02 Jul Pickleball – Fastest Growing Sport in America
is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. www.janfowler.com. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.
“Fastest Growing Sport in America”
Question: What is the fastest-growing sports craze in America? (Think silly. Think pickles.)
Hint-hint: It’s a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, is played on a court which is one quarter the size of a tennis court, uses a special paddle and plastic ball with holes in it, and has a silly-sounding name. Give up? The game is Pickleball!
And just in case you haven’t heard of pickleball yet, it’s merely a matter of time before you will because this popular game has been described as a growing phenomenon that is sweeping across the nation. In fact, the Sports and Fitness Industry Association estimates that there are 2.5 million pickleball players in the United States today.
We all know that regular exercise is important for good health and pickleball sure does deliver in that respect. And not only is it popular with the older population because it’s a low impact sport which is easier on the joints, but is now being introduced to people of all ages, including teenagers in physical education classes at many middle and high school levels throughout the United States.
It all started back in the 1960s as a backyard game and has since become popular on both indoor and outdoor courts as a game for singles or doubles.
“Pickleball requires no initial investment in equipment, which means that people can come out and see if they enjoy the sport first before spending a lot of money,” said David Jaffe, City of Redlands Recreation Coordinator. “Here at the Community Center, we have courts, paddles, and balls as loaners and always welcome beginners,” he emphasized.
Bob Mitchell, a well-known pickleball champ-instructor-coach at Redlands Community Center, said, “On any given Saturday, there may be four to 50 people on our four outdoor courts. There is no charge to play.”
Mitchell is also an official ambassador of the United States Pickleball Association, as well as Commissioner of Regional Parks Advisory Commission. “We’ve enjoyed giving ninety-minute outreach demonstration programs for the youth at the Boys and Girls Club of Redlands, as well as for the Adaptive PE classes at local schools–including students in wheelchairs–which were very well received.”
“Our mayor has been very supportive of the growth of our program and it is our hope to increase the number of pickleball courts so that we can expand this valuable program,” Mitchell added
Jaffe was quick to point out, “We have worked with Redlands residents and with Bob. This was a huge collaboration for everyone to come and enjoy the sport. Like the “Field of Dreams,’ “Build it and they will come.”
When asked how Mitchell feels after playing pickleball for two or three consecutive hours, his answer was, “Invigorated, even euphoric. This is the only sport I have ever played where you always find people who have learned to laugh at themselves, whether they’re winning or not. It’s a very upbeat experience because it always feels like a brotherhood to me.” Mitchell plays six days week.
Pickleball has been described as a very “addictive” game of strategy. For further information on the availability of pickleball in your community, check with your local community center or Parks and Recreation Department.
And once you start playing, you might want to visit the pickleball channel at https://www.pickleballchannel.com for such tips as improving your ability to return the ball with accuracy.
Meanwhile, it’s a fun game and lots of good exercise so I urge you to get out and go for the ball!