When I learned recently that pickleball was a big favorite at a Florida active adult community, I have to confess I had never heard of it. Then I saw a short article in the USA Weekend magazine talking about how pickleball -- and other non-traditional sports -- are getting footholds on college campuses.
So what is this game that sounds like something you should eat not play? Pickleball was created back in the mid sixties by a couple of dads whose children were whining that they were bored. A fair description of the game would put it somewhere between badminton, ping-pong and tennis, although with less running, which makes it a favorite among older adults. In fact, pickleball is the fastest growing sport for seniors and incongruously, also a favorite in physical education classes for elementary students
The game is played on a court the size of a doubles badminton court. Participants use wood or composite paddles to hit perforated plastic baseballs (think wiffleballs) over the net which has been lowered to about 34 inches.
There’s an official pickleball association (www.usapa.org) with official rules and such and its need for minimal equipment and costs has only added to its popularity. There are over 30 registered courts in the country in 12 different states.
As one sports professional says, and I paraphrase, any game that gets adults and children moving is a good thing.
Oh, and why is it called pickleball? It was named after the family pet owned by one of the creators of the game. His dog kept scooping up the ball and running into the bushes when the kids were playing that long ago summer: “Pickles, get back here with that ball!” The name stuck.
By Teresa K. Flatley