Blair Garrett

Pickleball is one of America’s fastest-growing sports.

Despite its name, pickleball involves no eating or food-based projectiles. It’s a hybrid of tennis and badminton, meant for two or four players to face off in high-octane rallies by launching a perforated ball on each other’s side of the court.

Its similarities to tennis are plenty. Pickleball features a low net, and the cross-court serving and design are very close to its not-so-distant cousin.

Pickleball’s court size and speed of play relate more to badminton, and the slotted wiffleball-style ball takes some of the heat off power shots and serves but allows for creativity when hitting drop shots and shots with a “little bit of English on them.”

The paddles used in pickleball more closely resemble ping-pong paddles.

There are a few rules unique to pickleball, including a non-volley zone to limit spiking of the ball, and only the serving team can score. In doubles, once both serving players on a team lose a rally, the serve switches to the other team. Games are played to 11, and a team must win by two.

The sport’s popularity is due in large part to how easy it is to set up and how convenient it is for local community buildings to fit multiple pickleball games in one gym. It helps that the mechanics and general idea of the gameplay are pretty widely understood since they mirror other more popular games; and, while it can be a great workout, the cardio demand doesn’t involve quite as much back-and-forth running as tennis does.

Pickleball is an exciting new game for kids to get into, seniors who are looking to get their steps in, and just about everyone in-between. It’s a game that can be a pleasant, social outing with friends and family, or it can be a competitive, action-packed battle among seasoned players.

The game has come a long way since its inception, and the competitive scene is thriving. There are now 45 international pickleball associations, including Pickleball World Championships held each year to determine the best-of-the-best players across the globe. There is a $100,000 prize pool and tons of different divisions to give people of various ages and skill sets a shot at a championship.    

There’s a local option for new or experienced players at the Fort Ritchie Community Center, where they have pickleball pickup games open to members and to pickleball enthusiasts of all skill levels. It’s a great way to meet some new people and to try something completely new in a fun, fast-paced environment. 

Fort Ritchie Community Center has reserved time slots for pickup games throughout the week. So, if you’ve got a hunger for some pickleball action, check out a time that works best for you.

Whether your goal is just to get some exercise or to blaze up the professional ranks, it’s a great indoor and outdoor activity to get you moving.

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