More players have learned to play Pickleball in The Villages, Florida than any place else. More Villagers have learned to play Pickleball from Coach Mo than any other coach. Coach Mo is the first interview in a new series titled: FIVE PICKLEBALL QUESTIONS.
Q1: How Did You Get Started With Pickleball?
I first learned about Pickleball when I was teaching tennis at Daytona Shores. A friend of mine, to whom I’d given a tennis lesson, invited me to The Villages, Florida. At the time I was a USATA teaching pro and upon arriving in The Villages, I was invited to play with the top three or four Pickleball players there. I enjoyed it immensely. I said to myself, when I get older, I’m going to move to The Villages and play Pickleball. And so it was that in 2005 I moved to The Villages and started playing Pickleball. When a player found out I was a tennis teaching pro, they would ask me questions, such as, how to hit a backhand or what should I do on the third shot, so I started teaching Pickleball. At 3 o’clock one morning I began writing a Pickleball instruction pamphlet. The pamphlet became five pages and then ten pages and finally 15. I printed this pamphlet at a cost of $1 each and handed them out free to several hundred Pickleball players. A friend said why not make a Cd of your instructions and I’ll make it so people can play it on their computers; save yourself all that ink and paper. Soon after the Cds were going, my son-in-law came to visit and said, “Why do that. I’ll make you a website for players to learn about Pickleball.” About 150,000 hits later, the website became www.pickleballcoach.com. I started giving lessons once or twice a week for free and produced a few seminars. Before I knew it, Pickleball players knew me as Coach Mo. Now everyone seems to know me. That’s how I got started in Pickleball.
Q2: What Is Your Favorite Part Of Pickleball?
My favorite part of Pickleball is teaching it. I taught all my life and I enjoy teaching. If you watch me teaching you can tell I enjoy what I’m doing. Pickleball keeps you young and seeing people improve their play makes it worthwhile. That’s the joy of teaching. I play but not as much a I used to. It’s more fun teaching.
Q3: What Is The Most Difficult Part Of Pickleball For You?
At my age (mid-seventies) the most difficult part of Pickleball is the lob. I have a solution for the lob. When it drops behind me, I holler “yours" and switch sides (chuckle). I try to find fast partners. I don’t like stress. If I played in a Pickleball tournament everyone would be watching and at my age that would be stressful.
Q4: Is There Any Part Of Pickleball You Would Like To See Changed Or Modified?
Yes there is. They should add to the name of the Pickleball like they did Ping-Pong. The words, "table tennis” were created so people would better understand the game. Pickleball is cute, but I prefer a name like Pickle-Tennis. In The Villages, I would like to make a rule that no player should be allowed to leave the ground with both feet. The reason is, I haven’t left the ground in 20 years so why the hell should anyone else be able to (chuckle). Seems like this would keep a more even playing field.
Q5: What Would You Look For In A partner?
Well, someone I could depend on. Someone who will not give me dirty looks when I made a mistake or poor shot. Someone who would have my best interest at heart and with whom I enjoyed playing. I found that person and his name is Phil Bagley. We played Nationals to together. He’s a class act.