Pickleball is played on a tennis court, the boundaries of which are identical to a badminton court. A hybrid of ping pong and tennis, pickleball requires quickness, which is perfect for seniors’ cardiovascular needs. The game also moves along faster and requires less movement than tennis. And it’s easy to learn.
“There’s not much running around, but it’s really good for hand-eye coordination, quickness, movement, and it’s good exercise,” said Bob Lyman, a local ambassador for the USA Pickleball Association. “A lot of great people play.” Enhancing the social dimension of pickleball is its team orientation – it’s played by doubles partners.
While the game is played largely by seniors, it’s also being taught in grade schools and offered as an intramural sport at colleges.
“I play it for exercise, to meet other people in the community, and I have met a lot of really good people playing it,” said Brian Dawson, who serves on the Discovery Bay Community Services District’s board of directors. “It’s nice to be a part of a little community of people that play pickleball – a little niche. You never know what’s coming at you, and that’s a lot of fun.”
After the opening serve, a service game will consist of one team member serving until he is broken. His teammate then serves until he is broken, at which point the serve goes to the other team. The first team to record 11 points while ahead by two is declared the victor, and a team must be serving in order to rack up a point.
Games move fast. A game between two evenly-matched teams will take between 10 and 20 minutes to play. This allows the players time to catch their breath but also keeps others from being on the sidelines for too long.
“I thought the name sounded kind of dorky, and I wasn’t going to come out,” said Gail Hurlbert, who plays with her husband George at Cornell Park. “I thought it was some kind of badminton. But he talked me into coming out, and the neat thing about it is that any age can play at any level. That just makes it so user friendly.”
More information on the sport, as well as finding places to play, can be found at www.usapa.org.