The following day, Tuesday, February 21, 2017, I wrote my friend John telling him of my efforts to find a local cheap “get me by” paddle. He reminded me that he said he’d loan me one of his extra paddles until I found a good one to purchase for myself. Duh!
I emailed John asking him to drop his extra paddle off at my work the next time he happened to be nearby but not to make a special trip. Of course, it showed up less than three hours later in my office while I was out to lunch. Thanks, John!
John had picked up this paddle from a fellow in the club at a good price. It has seen some use, some dings in the faces are visible in the right light, but it gets the job done.
I should point out that the photo shows that the paddle grip is a bit small for my hand. I’ve heard from two sources—one an online paddle retailer video, another from a pickleball instructor in a podcast or YouTube video—that there should be a gap equal to the width of your finger between the ends of your fingers and the meaty part of your thumb. It’s always best to get a paddle with a grip that is too small that too big. Too small, you can put an “overgrip” on it. Too big, you are out of luck unless you shrink your hands in the dryer! An overgrip is a strip of material that you wind around the handle of your paddle.
Here’s a really good video for installing one on a tennis racket:
and here’s a short video that’s not as detailed but specific to pickleball paddles:
The key thing to note is that the handle on a pickleball paddle significantly shorter than that of a tennis racket and you only need about three feet of overgrip for a paddle. Therefore if you use a tennis racket overgrip on your paddle, unless you want to overlap the wraps significantly, you’ll end up with a fair amount of leftover material. Pickleball paddle overgrip is pretty reasonable, typically between $5 and $10 for a package with 2-3 rolls.
Finally, Some Home Practice
With balls, a simulated partial court and a paddle, I got some practice in. Our corgi Oliver didn’t quite know what to make of the clacking noise coming from the garage, but he thankfully stopped barking from inside the house after a few minutes.
So, I’d been watching YouTube videos of top players in championship matches. It’s easy to be critical and think they should be doing even better . . . until you practice it yourself! You’d think it wouldn’t be hard to consistently hit the ball a few inches over the net—you’d think! But not so much. But the percentage of success will follow with practice getting used to the ball and the paddle.