There is a new game taking hold of senior living communities throughout parts of Arizona and Florida. What is it? It’s called pickleball. In simple terms, the game is a sort of hybrid sport which utilizes rules similar to badminton, ping pong and tennis. Not only is it popular in senior communities, but it is also gaining popularity in youth recreation centers and gym classes across the country.
Pickleball was actually invented back in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a congressman from the State of Washington and his friend, businessman Bill Bell. The two men were looking to start a badminton game at Pritchard’s home in Bainbridge Island, Washington. However, the only badminton rackets were broken and the only that could be found was a plastic wiffle ball. When the men realized that the broken badminton rackets were not strong enough for the plastic ball, they created some wooden paddles to be used instead. Using the badminton court on site, the men lowered the net to 36 inches and created a set of rules over the next several weeks. They had so much fun playing the game, that they had to share it with friends, thus beginning the popularity of Pickleball.
So how did the game get its name? It actually has a funny story to it. You see, the plastic wiffle ball that Pritchard and Bell decided to use was actually a toy ball of Pickles, the family’s cocker spaniel. As the game progressed, Pickles would watch the ball intently, and waited for a stray shot to go awry. When it did, Pickles took off after the ball. Thus, the name pickleball is a quite literal translation for Pickle’s ball.
The sport of pickleball has grown popular in senior communities because it is a face-paced fun game, that does not necessarily require a lot of lateral movement. Since the game is played on a small court, it requires less mobility than a tennis court, and also uses a lighter ball, making it easy to hit with less strain on the body. In fact, pickleball has become so popular that national tournaments have been formed, and there is strong support to add pickleball to the list of senior Olympic games in upcoming competitions.
Pickleball History, Pickleball, United States of America Pickleball Association