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Junior PPA kid playing pickleball at PPA Masters 2024
A Junior PPA competitor in Palm Springs earlier this year. PPA Tour

Junior PPA Parent Tip: Balancing life and pickleball

DALLAS, TX – From spelling bees to playing a musical instrument, kids have a variety of hobbies. 

As much as we'd love to prioritize pickleball above all else, Junior PPA competitors have side interests away from the court, too.

Balancing school, pickleball, and a whole host of other extracurriculars can obviously be tricky.

With that in mind, a few Junior PPA parents shared some of their insights on the subject.

“My son plays six times a week for a half an hour to an hour. That keeps him fresh and nimble. It’s key for him to play a lot, but a little. Only an hour a day works best for him,” said Daniela Eisman, mother of 12-year-old Bennett Miller. 

It can be challenging to keep everything on track from time to time, though.

“It’s definitely tough and it’s a sacrifice,” continued Eisman. “I drove to Palm Springs for the first Junior PPA tournament and it was two-and-a-half hours there and back in order to get him to school because he had the spelling bee the next day.”

Mother and son pose with silver medals at pickleball tournaments
Daniella Eisman and Bennett Miller at the Junior PPA Masters Tournament. Daniella Eisman

As a pickleball parent, Eisman reminded herself that maintaining a sense of balance in her life is equally important as well.

“Sometimes I’m out of balance and I push myself too much, and then my son pushes himself too much, too. We try to have restorative days to relax, watch TV, and just chill,” she shared.

Remembering to rest is pivotal for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even for youngsters with endless energy on the court.

For Doria Anselmo, mom of 14-year-old Jake Marusak, it’s all about logistics.

“We’re lucky. Jake’s dad and I both work during his school hours, so after school hours, I’m a “momager” shuttling back and forth to activities,” explained Anselmo. 

Along with pursuing his pickleball dreams, Jake has a passion for playing electric guitar and loves his local school of rock. Two very different hobbies with very different demands can co-exist, however.

“We always have the pickleball bag in the car. We have an extra net, clothes, pickleball shoes, and extra water. We’re just always ready to go from one to the other,” mentioned Anselmo.

When it comes down to it, a top priority for these pickleball parents and their kids is remembering that the sport is all about having fun.

For Ricky Thais, father of 13-year-old Rex Thais, enjoyment matters most.

Rex Thais playing pickleball
Junior PPA athlete Rex Thais at work. Ricky Thais

“When he plays tournaments, he’s in the zone, but when he does rec play with his friends, that’s when you see the kid come out in him. Some parents want their kids to be in the zone all the time, but they have to be kids. If they’re hitting lob shots, shots between their legs, and laughing – they’re just having fun. Don’t be so hard on them. There are times to be serious and times to have fun,” said Thais.

Ricky sees his Rex’s involvement with pickleball as a win-win. It’s a sport Rex can play for years to come, and he gets to watch him steadily develop his skills and compete.

“If for whatever reason it doesn’t work out in the end, I still get to spend a ton of quality time with my son. And he’ll have a sport that he can use for the rest of his life. Not to mention the connections and friends he’ll make along the way. I always want to make sure he’s a kid having fun,” insisted Thais.

Balancing it all can be difficult, but great memories will undoubtedly be made along the way.

Click here to find the nearest Junior PPA tournament near you.

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