5-2-1, 5-2-2, 6-2-1, 6-2-2…Any guesses as to what sport uses this type of scoring? Well up until a couple of weeks ago, I would never have been able to guess. However, now I can tell you with certainty. These are pickleball scores. After years of wondering what pickleball was all about, I finally played my first doubles game and won! You could say I am now addicted, which is really sad because I have no time to play pickleball.
Even though I only heard about pickleball a few years ago, pickleball has actually been around since 1965. The game was invented by Joel Prichard, who served in Congress for the State of Washington. He and two of his friends returned from golf and found their families bored one Saturday afternoon. They tried to set up a badminton game but couldn’t find the birdie (shuttlecock). So instead, they improvised with a wiffle ball, lowered the net, and made paddleboards out of plywood from a nearby shed. Since then, pickleball has gained in popularity over the years.
Two weekends ago, some girlfriends and I headed to St. George for a weekend get-away (something I never do). Little did I know, that I would finally get to play this game I’ve been wondering about. The place where we stayed had an outdoor pickleball court down the street. Since there were five of us, my friend, Kelly, volunteered to teach us how to play while she coached from the sidelines. I had no idea what to expect because I had never even seen it played. I only knew that it was similar to tennis and that all the cool kids were playing it.
Part of the reason I’ve never tried playing pickleball before (aside from having no time) is that I’m not a very athletic/coordinated person. You see, I grew up with five brothers who all played sports, and I was the one who was on the boy’s high school soccer team–as the team manager. Sadly, when I try to do something athletic, my appendages have a difficult time listening to my brain’s signals. It’s as if there is always a delayed response. Sure, I can run a race or ride a bicycle (and I’m great at playing HORSE), but if it requires any additional coordination like throwing and running at the same time, I’m hopeless. I am not the person you want playing on your team (but I’m great cheering from the sidelines).
It’s probably a good thing I’m not very athletic. Given my competitive nature, it’s easy for me to get wrapped up in winning. I needed this experience with pickleball to be low key and fun, and that is exactly what it was.
To be honest, I was a little nervous to try yet another sport that I would never be good at. I guess this is why I added “Learn to play pickleball” to my List of 50 Things. By adding it to my List, I knew I would learn how to play the game—I just wasn’t sure I would actually play it.
The day I learned how to play pickleball was a warm and beautiful Saturday morning in St. George. At first, I could not understand the scoring. I knew how tennis was scored but this was throwing me off. In doubles pickleball, the first person who serves is “1” and the second person who serves (on the same team) is “2” but you don’t always keep the same serving numbers. So, if you are serving for the first time, you would say “0-0-1”—meaning you have zero points, your opponent has zero points, and you are the first server on your team. You then serve the ball over the net, underhand, landing it in your opponent’s square opposite and diagonal from you. If they don’t return it, then you get a point and you switch places with your partner and serve again but from the other square on your side. The score is then “1-0-1,” meaning you have scored one point, your opponent has zero points and you are still server number one. Well, if I have confused you already, I apologize. Now that I’ve played several games, I completely understand the score and love saying it(but only if I’m winning). I could have played pickleball all day long, but we had other things to do like hike the Petrified Dunes in Snow Canyon. Besides, I won and that’s what matters.
Back at home now, I’m excited to get my own set of paddles and balls so I can play with my kids. Luckily, there are some indoor courts nearby so I can practice over the winter months and get better. Maybe by the time it’s spring, I will be good enough join a pickleball league.
Ugh, who am I kidding? I have no time to play pickleball! Unless games start before 6 am, I will not be playing during the week. Hey, anyone care to join me?