By Jennifer Griffin, GAMMA Contracted Player
Moving to a new community or a new state is a big life change. You will be asking yourself things you hadn’t concerned yourself with prior to the move: what’s the vibe at courts, private groups only, skill level, where are the courts and more importantly will they like me? It can feel like high school all over again, however, it doesn’t have to be!
- Push yourself slightly beyond your basic comfort level. Coach yourself to do something you wouldn’t normally do. Walk up to a group at the courts, introduce yourself and ask to play a game.
- Play with everyone, regardless of skill level. You are there to make connections! You never know who you’ll bond with, so don’t limit your options.
- Search for the local court/community Facebook page. These are usually private, so ask to join the group. Introduce yourself on the page as new to the area and inquire about local drop in play.
- Call someone new. If a friend knows someone in your new town, call them. Ask them to meet you at the courts and hit a few balls.
- Volunteer your time to assist with events happening at the courts and within the new pickleball community. Whether it be local clean up at the courts, court maintenance, community lessons or assistance with the local tournament. Put yourself on the list to help and become a part of the community.
- Pickleball is a social sport and most players love to talk. Don’t always be eager to jump right back on the court. Sit down between games and start a conversation with someone new. Ask how long they have been playing, how were they introduced to pickleball or ask how they like the paddle they are using.
- Having a good time? Take a picture! Snapping a photo is the easiest way to get in contact with someone later. Ask them if they are on Facebook or if they would like you to text a copy of the photo. If you text the photo, make sure you leave your name and tell them what a great time you had playing with them today.
- Do your best to say yes! Accept any play invite you receive and get out there!
- Most importantly, keep in touch via phone, text, social media with your old pickleball crew. When you are feeling down or nervous they are your support staff. They will want to hear about your new court adventures. They will push you to get out on the courts, overcome any fears you are pondering and will want a follow up call to hear how your day went. Your old pickleball crew will always be there for you and everyone is looking for a place to vacation with pickleball courts!
We all need new connections to create the feeling of home and community that only time can deliver. Vulnerability plays a huge part in emotional bonds with friends. Especially early in the game, be open about yourself when meeting new people and don’t limit your options! Finding your new pickleball crew takes patience, but if you are proactive you will soon feel at home.