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Pod 36: Can the “Nice” Tour Win? + 🃏 Card Count your way to better pickleball 🙌

By: Jillian Braverman “Jilly B” and Kristin Walla “K-Dubs”

Can the Nice Tour Win?

The APP and Ken Herman sure are…well…I don’t have a better way to say it: Nice. They haven’t engaged in fiscally irresponsible bidding wars for players; they have gone an inch wide and a mile deep on delivering quality pro and amateur tournament experiences. This week they hosted their largest event ever, 1400+ players in Roseville, CA (just outside of Sacramento); they have a strong partnership with and respect for the governing body, USAP; they’ve recently partnered with UTR Sports (formerly Universal Tennis), and they continue to grow non-endemic sponsors who are very happy with them (which I know firsthand because we share a big sponsor). They are the only tour to have gone international (excluding MLP Australia...recently re-branded as "PPA Australia") and in India they co-hosted the largest pickleball event (ever). It really does beg the question: Can the tour that is providing freedom and large prize money purses…dare I say “win”? We have been quick to discount them as a “serious” contender because they don’t play the right rap song on their overly cropped instagram videos, but there is undeniable player talent on their tour, integrity at the executive leadership team, and an unwavering dedication to being exactly who they are and doubling down on that. 

As Kristin says, what even is winning? As Tom Dundon said to me, “There is a lot of air - probably more than enough for all of us” and as many others have said to me, “They (the APP) play a vital role in the ecosystem. We want them around.” 

My prediction: Many of the players who signed 3-year deals with MLP, then took big reductions, and they are now exclusive to the NewCo of MLP/PPA, will tire of losing first round (or in qualifying). They will swipe to the browser window of their phone playing the APP Tour on either CBS Sports, ESPN, or Fox Sports (all recently announced 2024 broadcast partners of the APP), and think,

“Wow, the APP NYC Major pays $6k/ per person for Gold…and all those darn APP players have negotiated prize money match with their sponsors!”

The player will then swipe screens to their calculator app to type in “six times three”.

They’ll do it two more times to confirm the number: 18.

“Like 18k?!” They’ll say accidentally aloud in the MLP/PPA player tent. 

For one event in one weekend?

They’ll swipe to “mail”, click “compose” and start typing…

Dear MLP/PPA Commissioner,

It’s my wish to regain my freedom and participate in events outside of the PPA/MLP Tours….

Loneliness: The Unlikely Reason PB is Continuing its Meteoric Rise

32 million people played last year and there are 11 million active players (currently playing at least eight times per year). 

So, I don’t think pickleball is what's so popular. I think people are addicted to the community around pickleball. During the pandemic, we lost community and right now, Americans have never been lonelier. According to a 2023 Pew Research Study, 47% of Americans could count three or fewer close friends (excluding family). And what is the worst form of human torture? Isolation. I felt so alone when I played tennis. Pickleball has given me (and millions of others) a community (and a family) we never would have had otherwise. 

The Limiting Beliefs We Tell Ourselves 

Have you noticed as humans we impose limiting beliefs upon ourselves? I’m not good enough for that group. I don’t have a good third-shot drive. I’ll never be able to play the right side like the other girls. I’m not fast enough to play singles or to cover more than just my half of the court. I’m too big, too old, too slow, too….


In Sacramento I double medaled, playing with 17-year-old Jorja Johnson (gold in women’s)  and 17-year-old Gabe Tardio (bronze in mixed) – which really begs the question, "Is the key to success playing with two players whose cumulative age equals your own?"


I played the right side with Jorja because I have an intimate relationship with reality and I know how good she is (I think she’s the 2nd best female in pickleball with nothing, nothing, stopping her from being #1). 

My bitch of an inner monologue would not be denied though...screaming at me, "Wait a second though! You’re not a right-side player! You couldn’t get drafted to premier because people were so worried about your right-side abilities, remember?"

Kristin shot back at her/me,  “Jill, who better to play the right than someone who loves the left? Imagine what qualities you would want in your right-side partner, and BE THE PARTNER YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD!” 

Lightbulb moment. Epiphany. Fireworks. Did we just discover gravity? Were we breaking the laws of Newtonian physics as we knew them? 

So I made a list (like literally...not even a digital one...a pen and paper were involved) and I listed all of the qualities I would want my right-side partner to have:

  1. Get every dink over the net (because let your opponents speed up at you and your super strong left-side partner!) Better to do that than miss in the net.

  2. Be absolutely unattackable. Slide well both directions and protect both shoulders well.

  3. Don’t speed up cross-court or do stupid speed-ups that catch your left-side player off guard.

  4. Give your left-side player space to paint and create. Move the ball around well to create pop ups.

So how’d I do?! Well, I succeeded in not missing a dink in the net in the semis and finals (probably around 100 dinks!) I felt like I did a more than decent job of being unattackable, and okay–I couldn’t quite help entirely not speeding up stupid stuff lol. But I did try and limit the trigger happiness and just be super solid while Jorja painted like the brilliant Picasso pickleball player that she is. 


In summation, my biggest learning lesson from this event is that language is the wardrobe of our soul. Always ask yourself, are you the best version of yourself? Or the best version of your limited self? Because there’s a really big difference. With the smallest amount of effort you can break beyond the constraints of your own consciousness 

The Secret to Speeding Up off the Bounce

Do you ever wonder why you can speed up successfully off the bounce in practice and then in a tournament you slap the ball into the net? I’ve been there, believe me. And I’ve used a combination of pieces of advice that have helped, like throw your hands at the ball (Connor Garnett's piece of advice), stay down and frozen through impact, keep turned the entire time (don’t spin out), swing slow–-as slow as you can, keep your swing short–-minimal backswing or follow through. 

Ugh. That’s a lot of thinking and feeling.  There has to be an easier way–and there is. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with something I used to do in tennis that my good friend Ben reminded me about. 

Pretend no one is there! 

When I do my patented Jilly B backhand off the bounce speed up over the left shoulder of my opponent I’m always visualizing a cone just to the right of the back center line (my landing spot). I’m never thinking about my opponent(s). So why don’t I do this on all of my speed-ups? Well, now I am–and it’s helped me a ton.

Bye bye, opponent. 👋 Hello, targets. 🎯

Counting Cards to Win More Points

Imagine that it’s the end of a long match and you just lost. You put your head down and think about how your partner really messed up at the end. How YOU really messed up at the end. You try and relive the points, try and dissect what exactly went wrong, but all the points are kind of garbled together. Someone asks you, “Well, what happened?” And…well…you don’t really know. You know that you lost, but you don’t know exactly why or how. Or you think you know why, but you also subconsciously wonder if your reasoning is actually right or not. It’s just so hard to remember.

Or is it? What if I told you that I can remember every single point from a match I just played? Every. Single. Point. Let that sink in. How do I do it? It’s easy: I count cards. 

I grew up in a card-playing family and started counting cards around 7-years-old (when I taught myself to play bridge on my mom’s “bridge computer”). Four cards would drop in a single trick and I would repeat to myself what they were “1 club, 1 spade, 2 hearts”. I’d say this over and over to myself, making a mental picture of each card like a column in a spreadsheet labeled “Hearts, Spades, Clubs and Diamonds”. I think people execute a similar protocol when they are trying to get better at remembering names. They say the person’s name aloud and then repeat it three times silently. They spell it, they give it a color. They create a visual memory and attach the name to a characteristic.

So how can you use this gambling trick to get better at pickleball? You can start by keeping track of the rallies you win–how did you win them? Was it a right shoulder speed-up at the deuce player? Or did the ad player miss a backhand dink in the net? Did they miss another bh dink in the net two points later? 

You’ll start to see patterns develop! Your goal is pattern recognition and then SCALE the algorithm and the program that is working for you! It’s so much easier than you think. Keep repeating to yourself what happened after you win (or lose) a rally.

To make it easier, just start by remembering how you win. After you master that, then add in how you lost the rallies. Engage your mind and magical things will happen. Strategy beats skill all day long. 

Joe Dispenza Dispenses Some Wisdom

I’m currently reading “Becoming Supernatural” by Dr. Joe Dispenza and consuming the Human Upgrade podcast by Dave Asprey (guest Mark Nepo). As such, here are some wisdom nuggets you may find tasty:

  • To be broken is no reason to see all things as broken.

  • You can’t escape failure the way you can’t escape gravity. It’s inevitable. Falling down over a lifetime is actually a dance. Don’t avoid failure. Get better at it. 

  • Japanese proverb: fall down seven, get up eight. 

  • When the student is ready it’s funny how the teacher will appear. 

  • Most mentors are unpredicted.

  • Be a greenhouse. Provide light and warmth to those around you so that they can organically grow themselves.

  • Life is 10% what happens to you and 90 % how you react to it. 

  • Fear always gets its power from not looking. As human beings, we tend to inflate or deflate what’s before us. Don’t be scared to look.

  • Modern world gives us a definition of success and failure that isn’t helpful. Success is “Did we get what we want?” And failure is not getting what we want. But not everything we want is what we need. That’s why experience is such a great teacher. 

  • Neurosis is a substitute for legitimate suffering. Carl Jung.

  • Genius isn’t born it’s built 

  • You can’t always be your best but you can bring your best 

  • We will do more to avoid pain than to gain pleasure 

  • What would you stop doing if you knew you were going to die in one year? Write your eulogy every birthday. 

Want us to go deeper on certain topics or have a guest on the show? Have a question for Jilly B & K-Dubs? Email us at

My 15% off Mizuno Code is ONLY for pod listeners (and blog readers) and ONLY for 2 more weeks!

Use “JB15” to get 15% off Mizuno Shoes - we only get a code once a year and we only have it for two more weeks! So hurry and grab the literal lightest weight and best shoes in pickleball. You can thank us later! 

April is going to be BIG for Jilly B Giveaways and more juicy wisdom nuggets! To be eligible, make sure you’re:

New Partner Announcement: HALARA + Jilly B

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Jilly B

Jill Braverman

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