More seniors try out a serving of pickleball – Loveland Reporter-Herald

Let me start with a disclaimer. For several months, my tennis friends persuaded, urged, and begged me to try pickleball. I’ve always maintained that Pickleball is a game for those who, due to age or lack of fitness, can no longer walk around a tennis court.

In its defense, it’s the fastest growing sport in America – name another “new” sport.

Well, I succumbed to her suggestion (blackmail, implying I couldn’t drink adult refreshments after tennis) and gave it a try.

On a windy day, the balls with holes in them flap like a pitcher’s knuckleballs (my dad’s would bounce and fall).

Urban legend has it that the game was created by three adults who may have overwhelmed each other – I can’t substantiate this except that: A pickleball court is similar to badminton, with a similar net to tennis and similar racquets to those used in table tennis (table tennis).

The “official” version of how it came about is that Joel Pritchard and two of his friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, designed the game and set the rules (one of which is the dumb scoring).

Pritchard and Bell returned from a golf game on Bainbridge Island, Washington in 1965 to find their families bored on a Saturday afternoon. They tried badminton but nobody could find a shuttlecock (very important).

Then the adults challenged the bored children to make up their own game.

Well, both the kids and the adults ended up on the badminton court where they tried different balls and rackets. The net was too high so they dropped it at waist height.

They started with a wiffle ball but later switched to a consume fun ball.

McCallum continued to tinker with paddle design as table tennis bats were replaced with larger and more durable plywood bats.

My references didn’t define how they came up with the side out score rather than the rally score used in volleyball, nor the silly way of having to identify the server by number, but that’s how it is.

My friends correct me when I use the wrong number to identify myself – I tell them I consider that “Number Two” (if you get what I mean).

To popularize anything, you need a catchy name – “Trivial Pursuit” rather than “Who Knows, Who Cares,” which is the name I gave my two years before Trivial Pursuit came out.

Joan Pritchard said: “The name of the game became Pickle Ball after I said it reminded me of the pickle boat in the crew where rowers were chosen from the remains of other boats.”

The Pritchards did have a dog named Pickles, but they got him after the game was named, and the dog was actually named after the game.

By 1972 McCallum had formed Pickleball Inc. as “snowbirds” had transported game to their wintering grounds such as Arizona, California, Hawaii and Florida and there was a demand for paddles etc.

My research found that pickleball paddles can cost as much as $229. Not only that, there are pickleball-specific “outfits,” but most seniors — who aren’t pros — wear clothes that you would wear when cleaning out the garage.

There are thousands of pickleball tournaments in the United States, with the highest governing body being the International Federation of Pickleball.

The US Pickleball National Championships are held near Palm Springs, California (not far from the former location of Stately Willard Manor West).

The rulebook was updated in 2005 with active players (not many custom rulebooks) at about 4.8 million players. The International Federation comprises 59 member nations. And this year pickleball was made Washington’s official state sport; I don’t know what came second.

There you have it. I think its popularity is mainly because players don’t have to run far and the games only go to 11, but you have to win by two. Another factor is the aging of the American public. More and more seniors are looking for ways to kill time without breaking a sweat.

I don’t know what the official post-game refreshment is, but I found out about a restaurant chain in Kansas called Chicken ‘N’ Pickle. The establishments have a chicken, beef and pork menu accompanied by craft beers. They also house indoor and outdoor pickleball courts, making it easy to purchase their wares.

As for me, I still borrow a paddle if a fourth is needed; I don’t like the bounce difference between the game and tennis.

Maybe I’m just not old enough (yet).

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