Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Fun Factor

Coach Wayne’s Corner


Photo by Wayne Clark

As I spend more and more time with all levels of pickleball players, I have come to realize that the biggest catch to becoming addicted to the sport of pickleball, is the fun factor of the game.

Players on the recreational level of the game are finding that pickleball is a great way to get in a good workout, keep the mind sharp from focusing on scoring and strategies, as well as have a fun time with their friends. It is a sport in which all ages and abilities can play together.

On a professional/competitive level of the game, many of the players competing in the Open/Pro level of play at events like the Minto US Open, are ex-professional tennis players. Taking their experience from competing on the professional tennis tour, they have found a new career in playing professional pickleball.

Retired professional tennis players Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, as well as current Pro Tour competitors Bob and Mike Bryan (aka the Bryan brothers) are all now avid pickleball players.

Roddick and Agassi are playing exhibition matches, utilizing the sport of pickleball to help promote their youth foundations and encourage kids to get involved in sports. The Bryan brothers, who are now turning 40 and are arguably the best doubles team in the history of the sport of tennis (and have stated that they have no plans of retiring from professional tennis any time soon), have been seen playing pickleball. Bob and Mike say pickleball is a competitive, fun and relaxing game to play when they spend some time off the tennis court.

All of the aforementioned tennis icons, whether retired or still competing on the Pro Tour, are not in need of the prize money or the fame, but are participating in the sport of pickleball because it is so much fun to play.

Can you imagine what a game changer it would be if any of these players decided to take up the sport of professional pickleball!

On the flip side of all of that, I am seeing recreational/social pickleball players, who just a year ago were saying, “Oh, I just play pickleball for fun,” now working on improving the level of their game and competing in amateur tournaments.

Either way, whether these players are professionals or amateurs, they are all competing in the sport of pickleball because of the fun factor.

I am not a real adventurous person and my bucket list does not include any wild and crazy things like parachuting, bungee jumping or running with the bulls, but I am very glad that I gave the sport of pickleball a try some six years ago. As I have already stated, pickleball is a great way to get in a good workout, keep the mind sharp and have a fun time with friends.

I have been an avid tennis player for my entire life and I still love participating in the sport of a lifetime. I am not asking all you tennis players to give up on one of the most strategically and emotionally challenging (and fun) competitive games ever invented. However, if tennis greats like Agassi, Roddick and the Bryan brothers are willing to give it a shot, maybe you should too! Like them, you will be amazed to discover what a great pickleball player you could become, simply because of your skills from being a lifelong tennis player.

Wayne Clark is a certified professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction. He has been the head instructor at The Marco Island Racquet Center since 2001. The Racquet Center offers clinics, private and group lessons for both tennis and pickleball. Coach Wayne’s Island Kids Tennis/Sports Juniors programs run year round, and offer classes for players ranging from kindergarten through high school. Contact Coach Wayne by email at coachwayneclark@aol.com or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.

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