Pickleball Graduation: Moving On Up!

I had my first “low intermediate” pickleball open play session. Is it ridiculous that I was a wee bit nervous before I arrived? With one lesson and one beginner open play behind me, it felt a bit early to be stepping up, but it seems like tennis players can make a relatively easy transition.

My biggest fear surrounded scoring. Will I know what to do? Will I disrupt the game’s flow for people who are really into it? Can I hang with this next level of play?

As with any open play sport, you often get a mixed group of people. I figured folks would be understanding, but that didn’t stop me from repeating “zero-zero-two” in my head over and over as I approached the tennis bubble.

Everyone I played with was friendly, pleasant and patient. It is impressive how people of all ages and sizes and shapes can play this game, and play it very well.

I’m still hot and cold on the game. There are times you hit the ball, and the paddle’s sound is so satisfying. But there are other times when the short paddle and dead ball are incredibly unsatisfying.

Most people appear to prefer to hit with outdoor pickleball balls inside the bubble. The speed of the ball is noticeably faster and makes for a higher-paced game.

I did learn something that warrants further investigation. Some strange rule about splitting up winning teams and rotating people in and out? I understand it is to make sure everyone rotates in, but I didn’t completely get it. But of course, for me, it’s all for fun, I’m just happy to be there.

My plan continues. I will immerse myself in the sport and play with all different kinds of people. But do I have to choose between tennis and pickleball? Thankfully, no. As much as I have a strong desire to learn the game, I’m also excited for my weekend spring tennis league to start up. If things go the way I think they will regarding my body, I will play tennis once a week and pickleball during weekdays.

So far, no tennis elbow, but a bit of soreness in my arm–an indicator that I am not using enough of my body. My lower back does feel a bit more aggravated than usual and that could be the quick ducking for low balls that are just outside of my reach.

Another observation: Sixteen out of 16 players had different paddles. It seems like Selkirk has a major lock on the market; I was the only person there with a Prince. I don’t know what that means, but I’m pretty sure it means business must be booming for paddleball merch manufacturers.

Next stop: An all levels supervised open play at a different facility.

P.S. – I just wrapped up my second “low intermediate” open play experience and the level of play was definitely lower. I was courteous and worked on my placement and consistency, but I felt like the other players knew I was toying with them. However, when we finished, a group of players took over the courts. It was eight guys, probably ranging from late-twenties to late-forties. I watched them hit for a while and realized how much higher the level of play is. The ball is moving fast. But I know I need a slice of humble pie and to play with a more advanced group. A little more confidence first, then I’ll seek this group out!

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