The Sport That’s in a Pandemic Boom And Where to Play in East Texas
It's a fusion of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, and it's one of the fastest-growing sports in America. So how in the heck do you play pickleball, and where can we play in East Texas?
My daughter and I discovered pickleball a couple of years ago when we traveled to Jackson Hole, WY. After wearing ourselves out with Yellowstone, t-shirt shops, and art museums, one morning we decided to wander aimlessly through a neighborhood near our hotel and ended up at a park with crowded courts and people with paddles, so we decided to see what was up. These people were having a blast, and they seemed to have mastered whatever it was they were doing so we asked some questions and found out it was a Thursday morning pickleball match with friends and they were going out for tacos after. In other words, they weren't going to get so sweaty that their makeup would run and they would need a shower after. The cool Jackson air probably helped.
Pickleball has been around since the 1960s, but it has only recently caught on, and now 4.1 million people around the U.S. are playing it. BBC News said there are 37 countries in the International Pickleball Federation, and that's more than double where it was before the pandemic. People needed to get out of the house during the lockdown and do something, and apparently, they went straight to the pickleball court.
"Pickleball is a mash-up of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It can be played by singles or in pairs, either indoors or outside. The aim, like many racquet sports, is to get the ball over the net and prevent your opponent from hitting it back. The kitchen refers to the no-volley zone and dinking is a soft shot that sends the other player scrambling towards the net to reach the ball in time."
Think tennis, only you don't have to smack the ball so far or so hard. Pickleball is played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes on courts that are indoors or outdoors, and all ages can play.
There are a few places around East Texas with designated pickleball courts.
Glass Recreation Center - 501 West 32nd, Tyler.
Schedule: Open Pickleball Mondays 7 pm-10 pm, Thurs. 9a.m.-noon, & Sat 9 am-12 noon. Beginners Wed 9 am-noon
Tyler Athletic & Swim Club - 2767 Oak Creek Blvd Tyler. Members can play for free with complimentary provided equipment, non-members can access the club for a daily drop-in rate. Schedule: Mon, Wed, Fri 8 am-11 am & Fridays 5 pm-8 pm
Guthrie Park - 301 Tupelo Drive Longview
Pickleballers say it's a blast, and it's not hard to learn. In an active area like East Texas, we have a feeling pickleball isn't just pandemic-popular, but it's an active thing to do that has been around for a while and will stick around long after the pandemic is gone. Click HERE for all the rules, and good luck!