As I age, I have tried to keep active. Just keep moving. I play golf, go to the gym and play pickleball. The grandkids appreciate my efforts and ask often what I’m doing to keep active. I’ve told them story after story of my sporting past, which is non-existent.

When I went to middle and high school, it was pre-Title IX and there were no opportunities for females to play sports. I’ve told them the story so many times that when the subject comes up, the grandkids go, “We know, Grandma. If there would have been sports, you would have be really good and probably would have won a state medal.” I don’t know if I ever said anything about a state medal, but they seem to like making the story sound even better.

Playing Pickleball

I have really enjoyed learning about and playing pickleball. The camaraderie is great, and the groups I play with laugh and tease each other all the time. My grandkids have even joined in the fun a couple times. The grandkids are natural athletes and don’t seem to have the problems I have getting to or seeing the ball. Their hand-eye coordination is also amazing. One of the grandkids learned to play pickleball in a PE class at their school, while the other three just picked it up by watching and listening to us.

When we play as a family, they frequently laugh at my ability to always be late getting to the ball or letting the ball hit my finger instead of the paddle. OK, not always, but more times than not. I’ve watched all four grandkids play sports, and they are very competitive. However, it’s another thing completely to be standing across from them at the net and see the intense concentration in their eyes. It’s a little more intimidating than watching them from afar in the stands.

This year, I’ve found playing pickleball a little bit more challenging. Besides just being another year older and slower, the arthritis in my right hand is much worse. My hands are more swollen than in the past with the tips of my fingers pointing in all sorts of directions. My right hand is my dominant hand, and of course, is the worst of the two.

Trying to Improve My Game

When we play pickleball together, the grandkids give me tips to improve my form. Now with my hand limitations, each grandchild has given me suggestions on how to improve, or should I say compensate for my handicap and stop having the ball hit my thumb. Since each grandchild has experienced some type of injury and recuperation, they are full of suggestions for protecting my thumb from the pickleball hitting it. One granddaughter told me to watch the ball, but that’s easier said than done!

My grandson, the baseball player, thought I should get a catcher’s thumb guard. He indicated some catchers wear them under their glove to protect their thumb. I purchased a thumb guard from a local sporting goods store. The guard molds around your thumb after a 30-minute wait. After the wait time, I tried to slip the guard off and back on my thumb, but it was too tight. We realized the knuckle on my thumb is so much bigger than the base of my thumb, and there was no way it could slip on without some pain.

The next suggestion was to wrap or tape my thumb. We tried that idea as well, but we found the tape kept my thumb straight, and I wasn’t able to get a good grip on the handle of the pickleball paddle.

Finding a Solution

Then a granddaughter, probably the most accident prone of them all, said she had an idea. She ran to her room and brought back splints she has previously used on her fingers. Again, we had a little bit of negotiation with the splints and the thumb, but finally decided on the medal index finger splint. We all agreed the plan was to cut off the end of the splint and use it for my thumb. The grandkids carried out the plan, and I was all set.

I continue to be amazed at my grandkids and their ability to help me through all stages of my life. They were thrilled to help solve my problems. I don’t think they believe it will improve my hand-eye coordination or my speed to get to the ball. I don’t think there is any cure for that other than practice—or perhaps a time machine.

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

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