We recently ran a feature about the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center (STPC) and how it was supporting research into rare forms of cancer by hosting the 2nd annual Play It Forward pickleball tournament on Saturday, August 5th.
Rick Witsken Pickleball Camp
They’ve also been active on the instructional side of things by holding a sell-out three-day Nike Pickleball Camp, which started on Wednesday and finishes today (Friday, August 4th).
Rick Witsken, the owner of RipSken and co-founder of the National Pickleball League, has been actively promoting the sport nationwide through clinics and partnerships with Nike. Despite his extensive background as a former professional tennis player from Indianapolis and 35 years of experience as a tennis coach, he embraced pickleball as a player just 12 years ago.
In a relatively short span, Witsken has made a remarkable impact on the pickleball scene and has risen to the pinnacle of the sport. He currently holds the prestigious title of being the No. 1-ranked senior pickleball player globally.
The Beauty Of Steamboat
Rick said, “This is my first trip to Steamboat, and I love it here. Not only has this been a fun camp out of the 25 that I run for the year, this is probably the nicest setting due to the mountains and the beauty of Steamboat. The participants have all been nice and very easy to work with.”
Witsken acknowledges the crucial role played by the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center in ensuring the smooth running of the camp. Thanks to a healthy ratio of coaches to players, the participants have experienced a well-organized and effective program throughout.
The camp’s structure allowed them to focus on different aspects of the game each day, starting with defense, moving on to offense on Day 2, and culminating in comprehensive training on serves, returns, slices, depths, and a tournament on Day 3.
The Fundamentals Don’t Change
Supporting Witsken at the camp were various experienced pickleball coaches, including Paul McKinney, who has been collaborating with Witsken since their time in Indiana.
McKinney emphasized that while every camp brings new coaching strategies, the sport’s fundamentals don’t change. This commitment to refining and reinforcing the foundational skills ensures that participants receive valuable and practical insights to elevate their pickleball game.
McKinney said, “We try to make it fun, very accessible, and they are learning without even knowing it. We give a lot of real-time feedback, and then they remember it forever.”
The camp proved immensely popular, with nearly 30 participants signing up for the full three-day experience. The strong response from the local community has left Witsken eager to return to Colorado, and possibly Steamboat, in the near future to continue his work.
Witsken emphasized that each camp attracts players with varying levels of pickleball ability. His vast experience in the sport allows him to quickly assess a player’s skill level merely by watching them on the court for about 15 minutes.
Armed with this knowledge, he tailors the coaching approach for different groups, ensuring that participants receive targeted and relevant drills to enhance their game based on their individual needs and capabilities.
“This camp is probably our highest overall level of players we have ever had. I am not meaning the top is so high, but there are not any beginners and plenty of good 4.0 players at this camp.”Rick Witsken
Mario Boschi, a Steamboat resident, and co-owner of the Denver Iconics in the National Pickleball League, also put in a coaching stint.
Despite only starting his pickleball journey less than three years ago, he has developed a deep passion for the sport, finding it incredibly infectious. He uses that passion for spreading to pickleballers all across Colorado, especially the residents of Routt County!
“Seeing someone start Day 1 and seeing them three days later all developed, that is what puts a smile on my face!” exclaimed Boschi.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?