With Pickleball, you don’t have to grapple with a small, salty vegetable.
Founded in Washington state in the 1960s, Pickleball is best described as a combination of other sports, resulting in a hybrid sport that even couch potatoes can enjoy.
The players wield a paddle similar to that used in ping pong and a small ball that resembles a wiffle ball. The game is played on a badminton court that is separated by a net.
“It’s not a test of who’s the strongest or greatest, it’s just a test of who might be the smartest at playing a game using strategy, not just strength,” said John Pelaez, who played the game three years ago in Has attacked. “In a way, it’s like chess. You have to choose your shots and make sure each shot leads to the next. “
A game for all ages
Pelaez picked up the game while trying to find something he and his sport-shy wife could play together. He now competes in various state tournaments, trains in cities like Millis and senior centers, and is the pickleball coordinator at Kingsbury Club Medfield. The ability to go from beginner to coach and competitor so quickly adds to the game’s popularity.
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Pelaez said he played and trained many sports and found Pickleball to be the most unifying, creating communities of players wherever seats are available. There are also unique rules to the game that expand the gameplay and even the playing field, so to speak, like the two-bounce rule.
If the ball is served, it must bounce once before returning and then bounce again before players can rush to the net to try to return shots from the air – but they cannot get too close.
The court is built almost as a mirror image of a smaller version of a single tennis court, ie the service boxes are at the other ends of the court and a line runs parallel to the net on each side. Players cannot move this line into the so-called “no volley zone” or informally into the kitchen.
“I love the kitchen – the no-volley zone – because it keeps the game honest,” said Pelaez. “With pickleball you can’t be very close to the net and just block every shot. You have to respect the limit. And that makes the game a lot more fun. “
If you’ve played tennis or racquetball …
“It’s not like tennis, where you serve for years and chase the ball. The first time you practice, you actually start hitting a pickleball over the net, ”said Dennis Pollard, the coordinator of the Marlborough Ward Pickleball Steering Committee. “It’s a lot of fun. You have fun straight away. “
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Pelaez said that people who have played tennis or racquetball can usually learn the game easily, but he has also taught players who have never picked up a racket before and have played competitively in just a few months.
The ball is large – about 3 inches in diameter – and easy to see.
Hitting is more about being strategic and practiced than being strong, and the space is small enough to sprint long distances so people of all ages and ability can play pretty competitively with one another – teens with seniors and entire families , for example.
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“It’s a stereotype as a sport for the elderly. But I think the stigma will be dispelled, ”said Bob Zalvan of Millis, who publishes a weekly newsletter with information on open seasons and clinics for nearly 100 people.
Pelaez said Zalvan was key to growing the gaming community, and he thought that the introduction of the sport to different cities “would build enough momentum on its own that a bobsleigh would come around”.
More than just Millis people
Last Saturday, more than 20 people came to play, which exceeded the capacity of the seven outdoor courts in Millis – but it’s not just cities.
“I think people here come from the surrounding cities because they enjoy the group of people they play with,” said Zalvan. “You go there to socialize and play. You exercise and get your vitamin D outside. The social aspect is great. ”
Kris Fogarty, the Millis Leisure Director, suggested setting up outdoor pickleball courts when the elementary school’s tennis courts were being renovated after seeing the popularity of a single indoor court in town hall that featured a travel net and taped lines. The gaming community has grown, in part because people gamble once and usually get addicted.
“I tell you, you drive past these dishes at any time of the day and the people are there,” Fogarty said. “As they say, if you build it, they will come. And they have. “
Lillian Eden can be reached at 617-459-6409 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @LillianWEden.