Anna Leigh Waters' long point nails with hearts on them.
Anna Leigh Waters' nails at the Carvana PPA Mesa Arizona Cup. PPA Tour

How the pros play pickleball with long nails

DALLAS, TX – While attending the Carvana Mesa Arizona Cup, I noticed something rather intriguing about World No. 1 Anna Leigh Waters... her nails. 

Waters sported long gel manicured nails with little hearts on them, as it was just after Valentine’s Day. I wondered how on earth she could compete with long nails like that. It seemed like a recipe for disaster, or at the very least, make holding a paddle uncomfortable, right?

So, I asked Waters myself to get to the bottom of what it’s like playing against the best of the best with long nails. 

Alix Troung had them five years ago and I talked to her because we were about the same age and she said that she can play easily with them, so I thought I should try it out,” explained Waters. “I waited until I didn’t have a tournament so I could try them, and they were easy to adjust to.”

Needless to say, Waters' remarkable results with those nails in tow speak for themselves

“These are my real nails with the gel over top, so they’re pretty strong. It hurts if it gets hit by a ball, but that’s happened only a couple times, so it hasn’t been too bad,” explained Waters. “Meghan Dizon broke one once, where she cracked it while hitting a backhand. The ball hit her thumb and the whole thing came off.”

Anna Leigh Waters showing off her nails
Anna Leigh Waters showing off her nails. PPA Tour

It’s obviously pretty common to experience some severe nail breakage during an intense match. 

“I actually got hit and my nail broke in half,” said Parris Todd while competing at the  Fanatics Sportsbook North Carolina Cup.

Todd had a classic French tip manicure during the event, but like Waters, her nails haven't affected her gameplay. 

“You just get used to the feel after a while. Sometimes I have short nails, other times I have long nails. It just depends on how I’m feeling. But, I can tell the difference whenever they’re long or short,” added Todd. 

For her part, Jessie Irvine, has a different perspective on the subject. 

“My nails rarely break. Instead, it’s more about accidentally cutting myself,” said Irvine. “I have to make sure they’re not too long because there’s a certain length where they start getting too long and I’ll cut open my palms from hitting a shot.”

Jessie Irvine showing off her nails at the North Carolina Cup
Jessie Irvine at the Fanatics Sportsbook North Carolina Cup. PPA Toue

The timing of getting her nails done also works in Irvine’s favor.

After all, nail care requires upkeep. 

“I’m on the road for tournaments every three weeks, so whenever I’m back home in California I get them done. I’m in my chrome phase right now,” said Irvine. “I love this silver turquoise chrome color. I love the shine.”

The female pros love to stay on top of the latest fashion and beauty trends, of course.

If you want to hit the court with some long nails, give it a try. It might work for you, too.

It’s always good to be prepared for anything, though, especially when participating in a tournament, so I highly recommend bringing along a portable nail kit in the event of a nail emergency.