Don’t put yourself in a pickle

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Story: Pat Jocelyn

About five years ago I thought I’d (excuse the pun) try my hand at pickleball. It was a match made in heaven and everything I loved about a competitive sport—fast, challenging and good exercise, and I was actually pretty good at it.

I played for six months, and on a very warm, humid morning and after playing three games, though hot and tired, I agreed to play “just one more.” I was moving forward to hit the ball and stumbled over my own feet.

Thanks to my fall, I’m now the proud owner of a three-inch titanium plate anchored with six screws in my left wrist. I became another Village statistic. Did I mention I was left-handed? Suffice to say while my arm was in a cast, the simplest of tasks became major challenges and were frequently accompanied with a few choice…ahem…gosh-darn-its and son-of-a-guns. So much for pickleball.

I’m sharing this story because while leaving a recent water aerobics class, I heard the familiar “thwack” a pickleball makes when the paddle connects squarely with the ball. I wandered over to a nearby court and watched a game. It made me realize just how much I missed it.

The next day I signed up for Pickleball 101 for a quick refresher. Now I’m once again playing pickleball but doing several things differently.

I drink plenty of water. When I get tired, I stop—period! I purchased decent court shoes so my feet have just enough slide on the court.

Alas, many of us have joints that need a little more support and/or protection. With that in mind I now wear both knee and wrist braces. Yeah I know, it stinks to get old, but like most things in life, with the right kind of support, many things are possible.

Pat Schmidt, a Villager I met at pickleball class, and I perform drills several days a week to improve our game. We also participate in open play with other beginners two or three days a week.

Now, like thousands of other Villagers I’m thoroughly enjoying the game of pickleball—again. However, I think I’m playing it smarter and safer than I was five years ago.

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