The Zen Of Pickleball


Laurie practices pickleball from the safety of her kitchen

By Laurie Stone

Isn’t it wonderful when you discover something that takes you out of our often-scary world? This happened to me when my friend, Lisa, and I stumbled upon pickleball, the new sports craze.

Picture badminton, ping pong and tennis all at once while you smack a fist-sized wiffleball back and forth across a net with paddles. I discovered three wonderful things while playing this game:

I was immediately put “in the moment” — It’s hard to think of anything else when that plastic orb is bouncing (or arcing or motherhood, guilty pleasures, meals, mother, worrying, hopeful, boys, asleep, pedometerzooming) toward you. Plus, pickleball has more rules than I expected. Every play involves not only trying to hit the ball but having to remember where you stand, who serves, and the score.

We soon realized pickleball is like a modern-day minuet with steps and positions constantly changing. But it’s good for the mind and the world fades away.

There’s instant camaraderie — Lisa and I met four other players, mostly our age, except for one older gentleman in his 80s named Peter. They were all incredibly good. Lisa and I sat on a bench watching and were amazed.

Fast, explosive volleys went on for several minutes. They had lightning-fast reflexes and made mind-bending stretches to snag that ball. The four had been playing several years and it showed.

Although Lisa and I were rank amateurs, our pickleball gurus patiently explained the rules and encouraged us as we started to get a feel for the game. (Full disclosure: I accidentally hit Peter in the head with the wiffleball. He was wonderfully good-natured about it, thank God).

It’s fun to smack things around — There’s something satisfying about whacking that plastic ball. I haven’t played a racket sport since I was in seventh grade and my dad put up the badminton net.

Lisa used to play tennis and you could tell by her powerful hits that zoomed over the net. I was told I have a decent ‘spin’ but have no idea what that means. I just smiled and nodded.

Before long, that little plastic ball started to symbolize everything I don’t like — the news (whack!).… certain politicians (whack!). The fact that it’s impossible to lose weight past a certain age (double whack!) If only all problems could be solved so easily.

Then there was the next day. I had aches and pains in places I never knew existed. I texted Lisa and asked if she felt the same. “Yes!” she answered. “We used muscles not used in years!”

Amen. Despite all that, Lisa and I want more pickleball. But before we step back onto that court, we want to find a quiet spot we can peacefully lob the ball back and forth. I can work on not hitting people.

That said, look out world. Pickleball has two more fanatics taking it on, giving that ball a good what-for, exercising a new set of muscles, and blissfully tuning out the news.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Conn. Her blog, “Musings, Rants &Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, older and (hopefully) wiser. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

3 Responses to “The Zen Of Pickleball”

  1. Chris says:

    We just learned to play on on our cruise. We’re addicted!

  2. This is something that’s intrigued for several years, but I’ve never picked up the racket. Hope to soon.

  3. I have to admit that I’m vastly curious about pickleball, since so many around me are into it! Thanks for helping clarify a bit.


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