Said to be the fastest growing sport in America, pickleball is getting lots of media attention. I am fascinated by the craze and have some ideas about why it has attracted so many people of all ages.
For years I played competitive tennis until I was hobbled by a torn Achilles and meniscus tears. Though told by the doctor to take up swimming and bicycling I couldn’t stay away from a court. Thankfully, I found pickleball and because it is played on a smaller court and requires less movement it’s been a great substitute, and I enjoy it much more than the recommended activities.
Playing pickleball has introduced me to many new people from 8 to 80+ which means the game has broad appeal. What is great is that no one is turned away. Pickleball players are incredibly welcoming which is a contrast to tennis where smiles and friendly faces are not always the norm.
Pickleball is an easy game to learn, and one can become reasonably proficient in a short period of time, quite different from developing skill at, say, tennis or golf. The real plus though is that it’s fun, really fun. Players, even top level ones, laugh and complement an opponents good shot. Rarely is there a grumpy person on the court and seldom are there questionable line calls. Having fun does not mean the game is not competitive as players always have a desire to win. As skills improve that is particularly true.
Another thing that makes sense about pickleball is that it requires less space than tennis which is particularly important in urban areas. Two pickleball courts can be lined on one tennis court. Tennis players don’t always like that, but where land is limited that is a lot of bang for the buck.
While there are so many positives about pickleball, there are some negatives. The game is played with a paddle so when the ball meets the hard surface there is a noise. Where pickleball courts are surrounded by houses, neighbors sometimes find the sound annoying. To me that’s rather like giving up sailing for a power boat. Once you get used to the noise, you don’t notice it.
Another negative is there has been an upturn in pickleball injuries particularly among older players who fall. My guess is that many who have taken the game up have little or no court experience. Thankfully, my years of tennis are beneficial when it comes to moving from side to side and backward and forward.
It sure looks lIke pickleball is here to stay and is just one more way to stay fit. If you haven’t tried it, do, but remember to warm up before playing and don’t try to do more than is comfortable until you get the hang of the game. Most of all enjoy the new people you meet and join them with a smile on your face.