Playing pickleball Friday afternoon I attained a greater appreciation of what a football quarterback must endure when blindsided in the back by an opposing player. Same goes for receivers whose backs are turned away from defenders when they catch passes.
Most injuries in pickleball are self inflicted. Sprained ankles. Stretched Achilles tendons. Pulled muscles. And, quite common, injuries to varied parts of the body when losing one’s balance while backpedalling.
Last spring a fellow outdoor pickleballer fell while backpedalling. He chipped three vertebrae. It took him months to recover.
Defending against an expected smash to my backhand I started retreating. I missed the smash but couldn’t stop backpedalling. I lost my balance. I should have voluntarily crumpled to the ground, but having never practiced that move I kept on backpedalling 25-30 feet in the hope of regaining my balance.
What stopped my awkward retreat was a solid stucco wall the left side of which my back hit with sudden and tremendous force, much like what I imagine a quarterback or receiver must feel when blasted by an unseen defender.
Now, football players are in much better shape than I (my friends are politely requested to stop giggling—have some respect for the injured!). Quarterbacks and receivers often wear flak jacket protection across their backs, yet I am in awe of their ability to get right up and execute another play within 30 seconds.
For 10 minutes or so I sat up against the wall, the wind knocked out of me, trickles of blood oozing out of my left elbow where it scraped along the stucco.
Fortunately my head did not engage the wall. But I am sore and still find it painful to breathe in deeply.
And I’m cognizant not to play on that particular Pickleball court again, at least until padding (on backorder) is applied to the wall.
As I left the court I said to the other players, “See you Monday.” That might have been a little optimistic, but worth shooting for.