Donna took an Uber ride to the airport early Tuesday morning. She flew to Albany to spend a week with her parents in Bennington, Vermont. I’ve been going to the recreation centers in Ocean Beach (OB) and Pacific Beach (PB) to play pickleball. They play pickleball in OB on Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting at 10am. At the PB rec center they have pickleball on Tuesday and Thursday – again starting at 10am.
I love the game – if you want to learn more about pickleball you can find all of the rules at USAPA.org. Their website also has listings of places to play. While we were at ViewPoint RV and Golf Resort in Mesa, Arizona, I played three days a week in a round robin series for players that are 3.0 level and higher. Most of the players in the matches were 3.5 to 4.0 players. Pickleball has a rating system that sets criteria for skill levels ranging from 1.0 – beginner to 5.0 – expert.
Playing with and against higher level players really improved my game. My tactics and shot selection improved and team strategy developed. We played on outdoor courts. Here in San Diego, I play on indoor courts at the recreation centers.
As my skills have improved, I see a bigger difference in the outdoor game versus the indoor game. Outdoors you play with a ball designed for outdoor use. It has smaller holes than an indoor ball to minimize the effect of wind. It’s made of a harder material to cope with a paved court surface and it bounces higher than an indoor ball. Maybe it’s just a matter of the players’ skill I was playing with in Arizona, but it seems to me that the outdoor game is played with more finesse.
The usual strategy is to hit the serve deep, the returning player hits a deep return and immediately moves forward. The first two hits must bounce before they can be returned – then the ball can be struck in the air before it bounces as long as the player hitting the ball is at least seven feet back from the net. So, the best third shot is usually a drop shot that hits the opposing court less than seven feet past the net. What often follows is a “dink” game where each team hits the ball softly trying to keep it low and within seven feet of the net. Sooner or later someone makes a mistake and hits the ball too high or hard and the opponent pounces on the mistake.
Here in San Diego playing on indoor courts I find the game is played differently. The indoor balls have larger holes in them and are softer. They can be hit much harder without flying out of control. There’s also no wind to to adjust for. Most games feature very little dinking, it’s more of a slam fest. I’ve had to adjust my style of play, but I have to say I prefer the finesse of the outdoor game to the slam and jam style played here.
When I went to the PB rec center on Tuesday morning, I noticed a difference. It was brighter inside. They had sanded and refinished the flooring – the new finish was much lighter than the color of the previous finish. The old darker flooring contributed to the poor lighting making it difficult to see the ball – especially on the court on the north end of the floor. The new floor color reflects much more light – this is good and bad. The additional light makes it easier to see the ball when it’s in flight or coming off your opponent’s paddle – this is good. However, sometimes you can lose sight of the ball when it bounces or passes low over glare spots on the shiny floor.
At the end of the game, it’s the same for everyone – the glare is hard for both sides. Outdoors you have to contend with the sun and wind and sometimes it’s worse on one side of the court.
Other than playing two and half hours of pickleball daily, I haven’t done anything too exciting this week. Tuesday morning, I was checking our batteries. For some reason our chassis batteries don’t receive a maintenance charge from the Echo Charger intermittently. I haven’t been able to pinpoint the cause – it happens every now and then. I put a trickle charger on the two 12-volt chassis batteries when the Echo Charger isn’t keeping them fully charged.
After I hooked up the trickle charger, I straightened up and did it again – bang. I hit my head on the bedroom slide out. Donna keeps saying I need to put foam protector over the sharp slide edge. I tried using a foam tube that’s made for pipe insulation, but I couldn’t keep it in place when the wind picked up. I need to figure out a way. I don’t want to tape it on, the adhesive wouldn’t be good for the paint.
The weather has been beautiful – high temperatures around 70 with partly cloudy skies. The humidity over the past couple of days has been higher than usual. It’s gotten up to 60 or 70 percent. After months of dry desert climate with humidity levels around 15 percent, this feels extremely humid to me.