By: Caleb Magoon
There is a fitness craze sweeping the nation and it’s not crossfit, plyometrics or anything else. It’s a game being played mostly by seniors but also by everyone else out to have fun and stay fit. You still may not have heard of Pickleball, but it’s huge!
Pickleball is a game merging tennis, badmitton, and table tennis. While it hasn’t yet gained wide popularity in all of Vermont, we’re seeing it pop up everywhere else. It’s gaining popularity because it’s a fun and reasonably easy way to stay active.
The basics: The court is quite like a tennis court, though a smaller version similar to tennis without the “side alleys.” You play on the same court for singles or doubles. The rules are similar to tennis or table tennis, starting with a serve to the opposite court, a volley, and someone racking up some points.
Here is where things are a bit different: the equipment. The “racket” is actually a wooden or composite paddle bigger than one for table tennis and smaller than a tennis racket. The ball is essentially a whiffle ball. The result of this paddle/ball combo is that you can only hit it so hard. A whiffle ball loses speed rapidly so even a big smash will die before it gets back to the court. This slows the game down and makes it more manageable, a slower speed with less running than traditional tennis. That said, you can put a lot of spin on that little ball, keeping the game very interesting.
I learned pickleball right at Lamoille Union High School and hadn’t heard of the game until fairly recently. While it has been around since the 60’s, it’s only now gaining popularity. The game took hold especially with senior citizens. The draw is simple- the small court and slightly slower pace make it much more manageable than tennis, yet you still get a workout hustling around the court.
In our area, Waterbury was the first community I know of where the sport gained popularity. It’s played on the tennis courts and paddles are available at the Recreation department. It has spread a bit more recently and you can now find games at the People’s Academy and Hazen Union Tennis Courts. Folks are starting to clammer for more courts and more people are learning about the game.
This is a fun, easy game that anyone can play. Rest assured, there will be a game near you soon enough. Have you played Pickleball yet?
Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.