By Chad Ruiz
It’s tennis…no! It’s badminton…no! It’s ping-pong…no! It’s pickleball! The sport no one is talking about but everyone loves to play. If you’re like me and looking for activities to fill the void left by sports leagues on hold, grab yourself a plastic ball with holes, an oversized ping-pong paddle, a friend (or an enemy) and let the hitting commence! But please hit the ball, not your friend.
It’s fun, easy to play and great exercise for all ages. Yes, I’m looking at you!
Two or four players line up opposite each other separated by a low net, like tennis, and use their paddles to lob the plastic ball back and forth. Players complete each match when someone reaches 11 points with 2 points more than the opponent.
You’ll build cardio, balance, stamina and friendships!
One of the fastest growing sports, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association reported over 3.3 million pickleball players in 2019. That ranks just below basketball and football participation.
Did you know there’s a U.S.A. Pickleball Association, an International Federation of Pickleball, state, national and international leagues? ESPN even now covers pickleball tournaments.
So what is driving so many people to pickleball? Maybe they’re craving a pickle? Or more likely, after just a few minutes of playing they lose themselves in the exciting and friendly competition of the game.
Look for pickleball at your local tennis courts, recreation facilities and fitness centers where you can play indoors and outdoors. Best of all, the camaraderie may be the greatest part of this budding sport. Players stand closer together than tennis, making it easy to share laughs and conversations (and heckles) while competing. But don’t worry, it’s virus and body odor-friendly because you’ll maintain a safe distance from others.
Plus, it’s affordable! Most athletic retailers sell inexpensive pickleball paddles and balls.
If you’re already playing, you know what fun it is! If you haven’t and want a new activity you, your family and friends will love, I encourage you to try it. What better way to burn calories while having fun?
You can search for nearby pickleball facilities at www.places2play.org.