Is Pickleball a Sport for You? The Answer is YES!

By Melissa Hansen

Pickleball is the fastest growing racquet sport in the United States, with devoted players of all ages. The U.S. Sports & Fitness Association reports that in 2017, pickleball players numbered 2.815 million, with an annual increase of about 12%. Despite the game's increasing popularity, there are several false assumptions about pickleball: No, pickles are not involved in any manner, including the racquet shape.

Pickleball is the brainchild of the Pritchard family who was playing around in the backyard when their kids were bored during the summer of 1965. Joan Pritchard coined the name, saying that the sport reminded her of the pickle sailboats that finish last in a race. The story of the origin of the name has since evolved. The Pritchard's bought a cocker spaniel a year or so after they invented the game, and the dog loved running after the ball. So, they named him Pickles. Now you know the whole story behind the silly name for a great sport!

Let's talk about the game itself. Pickleball is played on a hard court about the size of a badminton one, which is about a quarter the size of a tennis court. It uses solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated plastic ball resembling a whiffle ball. The ball measures about 3" in diameter. In contrast, tennis uses a slightly smaller ball covered in felt. Pickleball attire is not fancy. Put on your favorite t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers (and bring a water bottle).

So now that you have the equipment, let's discuss the basic rules. Like tennis, pickleball can be played as a singles or doubles game. Unlike tennis, however, the serve motion is a low, underhand swing made from behind a baseline. You only get one serve, and the opponent must let the ball bounce once before returning it. If the serve is "out" or not returned, it is the opposing team's turn. You can only score on your team's serve, and someone must say the score aloud before each serve. Usually, the game is played to 11 points and must be won by 2 points.

Enough details! Let's discuss why pickleball is so much fun and so good for you. Pickleball is:

  • Easy! It is an uncomplicated, easy game to learn. Most people can pick it up after only a few games. There are fewer technical skills and less finesse involved than tennis, although increasingly there are competitive pickleball players.
  • Fun for all ages! Pickleball is really great for all ages. Junior leagues have sprung up, attesting to the game's gaining popularity among kids.
  • Social! You'll always hear chitchat, laughter, and encouragement among the players. At The Club at Olde Cypress, pick-up games are easy to find and we are always working to create a social and festive environment that surrounds the game.
  • Great exercise! Pickleball is excellent exercise, with all the benefits of lowered blood pressure and gains in muscle strength. And it is so much fun that you'll feel the release of endorphins, the "happy hormones."
  • Longer rallies with less running! The court is small, so there are more chances for long rallies. There is also less running around and chasing after balls.

Now, it is time for you to give pickleball a try! And, pickleball is another reason to join a private country club. At The Club at Olde Cypress, we have experienced a surge in members' participation led by our Head Professional, Christie Pollin. "Being in a pickle" no longer means being in a difficult situation. It means playing a recreational game that is fun, social, and healthy. Come join the fun!