Pickleball Craze Hits the Empty Nest

IMG_3484The sport of pickleball has officially been in existence since 1965. But like many things that originated on the west coast, it took over fifty years for pickleball to find Phil and me. Now that we’ve given it a try, we have yet another activity to pursue in our empty nest years. 

Pickleball is a simple and fun sport designed for players of all ages and abilities. It’s played on a small court with a short net using small paddles and a plastic ball, very similar to a wiffleball. Don’t let the small court fool you. Pickleball can be a great workout. It can also be a bit more casual depending on your physical ability and competitive spirit (or lack thereof!). Unlike some sports, that really do get harder to play the older you get, pickleball is something anyone can do no matter what your age.

DG PickleballI first played pickleball here in Kansas City after being invited to play with some sorority sisters. We had so much fun that night that we thought it would make sense to take a lesson or two to really get to know how to play the game – scoring, rules, etc.  So we signed up for a beginner lesson at the Blue Valley Recreation Center at Hilltop and had a blast! Not long after that, our family went to a new and hugely popular pickleball bar/restaurant in Kansas City called Chicken N Pickle.  The food was great and we enjoyed a few adult beverages and played some pickleball! We had so much fun that I ended up buying four paddles and some pickleballs knowing we had a trip to Tucson coming up. Phil’s parents live in an active adult community and “active” is an understatement. The pickleball club in this community has over 600 members and they just finished building 24 new courts – all of which are booked all day, every day. We worked our way onto one of the courts with our son and his girlfriend, and had a blast!

Of course, everyone asks, “So how did pickleball get it’s name?” After some quick research, consensus says it was named after the inventor’s dog, named Pickle, who kept running off with the plastic pickleball. There you have it. Pickleball. The more interesting part of the story is how pickleball got started in the first place. It’s a great “family” story that starts on Bainbridge Island just across the sound from Seattle. Do yourself a favor and watch the story here. It’s worth your time.

pickleball started

If you want to give it a try, I’m sure you can easily find a court no matter where you live. Most community centers seem to be offering pickleball lessons and court/league times. You can just rent paddles before deciding to buy.  And, if you find yourself at an active adult community, there’s no doubt the pickleball courts will be the hub of the action!

We’ve had so much fun playing with family and friends of all ages and abilities, and we look forward to our next intense match, haha! I’ll leave you with a great quote I saw while viewing the “how pickleball got started” video:

“I loved the story behind the game. I became addicted to the game at age 71 which was in March of this year. I told my wife I never thought I would be this active and having such a great time as I am playing Pickleball 3 days a week and table tennis 3 days a week. Thank you Barney (pickleball founder) from the bottom of my heart.”

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