Pickleball Americas Fastest Growing Sport

Friday, November 5, 2010 - 8:45am

Boomers are embracing game that combines tennis, racquetball and ping-pong.

When your body is telling you it's time to hang up the tennis racquet, it doesn't have to be the end of your time on the court.

A new sport is gaining popularity, especially among the older crowd, because of its ease on the knees and focus on fun.

It's actually a hybrid tennis, badminton and ping-pong called pickleball.

"The game was named after the founders' dog Pickles who chased the balls," explains the USA Pickleball Association's Linda Foley.

Pickleball is played with wooden paddles and a whiffle ball on a court half the size of a tennis court.

The sport is booming, mostly because baby boomers are taking to it.

"There's no big penalty to being short, tall, fat, slow, fast," says pickleball player Anthony Abowd.

"The good thing is you don't have to run all over town to play pickleball, you just 20 feet at the most you run forward and you run back," says Les Taylor.

That means it works well for players who don't move like they used to, but still want to be moving.

That's why 77-year-old Shirley Symonds started playing.

"I like it because, I can, it's something I can still do!" she says.

Players also enjoy the social benefits of the game, which keep going after they leave the court.

"You feel invigorated when you leave you know, and I'm a lot easier to get along with when I get home," Symonds says.

It seems like the sport is a hit, but there is one potential "strike".

"It's a weird name I hope they rename it, people think you hit a pickle around," says Abowd.

There are pickleball courts in nearly every state, but the sport is especially popular in Arizona and Florida.

The level of play can range from pick up games on the weekends to national tournaments.

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