Pickleball: What to Know about this Fitness Craze
Finding fun ways to stay in shape is important and this becomes even truer as people age or lifestyles change. You probably think of water aerobics and mall walking when you envision fitness activities for older Americans – but if you look outside the fitness box, there are some other fun options too. One of the most popular is pickleball. It’s been a mainstay of recreation centers for decades, but is now gaining momentum in RV parks and resorts across the country.
Wait... you've never heard of pickleball? Read on to learn more about pickleball and why it might just be the perfect sport for you.
Who Plays Pickleball?
According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, pickleball participation topped 2.46 million people in 2015. The sport is played in all 50 states and while it is extremely popular with older RVers, the sport of pickleball is now showing up in physical education classes in middle and high schools. The game draws on what is popular in other ball-volley sports and brings it to a level that is playable for amateurs, but still highly competitive for veterans.
What Exactly is Pickleball Anyway?
In 1965, three dads decided to invent a game for their kids who were bored with their typical summertime activities. The rules today are more complex and the sport has gained quite a following but the original idea of a sport anyone could easily learn and enjoy remain today. This relatively new activity is best described as a cross between tennis, ping pong and badminton. The pickleball court is the size of standard badminton court (20 X 44 feet) and the net is 34 inches high.
Players use a paddle to volley the ball back and forth to each other over the net. The paddle itself is smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping pong paddle. When pickleball originated, a wooden paddle was used, but today it is usually composed of lightweight composite materials. The ball used for play is only used for pickleball and has holes, similar to a wiffleball. Bright colors are used for pickleballs.
How Do You Play Pickleball?
Pickleball can be played as a singles or doubles sport. Like tennis, points are only earned by the serving team. A serve must be made cross court and land inside the opposite diagonal court. The team receiving the serve must let it bounce once before hitting it back. The serving team must also let it bounce once before hitting it back. After both teams have hit the ball after one bounce, the rest of the play can be off a bounce or a volley with no bounce.
Winning teams reach 11 points, and must win by 2. Some tournament games go to 15 or 21, and a win must happen by 2.
Why is Pickleball Ideal for Older or Less Active Players?
Pickleball is less intense than tennis, but allows for more interaction than badminton. It is regarded as being easier on the knees, with less back and forth and sideways movement. The pickleball itself moves at one-third the speed of a tennis ball, making it easier to hit and giving players a little more time to respond. It is low-impact, but raises the heart rate for its players.
Pickleball can be played outside or inside, giving people in cold-weather climates the option to keep playing it year round. Many recreation centers are incorporating pickleball courts and they are also popping up at RV parks and resorts around the country, making access to these courts inexpensive or completely free. Whether you plan to play at home, or on RV road trips, finding a spot to play pickleball should be pretty easy.
If you are looking for a new way to be active, social, or competitive, find out what pickleball options there are near you by visiting the official USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) site.