The word “Zen” comes from a form of Buddhism that emphasizes mediation, self-contemplation and intuition. In a general sense, as applied to subjects like cooking or golf, it means highlighting simplicity and intuition over conventional thinking or fixation on goals. How does this relate to pickleball?
I starting playing pickleball last summer. It’s the only sport or exercise I actually enjoy and look forward to. The Pinewood Country Club’s resurfaced pickleball courts are a pleasure to play on, much easier on the knees and feet than a concrete court.
The investment to play is modest, a racket that looks like a ping pong paddle on steroids ($30-90) and whiffle balls ($10 for six.) I definitely suggest a graphite racket over a wooden racket. The latter is much heavier and hard on my wrists. The type of ball depends on whether it’s an indoor or outdoor court and the court surface. Now we’re using neon yellow-green indoor outdoor balls that seem to give the best bounce on the court. The attire on our courts include leggings, jeans or basketball shorts and golf skirts. In other words, regular clothes. More information is available from the USA Pickleball Association. (www.usapa.org)
The group that plays at the Pinewood Country Club courts are fun and friendly. People who have never played before are always welcome, though you do need to be a country club member or guest of a member. We are sometimes a raucous group, which adds to the fun.
Pickleball is played on a court one quarter the size of a tennis court. We play doubles, so there are four people on a court at a time. The game is a mix of tennis and ping pong. There are rules, but they’re not hard to master. We switch partners after every game and try to pair a good player with a beginning one to make it fairer.
Although I am not a competitive person, some of the pickleballers are. They are sweet enough to enjoy playing with me even if I miss shots. (I don’t run on the court as I fall about once a month in my regular life. I don’t need to add more incidents.)
What does pickleball do for me? It gives me an hour of thinking of nothing but the game. I get into a meditative state in that the cares and worries of my regular life fade away. I focus on the ball and hitting it, but not on the winning or losing. It’s a time to complement others on good shots, serves and saves. I do laugh when I get a tough shot back over the net, surprising everyone, including me.
I’ve gotten better, graduating from an “Oh my, are you kidding? beginner” to a regular beginner. Sometimes my team even wins. I have an extra racket for friends who visit, who usually love the game. We play every morning at 7:30, whoever shows up. When the days get cooler, we’ll start at 8:30. Hope you’ll join us.