Hello Pickleball Parent!
Welcome to the pickleball journey with your child.
If you haven’t heard about the increasingly popular sport pickleball yet, it’s just a matter of time. This paddle-based court game combines elements of tennis, table tennis, and badminton on a court the size of a junior tennis court, with modest- sized paddles and a specially-designed whiffle ball.
After 40 years as a tennis teaching pro, running large municipal programs and most recently Summer Camp Director and Sports Psychology Coach at Maryland Farms YMCA in Brentwood, TN, I’ve come to the conclusion that pickleball is the best way to introduce your child to a sport.
I’ve taught the “ROGY Progression” (Red-Orange-Green-Yellow) created by the USTA since its inception but find the rules of pickleball-- the two-bounce rule, a no-volley zone, and particularly the equipment- a paddle smaller than a junior tennis racket and a whiffle ball that travels half the speed of a tennis ball --creates an accelerated learning curve that makes your child fall in love with the game.
Tennis courts seem to be disappearing—the entire tennis program at Maryland Farms YMCA will end next year, leaving hundreds of juniors without a home club to train. Pickleball seems to be more accessible—it can be played in your driveway or a gym floor or anywhere there is a level surface and you can find nets at any sporting goods store.
Despite the fact that pickleball is too-often associated with people closer to my age (I’m 61), youth pickleball is exploding. Pickleball Kids USA’s affiliation with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), the nation’s largest organization dedicated to junior athletics, ensures that we will be hosting tournaments, training sessions, and events dedicated to youth pickleball. (Our AAU Club # is W3WC8T).
In short, opportunities abound for your child to try pickleball. In addition to our instruction, we introduce character-building games and activities that enhances your child’s self-advocacy, conflict resolution, and sportsmanship skills.
Most of us are die-hard tennis fans, but pickleball has transformed us into true believers of the beneficial aspects of pickleball in developing young athletes.
Pickleball’s rapid rise in popularity, and “getting on the bandwagon” early usually provides opportunities to excel and grow with the sport. Because the sport is relatively inexpensive to play and doesn’t require expensive construction or specialized gear (and a very low risk of injury), pickleball is already found a home with the AAU and on many gym floors in churches and schools across the country. Particularly during the Covid crisis, pickleball and tennis have seen increased participation as a “safe sport.”
The longer I coach junior tennis, the more I realize the importance of good early coaching in developing the young student- athlete. The game of pickleball—just like tennis—is a metaphor for life.
Your child can learn a lot by playing the game. Pickleball just might be the perfect game for your child to try.