What I learned from Pickleball

Pickleball has been on my to-do list for several years. It’s a fast moving, engaging sport with welcoming participants who are eager to include new enthusiasts. I enroll in an “Intro to Pickleball” class for a couple of sessions every six months or so. When these classes triggered an old tennis elbow, I invested in a low vibration paddle and never had another bout of tendinitis. But as much as I enjoy these intro classes, I have never felt confident enough in my skills to move into the habit of weekly play with the regulars.

Recently, what I thought was going to be yet another intro class turned out to be a fitness class focusing on specific target areas to improve pickleball play and prevent injury. We stretched, did soft lunges, walked heel to toe along a line, worked on eye/hand coordination with ball bounces on our paddles, made wide springs to each side and got our hearts rate up. Then we practiced playing pickleball together.

Through my Ai Chi practice I have developed good core strength, limberness and balance that were all boons for the Pickleball Fit class, however the ballistic movements and aerobic activities presented unexpected challenges. I realized that this was what was missing from my workouts. In addition to Ai Chi my usual routine includes individual aquatic exercises with buoyant dumb bells and stretch cords, laps with short fins and skateboarding on a kick board, as well as weekly group water aerobics classes, but the next step I needed to take to be an engaged pickleball player had to come on land. After a couple of Pickleball Fit classes, I could already see improvements in my game.

So much of what we do in the water transfers well to our usual activities, but we can’t forget to include activity specific progressions to be better at what we do and have more fun with it.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even be in a pickleball league one day!

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