What to Read: Kyle Koszuta is chronicling his quest to go pro at pickleball
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
What’s your Substack about in one sentence?
I’m a former athlete who had never played pickleball, now on a 12-month mission to become a pro. In my weekly newsletter, I document the story, give you tips to improve your game, and share entertaining pickleball videos.
When I was a kid, I wanted to become the best in the world at something. Basketball was my sport. I came from a small town, played Division I basketball, then graduated in 2016. Not the best in the world, but not terrible! For the next five years, I played a lot of recreational sports but wasn’t truly competing anymore. I missed that. Then a friend, who knew I grew up playing tennis, told me to try pickleball, which is the fastest-growing sport in America. A couple of days later, I matched with a girl on the dating app Hinge who recommended we play pickleball as a first date. At that point, I knew it was fate—sadly not the girl, but pickleball. I became obsessed, and I’ve played nearly every day since. It’s put me on a new path in my life, giving me a target to aim for and a mission to pursue. And I’m having a blast being on this journey and sharing the story along the way.
You said you wanted to become pro in 12 months, but you might reach your goal sooner?
Three weeks ago, I played in my first pro tournament. The first-round matchup was against two top-20 players in the world. We lost 11-0 11-0 on center court. Yeah, not good! Then, two days later, I played in what’s called 5.0 (one level below the pro division) and won the whole tournament. Let’s go!
That showed me I’m way closer than I was two months ago but still have a way to go to eventually become a top-10 player in the world. I wrote about the biggest differences between them and me right now.
I believe I’ll be a true pro in the next six to 12 months, then it will take longer than 12 months before I’m actually competing to win pro tournaments.
You share a lot of great advice with your readers. What’s the one piece of advice that has stuck with you on this journey?
Do interesting things. Share them publicly. I heard James Clear say that once.
Pickleball is blowing up. When I first started playing, I was just having a blast. I had no intention to start a newsletter, make fun videos, or pursue a pro career. But then I thought, this is interesting. What if I share it all publicly?
At first, no one read a thing I wrote or watched a video I made. But I didn’t care. I made videos that some said made them laugh. I started to win tournaments, which gave me confidence to keep going. And over the days, weeks, and months, I started to meet interesting people.
In fact, the number one player in the world and her mom (who’s also a top-5 player) came over to my backyard court (yes, I built a court) to play the other day, and it’s all because I made a fun video with them months ago.
And I have multiple people reach out telling me they’ve been inspired to go do something they’ve been putting off for a while or something they’ve always wanted to try.
Do interesting things. Share them publicly.
Who’s another Substack writer you’d recommend?
Charlie Bleecker writes this newsletter called Transparent Tuesdays. It has nothing to do with pickleball. She’s just an awesome writer sharing stories I love to read.