Today I'm here with one of the biggest names in Senior Pro pickleball and pickleball in general Rick whitskin Rick's success on the tour along with his presence off the court has built him into an icon from Indiana Rick is the seventh of eight siblings he won two tennis state championships and then went on to become a two-time All-American in.

Alabama where he held the spot of number one in the country in doubles he then went on to the ATP Pro Tour and was ranked in both singles and doubles and then began a career teaching tennis alongside his brother but of course at some point he eventually found a great sport of pickleball started playing pro tournaments in 2014.

And has since won four gold medals the US Open and is currently ranked the number one Senior Pro in mixed doubles as well as holding a spot in the top four spots in singles and doubles clearly Rick is no stranger to success or to pickleball uh thanks so much for coming on wow that's quite an introduction and I.

Really really appreciate your show and what you do for pickleball and I'm here to share the love and answer whatever questions you have so shoot baby I'm ready for it oh all right I'm locked and loaded I'm ready to go okay so clearly you've done a lot within the racket Sports World over the course of your life so far from playing tennis to.

Teaching tennis playing pickleball teaching pickleball now you're doing a lot more in the pickleball side even off the court so I'm curious what's one thing you think you're the best at and then the one thing that you love doing the most boy that's a really really great question I think I'm good at sales I'm.

Currently um a partner with three other people in the npl and they told me that I'm good at sales I'm not trying to sell I think I'm very passionate energetic you probably see that on the court so I think really just being myself and God gave me some energies that maybe other people don't have so I appreciate the.

God-given energy what was the second question um second so the first was what are you best at and then the other was what do you love doing the most yeah so um and then you know as far as a player I I think using my wingspan to the best of my abilities is probably what I'm best at like on the court yeah I can hit the.

Ball left-handed I can hit a left-handed overhead um you know I can shift and I'm not super super fast because I'm six three and a half and 225 pounds and 51 years old but I think you know when I talk to my singles opponents especially like man I can't get a passing shot by you and um and I think it obviously helps you know.

With the reach over the kitchen so I think my wingspan and my ability to use my non-dominant hand is is something that um really is one of my biggest assets absolutely and I I really like the the you know you brought up sales before what came to my mind and you had said oh I don't think I'm that good at sales I.

Just I'm naturally good at it I just am passionate about it is a great product sells itself and so if you're whether it's sales or whether it's anything else you're doing in life if you're passionate about it the the value uh and the expertise will just naturally show just because of how much you love and how involved you know you know and.

Interested you are in it so you know you know what's crazy Aaron is that you know I just remembered a conversation I had in Hilton Head with uh Major League pickleball uh CEO Brian Levine and Brian said brick a cow come you've had such a good year in singles and I said Brian it's really desire you know there's plenty of times last year.

Where I was playing the third event singles exhausted from you know the the doubles in the mix the the two days before and I just knew that I had it in me in singles but I didn't quite show and a lot of times I dropped out of tournaments but this year like I wanted singles I knew I remember talking to Matthias and and Paul like hey guys like.

I'm here to show I know I'm top four and you know luckily I beat both of those guys but they beat me more than I've beaten them for sure um but I think the desire is is super important and you know it's why I respect the annalize and Ben Johns um and J dub so much because even though they're young and yeah they've got the.

Fitness component and youth over me um I know what it's like to play all three events and to go deep in the field every day and it is such a mental grind as much as it is physical so I'm I'm in all of those um players big time so you know I want to hear a little bit about your your background how you got.

Into pickleball because you know a lot of pickleball players played some tennis they played in high school they played a little bit in college you played tennis you were you were a serious player you were a champion in high school champion in college you were on the pro tour so can you kind of quickly walk us through your tennis background and then how that.

Then bled into pickleball sure so you know as a junior tennis player in the 12s and 14s I just had the great Fortune of being the seventh kids like you said and watching um my mentor role model idol God of tennis Todd woodskin the number one in the country I was seven years younger than him but still when I'm eight years.

Old and he's like number one in the 16s and 18s and he's getting the finals of Kalamazoo him and Jimmy Arias were just killing it um you know and I go to Kalamazoo and you know get the blueberries and cream and watch his matches and just think oh my gosh everybody looks up to my brother he's phenomenal it's like poetry in.

Motion and he's really humble and he's a really he's a really good guy so I think that really Drew my passion into tennis was watching him I also had three other siblings by the way that played college tennis had division one scholarship so he was in the blood but um going to the University of Alabama um was something that was really neat.

For me but I didn't know one person at the University of Alabama you know I'm from just just a Midwestern good old Midwestern boy and I was super close to going to Notre Dame on a full ride but my brother Todd he knew I wanted to play pro tennis he's like Rick if you're going to play pro tennis you can be going to a cold weather school so.

Alabama is between them and Florida and Georgia and I chose Alabama for the full scholarship for four years and I don't regret that I had amazing doubles Partners Ellis Pereira who went on to win Grand Slam and um Juan Carlos Bianchi from Venezuela we were um both ranked number one in the country.

Through throughout portions of the season so I played singles and being nasty C is unbelievable right I mean their team is so incredible and I don't know if this is a decent segue but my brother-in-law is the University of Florida men's tennis coach right now and you know his son Ben Shelton is just killing it.

We'll talk about him later yeah Alabama pretty fun school I I haven't been myself but I know there's quite a bit of parting it's it's also known for his parting as well as his academics do you have some fun there as well or were you strictly tennis you know I don't know if this surprise people or not but I was actually pretty much a goody two.

Shoes in college and and I didn't uh was it in fraternity my coach would not let me be in returning it's very Greek there yes it's a great party school but I would strongly encourage somebody that goes to Alabama if they wanted to get to that side of things to be more Greek related I was friends with a couple of the swimmers and.

Um you know mostly guys on my team were were from different countries and you know they're good friends but not great friends but I met the swimmers and divers that were I was fairly close to but honestly no I didn't I didn't party a lot in college um I was just kind of focused on my my goal and typically in a relationship.

That I wanted to want to stay away from the the the bad things I hear you so then all right so where's the Evolution how does how does you know college going into trying to play pro tennis fall into them becoming a pickleball player great question I mean with my success in doubles I felt like okay I'm I'm on my way to being top part of the world in.

Men's doubles um and literally I can remember talking to my uh doubles partner he and I just want to prize money event in in Columbus Ohio and we'd beaten like two or three guys in the top 100 and doubles and um when Chris wells's name and I just remember us talking about hey do we go get like jobs in the industry or do we.

Go out on the pro tour and everything at that time back in it was like 90 1993 the doubles draws were being minimized and they were allowing singles players to use their rankings to get into doubles so the tea leaves were basically saying this is not a good time for like a double specialist and I didn't ever be top 100 in the world in singles so.

Um and plus my brother Todd had already been off the tour and he offered me an incredible job at a very large tennis facility complex called the Indianapolis Tennis Center it doesn't exist anymore but when it did exist it hosted a huge professional tennis tournament where Sampras and Agassi and all those guys were playing so tough decision but a 23.

400 in the world after only having played a few tournaments I decided not to plan the pro tour and go to work for my role model brother Idol makes sense makes sense I mean that's you know it's a good move I I understand it and I'm sure part of the heart always might have said what could have happened but at the same time it was it was a.

Smart move I mean you know I'm sure you still continued playing you still you know found love you know from the game you were able to coach and help others you know go through the same process you did and and and probably at that point you said all right I'll probably never be a pro athlete again it's okay I had a good run and and look where we are now.

So when people find its way into your life absolutely and I did play some prize money events um smaller events and and whatnot and uh you know I don't know if you want to go into this now but obviously my brother didn't live much longer than that so it was kind of a blessing in disguise because I got to.

Spend the last couple of years of his life you know with him more than anybody else because we were working together that's yeah I I've lost a family member too and that family member I spent a lot of time with them in a couple years before having no idea they were even sick and so I looked back and said wow it was such a blessing.

That I ended up going to college so close to my uncle who who lived in I went to University of Maryland Uncle lived in Bethesda and Maryland and I just was was going back and forth so blessings in Disguise and you know I'm sorry about your brother but it seems at least you had a good really really great relationship with him you know so yeah.

No I appreciate it so all right so so where does where does Rick meet pickleball how does how does that start yeah so you know I was definitely in in the tennis for um a good oh 20 years um coaching college team when I was 23 years old running a country club for.

Seven years now I'm starting my business when Todd died in 98 I started team whitskin tennis and having a bunch of students that um not only just great junior tennis players but also had adults men and women had a lot of students that was running in a facility and then Zionsville Indiana where I live um kind of locked in with a great tennis.

Guy and we started running big programs out of their facilities in the summer that being said um pickleball came into my world probably around 2010 and I just sniffed it in singles I didn't play doubles were mixed initially I played singles like whoa I kind of like this game you know I'm 40 and it's.

A little easier on the body and in tennis that is in platform tennis so I started liking that and then I knew there wasn't a ton of Pro players out there so even though I was in my 40s you know I remember playing so many times Tyson McGuffin and and Kyle Yates and Weinbach and you know those those characters were there for sure I.

Remember when I saw Ben for the first time in um Peachtree in um Atlanta I remember man this kid's really talented and he's going to be really good but um it was really fun to be older and guys like Frank Davis who I've been friends with forever he's like man he's.

Like you know people look up to you because at your age and how you're playing and so just you know it's what pickleball does everybody cultivating relationships that are long-term and now 12 13 years old and um I just feel so blessed to to have launched into this game and trust me Aaron you know you're a tennis player.

Too like I've taken so many bullets from tennis players about my Affinity for the game not so much lately because they see all all the big names and they know everybody's all getting into it and on the TV channels and whatnot but boy 789 you just heck I built a club helped build a club that they shot me down every board meeting about how I could be.

So into pickleball when we build a tennis club I'm like this is not just Tennis Club it's a 10 it's a pickleball right they didn't want that so I'm proud of what um strength I had to support our sport way back at the very early stages because I knew what it what it would be and I think that um people that had any.

Kind of negativity back then are looking now it feels pretty good yeah I mean I I still take heat from from some people in my tennis world you know for for playing pickleball but that's that's starting to slowly dwindle I can't imagine what it was like 79 10 11 years ago.

Um so a lot of respect for you and everybody else who who kind of you know held that in and kept going with it but um you know I think even for the people now that are that are doubting it there's going to be less and less doubters and when pickleball gets to the point where it's a top one or two most participated sport in the country which.

I really do believe it'll get uh nobody could could look down on it I I you know I think will be a point where it's it's just a cop it's a household name uh which it's already getting to that point yeah amen and I'm just proud of everybody that um sticks together and and in a positive way I mean obviously we've seen the.

Different signs about pickleball players stay out keep your noise blah blah I just think that you know staying above The Fray in the minutia of negativity staying above that um there's so many good people in the pickleball world that we've met and that have fought the same battle I'm not a hero by any means you're right I kind of.

Got into it really early but um players still today you know fight that battle and I think as long as we just stay positive and uh above board and um the sports is going to keep taking us to Never Never Land that's we never saw coming and you know it's saving lives and people are falling in love with it and it's becoming such a healthy it's.

The healthiest addiction I've ever seen in my whole life yeah that's for yeah absolutely yeah even people that are addicted to reading pickleballs is definitely healthier you're active relationship so I want to talk a little bit about senior Echo ball you are a senior Pro pickleball player which you know somebody on the street might hear.

Senior Pro and they might think of something that it's not this is 50 plus this is not 60 plus 70 plus this is 50 plus you have high high super high level players that will still destroy you know pretty much 99 plus percent of the population so you know regular Pro senior Provost is still Pro pickleball but I want to talk about your view on.

The distinction between play Styles and let's just for for the purpose of this interview right now talk about the men's side um what do you see as the main differences in style of play versus regular Pro and then Senior Pro and if you want to break that up between doubles and then singles.

You know that's a really good question and I really wasn't paying attention to the open Pros a lot at the beginning of the year but just having stance you know there it seemed like they were kind of bottlenecked where there weren't enough courts and um I started watching more Pro open uh matches towards the middle and the end.

Of the year because we were really stuck at sites for a long time and what else is there to do and you know and I really gained even more appreciation for the open pros and I'll start with singles first because I remember seeing Frederico stocks root in singles and um Florida and I'm like man this guy nobody had heard of him like and this is.

Like one thing I'm you had asked earlier what am I good at I think I'm really good at assessing talent and I saw that guy right out of the gate I'm like this dude's legit um it's really cool I think that the current Pros open singles players are really good with their two-handed backhands and navigating their tennis.

Right into their pickleball whereas um I think some of the seniors who were good tennis players maybe like my myself and a few others I don't think that we've quite navigated exactly how we used to play tennis at the pro and college level now at 50 navigating that same type of style is a little tougher and I've not thought about that until.

You literally just asked me two seconds ago the question but that is very um poignant I think that open Pros team and then they're training a lot more right there's there's way more fruits to be had in these 22 and 23 year olds that are you know deciding oh a satellite circuit where you're making zero money and it's like so impossible and yet you.

See the pickleball world of 2022 23 year olds that these satellite guys realize man I could be right there and if I bust my butt I just think that the training overall is way more intense now there are some Pro seniors that train um a lot I'm not one of those and so I would also say the open Pros because they're playing for so much more I mean.

My gosh the amount of money and the contracts and this becoming a true improve full livelihood for them um I think the the commitment to their trainers and um just getting agents and things that's very different but as far as the game is concerned at Singles they obviously the the quickness and the power is is a.

Little more Dynamic um in the men's doubles I see that um you know the hand speeds a little faster I think the hand speed of seniors is actually ridiculously good but like I played James signato which and um in Split age and I just I was really impressed with his power and how much he could generate and crush the ball.

Um but you know at the same time guys like me and Dane and Dave and Crandall and and Theresa I mean we've we've beaten a lot of these higher level pros and granted it might be Rec play or whatnot but you know trying and and I think the level of respect is there from the open Pros we just have been stuck in the same place the same.

Time and so it seemed like there's a little bit of angst when you have not enough courts and prize money it seems like it's being slightly divided um where some of that dissension came but in general I think there's a huge respect whether I I don't feel like anybody looks at me like well you're a 50 year old that's kind of slowing down.

I feel like honestly um yeah if I had been 25 and the sport had been like it is now I think I'd be top three in the world and pickleball for sure but I'm not upset about it I'm happy for the 20 year olds and I feel like it's keeping me in shape to where I'm playing at a higher level Fitness wise than I ever thought I would be when.

I get got into my 50s yeah so so let's stay on Senior Pro pickleball you know I'm curious about your views on the evolution of the sport over the next 10 years where things are going and a little bit more timely we have now the um the NLP the the national pickleball League which is you know you can call it I don't know I wouldn't say necessarily.

Competitive but it's another player in the league space you have MLP and the vibe League these two major leagues kind of combining and they have the ml the NLP really serving up the purpose of providing a platform for the Senior Pro players to Showcase you know their abilities um in that same exciting format so what.

You know where do you see pickleball evolving as a whole how do you see NLP playing into this what's your role in NLP give me the whole lay down yeah and just so you know it's npl oh my God there we go I set that up I just wanted you to correct me of course it's probably the only thing I could correct you on because you seem.

Relatively perfect but anyway um the truth is Aaron that this was out of necessity and we um some people some senior Pros now Champions players because we don't really feel like we're seniors uh we got together we could see the tea leaves that were kind of saying hey you know we're being slightly devalued here.

Um not by any uh significant movement but just by circumstance and um creating our own independent thing became a very obvious reality and we certainly respect everybody that's been in the pickleball world the app the PPA the MLP the vibe like no we're players and everybody we're seniors right we're pitching over and we know how to be good.

Ambassadors for the sport and get along with rational people that are in it for the right reason so we didn't put our dates on on top of any viable dates that compete with either the tours or or the MLP or whatnot in fact I like a lot of people that are associated with MLP in PPA and ATP and I'm friends with a lot of a lot of these people look I've been.

Around a long time the pickleball world it's been fun to kind of see the evolution of some of these people um that are are involved so that being said you know the leak format is something that we really wanted to um capture and we also wanted to perhaps something that we knew long-term would have viability because you never know.

You know what type of Sideshow the seniors would be relegated to and we have had so much feedback from so many of our clients that we coached and so many people on the social media that have watched our live stream saying you guys are awesome we're 15 over we love to watch you you are way more in our wheelhouse of what we can try to Aspire.

To be versus watching a 16 year old and a 20 year old and nothing against the open Pros is just look 90 of the players play take ball are our age and our demographics so um we what I know now versus when we started MPL um two and a half months ago makes me feel tenfold like we did the right thing.

To kind of disassociate from open pros and get our own thing and and I love open Pros I was talking to Simone hardim about this and um Mesa it's like you know because I've known Simone for a long time her and I played mixed doubles in a tournament eight years ago and you know we're both just ambassadors of the sport obviously.

She's had an incredible career and she cares about us and she's closer to my age than she is your age so you know she cares about what happens you know to the pros that are our age and and we just stay we just said hey let's let's get something for independent for the senior Pros for the Champions players and now it's like it's taking off like well if I.

Don't know if you've seen the players that have signed but we've signed almost every high level player that's that's that's a senior Pro Player so what's the format when does it start how many events what are the events going to look like how is it actually going to take place yeah so.

Um there's still a few Kinks to be ironed out um clearly it's a team format it's not going to be an MLP copycat but there are a lot of similarities we're going to have way more players than MLP has on their teams we want to accommodate way more of the the senior pros and but it will be doubles and mixed doubles right.

Now there's not a singles component to it but that could change and um you know these City teams competing for a championship at the end of the season so there's a regular season and a postseason and um yeah there's gonna be a draft and then we're excited that draft as of right now scheduled to be in February we.

May be also having a pre-season event in in February so um obviously there's the landscape of pro pickleball and Senior Pro pickleball right now is changing dramatically and so if it looks like there's going to be less events or less money um given to the Champions level play players then we will come up with some.

More team events to accommodate a full season um albeit way less than we did last year is it um are there going to be owners buying in teams the same way there's ml uh with with MLP or is it more like the PPA or the Epp where there's just an owner a governing body a headquarters and they just facilitate everything yeah.

No we'll definitely have owners um I can tell you that yeah we've already got um some irons in the fire there that will come to fruition and so it'll definitely be owners of teams and draft and um it seems fairly similar to the MLP model in that capacity there is a group that's over seeing this and it's you.

Know our Mantra is four Pro seniors bipro seniors and the truth is that everybody associated with this um Management Group is a pro senior pickleball player you know obviously I'm involved I will tell you the the number one woman in the world Beth her Bellamy is is involved and we've been working tirelessly for literally almost three.

Months on calls Zoom calls you anyway not looking for accolades I'm just it's a lot of work and I respect all the work that everybody that um does these tours and teams and management I respect everything they do because it is a lot yup I'm sure it's all going to pay off I mean the pickleball needle has been moving moving consistently and it.

Doesn't just happen from sitting back and watching it's every single person big or small you know working hard to help push the needle forward and get things done so you know appreciate what you're doing and we're excited to see um you know how it evolves and when you have that huge LeBron James type name as a new owner come let me share that with.

The world uh you know uh you know with you um so great stuff there uh a question about you know going back to sort of playing um in terms of your doubles game you've actually had a lot of success this past year winning titles uh in Pro pickleball.

With different partners a lot of people have a very consistent set men's or women's doubles partner or a set mix partner there's a lot of value in having somebody that you know super well you know subconsciously where they're going to be you know where they're going to be at um but then again when you have.

Different partners you you can that allows you to kind of um highlight different strengths in your game you can try out different things and you have been very successful winning titles there's a bunch of titles You've Won with many different players I think you might have set a record or something this year so can you talk a little bit.

About for the players out there that play tournaments with different partners how to succeed playing without the same partner every tournament yeah that's a really good question and I really believe that it's a huge diversion from what we're used to in tennis versus pickleball because in tennis you know I kind of feel like I.

Had one partner in um the Juniors really one or two partners in college and one partner it wasn't you know a three-ring circus with spin the wheel and who your partner is next and obviously you know my Partnerships weren't just fly by night um decide three days before but I I like a lot of guys on the senior tour and I.

Respect a lot of a lot of their games and um and I feel like my style and my personality matches up pretty well with most um and so therefore um playing with a bunch of different partners was kind of um something I wanted to do not because I'd get stale.

With somebody else but just to see maybe who would be the best player for me and you know yes I I won with a lot of these different guys but you know it's not even though okay I was I won day one like they played great I mean Paul Owen like I didn't necessarily think he and I were gonna go win New Jersey and that's you.

Said it's the first AP tournament he's won like he played great I mean I just was like so impressed and so when I played with Dan granat like he played he played great obviously you know when I played with Weinbach and Gingrich and and Crandall and dorisi um you know I think there was an.

Expectation where the top two seed and should get to the maybe the gold or the silver and good things happen there but um just look I'm blessed to be around a lot of really good people and I think um it when the game becomes more fun and less stressful about the W I think um that shines through I had a good year last year but this year it was like okay.

Um I know my full talents haven't been on display yet and I'm getting better I I don't feel like I've reached my Peak I really feel like I can get better and better I never practice Aaron I don't I'm not proud to say it but man if I live in Florida or some of these other Havens uh Texas and where these guys and women are training I I'd love that but I.

Never get that in Indiana and there are some good players here it's not I'm not blaming anybody else but I've got a wife and three teenagers and it's like okay if I'm traveling 30 weekends out of the year I can't just be like playing on my free time because then I thought because a husband and dad you know I mean you make up for the lack of practice with.

Passion I think you know what I don't want to go unnoticed is that you said um you you uh you uh you love you know you love the aspect of playing and you you love it and you disconnect with necessarily trying to win and that's the hidden key is I think disconnecting with the outcome at least for myself and my.

Father's psychologist and he's helped me get through some of my hurdles in in you know playing competitive tennis and pickleball with by the Mantra of Disconnect with the outcome you playing the best when you're not thinking about winning you're thinking about the now every single point getting better with every shot so I think that's I mean.

That's clearly something you used and um you know I think that's something that a lot of people can probably absorb and help to better their games is disconnecting with the outcome playing to play playing to improve playing to enjoy yeah and I think that there are so many tournaments that everybody needs to.

Remember that if they really want to get to their best mental state then then then know that you're going to play a bunch of tournaments where one tournament outcome doesn't Define you you know and uh it's why I'm really impressed with Ben and and JW and Dylan Frazier they just look so relaxed on the court and and I know that's not like.

Absolutely god-given to human nature yeah there's some of that that's inbred with maybe the personality but I also look I was a pro tennis player and now I'm a pro senior like I really respect their mental Acumen and some of that you'll work on to get to that mental space so um I'm proud of them for that I'm.

Getting closer there I'm still not there yet but um you know God gave me a lot of ability but it doesn't matter God gave a lot of people ability that didn't ever win gold medals in Pro tournaments so if your mind's not connected as well as your physical then you're in trouble and I I have notes on my phone where I'm.

Literally the four tournaments this is where my focal points are and it's never about the outcome and who I beat or what metal I got never about that so we've been talking about you know you on the pro tour your success you know as a senior Pro Player and I think there's an interesting distinction too in terms of the window of opportunity.

Um between senior pros and you can call them the open Pros the regular Pros where you know you got guys that are 13 14 15 starting to play at the open Pro level they know they have a pretty Wide Window 10 15 20 years you know even someone in their early 20s they have quite a bit of time where they can be at their athletic Peak whereas Senior Pro.

You hit 50 to some I mean the clock might start ticking right then and there um so can you talk a little bit about the window of opportunity for Senior Pro players and the level of urgency they need to have if they want to get to that top spot which you have and you've achieved though there are many others are probably wondering you know how to.

How to take advantage of the time have yeah that's a phenomenal question and great recognition because I'm 100 certain that my scope of reference for my success is way different being a pro senior pickleball player than it was when I was 20 years old singing by my pro tennis career when you're 20 you feel like you have infinite amount of.

Time to work on your body your mind your brain you can do it 10 15 years but literally for pro seniors especially if you play singles doubles and mixed and the reality is we're a pro we're a Pro Sport and you want to try and make money in three ways versus two ways um that's important but then you gotta really think about the grind on your.

Your body and your mind so you know like I really played this past year of 30 weekends um not thinking that I'm Gonna Save and have um so much for 2023 where I want to do it all over again I kind of said this is my year these are my goals I want to be no more on the chosen APB tour for pro.

Seniors and I wanted to be the show I was a top player when you combine singles doubles and mix I accomplished those goals but it was physically and mentally a big grind I never want to do that again okay because 30 weekends is a ton and um you know it's not I had to go into therapy and hit ice baths all the time but I do think the negotiation that.

A pro senior has in their brain for when they start look I've seen a lot of guys come in that I knew from college tennis there were darn good tennis players and I saw them being pretty good pickleball players but they'd lose in their first round or second round and this is over and over and over again there isn't one pickleball player that came in that was.

A hot shot All-American or pro tennis player that like been won gold or silver that that doesn't happen so the the one thing I would encourage Pro seniors who are a little newer that are good at this game is to have patience to have a timeline have legitimate expectations and it's not not just going to be a Sprint it's going to be a marathon so if.

You're doing this this for one year to get to number one and you're just starting no chance you've got to play that longevity game so on one hand your body might break down in five six years but on the other hand you're not going to reach your peak in a year you've got to give it multiple years if you truly want to be a pro and trust me with the.

MPL we talked about so many guys are messaging me that want to get drafted that I've never heard of them like wow but you're approaching your mail and you want to get drafted I've never heard of you I think it's cool like it's what our sport is doing it's lighting a lighting a fire under so many people I love it but I think expectations based on what.

You can input is super important yeah I mean he especially you know even at the senior Pro level you have to work you have to have a plan you don't just walk onto the court you know and become feder or Ben John's um so I want to talk about you know this this is actually probably what I was most excited to talk about uh especially.

Someone I love branding and marketing and and you know kind of how to create you know things that really resonate with people and you were able to do that um not many open um Regular Pros have quite the brand that you do but but you you have um you know it's it's a nickname maybe it started as a nickname it's definitely.

More than a nickname now it's really an entire brand and that's the brand of rip skin so you you sell merch you produce content you teach you do a whole bunch of other things um so it's kind of a two-part question and we could we could really break these up but I'd love to hear the evolution of the nickname how this came to be and.

Then second we'd love to hear some advice you have on on other Pro players whether it's young Pros senior Pros how they can create and build their own brands for themselves okay sometimes seniors don't remember the second part of the question when they start talking for a few minutes so.

If you need to remind me what question number two is feel free I think I got this though okay um number one we're going to rip skin First Credit goes my wife she came up with it she said let's you should be rip skin she's a big supporter of mine obviously you have to have a supportive spouse if you're going to be playing as much as you are and the.

Sken is the spelling of my last name um witskin so skin skn and then the the rip is rest in peace for Todd woodskin and I knew that I wanted to honor him with my Pro playing and you touched on it earlier Aaron about you know I kind of had my Pro um Ascent that cut short when I decided to go work for Todd and not play pro.

Tennis and so to have that opportunity to fulfill that dream and what I felt confident about was my abilities to show that um I feel very fortunate for that but but the brand of rib skin is really about Todd Whitson who's in heaven who is the number one player in the world in tennis everybody looked up to him I mean.

He beat Jimmy Connors to beat John mcenally played Agassi and Sam Burris you know number one in the world doubles it's not easy to get to that and the bald eagle on my shirt represents his last trip we all went out to Yellowstone um his brothers and a couple of his close friends and while we were doing all these activities you know.

Um the kayaking and the white water rafting in the um horseback riding hiking a bald eagle was following us around everywhere so whenever I see an eagle I think of Todd whitskin bald eagle that is and the irony is I live in Zionsville Indiana which designs those home of the Eagles and Todd lived in 20 acres in Zionsville.

And so I mean honestly I live on acreage too and I think I didn't consciously think oh I'm going to buy land because Todd did and live in zanzo castad did but I think that's probably what happened subconsciously so when I win matches when I have interviews when like I don't think about ooh what did I do for me I think wow Todd will be proud.

Because he was he was the Mack Daddy of everything and from half the man that that he was in his short 34 years you know I'll be I'll be proud of that so that's kind of the evolution of rip skin and then to your second point about building the brand you know I wasn't like turning this rip skin into oh I want to be a brand that everybody.

Recognizes so I can get attention it was more just a when it becomes from the heart and spiritual I think it's so much more um passionate and and I think that like I had the last term director um Ryan treffry he's like Rick can I have one of those shirts I'm like well I don't have any extras but I'll.

Definitely give you one you know I had I think Cole and it's like hey you give me one of those shirts I'll wear it like that's that's really cool that people care enough even though they didn't really know Todd that they see that I live a very passionate life because of that because look he died in 1998. that's a long time ago but I feel like.

It was yesterday and so um the brand is easier to cultivate when you have that I know I saw a I think a podcast about with Tyson and he was talking about his dad and how his dad kind of helped him like hit shots and stuff and I and I know he's talking about I feel like sometimes some shots I hit are like.

How'd that happen like that had to be something divine right so um but I do I do think building a brand for these younger Pros is wise to to distinguish themselves and you know I'm really proud of um being one of the few senior Pros that have their own brand that because I really value all of us in 50 51 it's not.

Over the hill we still got game like you said still beat 99 of the people and I like being a representative of our people yeah absolutely I think it's I mean I had no idea about the the true backstory rip skin I actually thought it was because you ripped the ball and it was just kind of a cool you know putting two words.

Together but I think it's a really touching story and um you know I think for for you it was Todd for for probably everybody we probably all have some something whether it's somebody or something um and I think that's that's a really important takeaway is that if you could take something.

Um passionate you know whether it's from your family or from your past or something that motivates you and tie it to a brand you want to build or do you want to be a successful athlete or why are you going to work every day I think that's that's kind of what a big reason why of why people can be successful at what they do.

Because of the passion but because they have a greater purpose and um I mean I think it's a really great story appreciate you sharing it yeah I want to give credit to BattleTech for putting um the rip skin logo on my Bantam XL that was really nice of them to do that and they don't complain when I wear a rip skin shirt versus a paddle Tech shirt.

And even though I'm a sponsored athlete by them so I really want to give Curtis and Company panel Tech a shout out for not make me feel uncomfortable because I'm wearing something that's passionate about my family yeah yeah absolutely um you know two quick questions to kind of close things off you mentioned earlier Ben Shelton Ben Shelton he's a.

Nephew of yours uh quite the tennis player I believe he's currently 96 in the world in singles uh did some big things at the US Open um this past year and he's really one of the up and coming names in American tennis so so two questions one how involved are you on the coaching side with Ben and then also have you tried.

Converting him to pickleball yet so those are two interesting questions and the answer is no I'm not involved in coaching um whatsoever it's my sister's son her husband played professional tennis he's the men's Florida tennis coach and he's Ben's Coach and he's a bright guy so they don't need me in that capacity I'm.

A supportive Uncle um his middle name is Todd named after my brother which is really cool people don't realize that I see the talent that He got a blend of the Shelton and whitskin family it's really cool to see and he has no fear when I saw that in him as a 14 year old I said this kid is absolutely going to be top one in the.

World um he absolutely has stayed at our house coach uh on my junior clinics um outed here in Zionsville in fact I even had him go to pickleball Clinic last summer even though he really had never played pickleball because you know I needed that we had 40 people in my clinic and like Mana I need your help so him and.

His sister he'll no a lot of people don't know his sister Emma plays for the University of Florida too you she's a very good tennis player too so they've helped out with pickleball their mom is my sister and she loves pickleball she's a four five um and getting better by the day so um she's she's way into pickleball and.

She's a huge supporter of mine obviously being my sister so I'm super proud of Ben you know him being in Casper rude in Cincinnati to me was his biggest highlight as a pro sure he'd say that too um but you know winning that somebody's in singles and then just winning three challenges in a row like that's insane.

Nobody's done that at his age uh he's the first male ever to win three challenges in a row at the age of 20. so he's well on his way he's got his contracts he's locked in I think he's got his head on straight he loves God you know a good Christian family and I just think that'll keep him grounded and that'll be 100 shocked if he doesn't get.

The top 50 barring injury or something like that absolutely that's the walk to him I mean it's it's it'll be exciting to watch um last question to kind of close things off this is slam dunk uh question why do you love pickleball you know it's changed I liked pickleball because it gave me another competitive.

Outlet that was initially but it's changed now to what I've seen it do for the masses of people for what I've seen to do to cat cancer patients what I've seen it do to obese or overweight people that had no motivation to get in shape people that could not lift their arm above their shoulder um that's my passion now is that this.

Game is saving lives like none other in the healthiest of ways so that sounds dramatic but when you are on the front line of um a pickleball programming like I am in Indianapolis here I've got um a great friend of mine Kelly Bonner who is literally building a Cerner husband are building a six million dollar facility called piccolon pen I'm.

Right down the street from me because she loves the game it's not oh I need to make so much money on this this this game is life-altering and that's fantastic homo rip skin I'm all for putting my brand all over that because she's the right person with the right intentions and you know people typically in the pickleball world have had great.

Intentions and I'll close you with this we've seen acrimonious relations between tours and certain uh Realms of pickleball let's all stay in the togetherness mode and and work together for the greater good because the sport deserves that you and I Aaron have enjoyed it I'm really super happy to know that you were Ben's roommate I did.

Not know that not roommates just friends just good friends whatever like I'm super happy that he cared enough about you to get you involved and I I really respect what Ben's done for the sport and um yeah I just think if we all stick together and support each other um this sport will have no no.

Determining ends absolutely and then I I know I said those last question but there's one more thing I I gotta ask you it's almost it's it's a little bit of a selfish question because this is almost for me something that I really want to learn from you and take away and I hope it'll I have an effect on other people as well this is something I ask to kind.

Of entrepreneurs I speak to um you know Founders different people in the business world that I meet that I look to kind of take guidance from So You Know You're a pro player you're running tennis and pickleball presumably I guess both still uh pickleball and Tennis programs you're doing npl you're you have sponsors you're have multiple.

At least three probably many more very time consuming mentally and physically you know uh time-consuming Adventures going on in your life I'm obviously much you know younger and in a different place but same thing I'm playing pickleball all the time I have academies I'm you know we have the pickleball Clinic which is an online media.

Community um media platform how do you do it it seems like you're doing everything successfully so how are you able to do so many things successfully at the same time and you don't look look to be so stressed out you seem to be enjoying life and I'm stressed so yeah that's that's a.

Great great thought well and you did touch on this earlier about your uncle and and having that um memory which is so important to you and obviously my brother so important to me so life life can't um be too serious and too intense and too negative when when we know we only have a finite amount of time on this.

Earth to do things that we love and then if we love it and we're passionate about it we'll do it well but I've had great people come into my world when I think of pickleball um I think of Cheryl and Paul McKinney from Anderson Indiana who have been amazing and and getting thousands of people so involved in pickleball like.

And they're now my best friends my wife they're our best couple friends Don Alford from Indianapolis I didn't know him from Adam he called me he's like Rick I'm a usapa ambassador from Indy if you want to meet great if not I understand like heck yes I met with him and within an hour we're like oh my gosh I really like this guy like he's got.

Great intentions he's semi-retired in all the right things about pickleball now he and I like helped run the Midwest pickleball club which has all the right intentions to deliver back to the game so to answer your question having other good people in your life is super important I don't know that I could have gone to here at your age because money.

And Financial Security was super important then now I don't care like I've got enough money to be happy I literally told this my to my son yesterday I said Colin I said and he's an eighth grader and doesn't get life yet but I said you know I'm at a place where I'm so happy there's nothing else I want or need and I really hope you can.

Get there because I see a lot of people that are unhappy that have way more than me and and and I'm saying that genuinely I don't I don't I'm Envy them or jealous of them I'm happy for people that are successful but when you get to a place where you're happy and content I think then I'm huge Visionary right that's what I've been my whole life and I think.

Then it allows your juices to flow it's just like we're talking about as a competitor here Aaron when you as a competitor don't focus on the win in the loss but you focus on the process man your game makes a lot better right absolutely I appreciate that um and I appreciate you coming on this.

Has been a it's been a really great talk and uh I mean we've talked about so many different things I think a lot of people could take away from so you know best of luck in the success of all your different Ventures especially you and the tour um the ripskin brand everything else is going on so this is it's been a pleasure.

And I really appreciate it thank you so much for having me on thank you air feed for being a great sponsor because those inserts are the best and they keep a big big dude like me on my feet vivacious every day so um I love love your show love pickleball love God all is good man have a great holiday.

An incredible interview with top-ranked senior pro pickleballer Rick Witsken, where we discussed a variety of topics including pickleball’s growth, winning with different partners, doing what you love, the incredible story behind his personal brand “Ripsken”, and how pickleball is saving lives.

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EPISODE TRACKLIST
0:00 – Intro
1:10 – What Rick is best at and what Rick loves doing the most
4:44 – Rick’s transition from pro tennis to pro pickleball
14:00 – Pickleball’s growth
15:30 – Regular pro vs. senior pro play style differences
17:05 – Why tennis players are switching over to pickleball
19:40 – What is the NPL?
26:20 – How to win doubles tournaments with different partners
30:20 – How to be mentally prepared for tournaments
31:50 – The window of opportunity for senior pro players
35:30 – The amazing story behind Rick’s personal brand “Ripskin”
41:40 – Rick’s nephew is a top tennis player in the world
44:00 – Why Rick loves pickleball
46:28 – How Rick does so much at once