Monday, October 31, 2016

Why Pickles?

Holly Lake Ranch’s Pickleball Association has grown drastically since it was organized here in 2014. Back then, Holly Lake Ranch pickleball only had a handful of members and they played their games with portable nets on one tennis court (which equals two pickleball courts).
But, as membership grew, the homeowners' association had four new courts built and now, the game is truly booming. Holly Lake Ranch has outdoor pick-up games seven days a week, three leagues, and boasts membership of 100+ players. The age range is 19 to 80+ years.
So what is pickleball? The hybrid game, played with an over-sized ping pong paddle and whiffle ball, was born in 1965 in Bainbridge, Washington, as a cure for children’s summertime boredom. Despite its name, the only thing the game has in common with dilled cucumbers is a dog named Pickles. It earned its name when the dog would steal the founder’s game ball.

It is a sport created for all ages and skill levels, the rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players. Most players compare pickleball to tennis, played on a badminton-sized court that’s roughly one-half of a tennis court. Scoring is similar: two bounces in the play area or one bounce outside of it results in a point for the other team. The game is primarily played as a doubles game in recreation play. It requires little running; instead it places more emphasis on hand-eye coordination and dexterity. These aspects make it a life-long sport, one that can be easily learned at almost any age.

A year ago, I decided to play in one of these pick-up games to see what all the hoopla was about. I have played USTA tennis for the last fifteen years so I thought this should be a no brainer.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Ross

Photo courtesy Chris Waddell
I started in the novice group and was welcomed by all. This group was taught the basics of the sport. I never felt intimidated. . .well maybe, by the sheer number of players on the courts at all the times; but, what struck me, was the laughter, “good dig” comments, willingness to help and general friendliness of the group. As I started to play, I found the game easy to learn. Slowly, I started to understand the allure of a sport named after a bumpy green vegetable.

I would like to hit the person
who took this photo
As a newcomer to pickleball, I found that my tennis background did not help as much as I thought. I was under-striking the ball with the paddle and constantly hitting the net, even though the net was still shorter than those in regulation tennis. Argh! Even with the frustration and lack of a good serve, I still enjoyed pickleball. I never suspected that such a humorously-named sport would require not only physical but mental agility as well. A slight tilt of the paddle drastically alters a shot, which can give players an astonishing advantage. Also, when positioned close to the net, the game becomes very similar to ping-pong, with quick volleys that are often won on an unexpected spike.

The avid followers of pickleball at Holly Lake Ranch are a reflection of its budding popularity worldwide. It is one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation. Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) 2015 Participant Report reported pickleball currently has 2.46 million players. According to United States Pickleball Association, there are over 15,000 indoor and outdoor courts in the United States; and at least one location in all 50 states. Plus there are 138 places to play in the state of Texas. The game’s easy accessibility has gained a foothold with many folks.
I can say, now that pickleball is my favorite sport to play. With each game and practice I get better and better. The game is played to the score of 11 (only the serving team scores points) so a game can be short or go on what seems like forever. You can sit out one game and play the next. It is a great workout too!

If you are interested in taking up this new sport check out this useful web site.

You will love it!!!

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