Some call it the nation’s fastest growing sport. Others call it exercise. Seniors call it an alternative to bingo. Meet the newest sport to catch at least a part of the nation by storm, pickleball. Invented in 1965 by three friends who named it after a cocker spaniel owned by one of the inventors, the game has been called a mix between tennis and ping pong. Players play on a court smaller than a regular tennis court, holding what looks like oversized ping pong paddles, moving in for extending volleys after a serve. A pickleball is similar to a wiffleball, but it is made with a more rigid, heavy material and has smaller holes. In fact, the first pickleball paddles were actually ping pong paddles!
The game of pickleball demonstrates how ping pong can take a different form, and cater to those who may not possess the athletic ability they once did. An Orlando, FL retirement community opened more than 100 pickleball courts, because of the demand among seniors. More than 100,000 people play pickleball nationwide on over 5,000 courts, a number that is increasing every day. For those interested, Pickball Nationals is held in November. Last year’s nationals drew 400 players from 28 states. How’s that for an activity with your grandmother?