Let’s Play Pickleball!
Story by Ann Butenas
What happens when parts of tennis, badminton and ping-pong collide? You get pickleball! You may have heard of this headlining sport. Some of you may have even played a game or two. But if you’re not familiar with it, you will be soon, as pickleball is making waves and catching the attention of sports enthusiasts the world over.
What Exactly is Pickleball?
Recognized as the fastest-growing sport in America, pickleball is played with a whiffle ball on a court roughly the size of a badminton court using a net that is about two inches shorter than a tennis net. The unique rules of the game allow for fun for people of all ages to compete successfully and have a great time. Because of its straightforward rules and ease of play, players can have a great time with a sport that is inexpensive, healthy, and social. Plus, pickleball courts can be found throughout your community such as at community centers, local parks, athletic clubs and even backyard sport courts. Thousands of pickleball courts have been built across the country in recent years, with dozens here in Kansas City, and senior communities are a becoming an increasingly hot spot for the game.
Where did the Sport Originate?
Created in 1965 on Bainbridge Island just outside of Seattle, Washington, pickleball was developed to provide a sport the entire family could play. Its co-inventors include U.S. Congressman Joel Pritchard and friends William Bell and Barney McCallum. At its inception, the game was played in backyards on a hard surface or on driveways or residential cul-de-sacs. By the mid-1970s, pickleball had found its way in parks and recreation programs, camps, retirement communities, local YMCAs, and even prisons. Just as quickly as the senior community has gravitated towards the game, it is also enjoying increased popularity among high school and college-age students.
The Perks of the game!
Pickleball can be played as either singles or doubles. The doubles approach involves longer rallies, but its lower physical demands make it easier on those with less mobility and allows for great conversation while playing. The game is easy to learn but there are ample opportunities to improve and learn the subtle techniques of the game.
Playing pickleball gives players a chance to work on their balance, reflexes, agility, and hand-eye coordination without the worry of putting too much strain on your body. Pickleball is a fantastic alternative to older players who enjoyed playing tennis in the past but may currently have limited mobility due to hip, shoulder, knee, and other joint issues.
The rules for pickleball are simple, which makes it easy to learn the game and get out there quickly to enjoy it with others. It is appropriate for players of all skill levels and of all ages. However, it can become more challenging, fast-paced, and even competitive as people become more experienced at the game.
Equipment Required for Pickleball.
You will definitely need a paddle and some balls. The paddle faces are comprised of wood, graphite, or composites. The paddles are about eight inches wide and 15 inches long with smooth, hard surfaces. The balls used are similar to whiffle balls – plastic with holes – and are about the same size as baseballs. (Don’t attempt to use an actual whiffle ball when playing pickleball, however, as it is not as durable as the type of ball used in pickleball and can split during a game.) A standard pickleball court is 20 feet wide and 40 feet long. To give you more of a visual of its size, four pickleball courts can fit in the same area as one tennis court.
The Sport for Everyone.
There is nothing elitist about pickleball at all. It invites people from all social and economic statuses who are ready for a bit of exercise, while enjoying time with others. Playing styles vary, and many may not even be the most athletic of people. Pickleball is an easy game to get started in, and as they say, “Pickle!”
ONIX Z5 Graphite Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle
$89.99 | amazon.com
TRU 32 Ball – 2 Pack
$6.49 | wilson.com
Pickleball Tote Bag, Variety of Styles
Starting at $136 | georgieandlou.com
Pickleball Paddle Cover
$20 | shoppickleballonline.com