No sooner had she stepped out of the limo, Ellen Goltzer of The Golden Bachelor had already charmed the audience with her lively demeanor and wit.
A former health educator turned pickleball team leader, she swiftly became a beloved figure among fans and even turned the head of The Golden Bachelor himself, Gerry Turner.
Her unexpected departure before the hometown dates left viewers stunned, sparking a fervent desire among many for her to return to our TV screens, ideally as the Golden Bachelorette!
While vying for Gerry’s affection, Ellen demonstrated not only her dating prowess but also her formidable skills on the pickleball court, triumphing with Kathy in a tournament during a group date.
Although Katie is a keen pickleballer, she recognizes the sport carries its share of risks, evident from a few mishaps witnessed on ‘The Golden Bachelor’ – even if one incident might have been only an attention-grabber.
Given her background as a former gym teacher and current pickleball captain, Ellen is a fount of valuable knowledge about the sport and physical activity in general.
How It All Began
Sara Levine from Katie Couric Media recently chatted to her about all things pickleball and started by asking Ellen how she began playing:
“I had retired from teaching health at a Long Island middle school, and I wanted to stay active. I wasn’t ready to do the golf thing.
“My friends were [playing pickleball], and I said, ‘You know what, let’s give it a shot.’ It just was great. It was something I could do; it didn’t hurt my body, and it made me feel active.
“I didn’t feel like I was going to the gym and doing sit-ups; I felt like I was having fun and exercising at the same time.”
Pickleball’s popularity is going through the roof at the moment, and Ellen was quite clear about why exactly that is:
“I used to teach it in the 80s in high school Phys Ed when it first came out, and the kids just didn’t like it. Then, all of a sudden, people started playing it again.
“The older generation realized, ‘Oh my god, this is something I can do.’ They can get the ball over the net, which is an accomplishment in itself when you’re in your 60s and 70s. So it just took off like a bat out of hell.”
We’ve featured several articles about pickleball health, including how to warm up and avoid injury. As a former gym teacher, Ellen is well-placed to offer some advice about the benefits of pickleball:
“First of all, it’s a very good sport for people who want to stay active without overdoing it. It’s fairly easy if you stick to the guidelines.
“What causes injuries is that people forget they’re not 25 years old — they feel like they are because they can hit the ball over the net. But they’re not. Everybody needs to take a couple of lessons to get the foundation on how it’s played.
“It’s not like tennis — it’s a totally different game. It’s more like ping-pong. It’s a little bit easier to play, which can lead to overconfidence.”
Balancing The Physical And the Technical
Thinking about your correct approach to the game is very important as pickleball is quite technical, and players must master the delicate balance of skill and athletic endeavor if they are to be successful.
As a pickleball veteran, Ellen knows a thing or two about the right application of technique and physical exertion:
“You have to be really careful because people overestimate their ability, and they can go for shots that they really shouldn’t go for. If you’re not a few feet away from something, let it go, she said.”
“Never, never, never go backward. You can turn your body to the side and shuffle, but you cannot go backward because you’re going to lose your balance.
“If you play it sensibly, logically, and for fun, where you just want to get some exercise and have a good time, that’s fine. If you want to be the hero and get shots you can’t make, it’s going to be very dangerous.
Don’t Neglect The Warm-Up
As we’ve already mentioned, the physical build-up to your game is very important and should not be ignored or forgotten. Warming up can mean the difference between an enjoyable and rewarding session and one that ends prematurely with you out injured for a period of time.
Ellen is a master of getting those muscles nice and loose:
“I think people forget to stretch. They forget that you’re using a lot of the leg and back muscles, so you need to do a few light lunges and small leg lifts.
“Grab onto the knee and pull your leg in to get the quads and the hamstring stretched out. Then, do some serves to get the arm muscles moving before they get into a game. Just stretch a little for five or 10 minutes.
“Overall, the most important thing is to listen to what your brain is telling you. If you know you’re putting yourself in a precarious position, don’t do it.
“It’s not like we’re playing for the Olympics — I don’t think pickleball is going to be in the Golden Olympics anytime soon. Maybe The Golden Bachelor, but I’m not so sure about the Golden Olympics!”
Behind The Scenes
She finishes by giving us a little insight into how the rest of the Golden Bachelor cast reacted to the pickleball element of the show:
“They all said to me, ‘If you hadn’t won that pickleball match, you wouldn’t have been able to come home.’ But the truth is, it was fun.
“Nobody cared about winning or losing. It was really more fun than competitive. During the time we were playing, my castmates didn’t really know the rules that well.
“For example, someone from the other team has to move up to the net if I’m serving to them, and they didn’t know that, so I would encourage those people to move up. Even Gerry said, ‘You know, you were coaching the other team.’
“He said that was really nice. I said, ‘Well, what can I tell you? I’m a gym teacher at heart; I can’t help it.’
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