How to Play Pickleball - Essentials Prior to Play
Pickleball is a bit of badminton, tennis, bowling, dodge ball, paddle tennis, corn hole, ping pong and I would even say pogo sticking. It has a whimsical name that invokes the fun spirit and social aspect that brings players to the courts for hours at a time. There is a disclaimer as the sport is addicting. Here are a few tips before you choose to jump in.
The clothing varies to your personal style so anything from tennis apparel too long pants for hiking and long sleeve sun shirts. You will be moving so make sure they are a comfortable fit. In the winter you are likely to see people playing with gloves, scarves, caps and leggings or sweat pants. Having a hat or visor is also great for sun protection. Eye protection is a MUST! The ball can easily hit you, so it is imperative to protect your eyes even if you are indoors or playing at night. Have a clear pair and one for the sun on at all times.
The paddles are especially made for the sport. They come in all sorts of materials such as, composite, graphite, hybrid, carbon… Finding a store that will let you take several home to demo for a few days is a great option. See what grip/handle feels comfortable in your hand and hit some balls. At first you may not feel a difference in how the ball feels when it hits the paddle however that feel will come after many hits. I would recommend not buying a wooden paddle or the cheapest one on the market. Most players end up with many different paddles in their bag.
All the balls are whiffle balls and yes there are a variety to choose from. Start out choosing whether you are going to play inside or outside. The indoor balls are lighter so they have a soft and quieter bounce. They have fewer holes in them so tend to be easier to control. The outdoor balls are typically heavier and better for power. If you live in a warm climate in the summer one tip is to prepare a small cooler with ice and keep your spare balls there just before you play. Bring the cooler to the court with you as you may find you will want to change out the balls after a few games. The heat softens the ball and changes the bounce and feel. Keeping the balls cool (hard) contributes to the consistency.
The shoes are also very important. Court or tennis shoes will give you the support you need to make the lateral movements needed. Most courts do not have concerns about the color of the tread especially if you are playing outdoors. Make sure they are comfortable and supportive on the sides. If you play a lot you will likely wear through a pair in six months so I recommend buying two pairs and alternate them between with your play. It is crucial that your shoes do not have a lip on the sides. You can easily trip and slip.
Many courts don’t have drinking fountains so bring a lot of water with you and drink up. There is a saying to drink before you are thirsty otherwise it’s too late. You expend a lot of energy in this game and most of us develop a sweat. I always add electrolytes to my water to keep my energy to a level up. This helps my endurance and replenish vitamins and minerals I may lose. Don’t find yourself without water. Many courts allow you to bring your bottle on the court and place it in a corner out of the way.
Lastly stretching before and after play helps to prevent injuries. Your joints are also important so remember your ankle and wrist rolls as well. One area that often gets overlooked is your hip flexors and they are a must to stretch. Add these tips to your routine of stretching and cardio before you get on the court.
Find the court nearest you and you’ll look the part to get started.