Zack Taylor’s pickleball journey began about three years when the U.S.A. was in the grip of the pandemic.
On March 19, 2020, Zack found himself out of work as a waiter due to Covid lockdowns in Los Angeles. The very next day, he joined seven other passengers on a flight back to his hometown of Kansas City. With no idea what the future held, any chances of a swift return to Los Angeles was completely out of the question.
Pickleball During The Pandemic
Back in Kansas, while searching for a safe way to pass the time, his neighbors down the street invited him to play a game of pickleball. With his extensive background in racket sports, Zack was immediately intrigued.
During the pandemic, pickleball was one of the few activities that could be enjoyed while adhering to county health guidelines. From the moment he hit his first ball, he could tell that something about the sport was different. It was a social, fun, and energizing experience that he was able to pick up quickly.
Pickleball’s Secret Sauce
Zack says, “Pickleball has a funny way of taking over your life in the best way. I’m constantly thinking about playing, texting friends to play, or watching videos online of other people playing. The best way I can put it is that pickleball is social. The players are so welcoming, and if you really pay attention, you can learn and understand how to play the game in less than an hour.
“Pickleball has no age or height requirements. I coach clients in their 70s, and they could easily hang in a game against people half their age. That’s really the secret sauce to the sport. A grandpa can go out and play with his grandson.”
Taylor’s personal journey in pickleball began in the amateur division at the 4.0 level. He climbed up the ranks slowly but surely, winning several gold medals and triple crowns at the 5.0 level nationwide. After playing for about a year and a half, he entered the pro game and realized how different it was. Players were not just playing it as a hobby but were fully committed to the sport. That realization pushed him to become fully dedicated too.
Two Professional Bronze Medals
After a highly successful year as a coach in Beverly Hills, he decided to take another step and become a full-time professional athlete in January. Since then, Zack has won professional APP tour bronze medals in singles and mixed doubles. He currently holds a world ranking of 40 in the men’s singles listings and 42 in the mixed doubles.
His daily routine is quite hectic. Zack wakes up around 8.30 a.m., prepares a healthy breakfast, and then heads to the gym. He spends about 90 minutes lifting weights and then finishes with a sauna session. After grabbing a protein shake or lunch, he heads to the courts for a two-hour drill session, and takes a few hours off before hitting the court again for 90 more minutes of drills or high-level recreational play.
Last year, Taylor spent approximately 25 hours per week coaching others, but this year he dedicates that same amount of time to training and improving his speed and skills.
Entering The Pro Draws
Our own Jane Hollon interviewed Zack recently and he had some interesting things to say about taking the step up to the pros:
“Sometimes you just have to put in the work because if I can be honest, I don’t feel like a lot of the players that are trying to enter the pro draws have the backgrounds and the work put in to actually do it.
“And I found myself coaching so much in Beverly Hills that I would go to these tournaments knowing in the back of my head knowing that I had not put in the work to compete at the top level. That’s why I made the decision to move and, and to train full time this year.”
He also talked about how a racket sports background could be a huge help:
“So if, you know, I mean, “You’re already a little bit behind if you don’t have a racket sports background, but you can obviously make it to the pro level. I mean, look at Dylan Frasier and, you know, people like that.
People with quick hands and people that are good at video games would be great at pickleball because their hand speed is just so fast. Their hand-eye coordination is really good.
“But I would say like everyone’s different but, work on your job 9 to 5 and then work on your dream job 5 to 9.”
You can listen to the full interview here.
An Authentic Life
While Zack never thought much about his sexuality, he always strived to fit in and appear “cool” to his peers. This often meant dating girls, despite having no real attraction to them. However, in late 2018, he took the decision to come out to his family and closest friends.
It was a decision Zack made for himself so he could live an authentic life, and it turned out to be the best choice he’d ever made. He posted a message on Instagram on New Year’s Day 2019, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. He finally felt free to be himself.
As he matures, he realizes the importance of embracing what makes him unique. There are countless pickleball players worldwide, but he takes pride in standing out as a representative of the LGBTQIA+ community in the professional arena. He’s excited to celebrate his individuality and show everyone the colors of the rainbow.
Let’s give Zack the last word: “The sky is really the limit for this sport. Go out and grab a paddle and a ball and see if you don’t fall in love”.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?