A sport is born!

I knew right away when I was introduced to Quick Start Tennis (QST) at the USTA Eastern Convention in January that there was a adult game lurking inside this children’s instructional system. It was just too much fun to let the kids have all to themselves!

Quick Start uses a smaller court with everything proportional (smaller racquets, lower net) except for the ball, which is an over-sized nerf ball. The nerf ball is the key to the game because its light weight and large aerodynamics profile make it slow down in flight, but it also bounces quite high.

That may be good for young children, but it also makes it perfect for a new racquet sport which I have invented called bashball (or as some call it, Biffball). Bashball is a combination of tennis and dodge ball. Since it is very difficult to put the nerf ball away, the best strategy (especially in doubles) is to smash the ball and try to hit your opponent with it!

Of course that’s a good strategy in regular tennis as well, but you have to worry about hitting someone in the wrong spot and causing serious injury. In bashball that is not a problem since it would be impossible to hurt someone with the lightweight nerf ball.

The generous bounce of the nerf also makes it the perfect game to be played on the not-yet-perfect lawn tennis surface at our club. I planted 25 pounds of creeping bentgrass in April, however the grass has not yet crept enough to cover all the bare spots. The court is also still a little uneven with an occasional stone poking through.

No matter! The nerf is big enough to bounce quite predictably most of the time, and when it doesn’t, well that’s the nature of lawn tennis, get used to it! I have played two doubles matches and one singles match so far, and the universal verdict is that this game is a gas!

Of course, I had to change the name of the game to get people to try it. Our macho male club members were not about to be caught dead playing a “children’s game”, but once they tried bashball they were hooked! I predict that this game has the potential to do what snowboarding did to skiing, convert a whole group of participants to a new way of enjoying the sport. Warning: Bashball may be addicting!

Although it can be a good work out, it is also a good choice for those with limited mobility. At age 58, I really can’t cover the court well enough to play competitive singles on a full size court, but I had no trouble playing singles last night on the smaller bashball court. Additional warning: Grass surfaces are slippery, but the good news is, if you do fall, you will have a soft landing!

One of the interesting things about QST (and bashball) is that it does not have to be played with real lines. Small plastic line markers are layed down to indicate where the corners are, but the players must interpolate where the actual line might be. Strangely, this results in more generous interpretation of whether a ball is in. Since it is not possible to know exactly where the line is, the tendency is to play anything that is close. If only real tennis was so generous!

Bashball may be good training for real tennis, but that’s not really the point for advanced players. Sure, the bang-bang nature of volleys smashed at point blank range may be good for tuning up your reflexes. When you can serve, volley and smash the ball on a lawn court, however, for that one shining moment you can feel like you are John McEnroe taking on Bjorn Borg at Center Court at Wimbleton. It doesn’t get any better than that!

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