Senior Connections

The Pickleball Craze Hitting the Country

Nevada Senior Games continues with its goal to promote “Fitness for the Fun of It” to our area seniors. Pickleball is a great way for seniors to stay fit, active and also help shed some pounds that we all seem to put on over the holidays. What is Pickleball? Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, yet walk into many sporting good stores and ask for a pickleball paddle or balls and you are likely to get the response, “what is pickleball?” Pickleball is a game for the entire family from youth to seniors and is very easy to learn. It can be played at a slow, easy pace or at a more competitive level.

It is a court sport best described as a combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis. It uses a hard paddle like table tennis, but a little larger. It uses a court like badminton, but with a kitchen (an area of the court), and a net like tennis but shorter. And lastly, pickleball has nothing to do with pickles!

The sport was created in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, congressman from Washington State and his friend, Bill Bell, after returning to Pritchard’s home after a day of golf. Their families were sitting around with nothing to do so Pritchard and Bell looked for something they could all play. They found some badminton equipment but not enough racquets for all. The dads decided to create wood paddles and grabbed a plastic whiffle-ball. In the beginning they tried hitting the ball over the full height of the badminton net. Later they realized that the ball bounced pretty well on the court and they lowered the net to 36 inches and developed the rules.

Though created in 1965, it wasn’t until 1984 that the United States Pickleball Association, USAPA, was organized to advance the sport. 2008 was the first year pickleball was included in the National Senior Games Champion Festival. Last year the Nevada Senior Games (NSG) had only 18 participants entered in the sport. This year 124 players participated in the event in the various categories—singles, doubles and mixed doubles. This escalating trend seems to be consistent across the country.

If you would like to learn more about this sport, Nevada Senior Games has several pickleball ambassadors that would be happy to promote the game by teaching it at various senior centers and recreational areas in town. For more information on how you can become involved in pickleball, contact the NSG office at 242-1590.