterways, headquartered in Calabasas, California, has also spotted pickleball's potential. Last year, they added a full-size pickleball court on the 21m-wide deck of the AmaMagna riverboat which cruises along the Danube through Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey.

 

Pickleball activity led by on-board coach Damian fuses perfectly with the ship's large gym and Zen Wellness Studio (offering circuit training, resistance bands and core training, yoga and Pilates). “More people want to stay active when they’re on holiday. Pickleball is really easy to pick up and you can quickly start playing a game,” says Damian.

 

As more cruise companies capitalize on pickleball's popularity, we are sure to see the trend for dinking on deck spread across the globe.

Community
Events
May 12, 2024

Leigh Waters: The Mother of Modern Day Pickleball - Mother's Day Special

In a heartfelt Instagram post, Anna Leigh Waters recently honored her mother's remarkable legacy in pickleball.

"Growing up I always looked up to her, not only as a person but also as an amazing athlete who was once was ranked #1 in the world in pickleball in 2019! She doesn’t get enough credit for her pickleball skills! She changed the way pickleball was played. Truly a pioneer of the sport!"

This Mother’s Day, DUPR joins Anna Leigh in honoring the mother of modern pickleball, Leigh Waters.

Traditionally characterized by a gentle finesse, pickleball experienced a transformative shift with Leigh Waters’ entry into professional play. Along with her then twelve-year-old daughter, Anna Leigh, the Waters burst onto the professional pickleball scene and changed it forever.

Leigh and Anna Leigh’s pickleball journey began amidst the upheaval of Hurricane Irma in 2017. While seeking refuge with Leigh's father in Pennsylvania, he introduced them to pickleball, igniting a passion that led them to enter their first tournament shortly after returning to Florida.

As a former tennis player on a full scholarship at the University of South Carolina, Leigh’s background brought out a fierce, unapologetic style to the pickleball court.

Recalling their early days, Leigh reminisces, "Everyone was still just playing the soft game, and here I am with Anna Leigh, ripping balls, driving, crashing the next ball—we took a lot of people off guard."

Anna Leigh adds, "People would tell my mom to ease up, but she stood her ground, saying, ‘No, this is working; I'm beating you. Why would I change?’ If asked to slow down, she just hit the ball even harder."

By 2022, Team Waters had become the #1 team in women's doubles in the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA). However, in November Leigh suffered an ACL injury at Nationals, temporarily halting her competitive pursuits. 

Initially disheartened, Leigh found solace in coaching during her recovery, nurturing Anna Leigh's talent and watching her thrive. 

“I started realizing that this is the best thing for her. This felt like it was her journey. Being there for her and being able to take it all in as a parent rather than a teammate. And I actually found that I loved coaching and didn't really miss the competition. I missed the rec play and all that, like playing with your friends and training, but I didn't really miss the grind of the tournament schedule.”

Reflecting on her mother's pivotal influence, Anna Leigh shares, “I definitely don't think I would be the player I am today without my mom's coaching and strategy. I mean, she's really good at coaching, but she's amazing at strategy. She can look at a player and give you their weaknesses and strengths by watching them for five minutes. It's crazy.”

Their reunion at the US Open this year marked a triumphant return for Team Waters. However, they have no plans to resume a full tournament schedule together.

Anna Leigh expresses, "She's not just an athlete; she's a mother, coach, wife, and daughter. She does so many things for our family, and she still somehow has time for herself and everybody else. I'm just so proud of her."

This Mother's Day, let's celebrate Leigh Waters—a trailblazing athlete, devoted coach, and loving mother—whose resilience, passion, and unwavering support continue to inspire us all.

By Alana Jackler

Community