Seniors Calling. Pickleball 101

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Pickle Ball is neither a food nor a theme for a fancy June Prom Dance. It is a sport, and it’s found its’ way to The Bay St. Senior’s Drop-In Centre in The Sault. During the 28th Annual Senior Games, this popular sport, described by some as a ‘cross between tennis, badminton, and paddle ball’ was played for a solid two hours. And pickleball is a work-out. Yes indeed.

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There are quite a few local ‘pickleballers’ who have been getting together and playing both at the Seniors Drop-In Centre, and at various locations across the city. School gymnasiums, church auditoriums have all played host to Pickleball. As part of The Senior Games, The Drop-In Center’s main hall was transformed into a Pickleball tournament. Pickleball has grown in popularity for quite some time, and it’s roots go back 50 years, when it was first played in 1965 in Seattle, Washington. There are friendly competitions, and tournaments going on somewhere across Canada and The United States pretty much every day.

20150604_191209(0)The sport is played in circles where all ages are present. For retired and senior persons, the sport offers several advantages. It can be easily adapted into venues where a large space is not available. It can be played outside and inside. The impact on the body is reduced, as the ‘court’ size is smaller than a regular tennis court. As our bodies age, the mind might be willing, but the body says “Hold on a minute”. Pickleball doesn’t take a toll on the body in quite the same way that playing tennis can, for example. The grip for the racquet also accommodates persons who may be dealing with arthritis or reduced wrist strength.
According to USAPA (United Stated of America Pickleball Association) Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in North America. It brings together a friendly competitive spirit and social opportunity for seniors who are seeking to stay fit in an encouraging, fun and positive way.

The racquet is distinctive, in that it has a shorter and wider handle than a tennis racquet, and is essentially designed as a paddle. The racquet feels very good in the hand, is not too heavy, and can be gripped with determination as the pickleball comes bouncing back towards a person. Pickleball has grown as a real thing for quite some time. In the Senior’s set, pickleball has taken off because it affords a person a tremendous workout, is relatively low impact, and is above all, fun for all. The comaraderie among the gamers is obvious and fits right into the Senior Games Athlete’s Oath which fosters fun and opportunities for fellowship through game playing.

‘Pickleball’s history dates back to the 1960s and is the brainchild of three dads, in Seattle, according to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA). Created initially on a whim, for kids bored with the usual summertime games, pickleball now has grown as a full-fledged sport throughout the United States and Canada, and according to USAPA there are “over 400,000 registered pickleballers enjoying the sport.”

As for the name? Some reports state that one of the inventors of the game named the sport after his dog Pickles, who loved to chase after the rogue balls around the court he fashioned for himself and friends. Working with a hodgepodge of equipment from his garage and sheds, Congressman Joel Pritchard pulled together a game he named Pickleball. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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You need a paddle, which is slightly bigger than a ping-pong paddle, a whiffle ball , and a net. Pickleball is played as a singles or doubles game.
The court is about the same size as a doubles badminton court and striped similar to a tennis court. There is a 7-foot non-volley zone by the net, known as the “kitchen” to avoid “smashes” over the net, like in volleyball. Points are scored when balls landed in the court lines and your opponent fails to volley it back.

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Fun rules: serves are underhand and aimed diagonally across the court; the ball must bounce once before a return serve can be smashed, until after the first complete serve and return has happened, and then it’s a free-for-all hit and return whether the whiffle ball has bounced once or not. Games are played until 11 points.
The Bay St. Drop-In Centre was full of vim and vigour as several games were played by teams of two. Eventually a twosome was crowned the winners, but not before alot of supportive cheering and clapping for all of the players echoed around the hall.

For more information about pickleball, follow the link to USAPA. Everything you would ever want to know about pickleball can be found there. If you are interested in joining one of the games being played around The Sault, contact The Seniors Drop-In Centres at (705) 254-6474 or follow the link below.
www.city.sault-ste-marie.on.ca
For more information about Pickleball, follow the link to USAPA. Everything you would ever want to know about pickleball can be found there. http://www.usapa.org/

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