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Pro player AJ Koller reveals the secrets to his pickleball success.

Pro player AJ Koller reveals the secrets to his pickleball success.

  • You’ll never guess his sweet game-day ritual.

Pickleball’s a family affair for this pro, who learned from his aunt and often plays doubles with his cousin, pro Thomas Wilson. The former hockey player’s unconventional style helped him nab the doubles gold against the top-ranked Johns brothers at last year’s PPA Las Vegas Open, and now he’s spilling the secrets to his success. 

YOUR NUMBER-ONE TIP FOR PLAYERS JUST STARTING OUT? 

Do less. Too much swing—too much body movement—hurts you in the big picture. Whatever you think you need to do to hit a ball, do half of that. 

ANY ADVICE FOR MORE EXPERIENCED PICKLEBALLERS? 

High and shallow on your resets is infinitely more useful than keeping [the ball] low to the net and giving your opponent a chance to take it out of the air.

Kyle Yates

OFF-COURT EXERCISE THAT HELPS BOOST YOUR PLAYING? 

I stretch a lot. I have a routine of 20 or 30 stretches I go through. Being able to extend my reach by 2 percent by being more flexible has really helped. 

GAME-DAY RITUAL? 

Buying a gallon of water and some pastries from the gas station on my way to the courts. I’m a sucker for gas station food. 

WHAT’S A GOOD SHOT TO PRACTICE IF SOMEONE WANTS TO ADD SOME FLAIR TO THEIR GAME?

The lob. When you’re hitting them well it’s like hitting a three-pointer from the logo on a basketball court. And if you can add a little bit of topspin it goes a long way.

YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO CELEBRATE A WIN? 

A big, big plate of wings. It’s the only way to celebrate. I’m expecting a lot of calls from dietitians after this.

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