PB 1-Year Anniversary

This week is the one year anniversary of the first time I played pickle ball. I know its weird to remember a date like this, but there is a reason. Eight months earlier I was pretty sure I was not going to survive that round of kidney troubles, so to a start a new sport some months later was pretty cool.

The reality is I would not have tried it if not for friends in the neighborhood who encouraged me to try. After a tutorial from a friend/neighbor I was off to what our facility calls transitional which is beginner to advanced beginner. Now a year later I am playing competitive which is a mid-intermediate level. The same neighbors now think I have become an obnoxious pickle ball player. They are wrong. I am always obnoxious, so I am just being consistent.

Though no one has ever asked, following are the answers to questions which should be asked to me.

Is pickle ball hard to learn? No, it is very easy to learn. First you learn to hit the little mostly green plastic ball with holes with a medium sized paddle. Then you learn to hit the ball over the net inside the lines on your opponents side of the court. There you go, now you have have learned pickle ball.

Does pickle ball have funny rules? Yes, there a few rules, but so does every sport. For example, golf was first played in Scotland in the 1400s by some probably well oiled Scotsmen who decided to hit a large pebble with a club to a designated spot a ways away. This morphed into a sport with lots of rules including at many and if no most golf courses a dress code. Other than wearing shoes that do not damage the pickle ball court and clothes which cover the appropriate areas, pickle ball has no dress code. The pickle ball rules are simple to learn.

is pickle ball risky? First all, every activity has risk. Some more, some less, but there is almost always risk and pickle ball is no different. If you are worried about it, it is easy to research pickle ball risks. At the same time, it is good exercise. And its fun.

Does being hit by a pickle ball hurt? Getting hit by a pickle ball might happen once and awhile, and if that does happen, it may sting for a moment, for but that’s about it. A while back a really good player hit a slam which almost took out my personal property. Another half inch over and I would have been eligible to work security at a harem. No sting at all, but the psychological damage lasted for a few days.

Three things to do to reduce risk.
Wear safety glasses.
Stretch before you play.
A third risk that new players hear about right away, never back up. The reason is the true stories of players while backing up who fell hitting their heads with serious consequences. Rather, players are taught to turn sideways and run [aggressively walk for many] to get to the lob. For the record, early on I did fall backing up. I landed on my butt and never hit my head, however the supervisor came running over asking if I was ok. I looked at him and said “mom, mom, is that you?”. Some people do not appreciate my sense of humor.

Is pickle ball social? Pickle ball is very social. In the last year, I have played with well over a hundred different players in various facilities and in that time I can think of only a few I truly did not enjoy playing with or being around between games. In fact, pickle ball is perfect for me socially. Every time a play, I greatly exceed the maximum number of people I want to see or interact with on any given day. And I enjoy them and playing.

Now in all honesty, I have bad moments on the court and more than once have been asked to contribute to the swear jar. Like most players, I prefer to win than lose, but if I play well and lose, I’m a happy camper. But when I play poorly and miss shots I think I should make, I get frustrated. A couple of months ago, I missed a shot I should have made against a good team and yelled a naughty word. My partner looked at me like, “what is wrong with you?” The reality was actually deeper than just being frustrated. I was not feeling well during that time period and when that happens I wonder if this is it. And the frustration is not knowing if I will be able to continue to get better and enjoy the sport.

The reality is none of us know what tomorrow or any part of the future may hold. Tough advice to follow, at least for me, but always best to be in the present.

So as soon as I am done writing this, I am off to play and start my second year. My goal is to enjoy the sport, get better, and for me, exceed my social interaction goal for that day. For those who are playing, continue to enjoy the sport. For those who are not, you can start at anytime, enjoy the sport, get some exercise and meet some nice people.