PICKLE BALL: A Great Sport That Anyone Can Play & Enjoy
by Michael Rossoff
Pickle Ball has been a joy and a valuable support in my life during the past two years. In my mind, it’s a great sport that most everyone can enjoy.
One key part about Pickle Ball is that it stimulates both brain and body because it’s often a fast moving game that requires a quick response. I’ve benefited from the friendly interaction and camaraderie with other fellow players.
The game originated by three fathers in the Seattle area in 1965. They created and refined the rules in order to make a game for their kids. The name, Pickle Ball, is said to have come about because one of the fathers had a dog named “Pickle” that liked to chase the ball.
Some people say that Pickle Ball is a sport for aging guys but in my town of Asheville, NC, at least 40% to 50% of players are women. And they are often as good or better than the men!
I started playing Pickle Ball in early 2019, inspired by my brother-in-law. It has lots of similarities with tennis and ping-pong, but is totally unique. There are many public places to play, like the YMCA and local recreation centers in my town of Asheville, NC. And now there are private clubs, too.
With Covid restrictions, many of the indoor places are closed, but some private clubs remain open while requiring social distancing and mask wearing. Meanwhile, some people are playing outdoors on public tennis courts.
While I experienced playing tennis in my teens and a few times in the past 20 years, there are many factors that make Pickle Ball special. Here is why it has become so popular:
- The court is about ¼ the size of a tennis court.
- The ball that is used in playing Pickle Ball is about 3 inches in diameter and is made of hard plastic that is hollow in the middle and has holes around the outside, somewhat like a wiffle ball. If it hits you, it can hurt, so all the more reason to stay alert!
- You play as a team, 2 against 2.
- You don’t need to run much, though you need to be quick and ready.
- Certain rules keep the game more “friendly” such as—
- The serve must be underhand.
- The ball must bounce once on the serve and again on the return.
- To prevent someone from running up to the net and slamming the ball back, there is a 7-foot distance from the net, called the “no-volley zone” or “kitchen”, where you cannot step unless the ball bounces in there first.
- At the end of the game, all players come to the net and tap their paddles as a sign of good sportsmanship and friendliness.
- You don’t need to go with anyone, since you pair up with strangers and introduce yourself by first name.
- The only equipment you need to buy is a paddle (ranging from $50-150). Any outfit is fine.
There are over three million people in America playing Pickle Ball and it’s considered the fastest growing sport in the country. I’ve enjoyed playing with so many different people, men and women from 15 to upper 80’s in age. And some of the best players may be overweight or slow to move. My only disappointment is that I’ve never played on a dedicated Pickle Ball court. In the half dozen places that I’ve played, the lines are added to existing basketball or tennis courts. This can be confusing, especially at the start.
Please try it out! Watch some Pickle Ball videos or you can just go and watch others play. Be sure to learn the rules before you play. It’s great exercise and fun!
There’s a good YouTube video for beginners HERE.
– Michael Rossoff, L.Ac.