Everyone Prefers Pickleball: If you weren't sure and really wanted to test the theory, try giving your Golden Retriever (or any pet) a choice - Chucker ball (even the one that whistles) or a Pickleball. When she/he chooses a Pickleball like Gracie did here, in a fully transparent and objective International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) sanctioned test, then you know for sure that Pickleball is the sport of choice for everyone!!
The Golden Retriever "standard test" is in my opinion an appropriate one since popular folklore (at least the one I support for obvious reasons) is that the name of the game originally came from the co-founder's Golden called Pickle, who always stole the ball. Not knowing what to call this game they invented, they decided to call it Pickleball in honour of their pet and a new obsession was "unleashed" on us!
2022 marks Pickleball's 57th anniversary where every State in the US and every Canadian Province now have multiple venues totalling approximately 1100 locations, adding 70+ every month in 2021 alone. This has resulted in a growth rate of 39.3% over 2 years, which prompted the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) in it's February 2022 Topline Participation Report to pronounce that Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the US (and Canada?).
Pickleball is ready for prime time. A recent story by Todd Plummer published originally in the NY Times, talks about the fact that he has found from his research (separate from my canine research) that Pickleball is ready for prime time and everyone is trying it. Besides Leonardo DiCaprio as reported by Vanity Fair, celebs like Ellen Degeneres, Reese Witherspoon, Kim Kardashian and George Clooney (with his own home court as discussed in a previous blog), Canadian actor Matthew Perry, and even Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) have this healthy addiction. But it's not just the celebs who are driving participation in this sport!
Why is everyone giving Pickleball a try? Its appeal is that it is a combination of all the racquet sports that we love and probably have participated in at one time or another - tennis, badminton, squash and even ping pong. The court is smaller than a tennis court so not as much territory to cover. The ball is easy to hit, but with practice and skill, can be made to be much more difficult to return. Rules are simple (but scoring is probably not). Pickleball can be played inside or outside, singles or doubles (our educated guess is that approx 90% of the recreational games are doubles), mixed or not, and only a paddle and plastic ball needed if you have the court - or bring one with you via a portable net. And finally, doubles play can be as mind bending and strategic as a chess match as you improve.
And the best part as far as I'm concerned is that Pickleball's avid followers are a very friendly group, social and multi-generational. Find a court where there is a group playing (the joyous sounds will lead you there as the neighbours go in the opposite direction), and you will be invited to join! Meet new friends and be prepared to have fun and laugh no matter whether you win or lose (changing partners is one of the best Pickleball game levellers), make great shots or not, and the best long lasting result is leading a healthy and social lifestyle. A responsible pint or glass of your favourite red or white after is fun too!
Any Age can play. One of my granddaughters recently arrived early to watch one of our matches. I had a spare racquet and she asked to have a hit. To my absolute surprise at 8 years young, within 10 minutes she was hitting regular shots with precision and pace consistently over the net - and scoring points! I'd better get some more lessons from Steve (Deakin) soon.
Anyone can play and enjoy this sport, so why don't you try it? Even your canine friends recommend it.