The Many Battles And Wars Of Pickleball

Pickleballers at large header -
First place medal - April Writing Contest Winner!

By Melissa Kildow ~ 

Melissa Kildow, pickleball photo - Picklesphere.The hours before the sun rises are magical. Streets are blanketed in a cover of darkness and everyone is asleep in their beds. Everyone except you that is. You’re awake and eager. Like a soldier gearing up for battle, you know preparation is key. As you put on your uniform and consume some fuel, butterflies flutter in your stomach as you envision what the unfolding day entails. Mentally, you’ve already weighed your first opponents and strategized a plan. Secretly, you were awake at midnight to get a first look at the brackets, unsure if it was the caffeine that kept you awake, or those butterflies that are conjured whenever you think about today: tournament day.

Of course there is the passion and love of the game of pickleball. There is such an enjoyment of “rec” play, and the fun of being surrounded by your pickleball friends who are more like family. Pickleball in itself is your meditation as it helps tune out all your other daily worries and responsibilities of working at a hospital and helping patients heal. Pickleball is your medicine of choice and heals you both physically and mentally, keeping you strong and at peace. Even the worst of days can be forgotten on a pickleball court. Like life, each point reminds you to learn from your mistakes and move on. There is something simple and romantic about being on a court away from the rest of the world and focusing on you and the love of the game. Pickleball is hope. Pickleball is peace.

A tournament is war. There is something intangible and indescribable about competing in a tournament that creates such an adrenaline rush, and the feeling of the unknown is addicting. Being in an unfamiliar environment with strangers and spectators watching your every move on the court is not for the faint of heart. You are forced to battle with unknown opponents and yet the biggest battle on the court isn’t against anything visible, but a battle fought deep down against yourself. Your mind is your biggest enemy. Doubt forms in your brain as you worry about mistakes, losing, and letting your partner down. You can get intimidated. You can lose patience. Don’t let your mind limit you. Instead, remember your mind is also your biggest ally and asset. You know you can do this and have what it takes. This is what you practiced for. This is what all those hours of training and drilling have been for.

Melissa Kildow photo - you tighten your shoe laces, you let the tension in your body loosen. Armed and dangerous, your face knowingly lightens with a smile. To find focus, you play song lyrics in your head from your pickleball playlist. “Tonight is the night, we’ll fight till it’s over, so we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us.” Macklemore knows war. The song helps you shut off everything and get in your zone. Patience. Wait for the perfect moment to attack. And then attack with everything you’ve got. Nothing can hold you.

The dying sun is slowly setting as you pack up your gear. Some straggler butterflies settle in your stomach. You’re hungry and tired. The gold medal around your neck feels heavy like an embrace of accomplishment and satiates your strongest hungers. The true reason you find yourself addicted to battling in tournaments isn’t the just joy of winning or fear of losing, but the obsession and passion of competing and challenging yourself. You came to battle and conquered not only the court and your opponent, but also yourself. You’re stronger and more skilled today than you were yesterday. Time to get ready for tomorrow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *