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Don’t get your ball in a pickle

There has been a great deal of buzz lately, around a new sport, which seems to be sweeping North America. It is of course, pickleball, a court game, which includes components of tennis, badminton and ping pong… and yes, a sport, which I have totally embraced. With winter approaching, and my bicycle once again hanging in the garage, what do I do to keep the circulation going through the long months of early darkness and cold weather? Why, pickleball, of course. I read an article on the sport and was intrigued that it was taking the country by storm. Not just by seniors, but young people as well. One day, I decided to venture forth and give it a try. I stood sheepishly in a corner of the court, along with a dozen other would be picklers, and listened tentatively to the instructor explaining the rules. For the most part, it seemed simple enough, except the scoring, but I expected mastering that element would come with time. A few lessons led to my first game, and I was impressed with the friendliness and willingness to help, from the other players, all who were much more advanced than I was. They eagerly explained the scoring, the rules and the tricks of the game, and before I knew it, I was engaged. I even hit the ball… once. Playing pickleball is good exercise. It is not nearly as strenuous as tennis, but then, my body is not nearly as vigorous as it used to be. Rules like ‘no running backward’ and ‘staying out of the kitchen’ are designed to keep people from getting injured. Sure, you can use your head as a paddle if you like, but the pickle ball, similar to a Wiffle ball, will not hurt near as much as a tennis or squash ball will, when it is walloped across a court. There are of course, people who excel in the sport, and there are advanced leagues on certain days, for those champions of the game. For me, however, I find an hour or two, a couple of mornings a week to be just perfect. I did wonder why a game of this calibre was christened with the name ‘pickleball’? It seems the Pritchards, a family in Seattle, is credited with inventing the game in the mid-sixties, as something their children could engage in. They had a dog named Pickles, who continually chased the ball and presto, the game was born and named. I may not look too elegant on the court, but I am certainly having a great deal of fun. Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, published author, award winning photographer and keynote speaker. Watch his new show ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show’ on YouTube.

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