It’s time to go play a game the whole family can enjoy. If Foot Golf didn’t pique your interest, then maybe a more upper body- focused sport might? In my family, I find it’s tough to find a game that allows for different levels of playing abilities. It is difficult for a good tennis player to play against a bad tennis player, for instance. The ball goes flying into the next court, the good player practices their overhead smash one too many times, and both are left frustrated. Well, here’s an alternative that might just be your next new favorite game.
What? What is pickleball?
“Pickle-ball® is a game for the whole family. So it’s only fitting that it was invented by a family, too. The game got its start back in 1965, in Bainbridge Island, just a short ferry ride away from Seattle, WA
When Congressmen Joel Pritchard, William Bell and Barney McCallum came home from a game of golf one day to find their kids bored and restless, they set out to create a game that would engage them through the lazy days of summer.
They wanted to create a game that would be challenging, but still accessible. They handed the kids table tennis paddles and a wiffle ball, and lowered the net on their badminton court. In the coming days both kids and adults alike fell in love with the game, and as they played the rules evolved (to include the non-volley zone, for instance) and solidified to their present incarnation.”
When I was in college as a part of my PE degree requirements I was required to take two team sports, five individual sports, and one dance. I chose pickleball as one of my sports. It is relatively easy to play, relatively easy to teach someone to play, and really fun.
If you are a snowbird, then you already know about this fantastic game. Apparently there are leagues all over the Southwest….the Boomers know what I’m talking about!
I set out with two teens in tow to check out the pickleball scene here in Portland as it had been two decades since I played in college. (Wait! Not true. My friend Janell built a pickleball court next to her house, and I played ever-so-briefly with her kids on a visit once. Super fun. 🙂 I have always refered to it as life-sized ping pong.
I researched and found drop-in pickleball play. We got there early enough to help with set up. Here is what the net looks like:
You play with a wiffle ball and a big ping pong paddle. The ball having holes in it inherently slows the speed and trajectory of the path of the ball for new-to-the-sport players. Two people are on either side of the net, and I happened to be paired with a seasoned veteran who was all of 11 years old. I announced I was a beginner, as I thought that was the safest and easiest way to establish that his partner was no gem. I know he was trying to be helpful with coaching tips like, “You know, if you hadn’t gone for that ball it would have been out!”; and as I smashed a ball right into the net, “I used to do that all the time when I was your level.” (in this case Karma is a *itch: he smashed his very next ball right in the net as if he were ‘at my level’ again! bummer!)
Ha! 🙂 I then begged out for a “rest” break. My next partner was, quite by coincidence, the NW Regional Pickleball Ambassador. What a nice man. Fantastic player, and super encouraging in the best way. He even gave me a coupon for a discount on my own pickleball racquet. I will say, there was a mix of people out there playing. The majority were grey haired people out on the court, but youngsters and young adults had a presence as well, with a pretty even split for boys and girls.
Here are some photos of the action taking place. We were indoors at a former tennis facility that put in wood floors.
There was a challenge court, and the players there were tearing it up with volleys smashing back and forth in close proximity to each other. This was one of the shirts one of them was wearing:
There are a couple rules to follow if you are going to play. Some are remarkably similar to tennis, but a few are different. For instance: Be sure to let the return of serve bounce. Both people on one side of the net serve before the serve is turned over to the other side. Scoring is announced prior to the serve (volley only) by your score-their score- and what server number you are (either one or two). Finally, you can’t go into the “kitchen” which is the area right by the net. Be sure to bump racquet ends over the top of the net at the conclusion of the game!
If you would like to read up on pickleball, give this short novel a look. It was recommended to me by the Ambassador.
Have you played? I think it was great fun, and I broke a sweat! Let me know in the comments below!
Pickleball was part of the official PE curriculum in WA state in the 80’s. We had a blast doing it then. Would love to know where you played. Maybe my 12 yo would like to try it!
Hi Heather! We played pick-up at a place called thecourts.com, formerly Eastmoreland Tennis Club in SE Portland. If you google pickup pickleball, you will find spots all over the city! It is a blast! Thanks so much for your comment!
I LOVE Pickleball. I only get to play when I visit my folks in Florida. it’s a riot. ANd I love that picture of you and your mom. You are totally glamalicious.
Hello Deb, I think Pickleball
is a RIOT too. I bet SoCal has more spots that you could find pickup games than you might guess?!?! You don’t have to relegate it to visits to the Right Coast 🙂
We did have a glamalicious time together that day….speaking of RIOT! I highly recommend it! 🙂