James Ignatowich vs. TWO Amateur Pickleball Players (Can a Pickleball Pro Beat Two Amateurs?)

Written by Adam (HV)

March 8, 2024

james ignatowich

Can James Ignatowich, a Top Pickleball Pro Beat 2 Amateurs?

I recently had the opportunity to play against James Ignatowich, one of the top pickleball pros in the world.

He made pickleball history by getting the first number 1 highlight on sportscenter. Check it out in the video above.

Not only that but many consider James Ignatowich the breakout pro in 2023, winning gold medals in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. 

James was in Nashville for group lessons so we were able to put together a session with him and I filmed a 2 on 1 game. Just know that anytime I do something like this, I’m looking to learn so I did get some tips and takeaways that could help your game. Watch until the end to hear those and/or keep reading.

And if you’re looking for a paddle, gear, or balls, be sure to check out Selkirk. Selkirk sponsors some of the biggest names in Pickleball (including James). Use my code (ADV-highfive) at checkout to get free gift cards with your purchase.

Do you think James Ignatowich can beat two (decent) amateur pickleball players? Watch the video above to find out.

Pickleball Tip #1: If you want to serve bombs like James Ignatowich focus on 3 things.

James Ignatowich has one of the biggest serves in the pros. I personally have never returned a serve that heavy. In fact, he won 9 out of 11 points with his serve alone.

The first thing to notice here with his serves is that they all had a lot of pace, a lot of topspin, and they were deep. So, if you’re wanting to improve your serve immediately, add those elements: pace, topspin, depth.

James Ignatowich Serve Mechanics

Next, let’s look at mechanics. He’s generating a lot of power with his wrist, his legs and his weight transfer. He’s using his arm like a whip and snapping his wrist and using the rest of his momentum to carry him through. His serve absolutely sets up points nicely for drives or attacks.

If you’re wanting to add more power to your serve, try this. 

  1. Loosen your grip.
  2. Avoid a big backswing
  3. Swing with a relaxed grip pressure (3-4)
  4. Rotate your hips and shoulders at contact
  5. Experiment with a little wrist snap at the end

If you want to experiment with this, the serve is a good place to start because the serve is the only shot that you have complete control over. You can easily head to a court and practice these things by yourself.

One caveat though, if you’re a beginner, using your wrist on many shots is a bad idea because using your wrist randomly will lead to errors and inconsistency and if you’re not physically prepared, you could actually hurt yourself. 

Pickleball Tip #2: James Ignatowich Stays Mentally Prepared and You Can Too

This goes without saying because James Ignatowich is a pro and he spends thousands of hours on the court but I was surprised at just how many steps ahead James was on point construction, attacks, and counter attacks. And it turns out he actually trains this way – and you can too.

When you drill, think beyond the first attack and even the counter, plan the 3rd, 4th, and 5th counter.

One easy way you can do this is to set up a speed up drill, tell your partner where you’re attacking so that they can be ready to counter, then counter their counter and then move into a hands battle. Then switch. This is a good way to prepare your brain and to drill in a way that is dynamic and actually helpful for the next time you’re attacking or countering an attack.

The goal of this is to learn how to handle shots beyond the initial attack and counter and the different areas where you will be attacked on your body, whether that’s shots at your hips, your shoulders and so on. This way you can get more experience before an actual game.

path to better pickleball

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