The DUPR Origin Story

Kevin Brown
January 8, 2024

An open letter to the global Pickleball community on ratings by Steve Kuhn, DUPR & Major League Pickleball founder



I first fell in love with Pickleball 7 years ago.  My nephew told me there was a “new” sport that combined aspects of tennis and table tennis (2 previous romances) and that I should try it.  I googled “Pickleball Austin Texas” and on that fateful Wednesday night I found myself in the Bethany Church gym.


The infatuation was immediate.  I fell hard.  I soon had a 5 night a week habit and learned a lot about world religions (the Jewish Community Center became a favorite, for example.)


I am known for my enthusiasm.  I told everyone I knew that Pickleball was the next big thing.  I argued that one day Pickleball would be the most played sport in America.  One person who heard this proclamation was Andy Roddick (I served on his charity board) and I remember quite distinctly his response;  “Steve, you are an idiot!”  It was said with love.


As my addiction grew, I sought wise counsel.  Pam and Toby Boyd, two USA Pickleball Ambassadors, took me under their wing.  Later Walter and Christina Dorman beat me into submission until I learned how to play a bit better.  The spirit of joy and sharing that permeates this sport is unlike any other and I'm thankful to the countless thousands who have helped build this sport for the last 57 years.  We were fortunate enough to host the Pickleball Hall of Fame ceremony at Dreamland earlier this year and I had a chance to thank some of those legends in person.


I wanted to share this amazing sport with everyone I knew.  I wanted to play my part in helping more people find something that makes them happier and healthier.  I joined USA Pickleball and helped form Greater Austin Pickleball (Mind the GAP!).  I organized play for kids groups throughout Austin.  And I talked my friend Andy and his friend Andre (Agassi) into trying this sport.


But all that wasn’t enough!  I wanted to do more to help Pickleball reach a goal of 40 million players by 2030.  


I decided to recruit a group of amazing owners to start Major League Pickleball (MLP).  I opened a venue named Dreamland with 16 courts and some of the world’s top players living and training to be their best.  


But most importantly, I founded DUPR (Dreamland Universal Pickleball Rating) to help players more accurately track their progress and to find players at their level, when play is its most competitive and most fun.  


At the time of DUPR’s founding, less than 1% of Pickleball players had any rating.  I knew from my experience in tennis and golf that an accurate skill measurement system was something that led to people wanting to increase their rating or lower their handicap.  They would want to play more and would want to get more lessons.  There is nothing like the ladder on the wall of a club to motivate players!  DUPR provides that.


In designing DUPR, the following qualities were deemed pivotal for the community:


  • Inclusive: means it is easy for anyone to use DUPR.  We have created a downloadable mobile app and website that allows anyone who wants to do so to turn casual play into something a little more meaningful.  As we say “DUPR or it didn’t happen!”  
  • Inexpensive: It is free to download DUPR and have a rating.  We wanted to make it for the widest adoption possible, and nothing beats free.  
  • Widely used: Number of players, match results, clubs, countries, etc. It will be hard for any other system to catch up to DUPR’s already beloved global adoption by clubs, international federations and players across the world.  
  • Ends geographic disparities in ratings:  Because we have enough players who travel to play in tournaments all over the map, we have the necessary “connectivity” to greatly reduce any such disparities and we have published lists of the top Male and Female players in each USA Pickleball region to allow others to check our work.
  • Responsive and Dynamic: As we have seen numerous times, players can emerge quickly in this sport and enter even the highest levels. DUPR rates more recent matches as more relevant and that allows our lists of top players to rapidly reflect new stars.
  • And last but certainly not least, Accurate and Reliable.  This will always be a work in progress.  There is no perfect rating system.  We have to have the humility to hear complaints and differing views on ratings.  Hopefully, our response to a complaint that your rating (or someone else’s) is inaccurate would be to explore that possibility and see if we can learn something.

DUPR will not lose sight of its goal to bring more people to this amazing sport.  We are in discussions with USA Pickleball and others on all the ways we can work together to meet this goal–40 million players before 2030. “40 by 30!”  Let’s go!


Steve Kuhn

Founder of DUPR and Pickleball fanatic



More Posts For You

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
March 25, 2024

Pickleball Performance: A Step-by-Step Guide For Cultivating A Winning Stress Mindset

In competitive pickleball, stress is a given. But stress doesn’t have to debilitate your performance. It can actually facilitate it.

Winning between the ears starts with the mindset you cultivate.

Winning matters. Being your best matters. Otherwise, you wouldn’t feel stressed. The problem is many pickleball players view stress as the enemy. It’s not the enemy. It’s the gateway to growth!

When you adopt the right mindset, you can overcome fear, embrace challenges, and unlock your potential. But you must pass through stress to achieve what you want.

There are four stress mindsets, each with its own challenges and opportunities. But there is one that, if you adopt it, will empower you to embrace challenges and overcome fear. Let’s dig in.

Stress Mindset #1: Stress is Debilitating.

Does that ring a bell? This is where we view stress as our mortal enemy, something to escape from at any cost.

But what if we told you stress is just your body preparing you for a challenge?

Instead of fleeing from stress, see it as a signal that you're about to do something effortful. Let’s get real for a moment. Nothing great has ever been accomplished without facing significant difficulty.

To take on difficult challenges, your body has a hard-wired stress response that prepares you for action. Lean into it, embrace it. Because uncomfortable thoughts, emotions, and feelings are often what you need to rise to the occasion.

Stress Mindset #2: Stress is to be Willed Through.

This mindset views stress as something that can be overcome by sheer willpower.

Have you ever heard of David Goggins? Yep, the former Navy Seal who runs bare-chested and calls out your weaknesses. Yeah, that guy.

People with this mindset tend to push through stress just fine, but they oftentimes don’t make great teammates. This is not who you want with you in a competitive doubles match.

While resilience is important, it shouldn’t come at the expense of others. Understand that not everyone may be able to handle stress the same way you do. Try to balance your willpower with understanding and empathy for others.

Stress Mindset #3: Stress is a Learning Opportunity.

This mindset views stress as life’s classroom. This is not ideal.

People with this mindset often focus on the worst possible outcome and rationalize why failing would be OK. This can be detrimental to performance.

In the final moments of a competitive match, you don’t want your teammate to think like this.

Michael Jordan wasn’t looking to learn from failure in the Finals. Rather, he wanted the ball in his hands. He trusted his skills and confidentially took action even in the face of adversity.

While learning from failure is beneficial, you shouldn’t focus on failure during a stressful moment. Instead, shift your attention to what you can control and take confident action.

Stress Mindset #4: Stress is Enhancing.

This is the ideal mindset—viewing stress as a challenge that can enhance one's performance.

This is the optimal mindset where stress is viewed as a challenge or an opportunity. It involves seeing stress as a source of energy that can enhance performance. Remember, stress is your brain and body preparing you to do something effortful.

Stress can either debilitate or facilitate performance and by leveraging this mindset, you can use the extra energy generated by stress to perform to your potential.

To build a winning stress mindset, you need to reframe stress as enhancing. That means seeing stress as:

  • A sign you care
  • Excitement
  • Determination
  • A challenge or opportunity

So, take a moment and think about how you approach stress. If you aren’t in the right mindset, just know that mindsets aren’t fixed. With practice and awareness, your perspective can change.

Ready to Take Action?

Ready to take your mental game to the next level? Check out AIM7, the ultimate pickleball trainer, and its masterclass library of content on developing mental fitness, developed by world-class performance psychologists.

Don't let stress hold you back any longer. Embrace it, harness it, and unleash your full potential on the pickleball court. Start your journey towards a winning stress mindset today with AIM7!

DUPR (Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating), is the premier global pickleball rating system and technology platform, trusted by the world's leading clubs, tournaments, leagues, and players. DUPR's dynamic rating system unifies pickleball across age, gender, and location by analyzing match results to accurately evaluate all players across a 2.000 - 8.000 scale. Players and operators can visit www.dupr.com to sign up and learn more.

Written By: Alex Auerbach, PhD, and Erik Korem, PhD.

Educational