I saw Santa Playing Pickleball

Photo: Rob Weiss

Looking for the perfect gift for the athlete in your family?  Maybe, a Pickleball Racquet should be on your gift list.  What’s Pickleball you ask?  Arguably, the fastest growing sport you have never heard of. Imagine a room full of tennis, badminton and ping pong players collaborating to create a game that combines elements from their respective sports.  Throw in a solid wood paddle, wiffleball, mix with a hearty dose of camaraderie and voila; you have Pickleball!

Photo: Rob Weiss

According to the official USA Pickleball Association, the game was invented on Bainbridge Island, by Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell.  Striving to design an activity for the entire family, Pritchard and Bell improvised with the equipment on hand, which included ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball.  I imagine you are wondering where the “pickle” comes in.  Rumour has it that Pritchard’s dog, named Pickles, frequently ran off with the ball, disrupting the flow of the game.  Inspired by the mutt, the new game was appropriately called Pickleball in honour of the four-legged ball thief.

Photo: Rob Weiss

Recently, a dear friend of mine encouraged me to give the game a try.  Loving a challenge, I shelved my tennis racquet and took to the Pickleball court.  I was introduced to the rules of the sport and warned to stay out of the “kitchen.”  My close friends and family will attest to the fact that I don’t need to be warned to stay out of the kitchen! Relieved cooking was not involved; I discovered that the kitchen is the court’s non-volley zone.  Although clearly lacking skill, I managed to engage in and enjoy a few short rallies.  I found the game to be fast-paced, exciting and more importantly fun! As a bonus, the smaller court was easier on my aging joints and lungs than a larger tennis court.  I am hooked!

Pickleball at Queen Elizabeth Park Photo: Rob Weiss

Witnessing the incredible growth in the sport, Vancouver has embraced its exploding popularity by opening its first outdoor court in Queen Elizabeth Park.  Granted, this may not be the ideal time to head outdoors to learn a new racquet sport, but rest assured your local community centre offers indoor court times.  Who knows – maybe, a Pickleball Championship is in your future?

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