How often have you heard yourself say to your children, “Go outside! Stop whining. Use your imagination. When I was a kid, we….” I could go on, but you get the picture.
These are some of the exact words said in 1965 to the children of the Pritchard family who were vacationing on Bainbridge Island in Washington. The children went outside and, out of their boredom, created the sport, which is now the fastest-growing sport in America: PICKLEBALL.
Yes, the sport with the funny name combines elements of badminton, ping-pong, and tennis. This all-inclusive activity is played year-round, indoors and outdoors, by people of all ages and abilities. It is fast to learn, inexpensive to play, and can be as competitive as the players desire while developing physical, mental, and social skills.
I should first explain that despite its name, no pickles are involved on the 44 by 20-foot pickleball court. Legend has it that the family began playing this new racquet sport, and their dog (you guessed it, his name was ‘Pickle’) would chase after the plastic Whiffle ball and run with it. The ball became ‘Pickle’s-ball’ and, as they say, the rest is history.
Summer offers terrific opportunities for all kinds of outdoor fun, and I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than learning a new activity with our children and grandchildren. So why not consider pickleball?
Too many of us spend too many hours in front of a screen. Reports show that children spend between four and six hours staring at screens every day, and adults’ screen time statistics are not far behind. Add to that all the virtual school time and zoom meetings during the two-year pandemic, and we can agree that we all need to get physical again! I know I feel more energized, more alert, and more engaged with friends when I pick up a pickleball racquet.
I was introduced to pickleball soon after my husband’s death a few years ago. Playing this sport led me to a new group of friends and offered me an opportunity to do something for myself that promoted a happy, can-do outlook. I embody the adage: You are NEVER too old to learn something new!
As you may know, I co-authored a children’s picture book about the sport of pickleball, Bend Your Knees, Louise! A Pickleball Primer. This project merged my passion for words with my love for my later-in-life sport. We wove the pickleball rules and benefits into a story about a grandmother-grandchildren bonding. And the public response has been overwhelmingly positive.
I encourage you to find the friendships, fun, and family time pickleball offers for yourself! Engaging in healthy habits, demonstrating a teachable spirit, and enjoying an activity suitable to all ages enhances essential life skills – and gets us outdoors, away from screens.
So, spend this summer learning and enjoying the fun sport of pickleball. The sound of the ball hitting that pickleball paddle, along with the giggles of everyone playing, will make 2022 a great summer to remember.
By the way, I’m not the only one who sees value in pickleball. Kathy Daniels, the wife of Michigan-born-and-bread actor Jeff Daniels, is an avid player who perhaps inspired her husband to write a play about this fastest-growing sports sensation. PICKLEBALL will be performed this fall during the Purple Rose Theater Company’s 32nd season in Chelsea, Michigan. Jeff Daniels’ twentieth world premiere play will be directed by Rhiannon Ragland (September 30 -December 17, 2022), a familiar face to Purple Rose audiences. For tickets, call the box office at (734)433-7673.
Group ticket sale begins July 1st. You can be sure my Bend Your Knees, Louise! co-author Karen Worthy and I will be in the front row on opening night.