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The Story of Legacy Pickleball

Last updated on October 11th, 2023 at 02:29 am

The Simply Pickleball Podcast with Legacy Lickleball's CEO Chris Dickert

Chris Dickert, Legacy Pickleball CEO, has always been curious about how things are made. When Chris was five, his parents bought him a highly sought-after Atari video game system. They left him alone for an hour, and when they returned, he had broken the entire thing apart. Understandably, his parents lost their minds after spending a fortune on this thing. Lucky for them, he was just as good at putting things back together, which he did, and it worked fine. He said, “I just wanted to see what was inside.” 

Fast forward 42 years later, and Chris is still taking things apart. But now he’s moved on to pickleball paddles. When he got into pickleball a few years ago, he struggled to find the “right” paddle. The issue, according to Chris, is there are a lot of “marshmallows” on the market—mostly 16mm carbon fiber paddles with a lot of spin but very soft with little power. So what did he do? 

Chris started by collecting six paddles that had various features he liked. And then, of course, he broke the paddles apart and reverse-engineered them. He built his first paddle within two weeks, and Legacy Pickleball was born. A year after explosive growth, Legacy Pickleball is again betting on itself.


if it wasn’t the equipment as well then we would have never moved from Woods to
Titanium and irons right in golf I mean think of it that way because if it was truly just the players we’d still be
hitting Woods you know and I think that’s the same thing for our paddles and I’ll challenge any person that says
it’s not the paddle to go pick up a wood paddle and see if you can compete with it hi I’m Crystal Brown and we have the
pleasure of sitting down with Chris stickert he’s the CEO and founder of Legacy pickleball he’s an engineer
designer Builder and more importantly a family man would you believe that it only took him two weeks to design his
first paddle he has his eyes set on being one of the top paddle companies in the world to listen in to hear how it
all started with just a promise to his daughter and about three new paddles coming out in October and what we should
expect in the years to come all right now to the show Welcome to Simply pickleball the podcast where we discuss
all things pickleball the fastest growing sport in America and around the world we’re interviewing the founders
industry leaders athletes lovers of the sport that are driving the spectacular
growth if you love pickleball as much as we do listen in so Chris finally we get to sit down I’m
super excited to talk to you about all things pickleball in particular Legacy
and Legacy Pro and I just really appreciate your time and and and I’m excited to learn more about your brand
and about your story so maybe we can start there with have you been an athlete your whole life like what’s the
back story before you got into pickleball yeah I have um I’ve always been competitive I think
I was born that way my my whole entire family is that way and so growing up I’ve played every sport I was a big
baseball player all the way through uh was a Junior Olympic swimmer um just always you know played at a high
level all the way up and um got found pickleball about maybe
three and a half years ago my son was playing at school and I was taking my daughter down to the YMCA here in town
in Montgomery Alabama and we were going down every Saturday at six in the morning to shoot basketball and get her
ready for her season because she’s as competitive as I am these older uh
athletes were coming in and running us out of the gym and uh one time my son was with us and he said dad can I hang
around and play and I’m like do you know how to play and he’s like yeah I know how to play I’m like oh so he jumped out
there and my daughter and I watched him and then we came back the next week and he went out there and played again in
the third week they finally invited me out to play there was a three that needed one and a an older gentleman he
was I think 82 at the time he invited me to come out and play you know they were telling me the rules I ran up to the
kitchen real quick and he hit me squaring the chest with a ball and I remember I remember saying can you do
that and he was like heck yeah you can and I was like okay I’m in you know I’m I’m sold so I’ve been playing pickleball
ever since so he he hooked me so so it was thanks to your son you started to play and uh and so you hadn’t heard of
it before your son introduced you no I had never heard of it at all but uh you know being a baseball player I saw that
it was a wiffle ball and so I was paying attention to it even though it was you know generally an older crowd that was
playing at the time and it’s interesting since then uh the crowd has just completely changed I mean every every
generation is out there now even my little five-year-olds out there playing with him so it’s uh it’s grown in its
entirety it’s amazing absolutely
so you probably competitive and and so and then you decided to go pro at some points so what
happened what was the difference between playing with the three seniors and and going to Pro well you know I I was
testing the waters at Pro uh over in Atlanta at the Atlanta open PPA Atlanta opened I guess it was last year around
April and I remembered you know I was out on uh the court getting my butt
whipped and um I looked over and my little girls hanging out with
um Lucy kovilova and Cali Joe Smith and she’s following Anna Lee around and you
know that it was just a fun atmosphere to be in and I remember Ellie just
loving it everywhere I went she was just eating it up and it was it was almost more fun for me to watch her interact
with everyone than to even experience playing pro for the first time and so I’m an old man I’m 47 so I’ve been
waiting and waiting to try to get to the Senior Pro level so I decided you know
I’ll go I’ll jump in and get my I had bashed and see how how it goes and it
was fun it was a great experience at a blast and um you know Legacy kind of started that
day yeah so tell me so so you you know I I’m really interested in the paddle industry there’s a lot of new paddles
but you’ve been at this for a little while so how did you think all of a sudden that you know the market needed a
paddle and and why did you want it well I’ll tell you I had zero interest in being in the paddle Market at all you
know I was just interested in playing it was something that we did as a family and my kids enjoyed it all three of my
kids are super good athletes I have one that has kind of been slowly progressing
into the game of pickleball and I’ve been waiting for her to play because she’s old enough she could be my mixed
partner and so um she’s so good but she’s she’s now creeping into it and
starting to enjoy it so my youngest one uh she was four at the time and I talked with a couple of companies and they
approached me about um maybe building a paddle around her you know and Brandon her is like the
next Anna Lee waters you know at her age and I thought it was amazing you know
amazing opportunity and so we began those talks and I started researching you know the paddle industry and the
manufacturing that side and as we were going through it and towards the end of it it just felt like it was kind of
getting away from what we envisioned you know for her in in the Juniors and at
that time I had already talked to Ellie and said hey do you think it would be neat if we had a paddle and had your
name on it or you know it and you had your own signature paddle and she she just ate it up I mean I can remember
when she was just tiny one really I mean right when she was beginning to walk I
got her a little Selkirk novelty paddle and I I’ve got two videos of her just
running around on Christmas Day hitting the little bitty tiny Wiffle ball and just jumping and all the joys she had of
me she just loved it so she’s been playing ever since she was I mean really started walking and I mean at least
hitting the ball and having a paddle in her hands so she’s she’s been doing it forever and I didn’t want to disappoint her I had to make a decision as to do I
disappoint her and say sweetheart we’re just not going to do it or do I just do it myself and so I decided I can’t I
can’t disappoint her so you know and I jumped in it were you focusing more than on the youth
ful Market or when you started you know what again like you you’re all of a sudden you say you know I’m not going to disappoint my daughter I want to be I’ll
make good on my promise um but then what do you do next how do you get started yeah so so I knew you
know I was playing with another paddle uh sponsor and I knew that once I
started the works of the junior paddle or a youth paddle that I would more than likely it would end my contract with
them and so um I thought well I’ve got ahead of a paddle right I I might as well get to
work on at the same time building a paddle that I like because the paddle the paddles that I were playing I was
playing with at the time I they weren’t the best in the industry they were close to the being the best in the industry
and the technology just wasn’t there and so I’ve kind of got a knack for that I
mean I remember when I was young I remember my parents buying me I’m about to date myself in age but I remember
them buying me the very first Atari and I remember being like five years old and
my parents coming home and I had the whole thing broken apart and my parents like they lost their mind they’re like
oh my God you know we just spent all this money on an Atari and uh I I put it
back together I just wanted to see what was in it and so I put it back together and you know it worked fine so I’ve
always had that kind of I think engineering mind and so I took the six
best titles on the market that I thought were out there and I tore them apart and reverse engineered them and I just kept
what I liked about them and what I didn’t like I fixed and I tried to make this Frankenstein paddle if you will and
I knew that there were some issues with the paddle designs and so I started
researching other Industries like padell and and others and started migrating
some of that technology and those ideas into our paddle and the rest is history
you know I was kind of doing it at the same time as the youth title so any kind
of worked hand in hand you know I wanted that I wanted the design of both titles to be very similar they’re both
unibodies I didn’t want them to break at the handle as much you know so those things I really focus heavily on and I
didn’t want to reinvent the wheel you know I just wanted to build on what was already good in the market and try to
make it better and so um you know that’s that’s kind of our our thing we’ve always tried to push the
market a little bit you know I mean had you run a business like this like they were designing and building a
product and then having to push it to Market yeah well I’ve owned a construction company for probably 20
years and so I’ve built houses and and you know I’ve always enjoyed taking
something and building something and making it uh unique for people and I
always built Custom Homes I didn’t go and build a home and then sell it you
know so it was always unique so I think I’ve had that background even though it
was a separate industry I’ve always had destruction and development part of it I’m very good at that part I’m terrible
at coming up with names and color schemes and stuff like that you know I I
didn’t get a whole lot of the artistic ability but uh and you could probably tell that from our very first paddle
it’s black and white but uh you know I just wanted something
simple yeah I like your branding a lot so so you decided to develop this paddle
and and how long would that take you until you got the first paddle kind of out there two weeks it took me two weeks
to break down six pounds figure out what I liked about them and construct in my backyard one paddle that I thought I
could make more of and that came quick that was easy um you know picking out the name of
Legacy that was easy you know those things came really easy pushing it to Market that was that wasn’t that
difficult you know I mean at the time I I tried to do it more like I was used to
you know build it based on uh word of mouth and and amongst my friends and
start with the community close at home and start with the state of Alabama and then kind of work my way out and um I
knew that I wanted to kind of do a Grassroots campaign you know it was more about family and leaving something
behind for my kids and that’s that’s why I named it Legacy you know it all fit and it was never something that wanted
to jump into and become the next Selkirk you know but now that seems like you
know we’re we’re heading the right direction and and now that seems that we can reach that path you know we can get
there a ton of great companies out there have laid the pavement for us and like I
said we’re not trying to reinvent anything We’re just trying to take it and make it better so can you
can get about that without sharing Trade Secrets you know what are the things that you think you know there’s a lot of
new players out there and they’re you know once they play and they figure like doesn’t matter I’m just gonna figure it
out they immediately want to know what paddle it should be playing and whether whether it matters which type they pick
and so what what did you think that you know what are the things that from a construction standpoint they that make a
really good paddle there’s separate markets in the marketplace right there’s
um say there’s 30 million people playing pickleball now a very small percentage
of them are tournament Players like that we know you know I mean we’re we might be tournament Players and and we know a
ton of tournament Players but in in the grand scheme of things it’s a very small percentage and an even smaller
percentage are the pros I knew that designing our paddle wasn’t necessarily
pushing it towards one area or the other I wanted to make a paddle that was affordable that we could sell to the
pros that we could sell to amateur players that we could sell to rec players because you know if there’s 30
million Rec players out there or 30 million players out there probably 29 million nine hundred two thousand you
know or are Rec players and so the quality was a big thing I think when
someone picks up the paddle when they hit the ball they want to feel like the ball has a sweet spot to it in a big one
and so making it real solid all throughout the face I think that’s very
important when when companies are trying to build a title um something that doesn’t break easily
you know paddles are not made with Superior Products and materials you know right now because the rules the way they
are they have to be they can only have so much deflection in them and things like that so you know they’re made with
um inexpensive Plastics and things like that and so you try to make something last as long as possible and perform at
a high level for every level of the game and whether it’s a Rec player and and so
I’ve always taken the approach but and I kind of got this from coaching I think if a kid is having some success they’ll
end up having fun but you take that same child and put them in a batting cage and throw 10 balls at them and they they
miss every one of them they’re not going to go home and say Mom I enjoy playing baseball today and they might not come
back and so I think that goes for adults as well you know the beauty about pickleball is it’s very easy to pick up
as an adult you don’t have to be very athletic it’s very hard to master but
it’s very easy to pick up and so you want to make a product that you know kind of blankets that entire spectrum of
athletes from the beginner to the pro and and I felt like if we made a really good paddle the pros and that in the
amateur and tour players they would gravitate towards it right and so um I didn’t feel like we needed to
necessarily go after them you know just make a good product they’ll gravitate towards it but the amateur players that
are wrecked players they don’t know who the number one player in the world is you walk in any YMCA in the world and
ask a random player hey who’s the best football player in the world they’ll be like Jason you know you know you’re like
who’s Jason is that guy over there you know he’s the best one around here you know and so we’re still we’re still
there and so it was important to uh you know try to make something that I think
caught everyone’s eye and uh performed at a high you know at least when they
hit it they felt like it was performing well and then the rest you know kind of built off that I want to get into youth
in a minute but but before that I you know I’m curious about what you were talking about because I think it’s a new
industry and someone might if they played tennis or golf they might they might go through a few different rackets
or a few different clubs but eventually they kind of settle in and maybe for 10 years they play with the same so they
can invest in it and with pickleball I feel like what I’m seeing anyways people
are kind of hustling through paddles they’re not sure they don’t know about grip size they don’t know about carbon
Surplus they don’t know in particular even how long a paddle should last and
so I’m curious when you were deconstructing these did you have that in mind which is like hey right now
we’re gonna just move through these pretty fast well I think I think you know the reason that the way it is right
now on pickleball is because of the essence of the game it brings in every
every type of player from the players that have never played a sport they
might be 55 years old but they never played a sport to the players that played tennis growing up you know the
one thing about tennis and golf if you’re so right I mean if you ask a golfer I mean they’ve been playing with
Taylor Maids for 20 years or ping for 20 years and I think it’s because they’ve been playing for so long right they
settled in on a product that they felt comfortable with that that had a very good name equality to it an Allure to it
and so our game is so new in its infancy of popularity even though it’s been
around since the 60s that we’re still at the beginning stages of who those
companies are you know and and I know we’ve got some companies out there that have been around for a while but I think
that those titles are still up for grab I mean you’ve got people who are who are loyal to certain companies and all but
right now I think every every company is still trying to etch out that piece of
the puzzle for longevity some companies are not in it for longevity you know some are in it for right now and what
they can make and then they move on or they build it to to get bought out and and it is what it is I mean they’ve I
mean we’ve seen that in the Tour Wars right now that’s going on I mean there’s just so many things that are that are
fluid you know I mean two weeks ago it didn’t seem like we were here and now we’re here and it’s like man you know so
every day things are changing and so you kind of have to navigate these shark infested waters and and do something uh
and and stay on on task and so for us when I built the paddle I never thought
much about that part it was always what can I do to make something better so
that there’s a better available product out there that I would play with for myself because I’m a player I try to
play at a high level but I’ve still got a ton of room to go and um I wanted to I didn’t want to get beat
by a better paddle because I had an inferior paddle in my hand and so selfishly I tried to make myself happy
and I’m such a competitive person and I’m tough on myself when it comes to
sports that uh if I could make myself happy I felt like I could make a lot of
people happy when it came to a cattle that fit their needs you know I think that’s the entrepreneurs experience
usually is that they feel like they could do something better than someone else has done before and so that’s why I
put everything on the line so have has this company um you know taken time from other things
for you is it is it a full-time job is it exhausting yeah the construction kind
of went to the side the construction is now pickable it’s full time and it’s been that way almost all year you know
um the first four months of the year we were back ordered I mean it was it was crazy but uh it’s definitely full time
and and it’s amazing because now it was something that was a hobby that is now a
job that doesn’t feel like a job most people you know that’s what you strive for is to find something you truly enjoy
and love be able to use that as a career and so um it’s been a blessing I mean that you
know I mean every day I wake up and I have to pinch myself because it’s like wow you know I can’t believe that you
know you see people out there enjoying the paddle you know it’s it and I mean we’re right at a year of being approved
at the end of September and so we’re we’re still green you’ve got your paddle
and then you submit it to the USPA and and they what do they do from there they they go
through a rigorous test and measure it on different um performance areas and if it passes
everything then you get approved to play in um sanctioned tournaments
um you don’t necessarily have to go that route to get a paddle into the market if you want the paddle to be used by
amateur tournament Players or by professionals then that’s the route to go I would suggest people try to do that
anyway because it helps our game it the USA pickleball has been around for a
long time and they’ve got measurements in place for a reason and you always
want to make sure that your product is playing within the same parameters um so even the paddles that we might
design in the future that maybe are geared more towards a Rec player and not a tournament player will still push it
before USA pickleball just just so we feel comfortable about the accountability of the way it plays and
all that’s really interesting and I’m I’m brought up the sort of turf wars with PPA and duper Etc but I I think
it’s actually good for the game um I in San Francisco and I brought this up on another episode around search
engines I was here when there were you know Yahoo and infosec and then all of a sudden Google comes in and I think it’s
okay I think we level up every time people are trying to do better but it’s
also a little bit confusing and so I think and again like back to choosing a paddle for for anyone it is a little
confusing because you know they don’t know what to look for and they don’t know again like maybe our paddle’s
supposed to last for six months are they like running shoes you can’t wear running shoes forever so you it’s okay
like it you know what’s the mentality that these these purchasers should have it’s interesting say that because I say
that all the time I use that exact sentence a paddle is just like your shoes
you know if you use the same pair of shoes every day and you go play three hours in them or you go run three hours
a day you’re gonna wear them out in a month I mean you will I mean you’ll wear holes in the soles and things like that
if you only wear them once a week they’ll last for a long time it’s the same way with a paddle I was replacing a
paddle every quarter once a quarter I was replacing a paddle for myself and I
just wanted to make sure the paddle was performing at the highest it could perform and that was before you know we
started Legacy and so I feel like along the way some people have gotten this
image that it’s supposed to last a year it’s supposed to last three years there’s not many products out there that
are built with these type materials that are going to last that long right and I think that’s the caveat is the type of
materials that they’re made with if we could make uh paddles out of things that
tennis rackets are made out of then they’ll last a lot longer if we can make them out of iron like irons in for golf
they’ll last a lot longer you know I mean so you kind of as a consumer I think we have to educate ourselves a
little bit on what are we actually buying right we’re not buying we’re not buying a golf club right you know not
buying a piece of Steel that lasts a long long time you know you’re you’re buying something that’s got
polypropylene plastic in it you know and it and it’s got glue all in it and if you leave it outside in the 100 degrees
in California or or Alabama or 20 degrees in Minnesota it’s going to start
to break down I think probably a paddle should last at least a quarter you know
that that would be an on average I think um I’d like to see them last a lot longer but it’s indicative of what
they’re made out of and and who’s who’s using it you know I’ve actually taken a paddle and gone and played one game and
I hit the ground and and scrubbed it up so bad it broke I mean so it’s like you know I mean it you know that’s just part
of the game you know it depends on how you’re using it and what happens when it’s in your hand that’s right
a few players that kind of they’re smacking the court a little bit too much and have to oh yeah or if you got or if
you’ve got one player that you’re playing with and they’re just really excited when they hit a shot and they
you stick out your paddle knock it out of your hand and you’re like that’s a good point
so what about kids you know
you know for pros the pros are some of the pros are young and then there’s going to be Collegiate we have another episode just all about Collegiate
pickleball and that’s going to lead into high school and then youth you know your daughter is way younger than that and
what are you seeing like what what have you seen this Market grow and are they buying a lot of paddles and yeah I think
that that’s the wave of the future for legacy that’s a big focus of ours is you
know I mean I’ve always tried to think of our company in the long term you know our game has a tremendous amount of
older Baby Boomers playing and Baby Boomers won’t be with us forever and
after the Baby Boomers move on then if you’re not bringing in the
younger crowd you know you’re you’re gonna you’re gonna miss the entire industry and so it’s with everything I
mean you want to have multi-generational relationships and um the days of you
know sending your little one out there to get tennis lessons and then they’ll migrate over to pickleball later you know after
they finish their tennis career that’s that’s over with you know I’m not a tennis fan you know I was a baseball
player so I I my little one is going to play Pickleball if she wants and so and
she’s gonna know from knee high how to play and she’s gonna have the opportunity because Legacy and hopefully
other companies will be out there in the marketplace you know at the elementary schools donating paddles and setting up
clinics and helping those kids stay healthy and keeping their mindset right because the beauty about our sport is I
think that it’s Unique in the fact that my little one can go play with 75 year old her grandfather and they can build a
bond like no other sport I mean I I remember going out and throwing ball with my grandfather but we didn’t really
chat we were 30 yards away from each other throwing ball right but my little one can go out there and spend three
hours with my dad or my mom or or you know other other players of that age
group just grow so much emotional and mentally and learn from them it’s Unique
and I think that we have to Foster that in the schools and in the community and
put on clinics and so so Legacy is all about the Collegiate level we’ve moved into that very hard very fast you know I
mean right now we we’re working on setting up a bunch of different Collegiate programs we’re working with a
lot of universities Across the Nation to help facilitate setting up clubs for them so that they can go and play in the
duper series and things like that you know we’re working on sponsoring a lot of them uh supporting them there on
campuses you know showing them the model of what we did at other campuses and helping them get through the sticky tape
uh to get a club going and it’s just like hockey and some of the other sports you know the bigger the club scene grows
at the Collegiate level than the NCAA at some point will pick it up and if we want to be an Olympic sport then we have
to have it in college and so that’s that’s by Nature where where headed and
uh and it’s coming like yesterday I know it is moving so fast so we talked to someone
um about this and he said that um again in one of our other episodes and he’s he felt that that maybe the NCAA shouldn’t
oversee Collegiate pickleball that maybe it should be a sport a little bit more like hockey or some of the other ones
that and that don’t get have have to compete for the ncaa’s time and energy
but but then again that could be limiting so I’m curious what your thoughts are and I know this this is not
your business per se of building pickleball but I’m curious just your thoughts I think the NCAA has had a
longevity in that environment and they they’ve seen Sports come and go and I
think the idea early would be to push it to keep it
at a club level as long as possible until it’s throughout the entire U.S and
the one thing about hockey is it’s played heavily up north maybe not heavily down south and so some of those
things like rugby and things or lacrosse are very regionalized pickleball is not
that way and so I think that nature will take its course and once it’s spread out
throughout the US the NCAA is all about making money right they’re they’re in the in the game of making money and
let’s be honest pickleball is at the entertainment phase right now and that’s why some people are upset about the turf
wars I’m the same as you I mean I think that what what’s happening is those tours are looking at how can they
put a product out there that’s entertaining enough so that the rest of the United States buys into pickleball
and wants to see it on TV and we’re at that stage and college is the same way so we’ve got two battles to to take care
of and you know they’re two separate entities but being a a player that
played all the way up and and is all about college sports I think NCAA is the
way to go eventually once it’s you know in every region you know right now not so much and the NCAA doesn’t want any
part of it right now I mean we’re still we’re still in the baby steps so is Legacy I mean how many people are you
that’s running around kind of getting involved in so much because it’s I know it’s hard to run a business I’ve run a
business before and yeah we’ve got a stash and probably 10 to 12 people you
know and we have a tremendous ambassador program and we’re working with several
influential business people throughout the US and abroad that aren’t
necessarily ambassadors but they’re friends of the company and they just want to see us succeed and they’re
they’re leaning on um their experience to help us and guide
us and we’re very much appreciative of all that you know I think with my
college contacts and and things like that I mean that you know we’re trying to use every person in our
organization’s strengths to further you know our company and and to push
pickleball you know we want to see the community just grow and it’s not all about our Legacy it you know it’s all
about making the sport accessible for everyone and making it affordable because pickleball will take care of
itself you know it’s going to make the sport and you know it doesn’t necessarily need these Superstar
companies out there doing all these things and we just have to facilitate it so that people can play the game and and
do it at an affordable rate so how so been um is it is can you keep them on
the shelves so to speak yeah it’s it’s you know I think after the first four months it it was
um I learned the lesson and so I just decided to re we’re we’re constantly
reinvesting in in our company and so we’re we’re when we even remotely get
close to being at a stop you know we’re already we’re already having our
inventory reset and so um I I learned a lot about the way of uh
Manufacturing in China and there and all the holidays they have and when they are specifically and so I’ve gotten ahead of
that our inventory is fine and we’re going to be ourselves have been amazing and um it’s been a blessing I mean we’ve
been very steady and consistently on the uptick things haven’t slowed down at all where are most your sales coming from
would you say is from your ambassador program or is it coming from just your website do you or do you sell in stores
I think majority of our sales are coming through our website um most of it I think is Word of Mouth
now that we have a tremendous amount of ambassadors out there with the paddles in their hands and our product is
getting out there you know we’re having repeat customers customers are telling their friends and things like that and I
think it’s just growing from a Grassroots campaign we’ve got a lot of wholesalers out there that on the retail
and we’re growing with that every day I mean we’ve sold paddles in 54 countries now and so it’s it’s it’s amazing I mean
we’re we’re we are getting ready to move into India we are growing at an
astronomical rate I think if you would have told me a year ago that we would be where we’re at today I would have bet my
house that you’re crazy and so it’s been a true overnight success it really has
and it’s been a blessing and it could all in tomorrow you know and and if it does it’s been one heck of a ride you
know it’s been amazing but um I feel like you know we’ve got our foundation set now we’re heading in the right
direction I mean it’s it’s amazing so I I you know I just learned recently how
many countries it’s being played in and that it’s starting to take off more in in other Asian countries and European
countries Etc are they playing it like we are here are they just is it just getting started I don’t know I’m just
curious what you know yeah there’s there’s some countries that are playing it heavily they’re not I think it’s
organized as far as um you know an association a pickleball Association and things like that but I
mean I know Mexico Canada is is is growing astronomical up there I mean
they’re they’ve got their own pro league uh now uh Canadian national pro league
um Europe is taking off I mean it’s Australia there are countries that I’ve
never even heard of of people buying paddles and it’s like wow I had no idea
I mean the Philippines is getting big I mean it’s it’s just growing at a recreational level very quickly I mean
even China now I mean China’s really getting into it I mean and as soon as they get into it I mean it’s I mean it’s
India I mean you’re talking about two of the largest in the world I mean it’s unorganized at an at a grand scale
abroad for the most part so a lot of room for growth and and stability there
you know and I think they’re leaning on the US’s um last three or four years and and how
we got going abroad uh to go abroad and make it stronger do you think that
there’ll be a lot of consolidation with paddles do you think there’s going to be some you know there’s in I don’t like to
use tennis as the only basis because I know they’re similar but there’s a lot of other paddle Sports out there and
there’s a lot of other sports out there but eventually in any business you start to see some consolidation and maybe some
big companies and do you think you’ll see that with the paddles I think we already are we’ve been we’ve been
offered three or four times to be bought out um you know I think that that’s the
nature of any industry it’s such a growth phase that you’re seeing just everyone jumping in and I think within
two years you’ll start to see it consolidate a lot more you know right now it’s it’s kind of free-for-all and
and so um but you know I I think that is good though I think that that pushes the
boundaries of Technology pushes the boundaries of customer service it makes us all strive to do better because we’re
all fighting for the top spots and uh in order to have some longevity you have to
have your feet planted in in the right way you know you can’t speak uh Fly by
Night you can’t come in hit the lick and and and last forever I mean you’ve got to
set up some foundations and I think for us that’s why we were so huge on our
ambassador program and getting in the schools and really staying on focus of
what we’re in the game for because you know there’s there’s a huge pie out there and there’s enough room for
everyone um but I think that the ones that want to be very successful you’ll see a lot
of consolidation in that market before too long what how does your ambassador program work what what do they do yeah I
mean they’re they’re essentially a brand ambassador for us they’re they’re an extension of our family and so they’re
out there playing representing us um they can take part in the sales program or not you know
um our ambassador program ranges from a 1.0 to a pro I mean it it really we we
take pretty much every level of player if they fit our mold and our mold is
really our vision and values that we have on our website I mean if if they believe in what we believe in and they
want to see the game fostered in in that way then we want them on our team we want them out there you know educating
the public on the mental health benefits of playing pickleball and uh sharing
those stories in their Community with us and so we can put it on social media and and do things like that and so it is a
huge network of amazing people is what it is and and it’s I mean we I don’t
know where we’d be without them you know it’s um I go to tournaments all the time and like you know it’s amazing you know it’s
just this is amazing at that network of people can do if pointed in the right
direction you know and for us we want to make sure that we’re giving more to them than they’re given to us and we want to
get them to wherever they want to be whether it’s so uh by trained you know professional or if they want to just be
the best 3-0 at their rack you know I mean we want to we want to help facilitate whatever their interest is
yeah I mean I think I think it’s it’s really nice to have company values that people tie into and they in general I
remember there’s an article recently that said Can pickleball save America and in some ways whether it’s America or
beyond our borders this element of community and being connected and and
you’re talking about a couple different levels right you’re actually allowing people to connect into your mission as a
company um in addition to being connected on the pickleball court and I do think that may
be why it’s taken off like fire because I just don’t think there’s been
something that everyone’s been as excited about that has a positive you know Impact versus people get really
excited about Blood and Guts but that’s not really positive for the yeah you know what I
mean yeah no I agree I agree I think that it’s um if you believe in what
you’re out there promoting it makes a big difference and um you can’t ask somebody to be out
there promoting your brand or the sport if they don’t truly enjoy it and know
why and so uh it makes the most sense that um our paddle’s not for everybody our
vision and values might not be for everybody but um you know we feel like our goal is
always to make the community pickleball better and it’s never really been about
us per se and so I think that’s why a lot of people do gravitate towards us
fortunately and and we’re blessed in that respect and so Bill Gates said
something one time that he doesn’t hire anyone that’s um dumber than him and so I that always
took me back because I’m like and I where do you find people smarter than you you know and uh so I took that to
heart and and it kind of changed it a little bit and we don’t necessarily want anybody associated with us that’s not
more passionate than me you know that you know if you want people more passionate than you are
and and continue to grow it and so um I I’d like to be the worst player in
the in the in our room in the less the least passionate about it in the room that’d
be amazing you know because then I know that I can I can go step away and it’s
gonna run you know it’s going to continue to succeed well so so what are the the near-term milestones for you
guys are you do you sponsor Pros are you you know what’s your are you putting out new paddles soon yeah we’ve got three
panels that are coming out uh we’re setting it uh for October 1st we’re excited about that it’s kind of video
what they’re like yeah absolutely um uh our 14 millimeter Legacy Pro was
coming out um would kind of stayed away from that for a while because the Legacy Pro hits
so hard that um it’s one of the most powerful paddles I think on the market right now the 14
millimeter is going to be in my opinion the hardest hitting pile out there and
so if there’s people out there that really like the mash the ball that’s the paddle form just for people that aren’t
as experienced as you the if the thicker the paddle or when you’re making it a little bit thinner it’s going to have a
lot more power you’re saying yeah so normally a thinner paddle is faster in your hands and
um it can be more powerful because of the Swing weight and the velocity that
you’re able to swing it for a 16 millimeter it hits very hard you know for a thick paddle and we wanted it that
way we didn’t want a marshmallow in our hands there’s a lot of marshmallows out there and we did we didn’t want to be like that and so a 14 millimeter is is
tightening it down and it it’s more compressed so it’ll it’ll it’ll promote
more power and so we’re excited about that we listened to our fans a lot of people wanted a 5.5 inch handle so we
extended that handle just a little bit and so that’s something new for the 14
millimeter Legacy Pro and then we’ve got a hybrid version of the Legacy Pro that’s coming out as well and for those
people that like a different shape there’s a ton of players out there that like that shape that hybrid shape and so
that’s going to be interesting for us because it’s not it’s not our um normal design or look and so
um but it will be our makeup and so to combine that hybrid and our makeup it’s
going to be interesting I think it’s going to be one of the most popular paddles out there can you describe or do
you have anything that you can show what a hybrid is versus the traditional yeah so um I don’t have it with me but this
is this is more like a standard this is Ellie’s paddle I don’t know if you can see it but it’s um it’s more of a
standard shape right it’s much short square and then this is more of an elongated you can kind of see it it’s a
little more elongated and skinnier and longer the hybrid a hybrid is going to come here and then it’s kind of kind of
round in you know it’s going to be more round instead of more square and boxy it’ll be more round and so there’s
several reasons why I didn’t build the hybrid initially and it made more sense
that when when you start to build a round Edge it starts cutting into those octagonal polypropylene honeycomb cells
and so all of a sudden you’re losing compression in that area and so I wanted
something that that lost you know I didn’t want compression to be lost so I wanted to minimize that and so right now
and that’s why we’ve kind of designed it where it just rounds here and rounds here and then it squares off you know
and so it’s got a tremendous sweet spot here and you don’t lose anything up here and if you’re hitting in these Corners
you know you’re starting to lose some energy when the ball hits with with a uh
hybrid you have a tendency to lose some in that rounded area because it’s cuts off it’s like a cup if you cut a cup in
half and it’s got water that water is going to seep out right and so in order to facilitate a better Bond the
thermoform is going to help a lot and um I think thermoform is the answer for
that and initially I wasn’t sold on it and so I’ve tested it and I really like
the hybrid as well you know because of the thermoform and the seal around the paddle it makes it really solid as well
and so you don’t feel that like a a Hyperion for yoga that doesn’t have the
you know I think it’s the Swift version it doesn’t have the thermoform you can kind of feel that compression being lost
when the ball hits and I didn’t want that and so um you know we we’ve moved on to that
hybrid I think it’s going to be very popular if I can come up with a good name that that’s been my struggle with
that one so if you’ve got if you have any good names please let me know yeah everyone if you say that um during this
podcast I’m sure you’re gonna get lots of comments about oh please please I mean I I can build paddles I can’t name
names it’s like it’s this thing but we’ve got a 14 millimeter
um Legacy velocity coming out it’s going to be a different kind of paddle it’s
going to be more geared towards people that want less poppiness less power
um it’s not going to be thermoformed it’ll be a unibody so it’ll be made out of all One Piece it it’ll have a
different um coating on it that hadn’t been seen in the market yet I believe and so it’ll
be a raw carbon fiber but it’ll have a coating on it that doesn’t scratch per se and so it’s going to spin the ball
tremendously but it’s a paddle that that makes some noise with it because the price is just going to be amazing we’re
gonna we’re gonna give that paddle away almost and I just think that people are
going to really enjoy that and it’s going to be a paddle that we really make a big move into the rec industry and
move it and move into big retails with it that’s a lot three new paddles this fall that’s amazing yeah yeah I mean in
our industry if you’re not being Innovative or continuing to push you know it’s um you can get passed by in
some we have no intention of getting passed by we’re going to continue to grow and and keep our focus on what
we’re good at and so that’s exciting those files are going to be fine the Legacy Pro is still I mean we still have
people everywhere that haven’t heard of the Legacy Pro so we’ve still got a long ways to go to get that thing all the way
in the market but we’re having fun with it well hopefully we can help a little bit and we’ll put everything in the show
Notes too of course about it um I’m just curious is your daughter proud of you is your is your family
supportive are they kind of like Dad you’re spending so much time working are they like Dad this is awesome you know
yeah you know it’s been it’s been to be honest I think it’s gone in ways early
on pickleball was maybe a sore subject because it was taking a little focus of
dads Because I was doing it as a hobby and you know my kids are so athletic my
family’s so athletic that everyone’s going in every different direction and Dad kind of got forgot about a little
bit and so you can’t put the athlete down and so I needed something for
myself especially during covid to keep myself mentally in check and so that and
pickleball fit that need for me you know I mean there’s not many sports that you can play at my age and play at a high
level and still push and compete and challenge yourself daily and so
um early on I would say that pickleball was kind of like uh but now you know
with uh it becoming a full-time uh job and um the growth of our company and
what our company stands for it’s turned into fun and and and I know that’s the
case because my middle child was all about never playing pickleball and the
other day she said dad can I can I have a paddle I want to go play with my friends and I’m like oh what pickleball
battle and she’s like yeah like yeah well let me get my phone out and record you saying that if so but now she plays
and and she uh she told me the other day she was like the reason I didn’t I didn’t just jump out there and play is
because you and Davis were so good that’s our older brother we’re so good and it was intimidating I didn’t want to
be bad at it to start so she’s been secretly playing so she can come and stalk me and so and she will she’s such
a good athlete I mean her and my son are they’re gonna pass me quickly so it’s really fun I mean I you know I feel like
I play with all ages and I love that there are all ages playing but I do find that no matter what age everyone is
constantly trying to get better and wants to get better even the rec players you know they’re they they want to get
better and I think and I think that’s why the paddle Market is so interesting too which is you know there’s there’s
not that much to buy when it comes you know or to you know you gotta you gotta kind of rely on yourself to improve the
game but fundamentally how a paddle feels in your hand when we were talking to spartis paddles
um he’s a relatively new on the market and he said I’m he’ll be the first person to say that a paddle’s not going
to make you better but the way you feel playing with it will make you feel better and I think that’s true and I
think that that’s why there’s room for different paddles because they feel differently to different people I think
I have a different opinion maybe a little different take on that I feel like it’s both I mean it’s it’s it’s
very much the the equipment you have in your hand as well I mean I feel like there is a noticeable difference in some
paddles than other paddles and those and I’ll say this because I would have never
designed that paddle if I didn’t feel that way because I could still play with the paddle I was playing with but I was
getting B by paddles that could do things that mine could and I know that because I
would give my paddle to my buddy and be like hey hit that back cut with this paddle and see if you can do that and he
couldn’t do it he’d spray it all over the place and I’m like you know so I mean there’s very much a an element of
the paddle makes a difference and and I mean you know you got to think of it like this I think um and people have to
think of it like this is if it wasn’t the equipment as well then we would have never moved from Woods to Titanium and
irons right in golf I mean think of it that way because if it was for truly just the players we’d still be hitting
Woods right and so you know and I think that’s the same thing for our uh our um
paddles and I’ll challenge any person that says it’s not the paddle to go pick
up a wood paddle and see if you can compete with it let me know if it’s not I mean it if you can play 5-0 with a
wood paddle man you’re pretty your neighbor your name is Ben Johns is what your name is
that’s very true I mean I think you’re right I I guess I I think 100 that um
that’s what’s exciting about the technology improving overall which is because it’s a relatively new sport not
completely but you’re seeing so much Innovation we want that we want more Innovation I mean
you know and like in San Francisco you see Innovation sometimes and like
we see self-driving cars all the time there aren’t that many places in the country that you see a car driving by
itself right but you know that you get this little window into what the future holds and I feel like that’s kind of
like with pickleball I think we’re just at that beginning where a few of us see how much there is to go and how much you
know and like you were talking about college and youth um you know it’s going
to be I imagine again I’m curious to your opinion every high school is going to have a team and every College have a
team you know and for a lot of those kids it’ll be their path to the parts of their future
right you know absolutely absolutely there will be scholarships for it I mean it’s just headed that direction I mean
it it and the thing is it will never take away necessarily from tennis it can
go hand in hand with tennis it’s just truly a different sport and so I think the the people who you grew up playing
racquetball in those sports that started to die off see the differences and the way
pickleball is is trajectory is and I think they’re in this game with us and
and I think there’s so many of those people out there that played racquetball that saw it down that are fighting real
hard to keep pickleballs from doing that you know interesting because I think about about like there’s paddle tennis
there’s squash there’s racquetball badminton you know there’s these these
racket paddle sports that were out there and I just curious if you’re the first person to say that and that’s really
interesting that they sort of died off and I wonder I don’t know why I never thought about that I think it’s honestly
the opposite of pickleball and I I guess it must be because it’s much more approachable it’s extremely approachable
it’s easy to pick up and it’s accessible you can play on a tennis court so the
foundation is already there you can go play on a tennis court you know you can go and and
um you can go and um tape off a tennis court if you will and so it’s there and
it’s it’s social you know somebody some of these others aren’t so social you
know you get inside a racquetball I played racquetball for the first time the other day and people were trying to
talk to me and all I heard was I’m like I’m trying to dodge a ball out hit me in the mouth you know it’s like you know go
see a 70 year old out there playing racquetball hardly I mean you know it’s it’s a different animal you know so uh
pickleball I think pickleball is just one of those unique unique Sports I mean I’ve played every
sport it’s just different I mean it name another sport that you can take a
five-year-old and an 80 year old put them on a competitive field and you don’t know who’s gonna win and actually
actually women you know there’s very few Sports it you know it’s talking to
with a 28 year old man in any sport but pickleball I’ll get rid of that I still
might not do that well I don’t know you know I was swimming
um you know I was a swimmer also and and I I I’ve always thought it was a really inaccessible sport if you live in an
area without a pool with inner city your parents don’t know how to swim like it’s not there’s not a lot of fairness there
so there’s no way but in pickleball what I hope is that it is everywhere and that
it is really fair it will be because you know tennis is is kind of like a country club Sport and the difference in
pickleball is you know as long as we can keep the prices right
it will be affordable for everyone you know and that’s the one thing that irritates me I think the most about some
companies is that they’re trying to drive the price up so high of paddles that you’re on you’re pricing yourself
out of the entire Market we can debate that
type of marketing a lot but I think that if you if you’re a player of the game
and you enjoy the game and you want to see the game succeed you you have to help keep those prices at a at a place
that people can afford it curious about that I mean can you have different levels like like
you know and I’m sure at some point they had to think like if we put out you know
Air Jordans that whatever they are and then is it a better Theory to have like different levels right so you know
you’re going to have your pro level but there’s not very many people they’re gonna buy it or do you sort of pick a
segment yeah it’s interesting on the way Nike was right with Jordan I mean once
the Jordans came out I mean Jordan the the market of prices just went but then you had all these other Nikes
that were all about the same prices I mean most of the cleats were all the same prices most of the the basketball
shoes were all the same prices until Jordan kind of blew that up and so
um you know they’re maybe an anomaly but I think for the most part you know even
Nike kept the prices at an affordable rate for a high quality product and so
um I mean there’s some companies out there that do a tremendous job at hitting excuse me every level you know I
think so Kirk does a good job of of putting retail titles out and and having
a high tier paddle as well you know and making it affordable and um I I’ve been
a fan of the way they do things for a long time you know as far as marketing things I mean they they do a good job
and I think there’s a lot of companies our company included that can learn from
that and and grow in the market and so kudos to them and and others that are doing stuff like that you know I mean I
I remember when I first started um I’d see sell cattles you know in the
community and it was like man you know I think they’ve been in it a long time they understand you know and so uh if
you don’t have that mentality I think that you’re probably going to be one of the companies that gets eat up or gets
moved to the side you know because you you know it’s it it sits you’re gonna have to hit the
entire Marketplace or or you know I mean and I mean you could be an Amazon company I mean there’s plenty of those
out there that do well you know I mean but you’ve got it you’ve got to figure out what your Niche is if your Niche is
trying to Encompass the the entire sport you probably need to follow
some pads that have already been laid you know like that which is sounds like what you guys are trying to do it’s
really trying to be there for everybody that’s I love the name and I’m excited to see all of you and your daughter and
and your son and both your daughters and your son and well thank you so much for sitting down with us and um I like I
said I’ll share everything in the in the show notes and how to buy a paddle and where to buy a paddle and I hope that
when you release your new paddles we can talk again and and uh you can show them but it’s it’s really exciting where the
Market’s going so thank you so much Chris thanks for taking him hey guys thanks for listening to Simply
pickleball we’ll be back very soon with great interviews discussions and more all about pickleball don’t forget to
subscribe to our channels on YouTube Twitter Instagram or any of your favorite podcasting Outlet until next
time happy thinking

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