Pickleball and paddle laying on a court
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A key change within the Arizona Pickleball League adds drama, intrigue

DALLAS, TX – In a recent interview, Jigsaw Health Co-Founder and CEO, Patrick Sullivan, revealed a notable change between the first and second seasons of the Arizona Pickleball League.

“We’re really big fans of MLP teams made up of two men and two women, and we chose to make it cumulative scoring [in season one] as an interesting experiment for us to try,” he explained. 

It was all captured on film in conjunction with the "Breaking Pickleball" documentary that was previously available on YouTube until April 21.

Like with any experiment, the team analyzed what worked and what didn't heading into the League's sophomore campaign.

One of the major tweaks they eventually made was eliminating the cumulative scoring format.

“The problem we found in season one was that about half the matches had a deficit of 10 or more points by the fourth quarter. Ten points in a pickleball match is essentially impossible to come back from,” said Sullivan.

The matches were broken into four quarters: Two quarters of mixed doubles, one quarter of women’s doubles, then men’s doubles to finish it out. 

“When we got to the fourth quarter, it made the men’s quarter kind of meaningless with the point deficits,” explained Sullivan. 

“One of the things we found with the game clock, that there were a couple of times where a player would just not be playing well. And they’ve got eight minutes left on the clock and they go into a black hole and there’s no way to get out of it. So, they end up giving up 10 to 15 points. That kind of huge deficit made the rest of the match boring,” shared Sullivan. 

The bottom line was that cumulative scoring needed to go.

“We changed it to what we call a game set match format. Four games total but the games are no longer timed and no longer cumulative. Instead, each game goes to 11, win by one,” said Sullivan.

But things get interesting if there's a tie. If team one and team two both win two games, they will then play a set breaker to decide who'll win the set with the first to five.  

“The set breaker makes an interesting mid-match dramatic high point,” said Sullivan.

But if team one and team two tie in both sets, then they'll go into a match breaker where they play singles. That new format quickly proved to be a much better fit.

“In the Orchard Cup in season two, we had that outcome with the Gladiators and the Pythons and we went back and forth probably six times. The entire audience was on pins and needles the whole time,” shared Sullivan. “This new format is absolutely superior.”

Creating something new can certainly be daunting and intimidating.

The team at Jigsaw Health, however, has certainly been a great example of innovation within the sport of pickleball.