You may or may not be familiar with the word pickleball. Pickle what? Pickleball. That's right.
It is trending right now, as far as sports go and is the the fastest growing sport in the nation.
If you have never seen or heard of it, you soon will. So what is this sport that has such an odd name?
Pickleball is a hybrid sport of tennis and ping pong, but has a few key differences. The game is
played on a court that is about half the size of a tennis court — or the same size as a badminton court.
The net that stretches across the court is very similar to a tennis net, although it is slightly shorter.
Just like most racquet or paddle sports, pickleball is generally played by two or four players.
Unlike Tennis, but like Table Tennis, pickleball is played with a paddle, not a racquet.
Paddles are on average, about 15 inches long and made out of everything from wood and plastic to proprietary polymers and metal.
Pickleball paddles are required to have a fairly smooth, solid surface. Pickleball is played on both indoor and outdoor courts.
The only variations are the balls and the playing surface. The indoor pickleball is slightly smaller than the outdoor and is
made out of slightly softer plastic to help grip on the wood floors on which it’s played. The outdoor pickleball is made of
harder plastic and is comparable to a wiffle-ball, having holes in the solid, plastic exterior. Outdoor courts are often made by
converting old tennis courts, thus having the same, rough texture. Here is a little video with multiple levels of pickleball
being played to visualize all we have talked about so far.
Pickleball was invented in 1965 by congressman Joel Pritchard at his home on BainBridge Island near Seattle WA. The game was first played
with Ping Pong paddles and a wiffle ball on a badminton court with the net lowered. From there, the game has slowly evolved into what it
is today. There are a number of different theories as to how pickleball got its name. The most common theory is that it was named after the
Pritchard’s dog, Pickles. Other sources say that pickleball was named after the pickle boat — the boat where the oarsmen were picked from
what was left over from other boats and that the dog was named later, after the game. Since the game was played with parts from other
racquet / paddle sports, the comparison is easy to see. Today, pickleball is played by hundreds of thousands, and by some estimates,
millions of people around the United States and around the world. Regardless of its origin, pickleball’s unique name hints at the fun
atmosphere that is experienced by all who play.
Pickleball is easy for beginners to learn, and can attract any age or gender. The game of pickleball is fun for everyone and can be played
at many different levels. It can be played as a fun family game, where the pace is quite slow. But, it can also develop into a quick,
fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players. Anyone that has played other racquet sports such as ping pong, tennis or racquetball,
will adapt quickly to this game. Pickleball is a game that can be played by all ages at the same time. Because the court is smaller than a tennis court, speed and agility are only a
small part of what it takes to win. Other factors such as hand eye coordination, ball placement, and anticipatory shots play a much bigger role in determining
skill level and because of this, pickleball has become very popular in the retirement communities and for those age 55+. Retired persons are commonly
seen in very competitive matches with much younger, more agile athletes and very regularly win. Also, the social nature of pickleball
is part of the allure that is causing so many people to play the game and become infatuated with it.