Pickleball Craze

May 2024

If you are not currently a pickleball fanatic, you probably know someone who is.  Pickleball is growing at a rate almost unprecedented in the history of sports, and it’s not just for retirees.  There are pickleball associations, camps and leagues for those interested in more than an occasional game.

Pickleball is an easy amenity to offer in any condominium community with tennis courts.  All it requires is painting additional lines!

What is Pickleball

Pickleball is a paddle sport that can be described as a cross between tennis and ping-pong played on a badminton-sized court.  There are usually two players on each side of the net.  The singles game, one opponent on each side of the net, is far more strenuous and less popular.  The ball is perforated plastic similar to a wiffle ball, and short-handled paddles are made of wood or composite.


History of Pickleball

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by fathers on Washington’s Bainbridge Island using a wiffle ball, some ping-pong paddles and an old badminton net looking for family-friendly entertainment.  It became popular in retirement communities in Florida and Arizona, and has now spread throughout the United States and Canada.

There is a professional pickleball league with teams owned by Naomi Osaka (tennis), Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady (football) and Lebron James (basketball).  Community centres offering pickleball fill up quickly and struggle to meet demand for court space.

Why has Pickleball become Popular

For anyone who plays a racquet sport such as tennis, squash, racquetball or badminton, there comes a time when the body can no longer handle the physical strain.  Tennis players experience hip and shoulder problems because of the heavy racquet and ball.  Squash, racquetball and badminton demand an intensity difficult to maintain as the body ages.

Pickleball is easy to learn and less physically demanding than other racquet sports.  Anyone with a reasonable level of coordination can quickly learn to be competitive.  The smaller court makes it easy to chat while playing.

Pickleball with its smaller court, short and lighter racquet, and lighter ball is easier to play.  Rules are designed to maintain longer volleys without as many difficult-to-return shots.  And playing in teams of two is less physically demanding.  The result is a game that is less strenuous than other racquet sports but still challenging.

The Downside of Pickleball

Sharing tennis and basketball courts with pickleball means more people competing for limited recreational space.  The thwack sound of a pickleball paddle hitting the ball can be frustrating for those who live nearby.

Toronto and the GTA have been slow to provide dedicated pickleball courts, or to convert underutilized tennis courts for dual use.  Condominium communities with existing tennis courts can easily make the conversion to dual use by painting pickleball court lines on the surface.  Any open indoor space can be converted for pickleball with a portable net and painted lines.

Pickleball has made it easier for more people to remain physically active while having fun.

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