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Pickleball bio-hacks that saved me in Mesa + How you can beat better players

RIP: Dinking

I noticed at last week’s PPA event that almost all pro players, especially the younger ones, are wearing protective eyewear—more on the women’s side than the men’s and trending towards the younger players (I guess if you have a mother/father who is still very active in your life it helps you make smarter decisions!) I will start wearing protective eyewear in my next event, absolutely (I don’t have a mother insisting that I do so but I do have a “Kristin”). Not sure which brand I’ll choose but I can’t delay this inevitably any longer, and I urge you to consider the same. I wonder if subconsciously I (and you) will play a little mo’ better and mo’ fearlessly with our eyes protected. Perhaps my subconscious, and yours, whether we realize it or not, is in a constant state of protectiveness without a pair of shades. Fun fact: did you know your eyeballs are the only part of your brain outside of your skull?! You’re welcome. 

Dinking is dead. RIP. Every tournament I play I swear the rally length decreases by 1-2 shots per event. Why? First, paddle technology—it’s hard to let balls go when they’re moving that quickly. In fact, “the leave” is going to become 2024’s most important shot/skill. Speeding up is also just more fun, let’s be real. Lastly, players are tired. It’s easier on our bodies to just “get it over with” and let whoever has the fastest hands be crowned the winner. There are 281 pro events this year —kidding—it’s 143. And I think people are seriously thinking about their bodies…ergo shorter points, shorter matches, less time on court. I think my hands are plenty fast, so I’m fine with this progression in the sport. Speaking of progression….

“Progressive Draws” are just Regressive. Agree or disagree?

Progressive draws offer players with higher rankings more amounts of byes. These players enter the draw at a later time–this is called “staggered entry” in tennis. Committee seeds are given at each PPA event which affords players like Genie Bouchard QUADRUPLE byes. But is this a disservice to her (and others)? Even Tyson McGuffin lamented in one of his post-match interviews how “tough it is to be a 1-8 seed” because you don’t get a warm-up match (cut to me dying on the court after 4 singles matches and 2 doubles matches in one day). Tyson, would you like to trade with me? 

We do think this is a disservice to players like Bouchard. There’s nothing like notching a win and earning your spot. 

The Superest Super Bowl in History

ICYMI The Super Bowl was the most-watched telecast in history with 123.4 million viewers. 28% of all US adults (73.5mm people) bet on an NFL game in 2023. What do we think the most viewed telecast in pickleball history was? 1 million+—the last Nationals? Or the China event that was reported to have pulled in almost 5 million viewers? 

Anna Leigh tested out a new serve against me (see it here from the next day vs Liz Truluck). It looked like a running volleyball serve… but kind of sideways, like if you backed up all the way to the video board, took two shots of vodka, and sprinted to the baseline. I almost missed it because it was a very jarring sight to behold. In her post-match interview, she said she hadn’t made one of the serves in practice, but she got out in the match and felt like she wanted to try it and it “worked really well and she didn’t miss one”. It harkened back to playing her in the finals at Nationals two years ago in Indian Wells in singles and she was moonball serving. Once again, in her post-match interview said the exact same thing: “It was the first time I tried it and it seemed to be working really well against Jill, so yeah.”  

Personally, I’m thrilled that I can create such a warm and fuzzy atmosphere for the #1 player in the world to feel like she can demo all of her new crazy shots. “Oh I’m just playing Jill, I’ll just close my right eye, hop up and down on one foot, and see what happens.” 

Here’s what happens: High likelihood of success. 

Regardless, I’m proud to have finished top 16 in singles and women’s doubles–and happy with my mixed performance despite losing to Maggie Brascia and Hayden Patriquin in a tough three-gamer. 

Next Up:

I’m playing APP Sacramento–yes, you read that correctly. APP. My two partners' ages total my age: Jorja Johnson and Gabriel Tardio, both 17. Let’s see how this one goes, but yes—it is looking like I’m going to play a little bit of everything this year….APP, PPA, PAP, APA—PAPA. How many A’s and P’s can we use in succession to create new three-letter pickleball entities? The possibilities are endless. (Actually 2,600)

The Merger:

An anti-climactic ending marking a new, questionable beginning  

The long-awaited PPA/MLP merger is set to close imminently, perhaps this Friday, March 1st. Most players have accepted a reduction or a buyout, but interestingly enough it seems like many players are keeping their original agreements as well. Many questions remain: Will PPA players finally be asked to take reductions? Will we see new leadership at the new company? Will professional pickleball become viable in the next twelve to eighteen months–or at least break even? Will the participatory nature of the sport translate into viewership numbers? Will the MLP brand eventually be sunsetted and “Vibe” come back? I have plenty of predictions but in the meantime, it’s hard not to feel a moment of relief for all of the players who are 58 days late to receive their paychecks. 

How to Beat Better Players

An opponent of mine in singles came up to me after our match in Mesa and said, “I’m a great singles player but when I get on the court with someone like you I feel like I don’t belong and then I don’t play my best. What advice would you give me?” 

My advice is simple, free, and available to anyone with a pulse. The simple trick to feeling like you belong is telling yourself you belong. “I am” is perhaps the most powerful two-word phrase in the English language--at least as it relates to sports psychology. Cognitive studies have shown that there is minimal difference in your mind between an imagined experience and a real experience. This is why visualization and meditation are such powerful tools because you can trick your mind pretty easily into believing in an imagined scenario. 

Back to how to beat better players: Anything you invoke with “I AM” harnesses the power of manifestation. I am enough. I am abundant. I am skilled. I am grateful to be here. I am a winner. You can make fun of me (and this), or you can set an intention and allow the universe to work its magic and thank me later.

The choice is yours.  

And remember my all-time favorite axiom: It’s not CAUSE and EFFECT. It’s CAUSING AN EFFECT. Really think about that. By thinking you belong out there, you will belong out there. Which will help you beat “better” players who won’t seem so “better” all of a sudden. As K-Dubs likes to say, "You A-ffect the E-ffect."

Performance Bio-Hack of the Week

You know those days when you step on the court and the ball is moving in slow motion, your reaction time is 40% quicker than normal, and your brain isn’t doing “monkey mind”—it’s laser-focused. And you play the best pickleball of your darn life. You know those days? Do you experience that…1 out of 10 times you step on the court? 2? 3? I’m working on making it 9/10 and I’m really, really close. 

Limitless. I want every day to feel limitless which is why I’ve delved hardcore into the world of Nootropics and bio-hacking. I could write an Opus on this, but for now, I will delve out 1-2 hacks per blog so as not to overwhelm everyone (I will definitely publish my full stack on so be sure to check back soon). 

So for this week, I have two huge performance optimization hacks for you: 

1. Sleep and recovery concoction:

Dr. Cynthia Boccaro (the pickleball doc) has helped me figure out how to turn my mind off after a long day on the court. She recommended (and I took) Magnesium Glycinate, L-thiamine and GABA to facilitate sleep and recovery. That combination of pills was very effective after I played 7:30 am- 5:30 pm, and reviewed a ton of film (yes you should be reviewing film of your matches and practice sessions–but ONLY if you want to get better). Usually, after tournament days I have a ton of trouble sleeping because your mind is ON your matches and your body is revolting against what you just put it through. 

I’ve been super hesitant to take Magnesium because, in most of its forms, it kills my stomach, but this is Magnesium GLYCINATE and it did not annihilate my intestines. GABA is the most common neurotransmitter inhibitor in your central nervous system. It lessens the ability of a nerve cell to receive, create or send chemical messages to other nerve cells. It’s known for producing a calming effect. 

L-theanine (γ-glutamylethylamide) is an amino acid in green tea and has been shown to affect brain function by relieving stress, improving mood, and facilitating sleep. 

2. End cramping, for good:

The other interesting thing about Mesa is I didn’t cramp — which I usually would after a 10-hour day in even just a little heat. I’m attributing this to two things: I went in super hydrated (haven’t had alcohol in four weeks) and they say hydration starts 3-4 days before a tournament. Also, fun fact, did you know you lose a pound of water per night during sleep with respiration and perspiration…so here was my hack this week:

I replaced Liquid IV with Redomnds Re-Lyte which is the cleanest electrolyte mix I have found to date… if you know Redmonds you know they stand for quality mineralized minimally processed sea salt and they’ve taken that salt and made an electrolyte mix. It was game-changing for me (and no sugar...not even the fake stuff).

Fin (for now)

Ok kids, thanks for hanging in through my first blog. Go out and play some pickleball now! And remember to do what’s right and not what’s easy. And of course–never forget that pickleball is joy…don’t let anyone tell you differently!


Jilly B

Jill Braverman

This article is based on topics discussed in Pod 35 of This Pickleball Life. Be sure to check it out for expanded opinions and to see our smiling faces :) 

73 views5 comments


LOL! You know what it was that made me fart all the time, stevia!


This was a great read but I still prefer our “live casts”.

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Yes, yes! I visualize myself playing like a 5.0. Woot! Now to get over this plantar fasciitis! Also, I starting taking magnesium citrate with all my other supplements thinking it would help me fall asleep, nope, aaand I have lots of farts LOL. I think I'll ditch it now.

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Players who toot together, root together! 💨

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