This past weekend, Ellie and I ventured out to Batavia’s Kiwanis Park to enjoy some pickle ball with Papa Volk. Ellie had played in high school, but I didn’t even know “pickle ball” was a thing. Unfortunately, Batavia had no official court to play on, but that didn’t stop Papa Volk from chalking out a regulation-sized grid on one of the two tennis courts.
Pickle ball is kind of a hybrid between Ping-Pong, tennis, and badminton. With one glorified Ping-Pong paddle in hand (IT IS NOT A RACQUET), the object is to knock the wiffle ball over the net into the other team’s court. There are quite a few rules, including the no-volley zone. This is a place where despite the overwhelming desire to smash the ball as hard as you can into your opponent’s face, you must let it fall gingerly to the earth first before touching it. How civilized. There is also the two-bounce rule, where, when serving, the ball must bounce in the opponent’s box before he or she can hit it back. Then you must let the ball bounce in your court before you can hit it back. Then volleying is an option . . . except in the no-volley zone! Gah!
The rules of serving are interesting as well. In team play, each player is assigned to be server one or server two. When announcing the score, you must proudly proclaim your score, their score, and the server number. AKA, “1-2-1” or “1-2-2.” It gets confusing, very quickly.
Once we got past the regulation stumbling blocks, the game itself is pretty intuitive and fun to play. About an hour into playing on Saturday, Dwayne the Court Painter arrived to put official lines down for us! An unexpected but awesome surprise. We got to witness firsthand the precise execution of pickle-ball-court laying. And we helped a little. The sequence of events went something like this: first, chalk lines (our originals were slightly off, but we did pretty good!); then painter’s tape; and then the paint itself. We chose yellow over blue lines because we didn’t want the pickle-ball lines to interfere with the existing tennis lines, which were white, and we felt yellow was less invasive. The paint dries very quickly, so we were able to pick up playing about fifteen minutes after application!
In all, we played for at least two hours, probably more. It’s a great workout and is a little lower impact than full-court tennis—less twisting, quick pivoting, and sprinting, though there are definitely moments where sprinting is necessary! The rules give you something to think about and keep your head in the game, even if they make you second-guess your moves the first few times you play. It was a lot of fun to get out and try something new. And Audrey enjoyed running around the park, playing with Dad, and barking at Dwayne. So if you’re on a tennis court and you notice what looks like a mini tennis court painted on the existing lines, it’s probably a pickle-ball court! Apparently people take their pickle ball pretty seriously. There are tournaments, leagues, clubs, and all that jazz, so we’re planning on checking one of those out (to size up our competition, ya know).