Omaha top 5 city for popularity of pickleball

Omaha has another distinction to be proud of. It is one of the top five cities in the country for the sport of pickleball. Hugely popular with the aging population, it is fast becoming the nation’s fastest growing sport. “There is nothing in the water in Omaha. It’s pretty much a national craze,” said Kent Knudson, president of Omaha Pickleball. “My wife and I were walking around the neighborhood and heard this noise,” Wes Stephenson said. “I’m like, ‘What are they playing?’ “Stephenson needed a stroke of the paddle, and pickleball became his passion. “I tell everyone, ‘Once you play, you’re hooked,'” he said. Knudson held up the round yellow pickleball. “It has holes in it. It is like you played with a wiffleball as a kid,” Knudson said. Knudson said Omaha Pickleball has 700 members and is getting bigger. It’s a combination of table tennis, tennis and badminton. “We’re going to go to these smaller courts, the look like a small tennis court, and we’re going to hit it back and forth, just like tennis,” Knudson said. If you look around the courts on a sunny afternoon, most pickleball players are wearing AARP cards, keep their shirts on and have a little less bounce.”I’m a great demographic because I recently retired and I have knee problems,” he said. I can’t run with my knees, but I can walk and come fast cover anyway,” he said. “I used to play basketball quite a bit, but my body took a bad beating,” Stephenson said. Stephenson, 58, said don’t let the gray hair fool you. “Some of these older guys are very good,” he said. “It’s all about technique ball placement. It’s not about hitting the ball.” “It’s great exercise,” said Dick Kohler. Kohler started pickleball four years ago at the age of 70. “I still like to eat,” he laughed. “So I can pretty much eat whatever I want and I don’t have to worry about it because I do that four to five times a week for a couple of hours a day.” Pickleball’s goal is to get 11 points for to achieve victory. But the players said the real victory is the friendships formed on the pitch. “There are a lot of really good people out here,” Kohler said. No matter how old they are, they have fun. Kohler, 74, said the game keeps him young. “I’ll be at it for as long as I can,” he said. Click here to play Omaha. Knudson said annual membership to Omaha Pickleball is $10.

Omaha has another distinction to be proud of. It is one of the top five cities in the country for the sport of pickleball. Hugely popular with the aging population, it is fast becoming the nation’s fastest growing sport.

“There is nothing in the water in Omaha. It’s pretty much a national craze,” said Kent Knudson, president of Omaha Pickleball.

“My wife and I were walking around the neighborhood and heard this noise,” Wes Stephenson said. “I’m like, ‘What are they playing?’ “

Stephenson needed a paddle stroke and pickleball became his passion.

“I tell everyone, ‘Once you play, you’re hooked,'” he said.

Knudson held up the round yellow pickleball.

“It has holes in it. It’s like playing with a wiffleball as a kid,” Knudson said.

Knudson said Omaha Pickleball is 700 members strong and growing.

The sport has nothing to do with dill or kosher. It is a combination of table tennis, tennis and badminton.

“We’re going to go to these smaller courts that look like a little tennis court and we’re going to hit it back and forth, just like tennis,” Knudson said.

If you look around the courts on a sunny afternoon, most pickleball players are wearing AARP cards, keeping their shirts on, and treading a little less bouncy.

“I’m a great demographic because I recently retired and I have knee issues,” he said.

Knudson, 67, needs knee surgery and the short pitches and slower balls make it easy for him to collect himself.

“I can’t run with my knees, but I can walk fast and still get cover,” he said.

“I used to play basketball quite a bit, but my body took a bad beating,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson, 58, said don’t let the gray hair fool you.

“Some of these older guys are very good,” he said. “It’s all about technique ball placement. It’s not about hitting the ball.”

“It’s great exercise,” said Dick Kohler.

Kohler started pickleball four years ago at the age of 70.

“I still like to eat,” he laughed. “So I can pretty much eat whatever I want and I don’t have to worry about it because I do it four to five times a week for a few hours a day.”

The goal of Pickleball is to reach 11 points for victory. But the players said the real victory is the friendships formed on the pitch.

“There are a lot of really good people out here,” Kohler said.

No matter how old, they have fun.

Kohler, 74, said the game keeps him young.

“I’ll stick with it for as long as I can,” he said.

Click here to find out where to play in Omaha.

Knudson said annual membership to Omaha Pickleball is $10.

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