A growing number of retirees are slipping a wood or fiberglass paddle into their luggage, hoping to lay a pickleball beating on their southern competitors. This sport which primarily occurs in southern retirement communities is now gaining more popularity and can now be found in in elementary school gym classes across North America. In Manitoba, many facilities have started offering the sport in both indoor and outdoor versions.
From stories told by local enthusiasts, the sport Pickleball originated accidentally in Washington state when former U.S. congressman Joel Pritchard had a bored family and a badminton court, but no badminton gear. He found a wiffle ball and ping-pong paddles; over the course of a weekend retreat, pickleball was born. The name, while heavily debated, is believed to stem from the Pritchard family dog, Pickles, who would chase down stray balls and hide them in the bushes this sport has truly come a long way.
While many might relegate it to a recreational sport aimed at seniors, pickleball can provide the speed, precision and competition equal to any other court sport.
Pushing limits, it has easily surpassed badminton as the most popular court sport for both older and younger members. People in their 20s are spending $150 on paddles, arguing over which balls are better for spin and speed and battling for court supremacy well into a Friday evening.
Benefits of playing Pickleball include lower levels of blood pressure, boosting of immune system, stress reduction, improved mental acuity. It also provides a lot of opportunity to socialize and have fun –laughter is bound to ensue.
Despite the inherent risks, pickleball’s potential rewards are far greater. It’s a fun way to improve physical fitness; strategy and sport-specific movement patterns challenge your brain and nervous system; and the “high” you experience after winning a match will keep you wanting more, no matter your age.