You may have heard of pickleball – a fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. And, you may kind of know how to play it. But, one thing is for sure, you keep hearing about it!
Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports across the country, and more and more health clubs are providing space and programs for it.
The sport has been around for more than 50 years, but just recently it has grown in popularity, especially among those of retirement age, although people of all ages enjoy playing. Schools, community centers and neighborhood parks are helping to bring it to all ages, too.
Pickleball is played on a court the size of a doubles badminton court – 20 feet by 44 feet – and divided by a 3-foot-high net. Players use wooden or composite paddles to hit a whiffle ball back and forth. Just like tennis, serves are struck into designated, diagonal zones and first-returns have to hit the court before being volleyed. Beyond that, you are free to let the ball bounce or just hit it out of the air. All this makes it wonderful for folks who have loved to play tennis for many years but find the game a bit too taxing as they age.
Many health clubs throughout the country are designating certain times or portions of their indoor or outdoor tennis courts to the game, converting racquetball space or finding a great use for gym space that may be underutilized early in the day. Some have actually built dedicated courts.
Now there are sanctioned events throughout the U.S. where people compete on a very high level. The USAPA (USA Pickleball Association) was formed to promote the sport at its grassroots level, generating further interest and legitimizing it.
Pickleball could be just the activity your club needs to generate some additional revenue, draw in some new members or re-engage a portion of your membership base.
For more information on pickleball, the rules and where to play, visit www.usapa.org.