April 10-14, 2024

The Road From Amateur to Professional Pickleball Player

Author: Andrew Gilman | February 1, 2024

Chase Holderman on How to Become a Professional Pickleball Player

Chase Shares How to Become a Professional Pickleball Player

Chase Holderman’s journey into professional pickleball is a pretty common one.

You’ve heard it before – a former tennis player gets invited to try out some pickleball and one thing leads to another.

“I thought it was a blast right away,” said Holderman of his introduction to pickleball. “It didn’t take me long to start playing regularly and sign up for my first tournament.” 

Pickleball initially came quite easy for Holderman, who lives and works in Oklahoma City. Not surprisingly. With his sports background in basketball and tennis, Holderman was a natural fit for the game.. Within a year of starting pickleball, he had entered and won a 5.0 tournament.

But that was at the amateur level. Making the jump to the pro level is a different story, entirely, and for Holderman and so many others trying to make the transition to playing at the sport’s highest level, it’s a struggle.

“I am dedicated in that I take my training very seriously and am planning to play a more robust schedule in 2024,” Holderman said. “I work as a Drilling Engineer for an awesome company, Ascent Resources, that shows interest in this endeavor and I work close enough to the racquet club that I can typically sneak away for the lunch hour to train and then go back for a second session right after work. Pair that with my supportive wife and I feel like I have the recipe required to pursue pro pickleball well without it affecting other aspects of my life. No timetable, I plan to play it by ear and enjoy the journey.”

The journey starts with a decision to pursue pro-pickleball. And that’s the easy part, according to Chris Haworth, who is Holderman’s training partner in Oklahoma City and who also paired with Holderman at the PPA Master’s earlier in January. 

“The commitment to practicing at the pro level is the easiest part,” said Haworth, who has ascended the pro game on the singles side, but is still looking for breakthrough success in doubles. “For people working full-time, the decision on which tournaments to play is the hardest part.”

Haworth only recently decided to dedicate more time and energy to pickleball. It’s led to increased success. He has been a regular on the singles medal stand and has a win against the game’s top player – Ben Johns. In the past month, Haworth has played for a pair of titles on the APP Tour.

Holderman hasn’t gotten that far, but he did make the main draw in men’s doubles at the PPA’s Masters and won matches in both qualifier brackets in singles and mixed doubles. No one would confuse those results as having, “arrived,” but then again, he’s only played for a relatively short amount of time and is still finding some success.

At this stage of Holderman’s career, the outcomes have been mixed. He’s entered six PPA Tour pro tournaments and 14 events in total. He’s made the cut into the main draw six times in those 14 events. Holderman has faced off against quality pros like Tyson McGuffin, Zane Navratil, and Erik Lange. Not bad for a player as fresh to the game as he is, who is just trying to stack up some success at the pro level.

What’s next?

“From the competitive perspective, my goals are simply to train and compete to the best of my ability,” Holderman said. “With this being the fastest growing support in America, I know there are opportunities out there if I can string together some good main draw doubles runs. Pickleball is very mental at this level so I have a new approach of being process driven rather than results driven. If I control what I can to the best of my ability, I will be able to live with the outcome.”

Holderman isn’t rushing the process. His ascension in the professional game isn’t at a rapid rate, but his understanding is. Patience, practice, and then performance. 

“I have drilled the fundamentals of the doubles game to a point that I have confidence and trust in most of my shots,” Holderman said.I” think this is important as it lets me go out and only think about strategy and competing. This, paired with good length, a few good years of youth and athletic ability left has set me up to give myself a chance to go out and compete at the highest level.”

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