I wish I could tell you that it was love at first dink, but that’s the furthest from the truth. My first time playing pickleball was with a group of 6-8 people from my office. Coming from an athletic background (I played football in College,) I thought pickleball would come easy to me. It did not. After getting ahold of a paddle, I quickly realized I did not have the touch for the skilled shots that are required in pickleball.
The first couple of games I played I struggled with a couple of the rules. Mainly, letting it bounce on the serve return. I think I messed this up at least four times. After I got that part of the game down, I struggled with the eye discipline to let the balls go that were clearly going out of bounds. I would see the ball was high and deep and I would take a giant hack at it, setting up the opponents to smash some plastic on my team. I also had a shot named after me, unfortunately. The Big Z is when you are at the kitchen line and you are set up for a beautiful smash, but you smash plastic into the middle of the net and nowhere near getting it over and then proceed to let out a big “F-bomb.”
So safe to say my first time was memorable for the wrong reasons. I think it was my 3rd or 4th time playing pickleball where I started to really enjoy it for the game, and not just a reason to get an hour break from work. We started playing with other people who were just learning the game, which gave me some comfort in my own struggles, knowing that it’s not easy for everyone.
After about 10 times playing pickleball, and even working it into a vacation with friends who never played, I was finally hooked. I decided to watch the pros play to get a better understanding of strategy. This was when it got real to me. I started looking into paddles, balls, bags, & anything pickleball-related. I even got a new paddle for Christmas this year.
I was ecstatic to find that there is a huge pickleball community and that pickleball was relevant to today’s culture. I started noticing pickleball in commercials, on Instagram, and all the pickleball-playing groups on Facebook. I even started noticing that professional football players and reality tv stars were hooked on pickleball. The sport is on fire throughout the US.
If you’re just starting off with pickleball and struggling with the rules, skills, or general competition do not get discouraged. Stick with it and you’ll be surprised at how much you can improve. Believe me, even I sometimes am amazed at some of the shots I am able to pull off now.