These days, if you find yourself in a pickle, you’re probably in good company. Not to mention on a court, paddle in hand, trying to hit a ball over a net.
The pickleball craze sweeping the nation is not a new sport. In fact, it is nearly 57 years old and was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington State, and his friend Bill Bell. The story goes that Pritchard and Bell were looking for a way to entertain their families during a summer weekend at Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island. They had a badminton court, but no shuttlecock, so they improvised with a Wiffle ball and made paddles out of plywood that was on hand.
The game they created was a hybrid of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. The court was smaller than a tennis court, and the net was lower. The game is played with a lightweight ball, and players use paddles to hit the ball back and forth over the net. The name pickleball is said to come from the Pritchard family’s dog, Pickles, who would chase after the ball and run off with it.
Pickleball quickly caught on in the Pacific Northwest, and soon spread to other parts of the country. In 1972, the first known pickleball tournament was held in Tukwila, Washington, and by the 1980s, there were pickleball clubs and tournaments all over the United States.
Today, pickleball is played by millions of people of all ages in the United States and around the world. It is particularly popular among older adults, who appreciate the smaller court size and slower pace of the game. In recent years, there has been a push to make pickleball an Olympic sport, although it has not yet been included in the official Olympic program. In case you missed it, on Sunday, April 2nd, ESPN aired the inaugural Pickleball Slam that featured legendary tennis greats John McEnroe and Michael Chang vs. Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick. With a $1 million cash prize, and each player competing for $100k in charitable donations, it was a spectacular match to witness; McEnroe in true form and Agassi stating he loved the game. Oh, and spoiler alert, Agassi and Roddick were the victors!
Pickleball is a popular sport for all ages and abilities, particularly among seniors.
Some benefits of playing pickleball include:
- Improved cardiovascular health: Pickleball is a great way to get your heart rate up.
- Increased physical activity: Pickleball involves a lot of movement, which can help improve your overall physical fitness.
- Improved hand-eye coordination: The game requires quick reflexes and good hand-eye coordination, which can help improve these skills.
- Socialization: Pickleball is a social sport that you can play with family and friends, meet new people on the courts, or participate in pickleball mixers.
- Reduced stress: Playing the game can be a great way to reduce stress and improve your mental health.
Pickleball is a fun and accessible sport. After recently picking it up, I have to admit it has become a mild addiction! You can find public and private courts in your area, including local tennis and recreation centers, or public parks; some may charge a small fee and others will be free. Regardless of where you play, just get out and play!
To learn more about the game, and how to play, visit: https://thepickler.com/
To find a pickleball court near you visit: https://www.pickleheads.com/courts/us