What in the World is Pickleball?

Yes, there is actually a USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) and you don’t need to like pickles to participate in the game. Pickleball is described as a court game of angles and strategies, of position and speed and is enjoying huge increases in popularity with seniors, school kids and families. The name was created by one of the families who founded the sport in 1965 who had a dog named Pickles that would occasionally grab the ball. 

Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic ball similar to a whiffle ball and wood or composite paddles about twice the size of ping-pong paddles. It can be played indoors or outdoors, is easy for beginners to learn – but can develop into a fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players. In addition to being fun, the game has developed a reputation for its friendly and social nature.

While pickleball is often played in PE classes in schools, the sport has really caught on with the senior scene.  Retirement communities today are often building more pickleball courts than tennis courts and frequently feature them in their marketing materials and support on-site pickleball clubs.  Pickleball is now a featured sport in many state Senior Olympic Games – and the competition is fierce. 

Pickleball is played by all ages and has become a popular sport in schools and senior centers. The smaller court size and inter-generational appeal makes it perfect for backyard courts. Of course the health and fitness benefits, as in any sport, can’t go unnoticed. In early June the Pickeball Assocaiton help their first week long celebration.

“We are extremely excited about the first International Pickleball Week,” said Bill Booth, president of the USA Pickleball Association. “The sport of pickleball is really catching on across the world and is particularly popular with seniors. We intend to celebrate the growth of the sport with our fellow players throughout the world, including locations in Canada, Mexico and India.”

The USAPA was created in 2005 to promote the sport. It maintains the official rules, sanctions tournaments, provides player rankings and produces the annual National Pickleball Tournament. It is run by a volunteer board of directors and supported by thousands of dues paying members. Over 300 regional and local ambassadors promote the sport at a local level, providing information and training.

If you’re interested in starting your own pickleball group, the 2010 USAPA Grant program will provide funds to subsidize training programs for school students, local residents, organizations or individuals who are novices to Pickleball and do not belong to a Pickleball club or other organized group. The USAPA will also provide speakers to introduce and demonstrate the sport to industry associations and other interested groups on a local, regional and national basis. www.USAPA.org.

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