The Pickleball Explosion
Updated: Feb 12, 2022
Credit: The VillagesFL (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/Pickleball_Players.jpg)
Pickleball, according to Lt. Gov. Joel Pritchard, the man who invented the game that's making waves across the United States, has nothing to do with pickles. He also didn’t name the game after his beloved dog Pickles. It was actually the other way around.
“I said we needed a nutty name. Something like pickle-ball,” said Pritchard
In 1965 on Bainbridge Island in Washington, Pickleball, as it would become known, was born. Pritchard wanted to create a fun, easy game for his wife and children to play together.
“This was a game we made up for fun, a game kids could play and that kids in the inner city could play,'' Pritchard said. “It's a great party game. Anyone can learn in 20 minutes how to hit the ball and have fun.”
20 minutes might be on the long side. Pickleball amounts to basically super-sized ping-pong. Maybe mini-tennis.
Pickleball can be played with two or four players, with each team standing on opposite ends of a 44 x 20-foot court (about half the size of a tennis court). A net bisects the court and the non-volley zone (affectionately known as the “kitchen”) extends seven feet in either direction from the net. Why is it referred to as the “kitchen”? You’ll just have to play and find out!
Since being invented back in ‘65, Pickleball has exploded in popularity, becoming a staple activity for people of all ages, but especially older folk looking to get a good workout without needing tremendous lateral agility. Still, having tremendous lateral agility doesn’t hurt.
The beauty of Pickleball is that it can be played by anyone with any level of skill and they can still have a good time. The pickle-ball itself, which looks a lot like a wiffle-ball, moves slowly in the air, so you don’t need to have the fastest reflexes. The court isn’t humongous, so you don’t need to be Usain Bolt to get to the other side in a hurry. The “kitchen” prevents opponents from crowding the net, so players always have good visibility.
The recent growth of Pickleball has spurred on the creation of a new event in Florida, The Minto US Open Pickleball Championship in Naples. Taking place from April 23 - April 30, 2022, The US Open Pickleball Championship will feature some of the premier Pickleballers from around the country and the world, in addition to many other events for those of lower skill levels. If you haven’t accepted what a craze this game has become, consider this: over $100,000 in prize money will be awarded at the Open. Jackpot!
Pickleball is quickly becoming a staple game at community parks and country clubs alike. It’s a game that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone, and that’s a wonderful thing. If you haven’t already, take some time to check out the Pickleball courts near you. They might be more crowded than you think.