What do rally car drivers and pickleball players have in common?

One of the most thrilling days of my life was a one-day course in rally car driving. The instructor told me there are two types of rally car drivers: Drivers that have flipped their car and drivers that haven’t flipped their car … yet.

That is how I feel about pickleball players and eye injuries: either you’ve been hit in the eye or not yet.

It’s true that falls and sprains are the most common pickleball injuries, but getting hit in the face and eye is inevitable.

According to an article in Pickleball Magazine: “A pickleball can travel at one-third the velocity of a tennis ball, which means it can travel at about 40 mph. With two players at the no-volley line it takes 350-400 milliseconds, or less than half a second, for the ball to travel from one paddle to the other. In other words, you do not have time to avoid being hit in the eye with a ball.”

You have even less time when the ball is mishit by your partner and ricochets toward your face.

Local instructors are worried about it too. Gina Family preaches eye protection to all her students and occasionally sends out informative emails to her followers with recommendations on eyewear. Mary Pat Knepper, an instructor moving from Pittsfield, Mass., to Averhill Park, contacted me after two of her players recently suffered eye injuries, including one fellow who bled from his eye socket.

I wear prescription glasses which happen to be plastic. I know several people who wear cheap frames with no glass, an affordable way to protect yourself and avoid fogging issues. Polycarbonate, fog-resistant lenses are the best but more expensive option.

Back to rally car driving. I almost flipped the car during my lesson. I hit a 15-foot high berm at an … aggressive angle and I was on two wheels for a long time. But I was wearing a helmet, five-point seatbelt and eye protection!

Here are Gina’s recommendations for eyewear with links to Pickleball Galaxy:

Python Extreme View, $19.99​

Gearbox Vision, $39.99​
(Slim fit and different color lenses are available too)

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