Pickleball: My Journey, My Love, My Equipment, My Attire, My Invitations
What? No more tennis?
I’ve been a tennis player since the age of 5 (currently 55 years young) and I planned to play that sport until my time on Earth came to an end. One day about four years ago a couple of coworkers of mine said, “We think you’d like this sport called pickleball.” I went to the local sports store and bought a $50 paddle and headed to the court. From the first time I played it until today, my pickleball playing has become more and my tennis playing has become less. About 2 years ago I put down my tennis racquets for good and now only play pickleball – I am completely obsessed with pickleball!
From my first time on the court, with my tennis background, pickleball felt familiar to me. I didn’t feel like I was good when I started, but I didn’t feel like an absolute beginner either. As I got more and more into the game, I could see myself steadily improving, something I hadn’t seen on the tennis court in a long time. I knew after about the 5th time out on the court, this was going to be the sport I’d be playing for the rest of my life.
I think a lot of my love for pickleball comes from the joy of playing with so many different types of players and learning what strategies it takes to play well against each player. Every single game it may take something different to be successful: power, patience, placement, spin, touch, stacking, 3rd shot drops, 3rd shot drives, lobs, etc. It’s the love of learning all these shots, plus dozens of others, and knowing how and when to use them that keeps me coming to the courts to play each day.
And while I love being on the courts, playing so much I can’t move the next day, using the various strategies mentioned above, and improving my 4.5+ game as much as my body will allow, I quickly found out that the social aspect of the game is as much apart of the enjoyment as the actual playing. The game of pickleball, with the smaller court size and shorter games, allows you to really get to know the people you are on the courts with. I have gotten to know and become friends with hundreds of people that I would not have met if not for this sport. This sport has truly blessed me in so many ways!
Which paddle and what to wear?
If you don’t know by now, there are thousands of pickleball paddles on the market. Coming from tennis, where I used a two-hand backhand, I knew I wanted a longer paddle with a longer handle. So, I did what anyone would do, I purchased and/or tried as many paddles as I could get my hands on. My search ended as soon as I tried the CRBN1 16mm paddle – there is not another paddle out there better than this one for me – trust me, I’ve tried them all! Power, spin, touch, feel, huge sweetspot, maneuverability, solid feel, highest quality…simply the best!
Coming from tennis I had a lot of apparel, so I just wore what I had in my closet to play pickleball. Then one day I went to see a pickleball tournament and was handed a pair of “OS1st Pickleball Socks.” I figured they were no different than all the dozens of other socks I had tried in the past…I was completely wrong! They had this thin fabric at two places on the top of the sock that allowed my foot to breath while I was playing – they also had this thicker fabric at the toe and heel that seemed to cushion my foot as I played – and then they had some type of compression thing going on around the arch of my foot that seemed to help support my foot.
I was thoroughly impressed by these socks so I wanted to see what other products they had that might improve my enjoyment on the court. The next OS1st product I tried was their “Thin Air Performance Calf Sleeves.” I had a DVT Blood Clot in my left leg back in 2019 so I got used to wearing compression socks to help make sure my blood flow remained strong in my legs. I always wanted to wear compression socks on my legs when I played but everything I tried would either fall down, not give enough compression, or look ‘out of place’ when trying to come across as an athlete. These OS1st calf sleeves take care of all three of those problems and allow my legs to feel more refreshed when I wake up the next morning.
Every time I walk onto the pickleball courts I’m always wearing the following OS1st products because they improve my play and my recovery: Thin Air Performance Calf Sleeves, Pickleball Performance Socks (80+ degrees) or Wellness Performance Socks (< 80 degrees), and an OS1st wristband. If I feel like I need extra knee support, I also wear their “Performance Knee Sleeve” and/or their “Performance Patella Sleeve.”
I want to personally invite you to try the sport of pickleball if you haven’t given it a shot yet. Between the love of the sport itself and the love of the friends you will make while playing it, you will understand why I feel it is the greatest sport on Earth.
If you’re ever in the Hickory, NC area, I invite you to check out our local website, www.foothillspickleball.com, to find out where we’re playing and join us. I do not believe you will find a more welcoming or enjoyable group of players to be around anywhere.
And lastly, I invite you to check out www.thepickleballsock.com to find your local OS1st retailer and to see their entire line of OS1st products. I don’t think you will be disappointed with any of their products – I never have been!
Happy National Pickleball Month – get out and enjoy the game!
- B. Benjamin Bishop