I have picked up a new sport: pickleball. My wife has been with this sport for decades and have often asked me to join her. Time never permitted me this luxury during my pastoral ministry. Now with more time at hand, I joined her and gave it a try. I liked it and discovered a few things about it.
- This sport is getting popular in Singapore. In USA, it is attracting the younger adults, and convincing tennis players to convert to pickleball. This is very evident in YouTube, which now has hundreds of instructional videos on pickleball skills, and increased visibility of pickleball tournaments. The People’s Association introduced the sport decades ago to get the seniors to be active. I must say they have succeeded supremely in bringing seniors of both sexes, but particularly the ladies into this new sport.
- This sport has elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis in it. I only needed a paddle (the racquet that looks like an enlarged table tennis paddle), and a pair of court shoes.
- It is fun and exciting. You can play for 11 points or 15 points, and usually we played doubles, which makes teamwork a must.
- It is easy to pick up but takes time to master. I needed to do a lot of drills to train my muscle memory with new strokes and movements.
- My tennis background helps as well as hinders. I had to unlearn certain rules, positioning, and my old habits of volleying often gets in the way of effective pickleball play.
- It is a great aerobic exercise. When I first began, I was usually out of breath after two consecutive games. I had to run quickly up and down the court to make a return, or to get to the non-volley zone. My heart rate goes up and stays up when the game gets intense. It is good for my heart. It was so much fun, I forget that I ran a lot.
- I need to be alert and react quickly to shots, because the court is smaller than a tennis court, and the balls come flying from the opponent’s court as quickly as it gets off my paddle.
- I got to meet new people, mainly adults in their 50s and 60s. Many of them were inspiring. Recently I saw a player who has played for more than twenty years. He is in his 80s, and he played very well, and with greater fitness than me. I hope I can reach his level of fitness. Already I have seen how playing this sport has increased my fitness, so much so I do not huff and puff during my hikes or rides.
- Many sport centers and community clubs have pickleball as one of the sports they offer. I first played pickleball in a open air badminton court in Bukit Panjang, and an indoor court in Bukit Batok during the covid restrictions which limited us to four players a court and no intermingling with other groups. Now I play at Jurong West Sports Center, near the Pioneer MRT station.
It is good to have an additional common leisure activity that both my wife and I can enjoy together. My wife joined me in hiking long ago and we both still enjoy it. She tried cycling with me but is not as enthusiastic about it as I still am. Now that I have joined her in her interest and found it fun, we have an added common activity that we both enjoy. This can only be good and enrich our marriage and promote good health.
If you want to picture what pickleball is like, have a look at this video from YouTube: