Pickleball: The latest in Competitive Socializing

According to the USA Pickleball Association, Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, Washington. Three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum — whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities — are credited for creating the game. 

Pickleball has evolved from original handmade equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout the US and Canada. The game is growing internationally as well, with many European and Asian countries adding courts.

The Basics of Pickleball

  1. It combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.
  2. It can be played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court with a slightly modified tennis net.
  3. The game is played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.
  4. It can be played as doubles or singles.
  5. All ages and skill levels are welcome

One can find more detailed rules and play information on the USAPickleball website.

Who’s Playing Pickleball?

Pickleball is that sport that many people are playing, but most people have never heard of. Or if they have heard of it, they think only grandma is playing it.

In 2017, 3.13 million people in the U.S. were playing pickleball. Pickleball has had a 650 percent increase in numbers over the last six years. And the largest part of that growth is not in the over-60 crowd, but with a younger crowd. “When the sport first caught on in the sunbelt states around 2009,” says Justin Maloof, executive director of USAPA, “it was at 55-plus centers and RV communities. It snowballed from there. But these days, there are many municipalities and parks and rec departments that are setting up courts, making it accessible to a younger crowd.”

Pickleball Can be Healthy and Fun!

The game is quick, making it a convenient way to get in some exercise. Games can typically run just 15 minutes long — which allows you to get in as little or as much exercise as you want.  That is what has made this such a fast growing sport.

Additionally, the game is reported to help stave off depression. According to AARP reporting, a Japanese study published in the journal Leisure Studies in May focused on 153 older adults competing in pickleball tournaments and found that the “serious leisure” activity was associated with lower levels of depression. Researchers surmised that the benefit may be related to, among other things, social connections made during the games.

It’s also credited with improving blood pressure and cardiorespiratory fitness. It offers aerobic exercise, giving players the chance to move around on the court at any level of intensity they’d like.

How to Start Playing

The game is also very affordable, making it easy for players of all ages and incomes to participate. A beginner can buy a basic wooden paddle and balls at most sports retailers or online for around $40. Many communities are retrofitting existing tennis courts to accommodate Pickleball. And leagues are popping up across the country. Even retail locations are opening across the country to provide food and entertainment venues to support the game.

There is no shortage of information online about this sport. Beyond the USA Pickleball Association website, there are numerous articles and educational YouTube videos that help educate new players to the rules and strategies of the game.

So, now that you know more about this new and exciting game, its time to get out there and play!

Are you playing Pickleball? If so, share your experiences with the game below in the comments.

Photo: AARP

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