Pickleball Overview: A Brief Rundown of the Whats, Wheres and Whys of Pickleball

Writer / Vince Welch
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Maybe you’ve heard the following joke:

What’s the difference between a tennis court and a pickleball court? The pickleball court is the one being used.

Of course, the tennis diehards aren’t laughing (Can’t we all just get along?). You can use one tennis court to fit two pickleball courts. Understandably, some in the tennis community are frustrated to see their tennis courts turned into pickleball courts. But even the most dedicated tennis player can’t ignore the explosion of pickleball, and that creates a need for more places to play, sometimes at the expense of tennis.Pickleball Overview

So what is this fascination with pickleball? Why is it the fastest-growing sport in America? Primarily, pickleball is for everyone. Men and women young and old, from grandma to grade-schooler, athletic specimen or those with wobbly knees…we can all play. Perhaps most amazing is that in some instances, all of those demographics can be on the court together playing at the same level. Plus, it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn to play pickleball and enjoy the camaraderie it brings.

Pickleball is easy to learn, and improvement can come quickly, which encourages beginners. Yet the skillset is difficult to master, so the competitor is naturally motivated. You can be a low-level player and simply enjoy the activity and camaraderie with your friends, or you can be a mid- to high-level player and find the drive to improve addicting, and the competition exhilarating. But make no mistake, the game is blowing up locally and nationally.

It’s not unusual these days to flip on the TV and see professional pickleball. The pro game has multiple variations. The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) features the highest level of singles, doubles and mixed doubles tournaments. The Association of Pickleball Players has the same format, but the level of player is a step below the PPA.

Major League Pickleball (MLP) is a team competition in which professionals are drafted onto four-player teams that include two men and two women. The MLP teams, in many instances, have a celebrity like LeBron James or Tom Brady as part of the ownership group. These franchises, once available for $100,000, are now valued in the millions.

There is also a professional senior tour, the National Pickleball League, which features Zionsville’s Rick Witsken as a top player and series administrator.

There are several intriguing human-interest elements in the pro ranks. Greenwood twins Jade and Jackie Kawamoto are two rising stars in the women’s game. The hands-down most dominant female is only 16 years old. The men’s game is stacked with talent, many of whom have transitioned from professional tennis. Pickleball Overview

Of course all those elements are well beyond most of us. We’re just out there looking for some good, fun games to play with the new friends we’ve made. There is no shortage of places locally to get your game on.

Carmel has Inlow Park and Meadowlark Park. Noblesville players might hit Finch Creek Park. Fishers features Holland Park and Cyntheanne Park. There is Quaker Park in Westfield, Mulberry Fields Park in Zionsville, and Lee Road Park in Lawrence. You name it and there are courts awaiting your arrival, free of charge. There are a number of neighborhoods with courts, and even some private courts if you’re lucky enough to garner an invite.

Typically, in the summer months the best time to find a game is in the morning or evening hours when the temperature is more comfortable than in midday.

At the local courts, there are two general avenues of play. You either bring your foursome to play together, or you show up individually looking to find a game. The latter is referred to as “playing in.”

Depending on where you are, there are multiple ways to play in. Some courts have a designated paddle system to represent your place in line. When a game ends, the next two or four players in line take the court. It’s a very organized process. Some locations have a “challenge court,” where the winners stay on and accept the next challengers. Seeking guidance from experts in muga construction buckinghamshire can ensure the proper setup and maintenance of these playing areas to meet the diverse needs of players.

Regardless of where you’re playing, it’s important to find your level. The last thing you want is to play with someone much more advanced than you, or someone at a much lower level. Those scenarios don’t benefit either type of player, so it’s important for your enjoyment to play with similarly skilled players.  If you’re early in development, a venue with more players will give you a better chance to find like-skilled partners.

And like any sport, if you want private tutoring to up your game, that’s available too. There are too many local instructors to list, but if you ask around, you’ll have no problem getting options.

Don’t hesitate to give pickleball a try, and if it’s already become your hobby, well, you’ve likely added significantly to your friend group. Some might even be tennis players.

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