Hey good morning everybody thank you so much for being here day two um so I'm gonna welcome you for like the thousandth time but that's okay um thank you so much for being here at uh the sport the Sloan Sports analytics conference 2023 my name is Diego caracillo I'm a first year MBA student here at Sloan and it's my pleasure to.

Introduce you to this amazing panel today so pickleball the future of the fastest growing sport in the world um this panel is uh are incredible today so we have Brian Levine interim CEO of MLP Jesse Irvine Pro Player of PPA tour and MLPs for Florida Smash and Connor Pardo CEO and commissioner PPA tours our panel will be moderated by Dave.

Fleming so broadcasters Senior Pro Player marketer and content creator the panel will run for about 45 minutes and we'll leave 10 minutes from questions from you guys so if you please consider your questions using the hashtag feature of pickleball and Twitter we'll make sure to feed those to Dave and Dave will like uh pick those questions so kick it.

Off Dave well thank you Diego give it up for Diego man come on and all these students spreading the knowledge so who here has played pickleball oh nice okay pretty good all right well if you haven't we set up a court for you downstairs so make sure you get involved in that and then other Shameless plug we.

Have three of the best players in the world playing at 10 30. so come check that out so here's the deal pickleball is on fire three-year growth rate of participation is 156 just one year growth rate is 88 percent and this week in the Boston Globe they.

Had an article that talked about the pickleball derangement syndrome that people have I am I I had do you guys have I have the syndrome basically people are playing till midnight waking up at five in the morning and driving to play at 6 a.m so it's uh I have derangement syndrome yeah I have this this is from playing too much pickleball.

And I was playing every day for four hours a day and uh so I can't do this for for I haven't been able to play with my right hand for three weeks so I've started playing Lefty so I'm playing Lefty now every day and I'm getting my pickleball fix so yeah so Brian is clearly deranged on many levels there and so Jesse we'll start with you why do.

So many people love this game I mean I think it's for a few reasons one it's it's a very social sport um you know it's a little bit closer it's a smaller court so everybody's a little closer together um you know it's very easy to learn I think that's the biggest thing compared to other sports.

Um the paddle smaller lighter the ball's lighter the chords smaller so it's just very easy to kind of step on the court if you've never played and get a rally going as compared to sports like tennis where it is really hard to actually do that from the very get-go it's not fun until you get good and it takes a while to get there but with pickleball it.

Happens a lot faster and uh I think you know and then the other thing it's it's a lot easier on the body you know for me personally I came from tennis I got an injury and then that kind of led me to play Pickleball because again it's just so much easier on the body so I think all those aspects kind of you bring them together and then all of a.

Sudden people are now kind of playing the sport I think the pandemic helped a lot because it was probably one of the few things people could do outside during the pandemic and I think that kind of brought a lot of awareness to the sport but um yeah I think all those elements kind of you put them together and then you have this work called.

Pickleball and now everybody's playing it and uh it's something that everyone can do in all ages all ages all levels all gender everybody can play and everybody's having a good time so I think that kind of just makes it you know a prime sport for everyone what about from your perspective Connor yeah I mean when I look at pickleball I.

Kind of look at it a few different ways obviously it's something that anybody can do like Jesse said um you know I grew up playing a lot of sports growing up and the first time I stumbled across pickleball um you know before actually with my wife you know we played tennis and she just had a terrible time she didn't like it.

She's an athlete you know um started all four years of varsity volleyball but the learning curve for tennis was so tough we went out and played pickleball one time and she thought she was pretty damn good Just Like Jesse said right little that's you know then all of a sudden we had a court.

In our backyard and I just think the fact that the barrier for entry is so low and um I know it's cliche but it's a sport that um you know it's really easy to get good at and it's hard to master and I think that's what gets people coming back for more you play one time you think oh I might be good I think I could get a little bit better I want to.

Learn a little bit about it who plays this game oh there's a professional League there's a professional tour oh I'm flipping through the channels it's on TV and it's kind of been this thing that maybe you didn't hear about it two years ago but you know it's really hard to find someone that isn't aware of what's happening right now Brian.

Anything else yeah no I agree with everything Connor and Jesse have to say I mean it's it's obviously a lot of fun and that's why people get addicted to it um I also think you know like you said it's a high floor sport so you actually see a lot of cross uh age and cross-gender competition because people are good you know you could see you know.

70 year old grandparents playing a competitive match with their 10 year old grandkids and they're trash talking right there's not a lot of activities where people are having fun and competing at the same time I also think that it's an incredibly like culturally it's a very positive Sport and I do believe in this you know might sound.

Cliche but it really is about inclusion um you know I started playing right after covid started as well down in South Florida and I got addicted to it and I would just go down every day to the community park and you put down your paddle and next up you know you just play and no one asks questions you know this isn't something that ever would.

Happen in tennis and you just play with people and you're playing with random people when I started playing you know there were you know senior citizens beating me up pretty badly but you'd have fun and you know I also remember one of the first times I played I remember being paired against a doubles team there was this is this is in the.

Heart of the 2020 election cycle and there was a man wearing a vote for Biden shirt and his partner was wearing a Maga hat and they were high-fiving they were celebrating obviously no talks of politics and I think that's honestly part of the pickleball culture that people feel and it's something that Society really needs right now too.

Bring the nation together look at us all right so Connor this sport started in 1965 Bainbridge Island that's uh just outside of Seattle up there so kind of a niche sport didn't you know when I first started they said hey come play Pickleball I had no idea this was five six years ago why on Earth did you think you could.

Make a pro league of this sport that really wasn't going anywhere too fast just a few years ago yeah I mean I think that's a great question um you know when you look at the PPA tour um for us you know my story is much like a.

Lot of people um I got in I got addicted I loved the game um my family and I we have a real estate development business and I was you know went to college that's what I was doing that's what I wanted to do and um stumbled across the game and I have a really good dad growing up he.

Coached me in all my AAU basketball my football my tennis whatever it was he was there the entire time but one thing that we've never had in our relationship is actually playing a sport together you know maybe he'd rebound for me but we never got to actually do something and we fell in love with the sport of pickleball and we started playing.

Together and he was better than me right and you know he's older but he's better and so we started playing and I remember we went out and we went to a tournament in Atlanta and um we saw this tournament we thought 500 players wow that's a ton of people we should go out there and we went out there and they had.

Something called a pro division and you know I started asking questions seeing what was going on and it was a really small prized purse maybe paying out five thousand dollars or something like that in total and um I remember turning my dad when we were there and saying I'm having more fun here watching pickleball than um I did at the U.S open.

Like this is fun it's fast paced they have a couple athletes I think this is something that we could do let's put three four five events together and let's bring in the biggest prize person pickleball and let's see where it goes and ever since then I've been you know fighting fighting sleep trying to stay up and trying to push as hard as I can.

Every single day because the sport it just it just kind of happened and it you know you feel really grateful to be born in a time like this um just because a lot of things don't come along like this where there's the opportunity to create a pro league and see something start from nothing and grow into something and you feel like.

Every day you just want to take as much as you can because you know it's pretty exciting so Connor represents the PPA tour which is more like a traditional tennis tournament individuals playing as themselves or in a doubles format Brian you are the interim CEO of Major League pickleball so can you explain the.

Similarities and differences between the two and why that is a perfect complement to the tour that Connor runs sure so so as Dave said you know Connor and Dave represent the PPA that's individual tours very much like tennis you would see Wimbledon U.S open individual tournaments on Major League pickleball that's team based Jesse plays for both.

Um for for our our format we actually have 24 teams we've actually expanded from 12 in the past year and each team is four players I think there are two things that make MLP different from most other professional sports leagues I think the first thing has to do with gender Equity we actually each team has two men and two women and they play.

Mixed doubles events and they play men's and women's doubles events if there is a need of a tiebreaker in a match they actually play a singles match where it's often gender on gender but it could also be cross-gender too and it's incredibly exciting we had our draft in Las Vegas a couple of months ago and our first overall draft pick was actually a 16.

Year old young woman who was actually 15 at the time and it wasn't gimmicky at all it actually is because she's the best female player in the world and from an analytics perspective she's that much better than the second best female more than the best male is better than the next best male and I believe there were I think eight of the 12 first round.

Picks including Jesse were females so that's one thing that's really pretty unique from a professional sports perspective the other one is that our format is actually a promotion relegation format we're actually the first American professional sport that actually has promotion relegation and so we actually.

Have two different tiers so when we had the draft left the first 12 teams draft the top 48 players and the next 12 teams played the next 48 players and there's a promotion relegation format that's going to play out over the next few years and why that's unique is you know one of the issues you know you'll find with other major professional sports in America at.

Least because promotion relegation is quite pop popular in European football is that you know we have an incentive problem in most professional sports whereas everyone is trying to play for a championship and once a team doesn't have a champion you can't they're not up for the to win the championship there's almost an incentive to fail right.

Because you now want to be at the bottom of the order so that you can now you're now going to be rewarded by having top draft picks and on top of that you're in a salary cap format so the that top amateur player in the draft next year that you may win the first pick for is not only a great talent who's going to contribute the first year but from a.

Salary cap perspective they have tremendous relative value so one of the problems you have in sports and we're seeing this right now particularly as you get to the NBA in the NHL trade deadlines is that teams are becoming the League's becoming a barbell-like the teams that are playing for the championship are going all in and the.

Teams that don't realize they can't win a championship are selling their current players for future draft picks um the Boston Bruins just yesterday were here in Boston uh arguably the best team in hockey history this year um just traded for a 30 goal scorer yesterday and gave away another first round draft pick because they want to.

Win now and other teams that you know they're Racing for the bottom and from a fan perspective that isn't really a great thing and I'm sure you know with this analytics conference there's plenty of these types of conversations promotion relegation is about meritocracy right every game matters and that's really one of our themes so the.

Excitement from a fan perspective it doesn't matter if your pickleball team isn't going to win the championship necessarily but half the teams are going to be battling throughout the season to either stay up in the top level or to get promoted right so that adds a lot of drama to the suspense and it's something that we're particularly excited for it.

To see play out so Jesse you play on both the individual tour and in the team competition and they're all mixed together so you will play an individual event and then a week later play the team can you go inside your brain and talk about the differences of how you have to prepare for each of those events because they are very different as Brian.

Described yes they are very different um you know when you play on the PPA tour and it's a tournament format you have a partner you can practice kind of before you know it's it's a it's a single elimination kind of format um just like kind of like a tennis tournament so that mindset is a little bit different I would say it's not as.

High energy you know you're a little bit more focused um you're playing against other teams that are partnered or they've been partnered in the past so you kind of have information going in um so it's definitely if me coming from tennis I'm used to that format so it's very easy for me to kind of get into.

That mindset to prepare and compete in that tournament format but for MLP uh I think for a lot of us you know that team Dynamic it's so new and so refreshing and it does bring a lot of high energy you know it kind of brings a lot of you know okay it's almost like it's a very chaotic kind of dynamic atmosphere but we all enjoy it because it is.

Different it is refreshing and uh you have this team and you have guys and girls on your team and you know there's you're playing against other teams and it's so much fun just because it is different being in that team Dynamic and I think a lot of us because we don't get it from tournaments we enjoy every now and then being able to play MLP and.

Having that high energy and you're not doing it just for yourself or your partner but you're doing it for you know the whole team and um yeah no I think that they're both they're both really exciting I think it's a good blend of having both I don't think having one or the other would be.

Ideal I think having both is the Perfect Blend for a player like myself and I think it's also worth noting it may sound like we're competing leagues we're actually Partners between the PPA and the MLP in fact Conor is an owner of the Utah black diamonds and Dave is a general manager so yeah no I think it's great having both I think having one or.

The other just like having only MLP I think wouldn't be you know after a while you're like okay this isn't it's not fun anymore like being able to mix that into the tournament scene I think it's like oh we have we look forward to this this is great like we can play our tournaments we can have that Dynamic but then we can oh now we're going to play.

This team and you know we're cheering on our like our other like people that we would usually play against in a tournament we've now become closer you know throughout the season because it's like well they're also now on our team for Major League pickleball so it's like now you know we have that um as part of the whole element and it's just so much.

More fun being able to combine both together yeah and I think they complement each other really well just the fact that you have one that's more traditional you think more you know PGA Tour ATP Tour WTA tour where it's about individual accolades and um you know who's the who's the best player in the world and.

You know that can't be a grind that can be grueling and so you've heard Jesse say a few times refreshing and you know one of MLP slogans is there's you know there's nothing else like it and it's something that everybody looks forward to I think this time we're doing it six times a year and it's something that is just different it's fun it's exciting.

It's electric and I think the two when you know working together we thought man we need to find a way to make us make this work where we can harmonize and work together because they complement each other so well um one without the other isn't as good as both together right yeah and I think last year if you followed the pickleball.

World there was a lot of tension in that area and trying to figure out where the players would go now there's Harmony on the stage here for all of you um let's talk about the business side here for a minute uh Brian the major league pickleball got a lot of tension last year from the celebrity and sports owners coming in I mean you had LeBron.

James as an owner Tom Brady is an owner Naomi Osaka is an owner Mark Cuban is in there what enabled that incredible A-list to become a part of this growing Sport and how do you see that evolving going forward yeah I mean it first of all it's a great work by our team to get some of them involved and partly just because of.

The pickleball craze people want to be associated with it and it just becomes one of those things that just goes and goes from a league perspective from a business perspective it's actually fascinating for us because you know as important as traditional media is for us to get our our brand out there and I'll.

Take a step back and say you know our primary goal is to convert players into fans of the professional game like that's our core for all of us because there were 37 million Americans that played pickleball last year and it's grown from virtually nothing and most of those aren't that familiar with the professional game right and I think.

Naturally you would assume that that's going to lag to some degree so we have to get exposure we have to you know people have to see the best players in the world playing as you all will see Jesse and others playing later today and you know traditional media has limitations how you can get that out there however you know with the.

Influencer with the influencer aspect it's much it's much more significant so just give you an example in our last event we played our finals we're on the tennis channel we had about 600 000 viewers which was very nice but the winning team was the LA Med drops which is owned um partially by NFL legend Drew Brees and Drew is there.

Right there on the court wearing his Med drops jerseys and you know also a little bit different is you know before the matches he was playing casually with Larry Fitzgerald also an NFL legend and owner of the Arizona drive and had you know they're having a blast like everyone else does with pickleball and you know he's posting you know stories.

And and whatnot to his social media accounts and he's got millions of followers uh they won the finals they beat LeBron's team the New York Hustlers and LeBron posted to his 147 million Instagram followers right so again 600 000 Tennis Channel followers is nice but 250 times that crowd getting exposure to our game you know not only you know not.

Only is it a significant number but it expands the reach right because the 600 000 people that watch the Tennis Channel have a proclivity to watch pickleball and Tennis right whereas we're introducing in this game to just really the world and it's happening incredibly quickly no doubt about that and the the business.

Side uh goes both to the celebrity side and then Connor from a sponsorship side that's where you can obviously increase the investment in the league up the revenues be able to put bigger prizes for great players like Jesse you now have Miller Coors Hertz Chase carvana is the title sponsor of your tour how has that been able to happen because this is.

A sport that really grew from endemic now the non-endemics are really making this happen how did you get there and where do you see this going down the road yeah I think that's one of the things when you look at the growth of the sport it's something that's been so essential and so important to us being able to.

Grow I mean you have to have Capital you have to have resources to grow you know when we started this tour we startled we really started this with zero sponsorship what I mean zero is zero family money that's it and we had an idea and a dream and a vision and now today you know you couldn't even make it up the amount of people that are.

Reaching out the amount of brands that want to get involved um you know I remember when really it was about two years ago where we started to bring in bigger sponsors the bigger names like you said the JP Morgan Chase the bear the barred wealth management um you know carvana and I think what has.

Really changed is pickleball has now gotten to a point going has gotten to a place where one we're driving media attention and two um the growth of the sport is undeniable and these Brands see the opportunity to be first movers to get in and really be able to own a sport to be able to grow with its audience the the craziest thing.

About pickleball is how um how much of the sport is a lifestyle like these people that follow us that watch you know they play and this is they want to support brands that support the league and support the tour and so whether it's something simple like uh you know take a water bottle which is similar to like a Hydro Flask they come in they support.

The court you go to your local courts people are using a takea water bottle so I think um really I think it's just the growth of the sport and the fact that we've gotten the sport to a point where there's so many eyeballs on it you know the growth's undeniable and naturally you know the sponsorships come in yeah I don't know anyone that's quit I mean.

That's how crazy this this obsession is with this Sport and watching people do exactly that and then they become obsessed with everything that goes around it and that includes the players like Jesse so Jesse how from a Pro player has your life changed as you've seen this evolve and what have you been able to reap as benefits from.

This just crazy rocket ship that is pickleball oh yeah as I said previously you know I came from tennis my initial goal growing up as a child was to play professional tennis and that was kind of where my route was going and then I got sidelined because of injury and I had to stop and I became a tennis coach and then at the end of.

2018 beginning of 2019 is when someone told me about the sport called pickleball they're like hey you know there's this sport it may look a little funny but I give it a try they're starting to have more tournaments more money is going to get involved and I think you'll be really good at it so I gave it a shot and uh yeah and then from.

That point it kind of with each year that progressed you started seeing more tournaments more money and then the PPA came along and kind of made it an official tour and then all of a sudden you're like oh I can actually make a career out of this like you know whereas before I was like I was kind of just going to be a tennis coach and then all.

Of a sudden because again pickleball is so much easier on the body so I was able to be able to play competitively at a high level and I think you know that's something when it comes to why is pickleball such a an addicting sport I think again it's easy to learn I was able to kind of pick it up pretty quickly it was easier on my body so my.

Injuries didn't kind of limit me and they didn't hold me back compared to something like tennis where it's more physically demanding and then I think also I think it's really good not only just for like physical health but I think it's a sport that's really good for mental health I don't think a lot of people you know talk about that but I.

Think deep down as human beings we all want to compete and we all want to be competitive and I think that's what pickleball Taps into as adults we don't realize that we all desire that not just to compete but to be able to be competitive where it's like oh whether you know I'm in my 30s and I'm able to be a top player in the world you know.

There's players in their 40s that are able to be top players in the world and it's like here's this sport where you know it doesn't matter where your age is whether you're winning or losing you feel like you're competitive and I think that aspect is really good for mental health and that's something that I feel like as humans we've all been missing.

Especially as we get older right we don't really feel like we play board games we play cards but outside of that there really aren't any other sports where we're like oh as adults we can play and we feel competitive you know if we played any other sport if we play against someone who's younger than us chances are we're not going to.

Win we're going to lose just because of the age difference but with pickleball it really does kind of that it's a neutralizing sport that allows everyone to play and I think it really kind of promotes a mental health that we we've all been missing which I think brings on this addiction so for me personally like it just allowed me to be competitive.

Again which was something I wanted to do as a child it allowed me to be able to kind of travel and you know play professionally which was again my goal growing up it was kind of like all the sacrifices I made now I'm being able to kind of put into good use and you know play Pickleball professionally and uh yeah for me personally it's a dream come.

True I think for a lot of the players right now because a lot of us are kind of in our late you know late 20s early 30s early 40s and it's like hey here's this sport where we can play professionally be competitive and it is very inclusive and you know yes we have younger players come coming up but uh I like to I like to uh I was at the chess.

Panel last night and as they were talking I was like I feel like pickleball is like a life-size chess like that's how it's like life-size chess and you're like we're all just chess pieces moving around because at the end of the day with pickleball you don't actually have to be physically a great athlete yes that helps but really.

With with pickleball what makes players really good is the skill set and then the strategy and it's like if you have those things you can go really really far in pickleball and I think it's like same with chess it's like it's not a physical thing like it's a mental thing and I think that's something that a lot of people appreciate and enjoy about the.

Sport of pickleball yeah and I think because it's in its infancy on this very stage yesterday there was the poker panel as well and they talked about what's been solved and what hasn't and I think pickleball has not been solved I mean I I have the great privilege of calling your matches and and the chest not.

Checkers part of pickleball is what's so exciting right now because there are new shots being created literally on practice courts right now somewhere so it's exciting to see that so Brian we're at it we're at a data conference pickleball getting started you know we're not going to misrepresent ourselves here but where.

Do you see data within this great sport going and how can those in this audience who do this for a living potentially get involved in our fast growing sport yeah and so it's obviously where you're to end so we're not too advanced from terms of analytics um I would say one of the positives is.

That to measure player performance you really can simplify it into just point scored points against it kind of funnels all into there as opposed to something like baseball where you could say how good is a player well you know there's offense there's defense and even within offense you know there's power there's contact if they get on base you could.

Distill this down into just points scored points against and and the sample sets actually I'll talk numbers because people hear like numbers um it's pretty high so in a typical match a player has a 100 or so rallies in a match and if a player does well in a tournament they could play over half a dozen matches in a day so they can get.

In a thousand rallies in a day so you've got a pretty good sample set to see how good they're doing Point scored points against um and a part of MLP there's a rating system called duper where you can actually you can measure how how strong what what your rating system is it's a handicap similar to Gin and golf and.

It's an algorithm that looks at the quality of your partner and the quality of your opponents and it measures by Point differential so it's not just as simple as a 111 nothing it matters whether you won 11 9 or 11 4 and your rating will adjust accordingly so that point differential is is pretty significant.

Um in terms of you know the micro stats uh you know there are some things that people are looking at you know there are things like winners and unforced errors and maybe assists and saves um and and there's a lot of chatter about that I do think you know like with many other sports we're going to need things like Hawkeye like you have in.

Baseball and in tennis to really measure um the exact contact Point relative to the height and relative to the net because truly it is gray to say what's a winner versus an unforced error right what looks like a winner it could just be because your opponent floated a drop a little too high and it's very high with the heart with the naked eye to see.

But once you can start looking at things and plus you know exit velocity and and spin rate and things like that I think we can get much more advanced and but that that's coming like everything else in pickleball's coming extremely quickly and speaking of things that are coming extremely quickly we know on a national and international level.

Tennis and table tennis are highly bet on and Conor wears gambling where's gaming is that coming what's uh how do you see that being a part of this of this pickleball scene yeah I mean I think it's very important and it's um going to bring a lot more eyeballs to the sport as well so where.

We're where we're at right now with the PPA tour is we will be launching um live gambling that people will be able to wager on matches starting as soon as May of this year and it's been really fun to be able to you know take the sport and get it to a place where we're going to actually be able to do that um and all the major sports books you.

Know they want to be involved the fanduels the Ben mgms the um DraftKings all of those guys are partners of ours and uh our tours partnered with uh genius Sports if you guys are familiar um you know they power everything for the NFL and uh we think this is going to be a good Revenue driver and it's going to be great because it's going to bring.

More eyeballs to the sport and it's also going to bring more notoriety to our Pro players and so as soon as as soon as May of this year we'll be up we'll be going um we're also on the on the one yard line of finishing a partnership with FanDuel TV which will allow um you know us a set of special events held on Wednesday nights that uh people will be.

Able to you know see pickleball through a gambling like kind of like a wagering lens and be able to really participate in the sport so we're really excited about it so I think that's the advantage in new sport has you can try a bunch of stuff see what works and lots of things on the horizon you guys touched on this earlier but I think it's really.

Important and Jesse I want to start with you the in the inclusivity of this sport um the best player in the world that uh Brian mentioned is Anna Lee water she's 16 years old um women get the same amount of money time on on any broadcast what does that mean to you and what is what is you being a Diplomat for the sport a great.

Ambassador and an incredible player which you can all see here later this morning does that give you even more love for the sport or how does that make you feel when you know that what's important to you is being valued by the teams that are running these leagues oh absolutely I think.

Um that is kind of one of the cool things about pickleball it's one of the few Sports where I think the women's doubles is just as much watched as men's doubles you know it's just exciting and then you have mixed doubles where it's you know co-ed and that's also really exciting and I think you know there's so many sports.

Where it's kind of male dominated and you know that's kind of what comes through and it's like with pickleball it really is very equal when it comes to the excitement you know and I think the reason that is is because most of the people that watch pickleball at this time also play Pickleball and I think the great thing for us is when it.

Comes to the the women's doubles and the women's side of it I think they can just relate to that so much more it's easier to connect because they think oh we can do that too you know the women's rallies are more exciting they're a little bit longer you know so I think it's just so much more engaging because the people that watch it also play it so you know.

They're kind of watching in and they're they're looking almost taking in and trying to get advice as they're watching so I think that makes pickleball really unique um it's great because yeah you just have so many people kind of coming up to you and like oh we love watching you play and we're always you.

Know we're big fans and it's cool being a part of all of that and being a spokesperson for it and uh yeah and again like I said I'm I'm in my early 30s so you know with most professional sports especially with women you know it's a lot younger you know they start in their teens and you know by the time they hit kind of early 20s mid-20s you.

Know it's almost time for them to retire you know and it's it's sad because you know we all liked again like as I said before we like to be competitive so having a sport where is like no you can continue playing male or female at any age um it's great and uh yeah it's exciting to see where the sport goes and how it.

Continues to grow from that find anything out I know inclusivity is a big part of the sort of the tenets of Major League pickleball yeah I know I mentioned a lot of it before the one other thing I would add is like you know I have this Vision over the next few years where you know even amateur tournaments you're going to see.

Cross-gender and cross age because you know you've got these ratings where you know they're agnostic to that and you know I think about you know in my club the pro at my club is a female who's much younger than me and she's a borderline Pro and I would never play against her in a tournament because you know female in this different age.

Bracket it gets broken by age brackets similar to other sports but the reality is like we're Incredibly Close we've got great matches all the time and we should be playing each other and you know there are some amateur formats now where we're starting to do that and like I just it's a perfect example of inclusivity there's no reason why a doubles match can't have.

You know three women and a man or vice versa um and you know I think pickleball is going to go there too more quickly than not just because that's kind of part of our culture yeah it's fun to see mixed doubles just being a thing I mean just men and women on the court battling.

And Jesse blowing up some for a dude that's in in front of her is uh is great to see um Connor we've talked a lot about the pro game today we've alluded to all the people most of you raised your hands and we're thrilled that your players in this room how do you translate.

The tour and get the amateur player more involved in that because I think that's one of the things and Brian alluded to it earlier that really is going to launch this as a league to a much bigger place as all these players find out I want Jesse Irvin to win because she is my favorite player.

Yeah I think that's something that we think about every single day um when we talk about you know what our marketing teams focused on and what we're focused on over at the PPA tour you know we're part of a larger conglomerate of companies on our side where um.

You know myself and our team were a part of really the sport in any facet whether it come to whether it's somebody that's you know beginning to play Pickleball you know we own a company that that helps with that whether it's somebody that wants to buy equipment we own a company that you know that does that achieves that whether.

It's somebody that wants to play in tournaments start getting competitive wants to take lessons wants to learn and then we have the pro tour and I think that's what's so interesting about what we have is we have um really I'd say this year a pickleball has been um the year of coming together and so on our side it's something we.

Think about you know how do we take the all these people that are buying equipment playing in pickleball tournaments and how do we take them and how do we turn them into Avid fans and how do we help you know take these 65 Pro players and help them mean something and help build their brands and help market and work with them so that they.

Matter to the overall general public and I think the way of doing that is by just continuing to integrate the two together one of the things that we do on our tour you know for instance next week we've got an event in Boca Raton Florida and we have 1200 amateurs coming to participate at our event and they have their own little mini events mini mini.

Tournament that coincides with the pro tour so we've got 40 quarts of pickleball going on whether you're an intermediate player a beginning player an advanced player no matter what your age is there's a place where you can come play against people your same age group and your same skill level and you can play your bracket and you.

Can be competitive but then you can stick around you can get a beer you can enjoy the party-like atmosphere and you can watch people like Jesse Jay and Leia and the best players in the world play and I think the more that we can remember that for us a lot of people say you need to separate the pro game in the amateur game I think we need to find a.

Way to bring them together as much as possible because the more people that we can bring around the professional game I think you see it and you go oh my gosh I I didn't realize people could be that good I didn't realize this would be so fun to watch again like when I saw it the first time I had no idea I just.

Wanted to play and I saw I saw the way that the matches played and I saw the level of athlete we already had before there was even a pro tour and I thought wow there's something special there and the question is the question that we're trying to answer every single day is how do we take people that already care and all the new people that are going to.

Care I mean we have millions and millions of people that are engaged and involved in pickleball and I need them to know who Jesse Irvin is I need them to know who Jay davilia is I need to know who Leia Jansen is and uh that's something that we're achieving on I mean it's it's crazy all the pro players will attest like you know they can't really.

Go anywhere now without getting noticed and that that's a really good thing and I tell our marketing team that's great they show up at an airport they go to Disneyland wherever they're at people are now stopping them asking them for pictures asking them for autographs and that's important you know we need these players to you know be the face of our.

League and I think we're in such a unique time right now it's you know you look at some of the top players in the game and you couldn't dream of better people um to represent the sport and we feel really lucky that we have you know the opportunity to tell their story yeah and I would just add one quick thing you.

Know on that topic of you know how do you convert casual players into fans like why are they going to want to watch the pro game and the thing I always hearken back to is you know you want to watch the best people in the world perform the sport and I think very much about golf right golf obviously has a pretty strong professional viewership.

Audience right almost all of those people are addicted golfers right and even though the gameplay is relatively slow I mean compared to something like pickleball just I'll throw another stat at you from the time a match starts to when it finishes the ball is in play for over 40 of the time right and that's for tennis it's 16 baseball it's four.

Percent with their new rules may go up to four and a half percent this year um but the gameplay is exciting but why do people watch golf they're addicted golfers they want to watch the best in the world Perfect The Craft right they want to watch Rory McIlroy you know hit a seven iron 225 yards you know with with with a draw over the water right.

And say wow I wish I could do that and that's what it's like when you watch people like Jesse and then someone like me I watch that and I say you know they hit shots where I'm like I wish I could have done that or why did they do that and you know that's going to draw people in and um you know so I'm I'm obviously we're all pretty convicted that this is.

Gonna take off from a spectator perspective but um I think it's pretty clear based on on prior data suggest that your son in autogrash again stopped it's exciting I think what people want to understand here is what are you doing to work you're a strategist in this game one of the the.

Best are people watching film in this sport are people planning strategies are people going in with game plans or is this just hey I'm just figuring this out as it goes where are you on that Spectrum um I mean for me personally I I like to plan everything before I even start.

Um I like kind of like that disciplined setup going forward I think you know again the beauty of pickleball is anything and everything can work you know it's it's kind of a matter of what works for you um but I do think for me personally yes I like having a strategy I like having a game plan you know I'll watch the videos.

I'll study the players I'll try to figure out patterns and tendencies because that's a big thing at the highest level of pickleball um everybody kind of has their Tendencies they like they like to do what they do and it's a matter of kind of figuring out what that is and then understanding how to use that to your.

Own Advantage um so I yes I think the better players uh the players that are the top of the game they probably are definitely strategists and you know they have a game plan going forward and you know if that changes along the way they'll make adjustments um but yeah I think I think strategy is.

A big thing in pickleball um you know as Conor said earlier it's it's a sport that's very easy to learn but it's hard to master and it's it's because it's always evolving it's never boring and you're never it's you're always going to be challenged you're never going to just be the best and then that's it you know there's something new that's going to.

Come along and you're going to have to figure it out and problem solve and I think that makes it exciting for all of us because it's never going to get old um you know it doesn't matter how good you get someone's going to come along with some new shot and you're just like oh well that's interesting now I have to figure figure out how to play against.

That shot so um yeah I think I think strategy plays a big part as I said I feel like it is a life-size chessboard and you know the ball is just kind of chess pieces and we're just moving it around and that makes it that makes it fresh every time you step out on the court yeah I think the Innovation and thought.

There's changes in the paddles and everything that's going on there Connor what are you seeing from your perspective as it relates to Innovative thinking within the game yeah I mean Innovative thinking um Innovative thinking I mean I've seen it the game completely changed and just a you know four short years I remember.

When I came in you know everyone said don't hit the ball hard um you need to hit a third shot drop you know what's unique about our game is we have this kitchen we have this non-volley Zone where it that's what makes the game more of this chess game that people are alluding to or it makes it more strategic is there's this.

14-foot area that you can't go in that's closest to the net so it really limits you know a real big athletic person going up and closing on the net and being able to put the ball away and using just raw athleticism what it forces is people they can keep the ball low and they can you know stay in these rallies and so at the pro game I've seen.

The game completely change I've seen it change from you know no people saying that you shouldn't be aggressive that you shouldn't hit the ball hard that you should take your time you should be patient patient to people now that want to speed up every time they can they want to initiate we're seeing that stats are showing the team that's more.

Aggressive more that's more aggressive that's initiating the these speed UPS is winning more points and what that has brought into the game is the paddle technology started to change people are seeing that um you know players are wanting to speed the ball up so people are changing from you know um honeycomb generic paddles to now bringing in.

Carbon fiber and for us it's different because we're now having to start to relegate or regulate things and look at paddle technology and these manufacturers they're trying to test the limits they're trying to innovate they're trying to grow just like Jesse's trying to grow her Pro game all the manufacturers and the groups in.

Pickleball are trying to figure out what can I do to make my paddle a little bit better what can I do to give my player a little bit more of an advantage and that's something that we have to look at our game there's a few different things one we want the game to grow we want it to be more exciting we want it to be more fun but we also want to make sure.

The game stays true to what it is and what's got us here and that we're you know following the way that pickleball was intended to be played and so there's this you know for us and Brian myself our tours we feel like stewards of the sport because you know we want to make sure we're giving the sport the opportunity to grow and be.

Exciting and innovate and let people change and let the sport grow but at the same time we've got obligation to the sports roots and I think um you know the sport I mean when I say it's completely changed it's completely changed what people can now do with the pickleball what you know the actual equipment and the technology that people.

Are putting behind the sport it's something that's been very exciting and um you know as we continue to collaborate it's going to be really exciting to see where it goes yeah if you watch if you watch videos of even the US Open finals five ten years ago I mean it looks like an amateur game oh it's not very good it's not very good.

Yeah and in terms of it was just a different game it was definitely it was definitely different because I remember watching those yes because and part of it is that you know I love the analog of the kitchen as the chess match because and and I can speak like from an analytics perspective one of the reasons why I think points are so exciting and.

Pickleball is because leverage changes so often in the course of a point because of that kitchen so you know a lot of people measure the excitement of say a football game by seeing how much the wind probabilities change throughout the course of the game right a team will have a 90 chance of winning they're up by 14 points in the in the early in the.

Fourth quarter it comes back and you know how much that curve how much that changes is how exact in the game is a point is like that too and I'd say if you compare it to tennis when you get to a point in a tennis match where you've got very low leverage meaning your opponent's at the net you've got to hit a shot that's kind of off the court you.

Kind of have to end the point right there right because you're you're done you're either end up at a winner winner maybe you hit a lob but that's probably going to be the last shot that's hit in that point because of that kitchen it gives you a bailout that has a higher probability and it almost is immediate meaning in that same situation in.

Pickleball rather than trying to hit a winner straight away if you can get drop that ball right into the kitchen and you can get yourself up you're leaving the the ball at your opponent's feet there's very little they can do with that so suddenly that leverage changes whereas just a second ago you had a 10 chance of winning that point you're actually if.

You hit a great drop shot you're over 50 percent and if they pop a ball up now they're backtracking and so you'll have points where one team is the aggressor they're slamming at the other teams just getting it back just getting it back they just get one back right into the kitchen and all of a sudden it's reversed right and you've got a lot of.

Points where you've got that massive leverage change and that's what makes points exciting I know I'm getting excited thinking about no they call it the great equalizer you know you get pulled off the corner of the Court just like Brian said and the kitchen's a great equalizer and it's I believe it's the reason why our game is so great.

Because of that rule it's the fact that anybody can play it equalizes everything it equalizes athletic ability it equalizes power it equalizes when you're in a bad spot on the sport what it does is it equalizes it and it makes it so exciting so just spot on so stay out of the kitchen folks you cannot volley in there all right don't do it before we.

Get to the audience questions I want to give just one minute Brian and then Connor where's this going three to five years down the road where's this going and how can people hear people watching get involved in something that obviously everyone is passionate about it it is a lifestyle it is something that has added great health benefits to all the players.

How do people become a part of this sport well I mean obviously from from a from a pro I think everyone here is involved in pickleball in some way from the pro perspective I would just you know ask people to give it a shot you know watch the events you know PPA events you know just go to YouTube for PPA or major.

League pickleball our next events in three weeks in Daytona as was noted before there are six events a year um you know and and I think just like playing you know as I said before I don't know people that stop right once people start they keep going because it's it's fairly addictive um so I would just say just to get.

Involved and you know continue to you know there's there's a wide swath of ways to get involved pickleball even from a commercial perspective um you know we get half a dozen requests a day from people trying to do different things and it's evolving you know dramatically and all the different verticals so.

Um I would say just you know just keep uh keep exploring anything to add to that kind of yeah you know my advice I think this is the last year I'm going to be able to say this I've been saying it for the last three or four years is no matter where you are you know pickleball now's the opportunity for people to get in and be.

A first mover you can still be a first mover it's probably the last year to have first mover Advantage because it's growing so quickly so you know whether you're looking to grow your personal career there's so many opportunities I mean I've seen our company go from six people to 65 you know over the last 24 months so whether it's something for you.

Individually whether it's your company whether it's um whatever it may be in the facet of sports Now's the Time to get in get in now it's going to be easier today than it's going to be tomorrow you've got the opportunity to get in and really ride the wave and jump in with all of us and um you know the sky's the limit for the.

Sport where do I see it going I mean it's hard to answer all I know is that people are going to keep playing and as people keep playing the sports gonna keep growing and we're all going to enjoy the ride so Now's the Time love it all right I have a special questions here the first one I want to ask is you Brian what uh what can you.

Learn from other leagues that maybe it's a mistake they made or something they did well or what have you learned that you can incorporate into what major league pickleball is doing yeah I mean they were actually it was an interesting panel yesterday um talking about uh I think was for athletes unlimited and a couple of the.

Other um I think Premier lacrosse you know we're also a centralized league right the difference is we do have owners right we've got 24 teams um but but the owners own a piece of equity in the centralized league so as opposed to most you know major uh professional sports the teams um you know are not predicated on their.

Bottom line it's based on the league now they've got abilities to make money through sponsorships locally and and and merch and things like that but for the most part we're centralized so that gives us an ability to be a little more Nimble and I think you need to be nimble because things are changing on a weekly basis you know in terms of what our.

Environment is um and there are you know plenty of expansion opportunities you know whether it's you know calls to do MLP International we're doing caught we're doing college championships through duper we're doing different types of amateur tournaments um you know there's all different types.

Of things that we can do and I think the fact that we're essentially you know obviously we do still have you know 24 owners and some of the ownership groups are fairly large um but I think as opposed to most traditional sports leagues it just allows us to be much more flexible in terms of strategy.

Anything to add to that counter yeah I think we're always learning um I'm a sports junkie so it's been fun to really look out there and look at all sports I think I I've for us you know being a tour model I really look towards the PGA the ATP um the PBA things that are more tour based and you take a look at what are.

The things that have been really good for them what have been real what's been really good for their players what's been really good for their events what are the things that maybe aren't so good and they're kind of stuck in their ways and it's a lot harder to change than it is for us today so I think it's all about you know trying to become a little.

Bit bigger a little bit better every week and I think yeah obviously we do that Jesse we got a question about some of the beginning players what could you give as a tip to what's the strategy to get maybe up just to the next level they don't want to play you they certainly don't want to play you but what would you tell people.

Um to make their their pickleball game a little better individually yeah yeah playing sometime times just keeping things simple you know I think the game is so complex and so complicated that we start overthinking and I'm sure that's true for every every sport and so a lot of times I'll just tell myself just make one more ball let's just keep it simple.

Just to make one more ball um I think for any beginner that's you know trying to get better I I think drilling is is is very important I think you know kind of watching videos and figuring out what works and then drilling that and you know and kind of going in with the game plan you know sometimes again just keeping things.

Simple and I will do this for myself it's like okay I'm gonna I'm gonna serve here I'm gonna return here I'm gonna hit this shot and undo this and just starting with the game plan and having that and then adjusting later sometimes just makes your life so much easier and then it just just doing that can just kind of help make your game grow just.

Because you go in with the game plan and I find so many times when I talk to beginners they kind of they don't really they're just going out there sea ball hit ball I see it and I hit it and it's like at a certain point you know you can do better than that you you can take it one step further so I think yeah kind of you know drilling having a game plan and.

Then just keeping it simple sometimes will really help make your game better keep it simple everybody and make make balls there you go 30 seconds for each of you question was made you know what values do you want the your league to stand for Brian I mean as I said before I mean inclusion positivity um.

You know I I think it's there as I said before like the culture that exists of the amateur game I think it exists at the pro game too I mean I think I'm curious here like what Jesse's thoughts would be in terms of going from tennis like I feel like the the the behavior of players is just it's um it's so much more.

Um it's friendly it's more social absolutely whereas in I think a tennis it could be much more alienating and I think you know sometimes people come from tennis and they may be you know a little tight on line calls or things like that and there's like a culture like we don't do that here well and I think I think that comes from.

Because then and pickleball the events that are the most popular are your doubles and your mixed doubles at a certain point pickleball almost forces you to be nicer right because whereas in 10 is the most and it's true wherein 10 is the most popular event is singles you know it's just you and it's a very selfish thing and honestly to be.

Successful in tennis you have to be selfish whereas in pickleball the most you know the most popular events are doubles and mix so there's a partner involved and what ends up happening is you overall are nicer to everyone that else has on the tour because there's a good chance you're going to want to play with them down the road right and I.

Think Close Quarters too yes yes you could fit four pickleball courts in One tennis ball and I think being close quarters and one of the reasons why it's social from an amateur perspective I think from a professional perspective like you know you're talking to people like this right you know all game Longs yeah and I think I think the other thing.

That helps is you know a lot of us again are not young you know we're a little bit more mature we're adults some more than others but we are adults at the end of the day and you know for a lot of us this is a second chance you know and we all kind of are very grateful for that so I think we appreciate the moment of being able to.

Be a professional player so we just behave a little bit better and we we enjoy it we're all there having a good time because we realize hey this is this is just a second opportunity for me I never would have had this without pickleballs so I'm just going to embrace and enjoy this moment instead of taking it so seriously like when I stop on the.

Court I'm competitive and I'm intense and I'm focused but once I step off I realize I'm just so happy to be here and you feel that I mean it is the culture and I don't want to sound like I'm overselling these events but the truth is the positivity every when when you're around people that are all positive and happy to be there it's like everyone has.

That same thing it's not like sitting at a New York Jets game where where I feel like half the fans wearing Jets fans are yelling at their players the whole time like this is you know there is a there is a positivity that that is at the pro level that's not much different from the amateur level and then what people experience playing at their local parks.

Conor last 30 seconds uh what do you want your tour to stand for and what do you want these people to know yeah um you know I think we we hit on a lot of it today but when I when I think of pickleball I want to stay true to what the game is it's inclusive um we have in equality and it's exciting and I think if as long as we can stay to.

Those three things I think we're gonna we're gonna do okay as a sport awesome well uh last Shameless plug we're gonna have three of the best players in the world playing at 10 30 on the second level and if you've never seen it live you need to come see it live because it is a different level of of this board and uh.

You know for from our perspective just sort of wrap this up you know I hope you feel the passion oozing out of all of us for for the sport and we want partners that want to become a part of growing it and we want to build this community that it is you know I started with pickleball derangement syndrome and I will end with that that's we all have it we we are.

Obsessed with with what we have and it's a privilege for all of us to have a sport that a lot of people have turned it into one of the things they can't live without and that's uh that's a true blessing for all of us support for the people it is it is indeed so thank you so much for spending part of your time with us I appreciate it.

Created in 1965 in Bainbridge Island, Washington, pickleball is now all the rage. It’s the fastest-growing sport three years running. With athletes such as Lebron James, Tom Brady, Naomi Osaka, and Patrick Mahomes investing in the sport, pickleball is projected to attract close to 40 million players across the world by 2030. Moderated by PPA Tour broadcaster & pickleball pro, Dave Fleming, this panel brings together a top 10 player in the world (Jessie Irvine) and CEOs from two of the sport’s biggest leagues MLP (Brian Levine) and PPA (Connor Pardoe) to discuss why the sport is growing, what’s to expect in upcoming years, and how you can get involved.