Millions relishing pickleball
In many parts of the country, spring is starting to bloom. It’s a great time of year to meet a friend or family member for a hike, walk, swim, bike ride, round of golf or tennis match.
If you’re looking for a new activity, give pickleball a try. Even though the sport began as a family activity in the mid-’60s, it’s growing in popularity now. There is minimal equipment to buy, games can be played at outdoor or indoor tennis courts, and virtually anyone can play.
The basics. Pickleball combines elements of badminton, table tennis and tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or high-tech aerospace materials to hit a ball – similar to but smaller than a wiffle ball – over a net. Pickleball shares features of other racket sports: the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, and a net and rules somewhat similar to tennis.
The rules. Singles and doubles contests are similar, too. Pickleball games are usually played to either 11 or 15 points, with the winner needing to be ahead by at least two points. Serves are underhand, done crosscourt and must bounce. The receiving team returns it after one bounce, then the teams volley.
My experience. I recently had the opportunity to try the game courtesy of Baddle, a pickleball sport-and-lifestyle brand that sells gear and apparel. Baddle also just released a special-edition U.S. Army pickleball paddle honoring those who serve. I got to represent my military branch and made some new friends at the same time.
It was easy to find a court through my local parks-and-recreation website. After watching some YouTube tutorials, I enlisted a friend to play. I figured it would be easy, since I play tennis and have a fair amount of experience with table tennis. But there was definitely a learning curve with pickleball. I had some trouble figuring out how high the ball would bounce, since it is less bouncy than a tennis ball or table tennis ball.
Pickleball is great exercise, and the small court makes it easy to keep a rally. We quickly got the hang of it and struck up some conversations with other players on the courts. I definitely see the appeal. It feels more laid back than tennis and made for an enjoyable afternoon without being overly competitive.
Learn more about this popular activity at usapickleball.org.
Army veteran Jennifer Campbell is a certified personal trainer with a master’s degree in nutrition education. She is commander of the California American Legion’s 24th District.