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two men playing pickleball while yellow balls bounce all around them

Pickleball, My Platform for Prostate Cancer Advocacy — Part I

“Circumstance does not make the man, it reveals him to himself” -James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Once you survive prostate cancer, you’re ready to take on most anything, especially things that are challenging. If you’ve faced a death sentence and made difficult choices in terms of treatment options, which in my case meant entrusting my privates to the persistent probing of a daVinci® robot, then you’re suddenly full of confidence once your life is handed back to you.

For example, a friend of mine took up competitive cycling by buying a $1,700.00 bike prior to daVinci® surgery. Another friend who at age 65 said “screw it,” retired and travels with his wife, spending time with his grandchildren, and playing golf with his buddies. Another retired from a career of flying for a major airline and has written two fiction books.

What is pickleball?

I decided to write a book and along the way became passionate about Pickleball, a sport with a wiffle ball and paddle on an abbreviated tennis court played like a chess match. Pickleball is a paddle sport that is a combination of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a ball, similar to a wiffle ball, over a net.1

Congressman Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell invented the game of pickleball one summer afternoon in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, WA. It’s a racket sport on a smaller court than a tennis court.

Pickleball logistics

At the net, there’s an area called “the kitchen” a sort of minefield that players cannot enter unless the ball lands there. Only then after it bounces can you step into the kitchen dink (soft hit) the ball back to your opponent. New players are often chided by veterans “you’re in the kitchen”, and “get out of the kitchen” You lose the point or the serve if you’re caught in the kitchen. Very annoying but a nuance of the sport.

OK, OK what’s with the name? It’s a simple explanation. The Pritchards had a cocker spaniel named Pickles, who became interested in this new game. Whenever a ball would come his way, he would take the ball and run off with it, because you see, it was Pickle’s ball. And that is how the game got its name. And the USA Pickleball Association is sticking to it.

My love for the sport

Pickleball lets men in their 60s, 70s, even 80s display their manhood by beating a little yellow ball into submission (along with their opponents). It is also where men who have or survived prostate cancer find normalcy in competition without regard to a diagnosis that doesn’t always make sense.

Read Part II of Pickleball, My Platform for Prostate Cancer Advocacy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Pickleball: A Great New Sport for Seniors. Accessed on April 21, 2019. From:


  • kenneth1955
    1 year ago

    Good morning. I just got done reading your story about Pickle ball. I do not get how this display manhood and how this going to take your mind off sex. How does this help you after surgery when you can’t make love to your wife ever and that whole part of it is gone. It doesn’t. I have had friends that they were so depressed after there surgery that they tried to kill them self when the doctor tells them after that it was a slow growing cancer and they would have had at least 5 or 10 good years left before it would have cause them a problem. I’m sorry but that does not help them now. There are some doctors that do not give all the information they need to give there patients. All they are thinking is get them into surgery so they can get the cancer out. I for one will never let a doctor talk me into anything because you are just changing one problem for another. That is no way to live. They may save your life from cancer but they are killing you in other ways. Life is to short to be depressed for the rest of it.

  • ninaw
    1 year ago

    Hi kenneth1955, I wasn’t able to find where Bob mentions not being able to be sexual with his partner. He has spoken before about the strength of his relationship with his wife, but I don’t believe he has said it is no longer intimate. I appreciate you sharing what your friends have experienced and we have heard about folks who faced major depression. There are many perspectives on prostate cancer treatment, positive and negative, and we do our best to respect them all. – Nina, Team

  • Len Smith moderator
    1 year ago

    Bob, I started playing pickle ball last spring and love it. (Our outdoor season starts up tomorrow.) Don’t know what’s coming in your Part 2, but it is good but not super strenuous exercise. And it’s VERY social, which, as I’m sure you can imagine,I love. And yes, I’ve had my hand slapped more than once for slamming the ball when I was in the kitchen. But a strong piece of advice I learned the hard way—don’t back up to hit the ball (turn and run to the rear instead) as I went down twice backing up. Still doing my avid biking, but being retired, I can easily fit both PB and biking (I wish my “baby” had only cost $1,700 🚴‍♀️, but I love her). Pickle on!!!

  • Bob Tierno moderator author
    1 year ago

    Len, I learned the same lesson about backing up.Actually two lessons.Don’t wear running shoes and don’t back up. Odds are that the ball is going out of bounds. Good court shoes keep me firmly planted when playing and moving fast enough to get to a ball when necessary. Definitely agree on the social part of the game. Takes my mind off my issues and I’ve learned many players have had maladies worse than mine so in all it’s a fellowship.
    Dink Responsibly,
    Bob Tierno, Moderator

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