Pickleball pro Lea Jansen is set on her goal…and the gold.

By Haley Noble, Photo courtesy of Lea Jansen

For professional pickleball player Lea Jansen, what started out as a side interest has become a part of who she is and how she builds her day-to-day life. To her, the world of pickleball is much more complex than can be seen by an outsider.

“We play 30 weekends out of the year and, on our off weekends, we’re training,” Jansen says. “We’re kind of all workaholics, and I don’t think a lot of people understand that. It’s an all-year, everyday thing.”

Jansen was simply looking for a hobby, after working as an accountant and going through a breakup. She had played several sports throughout high school and went on to play tennis at Washington State University, so she was definitely no stranger to athletics. As pickleball began to circulate around the country, Jansen started playing and was quickly swept off her feet.

“I was shocked by how much I fell in love with the sport,” said Jansen. “Pretty much after my first tournament, I was hooked. I went in for an opportunity, but I definitely stayed just because I loved the sport.”

Jansen has since risen to the top and is among the best players of pickleball in the country. In her time with the sport, she has trained for endless hours and competed all across the U.S. Jansen is now ranked second for women’s singles and fourth for women’s doubles.

“It’s kind of been a whirlwind,” she says. “It’s been three straight years of going from city to city, but it’s been a lot of fun.”

In the midst of training and playing weekly, Jansen knows that while her career as a player is only beginning, pickleball certainly has a place in her future.

“I want to have some sort of a leg in pickleball as it begins to grow,” she says. “I study this game a lot, and I want to leave my mark on it because I really am a big student of the game.”



“I’m up by 7 a.m., try to do some stretching, go for my morning walk and get a good breakfast in. I get to the courts two hours early, and I’ll do my dynamic warm-up and make sure I have everything I need.”


“Preparation is huge in this sport. I’ll train for five to six days a week, go for a run, since I’m trying to get my cardio up. I’ll go do a practice, then eye exercises I’ve been working on for my vision. Then I’ll do serve, footwork or groundstroke work. So, it actually turns out to be an eight- to 10-hour training day.”


“I’ll play for 10 to 12 hours and make sure I have meals throughout the day. In between [matches], I’ll just try to stay loose, stretch, but you’re really just going from match to match. If the day goes well, you’re there all day.”


“I’m extremely competitive. That’s kind of what I’m known for. My motivation is I just want to win every match. If I’m there, I’m pretty locked in. But staying in [the zone], I think is off-court training. It’s how long you can concentrate, how long you’ve pushed your body. So it’s a lot of stuff that’s been ingrained into you.”


“After I’m done, I’ll stretch and go eat. I try to do a winding down where I’ll call a friend or watch a movie. Then I’ll sleep and wake up to do it all over again.”


“After every tournament, I force myself to take two to three days off and not think about [pickleball]. This year, I’ve made a huge emphasis on this not being my self-worth. A huge thing for me is making sure my social groups have nothing to do with pickleball. Otherwise, you can get stuck in it. I’ve been trying to create a life outside of it.”



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