Poetry in Pickleball

June 28, 2023

Story by Anthony Garzilli
Poem by Doug Snelson I Illustration by Jim Ditmars

The soft game

Play the soft game, play it real hard.
Dink your heart out, withhold your card.                                              
Dink so careful, stay in your yard.
Dink to reset, always on guard.
Play the soft game, paddle, push, kiss.
Dink with intent, make it your bliss.                                                      
Dink very deep, slow the abyss.                                                      
Dink very short, make them submiss.
Play the soft game, play til they miss.

There’s poetry in pickleball.

Doug Snelson, a resident of Hampton Lake in Bluffton, is an avid pickleball player. His passion for the sport is exemplified in his latest book of poetry, “Pickleball Poetry: Fun and Whimsical Verses to Dink About.”

Snelson, whose career included an extensive background in healthcare publishing and communications, has written and published five books: three children’s books and two books of poetry.  

Each poem in “Pickleball Poetry” tells a short story about the experiences of pickleball — techniques, psychology, physical attributes and various emotions. The subtitle, “Fun and Whimsical Verses to Dink About,” refers to a core shot technique called “dinking.”

The subtitle also refers to the double meaning for the poetry collection, referring to the “thinking” that makes the game fun and challenging, Snelson said.

He also worked with another pickleball player, a former New York Times freelance illustrator, Jim Ditmars, to subtly illuminate the meaning of the poems.

Snelson said he was inspired to write the book after a morning session of pickleball.

“I wrote whimsical, rhyming stream of consciousness phrases and thoughts about the morning pickleball session,” he said. “The rhymes became short poems.”