It’s Pickleball Mania! Play Your Best Wearing the Right Eye Protection

Pickleball DoublesWhat?! You’ve never heard of pickleball? Then clearly you fall somewhere between too young (under 55) and too old (over 15). If that’s you, you’re missing out! Because although pickleball has been around for nearly 50 years, it’s finally enjoying its moment in the sun as the popular and exciting sport topping the recreational charts at opposite ends of the age spectrum: kids and active seniors.

Pickleball can best be described as a fun, fast, and quirky combo of tennis, ping pong, and badminton. It’s played inside or out on any hard surface at least the size of a badminton court (20′×44′). A net, similar to tennis, is mounted 36” high on the ends and 34” in the middle; and a large wooden paddle, resembling something Paul Bunyan might need for a ping pong match, is used to volley a special polymer wiffle ball back and forth over the net.


A History Almost as Fun as the Game Itself

Pickleball was invented during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island by Joel Pritchard, then Washington State congressman, and his two friends, William Bell and Barney McCallum. The three returned from golf to a yard full of bored kids. Unable to find any birdies for badminton, the men scrounged up a wiffle ball, lowered the net, and cut out over-sized paddles from discarded plywood.

Watching the men improvise a game made from leftover scraps, Joel’s wife, Joan Pritchard, said it reminded her of the sport of crew’s “pickle boat”, the boat in which the team of oarsmen are made up from the leftovers of the other boats. Unfortunately instead, an erroneous — but ever-popular — story is told today, which claims the game was named after the family dog. In this misconstrued version, the wiffle ball belonged to Pickles the dog, who would chase after errant shots and then run off with it. It’s said that “Pickles’ Ball” morphed into “pickleball”. It’s a good story, but the truth is that the Pritchard family didn’t even own a dog until 1967 and actually named the dog after their personally-invented favorite family sport. Joan Pritchard attempted to correct the inaccurate story in later interviews, but this version persists nonetheless.


The Popularity of Pickleball

Pickleball For The Whole FamilyChildren and seniors are particularly attracted to pickleball because of it’s accessibility. First, the speed of the ball typically moves at about one-third the speed of a tennis ball; and second, the size of the court is about one-third of the area of a tennis court. These two factors make pickleball much easier to play.

The game’s popularity in retirement communities is due in part to its lack of stress on the body. The smaller court requires far less lateral movement than tennis, and when playing doubles, players have only one small area to protect, rather than running back and forth to defend a large space. The game is also easy on the wrists. The lightweight wiffle ball pops off the hard wooden paddle, so even the lightest tap sends the ball over the net, negating any strain on the joints. According to Ted Robbins of National Public Radio, pickleball has inspired many players to petition that it become part of the Senior Olympics.


Pickleball Equipment

A paddle ($10 to $80), a dozen balls ($12 to $25), and a net (if needed: $60 to $200) are the three basic pieces of equipment essential to the game, but they are no more important than proper eye protection, especially considering the game’s popularity as an outdoor sport for children and seniors:


How to Play Pickleball

As seen in this YouTube video, a physical education teacher introduces the game of pickleball played with either 2 or 4 players. The ball is served underhand, diagonally, starting from the right-hand side of the court to the opponent’s serve zone. Points may only be scored by the serving side and occur when the opponent fails to return ball, hits it out of bounds, etc.. The server continues, alternating serving zones, until they flub. The first side to eleven points, ahead by at least two, wins.

When your pickleball game is good enough to try some advanced moves, this funny YouTube video featuring Dirty Dick and Halo Herb will demonstrate a few trick shots you’ll definitely want to work into your game!


Give Pickleball a Go!

So get out there with your friends and grandchildren and try something new this spring and summer! Take the fastest-growing sport in the country for a spin, and remember to wear your eye protection for sun and safety while enjoying the fun of camaraderie, fresh air, and exercise.

It’s Official: Protective Eyewear Now Required For Field Hockey

Field Hockey Goggles

Cage style goggles are no longer permitted for field hockey use.

Even the roughest, toughest field hockey warrior doesn’t want to ruin her pretty face, does she?  But racing around a pitch, dodging hard swinging sticks and fast flying balls without proper eye protection may be asking for it.  In fact, every 13 minutes, US emergency rooms treat a sports-related eye injury.  These injuries range from corneal abrasions and blunt trauma, to penetrating injuries which may cause temporary or even permanent vision loss.  Fortunately, proper eye protection can prevent 90 percent of all eye injuries.

With approximately 64,000 athletes participating in high school field hockey, eye protection has become a hot topic.  Girls have become stronger and are capable of hitting the ball faster and harder every year.  More teams are “lifting” the ball to advance it up the pitch, increasing players’, parents’, and coaches’ fears about eye injury and concussion.  Because of these increased risks, many private-school leagues across the country began requiring protective eyewear as far back as 1999.

Being a ground-based game, field hockey requires excellent downward and side vision for good technique, maximum reaction time, and safety. Field Hockey Eyewear that doesn’t adversely affect an athlete’s peripheral and downward vision are essential.

This type of protective eyewear is now, as of the 2011-12 season, a mandate for public schools nationwide. Issued in April by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the new rules require all high school field hockey participants to wear field hockey approved protective eyewear.

Field Hockey Rule 1-6-5c, ART. 5 states:

All field hockey players shall wear eye protection that meets the current American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM F2713-09) standard for field hockey with either of the following products:

  • Polycarbonate lens protective eyewear
  • Wire protective eyewear
  • Protective eyewear must be worn at all times during practice and in games.

Additionally, players are allowed to wear a face mask along with their eye protection for penalty corners, but the mask must be made of fiberglass or plastic and be the style that is molded to the face, rounded at all points and without sharp edges. It is important to note, however, that at this time, manufactures of face masks are not required to meet any type of standard testing protocols.  Eyewear manufactures do not test their products with face masks included, and so players who choose to combine the two products assume all responsibility for wearing them together.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) and USA Field Hockey have also approved a newly revised set of guidelines:

  • Athletes  no longer need a medical reason for wearing approved eye protection.
  • All field hockey protective eyewear must meet the current American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard for field hockey.
  • If worn, face masks must be smooth, transparent or white, or otherwise dark and plain-colored, and must fit flush with the face.
  • Soft protective head covering is allowed
  • Plastic goggles with a soft covered frame and plastic lenses are allowed.

Please note that neither the International Hockey Federation, nor USA Field Hockey allow for any cage-type goggles or other protection that protrudes from the face, as these pose a danger to other players if a collision should occur. You can find more information from this USA Field Hockey document.

(Updated: 8/30/2011)
According to a memo from B. Elliot Hopkins, MLD, CAA, Field Hockey Rules Editor for the National Federation of State High School Associations;

“The protective eyewear is distinguished by two different construction styles, polycarbonate lens style and a wire frame style. Both styles are acceptable for high school competition as long as they meet the ASTM F2713-09 standard”.

The perspective players, parents, and coaches are being asked to take is one of safety for their high school athletes. All questions should be direct to your local high school athletic director.

The following styles of Bangerz Eyewear are ASTM F2713-09 approved for Field Hockey use:

Bangerz Over-The-Glasses Eyeguard

Bangerz HS-3000 Eyeguard

Bangerz HS-6000 Goggle

Bangerz HS-5500 Eyeguard

Bangerz HS-7900 Eyeguard