Pickleball - proposed new group
Wimbledon is over. You are inspired to hit the court, but every available court is now booked up for weeks ahead - it happens every year after Wimbledon, so what do you do? Play pickleball? Play what? Yes I know – weird name, and you have never heard of it before, but spare a moment and I will explain.
Pickleball is a relatively new ball sport in the UK. It fosters mobility, fitness and good health, it can be competitive ... and is always fun. It is a relatively new racquet game which is particularly suitable for seniors, and any less mobile people, since by design it operates at a slower pace than tennis, badminton and table tennis, all of which it has taken ideas from. It uses a solid racquet about twice the size of a table tennis racquet, a court about the size of a badminton court, a net about the size of a tennis net, and a ball about the size of a tennis ball, but made of plastic with holes drilled in it to keep it light.
It is not only physically less demanding than many racquet sports, it also has simple rules, so can be learned quickly, is undemanding in skill, thus enabling all to enjoy at whatever level they choose to play, can be played indoors or out, although mostly indoors in this country, and is growing rapidly in popularity. In the US, where pickleball originated almost half a century ago, it was last year claiming to be the fastest growing sport there. And last but not least, it is a very social game played either as singles or doubles.
The UK U3A has recognised the many attractions and advantages of pickleball for seniors, so is promoting and supporting its take-up. So far there are just a handful of U3As in the UK who have taken it up, and with your help I aim to make D&D U3A the next. Our national U3A has appointed David Pechey as Pickleball ambassador, and he has kindly offered us his help and support.
So what do we need to do now to get our D&D U3A pickleball group off the ground?
1. Establish how many of us are interested. To do this please email me, Mike Colvin (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the one word PICKLEBALL in the heading, and in the text state whether you are
- interested, but would like to see it in action first
- interested and keen to join a small group setting it up.
2. Find a suitable venue
3. Set up a demonstration
4. Formalise the group and start regular sessions
What will it cost? How frequently will we meet? Where will we meet? What about social distancing? Will I need to provide my own kit? All these are still to be determined by our steering group. However, here are my best guesses:
1. Cost will all depend upon how many of us join the group and more specifically how many share the cost of a session, where the main cost will be hire of the hall. Best guess £3-£5.
2. Meeting frequency: starting fortnightly.
3. Where will we meet: to be determined.
4. Social distancing: will depend upon the law at the time, but recent ministerial announcements suggest that it will not be a problem.
5. Own kit? Yes obviously for clothing and footwear, also for paddles and balls. However, I am hopeful that the D&D U3A committee will authorise seed funding to provide a basic set of equipment so that you can have a try before you buy, and thus be happy that Pickleball is for you, before you commit to your own purchase.
Yes, I did promise to explain the name. Seemingly the origin of the weird name has been lost, but several explanations have been offered. I am inclined to this one. “Its rather strange and slightly comic name has two origins; one true and the other humorous. The fun story about the name is that the inventors of the game had a dog called Pickles and it kept chasing after the ball when it went off court. However, it seems the name pickleball originated before Pickles was around. Instead the true origin of the name is that the game’s inventors were themselves nearing the end of their ball playing careers in tennis and badminton. So they called their new game after the pickle boat. This is the last fishing boat in the fleet to make it back into harbour and whose catch would likely be sold for pickling as the earlier boats had captured all the keen, fresh fish buyers”.
- The basic rules are described simply here on Pickleball England Rules page.
- Some helpful coaching tips, including video clips, to get you started: Pickleball England Coaching page.
- Almost everything you could wish to know about pickleball can be found by browsing the Pickleball England website.
- How to play pickleball - a two minute video with explanatory written paragraphs.
- The Playpickleball website has plenty of resources on Rules, History, How To Play, Scoring and more.
- An article on the BBC website “Pickleball: the racket sport experiencing a pandemic boom” - all about pickleball, its attractions and how it is growing quickly.
- There are very many YouTube videos showing pickleball matches at all levels from basic amateurs up to full professionals in tournaments. Try going to YouTube.com and enter “USAPA Championships 2020 Mixed Doubles 55+”. If you would also like to see the top professionals playing on YouTube enter “USAPA Championships 2020 Doubles Pro” and watch some amazing, not to say daunting, match play.