BY Randy Snyder
Yes pickleball has grown into a game for the ages and played by all ages and genders! Now nationally recognized and played in all states is the fastest growing sport in America, beyond the shadow of a doubt! At last count there were over 6,000 new courts added in America in most states. Another nuance is existing tennis courts adding pickleball lines in a different color making the tennis courts dual purpose courts.
Further evidence of the growth is “pickleball training days and weeks consisting of clinics” being sponsored in various location all Spring and Summer nationwide and in warm locations in Fall and Winter. Recently advertised was a Pickleball cruise offered for enthusiasts as many ships now have pickleball courts on board.
The sport has a burgeoning membership in the very expansive “USPA” or “United States Pickleball Association” which includes a pickleball monthly magazine for its members. There are a manifold of mostly YouTube videos on instructions for beginners or experienced players. Locally there are many locations to play pickleball including the Rumbling Bald resort (dual purpose courts), the Spindale house, Marion YMCA and a large pickleball facility in Black Mountain and too many others to mention.
The nomenclature of the equipment consists of a paddle, a ball resembling a waffle ball, a net and of course a court with boundaries at 20 ft. wide and 44 ft. deep! There are noted differences twixt pickleball and tennis hand held essential equipment, a pickleball paddle is 16” long and 7.8” wide as compared to a tennis racket at 27 to 29” long and wide! As mentioned a pickleball court at 20’ x 44’ covers 880 sq. ft., as opposed to a tennis court (for doubles play) at 36’ x 71’ or 2556 sq. ft.! The pickleball is made of polymer plastic and is hollow with 26 small holes for indoor play and 40 holes for outdoor play. The tennis ball is a round hard covered rubber ball which has a lot more spring and bounce.
Evidence of the growth and popularity of pickleball play is the fact that the game is offered and played in some high schools and even colleges. Tournaments are far and wide for players of all levels. One of the premier tournaments was held in Naples Florida at the dedicated pickleball facility of 52 courts wherein 1,300 players participated from 42 states and 10,000 onlookers watched the play!
It is interesting to note that unlike tennis, foot speed and agility, although an asset is not a necessity for top competitive play, unlike tennis where it is difficult to be a top level player without those two physical tools. Pickleball is more a game of good hand-eye coordination and strategic location of the body and careful paddle contact to return the ball to an area of the court or ball contact at a part of the body of the opposing player making it difficult to finesse the return! These factors explain why people of ages play the game without yielding a competitive advantage to the younger athletes! Nonetheless as mentioned younger people and even kids enjoy playing the game.
The Rumbling Bald Resort has four recently renovated dual purpose courts distinctively marked for pickleball and both residents of the resort, guests and even locals (locals must pay $5 and sign in as resort guests). All four courts are reserved all season long for pickleball on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Furthermore the resort has a court pro that attends play at random on many days and beginners classes are offered from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturdays. Classes are offered for tennis at the same time on Fridays. For more info contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jim Greene at email@example.com. If you’re interested in play or want to observe first, show up on the days mentioned. The group seems to have extra paddles and has balls for any one, beginners or others to watch or join in play!