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Living with COVID-19 & the Road Back to Pickleball

COVID-19 is a serious matter.  I'm still recovering from its nasty symptoms after more than four weeks since testing positive. What are my symptoms exactly and how is being able to play pickleball again become my light at the end of the long and bumpy ride to recovery?
  • Labored breathing and low blood oxygen level
  • Relentless headaches, joint aches, muscle aches
  • Stop the world, I want to puke!
  • Easily fatigued
  • Distorted sense of taste
  • Hypersensitive sense of smell that makes no sense
  • Emotional roller coaster 

Keeping pickleball in sight is my panacea.

The image of me playing pickleball again is what helps me keep my sanity and gives a glimmer of hope in a dark tunnel of slow recovery.  Unless you've been in a similar situation, it's hard to imagine what it's like.  I'm working on baby steps.  For example, walking to the mailbox at the end of the driveway counts as a success. I’m starting with 10-minute pickleball drills.  As I recover, I add more minutes.  I listen to my body. I only do what it tells me I can do.  I make sure I don’t overexert.
  1. Pick “your person” for singles drill plays.  “My person”  is my husband, my best friend, my go-to person, John.  I've asked my husband to drill with me, even for just 10 minutes on the driveway or nearby courts.  I find that doing drills with only one person has numerous advantages. I only need to "grab" that one person and not a group of players to drill with, which allows a ton of flexibility.  It's easy enough to decide how long to drill and what drills to do.  Getting tired sooner than planned?  Not a problem.  Schedule again for another day.  “Your person” understands.
    • Practice drop shots. I cannot run forward or sideways without losing my balance so practicing drop shots are great to keep my eye-ball coordination and regain the "feel" of the ball as it bounces off my paddle.  Whether you are in perfect health or recovering from COVID-19, it's always a good time to develop the touch of your pickleball drop shot.  I keep key techniques in mind to consciously practice -- short backswing, open paddle face and angle, contact in front of the body, "pushing" the ball, grip pressure, and the formidable footwork.  At this stage in my COVID-19 recovery, footwork is the most challenging to improve.  I have two left feet for now. Oh well, I try anyway.
    • Practice dinking. Do I take the ball out of the air or do I let it bounce? I say, "out of the air," if I can. How do I move the ball around my opponents’ kitchen?  In any case, the key is practice. Practice. Practice. Practice.
    • Practice serves. I can do this on my own. That's the best part.  I practice the lob serve, power serves, angle serves, and the newly approved drop serve.  I grab my bag of pickleball balls and off I go!
    • Practice return of serves. I just want to get it over the net and deep into the opponent’s side. There are many techniques to consider but frankly, if I do a deep return of serve, at this point, I am happy.
  2. Can't find “the one" person to play with you? Not a problem!  Grab your bag of pickleballs and practice your serves.  Alternatively, try hitting pickleballs against the garage door or any flat wall. This helps with my focus and coordination.  I do this for about ten minutes at a time.  I take a break and then start again. I repeat as often as my body can take it.
  3. Taking short walks -- I have to regain my leg muscle strength. I also need to be able to breathe without struggling. Short walks are helping me achieve both goals.  Besides, now that spring weather is on the horizon with blue skies and a more temperate climate, it's uplifting just to be outside.

It is important for me to do my best to stay positive about my progress towards good health, as slow and rugged as it may take.  I take one step at a time and eventually, I know I’ll be out there playing pickleball again—heart beating like a tom-tom, breathing loudly like a marauder, zig-zagging like a jackrabbit, sweating like a hog— and enjoying every minute of it!

By Marisa de Peralta, GAMMA Brand Ambassador


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