Pickleball sucks

Pickleball confession

I have a whole category of rants about how bad “Pickleball Sucks,” but I must confess (like Katy Perry) I played a pickleball game, and I liked it.

It wasn’t the kind of girl-on-girl action that can draw a crowd to a concert, it was just a off-handed invitation from the Boy to meet at the gym.

This is what Bing AI thinks it looks like when “Katy Perry kisses a pickleball on the lips”. The woman looks more like Katy Perry than that round thing looks like a pickleball.

Lifetime Fitness covered one of their basketball courts with some fucked up foam and laid down 3 indoor pickleball courts. We spent thousands of dollars when the Boy was in 6-8th grade on tennis lessons. He has thrown that money away on a rubber paddle. It’s the reminder that I have failed as a parent.

He brags about beating “experienced” pickleball players at their own game. He went out and bought “pickleball shoes” — they are just tennis shoes with a “pickle” on the label. Humiliation in footwear.

I reluctantly agreed to his invitation.

Tried Tennis

For decades, I had tried to get him back on a tennis court. He said he and his new wife tried tennis a few times, and after playing a few hours with her he asked me. “So, do you think I can beat you in tennis yet?”

I’ve been honing my tennis game for 45 years. I run into this a lot. Some 30-something who played tennis as a kid, but hasn’t picked up a racquet as an adult, looks at my knee braces and stiff swings and doesn’t want to join us for doubles because it will be too easy for “them.” Only to have their ego crushed by two AARP members with a bagel (6-0) or a breadstick (6-1).

“Let me ask you this, son… have you ever played with an adult racquet?”

The answer was no.

That convinced him not to restart tennis.

Don’t get me wrong. This advantage of age does not last. The numbers quickly flip with what feels like the smallest of efforts from these little douchebags. It feels good for the old guys for a few weeks, but for any young person who tries — it never more than a couple months.

In a true family tradition, my Boy didn’t even try.

He picked up the paddle instead.

“Anybody can be competitive on day one,” he said, with the kind of pride a person wearing a “I’m with Stupid” T-shirt shows when the arrow is pointed at someone else.

He was only making my point that pickleball is a game, like tag or tiddlywinks. Anyone can be “good” the first day… But tennis is a sport. Sports take dedication, building and retaining skills and rebuilding to retrofit to a failing body.

Sure people can get better, much better at pickleball, like my friend “Elderly Bob” (formerly known as Happy Bob) who won’t shut the fuck up about his shinning collection of pictures of Pickleball trophies for those on Medicare.

“They only let you take a picture with the trophy,” Elderly Bob said. “They don’t let you take them home.”

To me it’s just a shortcut for recycling — why let the old farts take the trophy home only to have their kids throw it out in a few years when they have to clean out (dead) “grandpa’s things.”

Just reuse it next weekend for an “even bigger championship”. Another example of the digital (picture) replacing reality (a plastic trophy).

Back to Pickleball

In my failure to get the kid on a real court, I had to reveal my shame and walk onto the foam mat instead. The lines from one court to the next are only 2 feet apart. It feels like we will run each other, or break an ankle stepping on a ball.

Then I remember it’s whiffle. My ankle should crush it like a bug.

The court is a quarter-sized — there’s not much momentum to hurt each other. It’s like bumping into guests at a crowded house party. I’ve had bigger impacts on a dance floor at a country bar.

The Boy and I play 2 strangers. Beat them handily. Some tennis skills translate. Others are a detriment. I can’t remember the score. I can’t remember where to stand. I hit returns in the air. I close in on the net.

It sucks, and it’s fun all at the same time.

After 90 minutes, my knees are sore just like tennis. Shit. I can’t do both in the same week. I had hopes of limping through tennis and pickleball at the same time.

A week later, we return. This time with my pregnant daughter-in-law. The two big guts against the Boy. You could say it was 3 against 1. We beat him after several close games. He tries to explain the Pickleball rules to me.

“You can’t step into the kitchen after the shot,” he said.

First of all, I hit the whiffle well behind your bullshit ” line”. It was a clean winner — he didn’t touch it. Although I “followed it” to the net, I don’t think my knees will let me take all 3 steps to even make it all the way to that stupid line…

We agreed to disagree, because the Pickleball rules are “in flux.” Every year they make up new ones and “they” is plural — it seems to me there are multiple arbitrators of the game. It feels like anarchists on magic mushrooms make up every part of “pickle+ball”.

Despite the disagreement, I get invited back. Me and the pregnant one beat him after all, and this cannot stand in the Boy’s fragile ego of being a former D-1 athlete.

I’m a happy little winner. Thinking maybe there is something to this game.

The next week, the daughter-in-law and I lose. Completely my fault. Cocky from my first day success, I tried to play tennis with a paddle. Swing through, spin the ball, control the center, hit winners to the corners, finish with a volley.

Paddles suck at all of that. I missed more shots than I made. Much better just to slap and slice and hit soft, low balls like a god damn toddler.

I walk off the foam in a state of disgrace I have never felt in tennis. How could you lose to a novice in a game of whiffle tennis???

The daughter-in-law goes on to beat the Boy in singles. Not once but twice. I know I will never be invited again. I’m no longer posing a challenge for the Boy, and I’m holding the pregnant woman back from her moments of victory. Besides since my knees limit my time on any court, I’ll take the adult sport over the kids game. Tennis anyone?

Despite how much I hate pickleball for stealing our tennis courts, recruiting our players (even professionals) and co-opting our fans and TV channel, I have to confess, I kinda like the “game” — at least it’s better than kickball or croquet.

Maybe next week, I’ll replace golf with a Frisbee and bunch of randomly placed sticks… (yes that’s a shot at disc golf, Alex).

5 replies »

  1. So funny! The only thing you don’t touch on is the “sound” that stupid wiffle ball makes when it’s hit by a wooden paddle and when it bounces off the court. It’s enough to drive you crazy. And of course there’s always the “name” of the stupid game – why not Cabbage ball? – or Pepper ball? No! Tequila Ball!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I would play tequila ball. The booze could make you forget about the sound and childish rules, equipment and sIze of the court.


  2. that’s two minutes of your time you will never get back. Remember the YouTube videos are usually of the “pros” — pickleball at the park is nothing like that.


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