Pickleball as a sport has been on the rise over the last year or so, and it seems that more and more people are playing and talking about it every day. While similar to badminton and tennis, pickleball has its own rules and regulations. It is accessible to all ages and gives players the chance to add a healthy hobby to their everyday lives.
While pickleball has seemingly exploded over the last few years, it has a history dating back to the mid-1960s. Pickleball was invented by Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell in 1965. Using a badminton court, the two friends used a perforated ball and ping-pong paddles to volley the ball back and forth. They eventually formed a corporation in order to protect the creation of their new sport. In 2005, the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was formed as a non-profit organization dedicated to the growth of pickleball.
This year, Albion College is offering a pickleball class taught by Assistant Tennis Coach and Disc Golf Instructor Alex Dowley.
Dowley said that while pickleball is similar to sports like tennis, it has its differences as well. For example, the court is smaller than a tennis court, with more similarities to badminton. The paddles are also smaller than a tennis racket and the sport is played with a plastic ball with holes in it rather than rubber and wool.
“I saw a need because it’s blowing up all over. I’ve had a lot of people ask me over the years to teach it,” Dowley said.
He added that even outside of the class, pickleball has become something even varsity sports are getting behind.
“We’re trying to do a tennis fundraiser that is pickleball related, so that’s gonna be on the horizon,” Dowley said.
He also said that while only 16 students are registered for the course, anywhere from 18 students have shown up to play some pickleball.
Michael Adanti, a senior from Woodhaven, is a member of the class.
“I played a lot over the summer, so it’s kind of cool to be in a different atmosphere playing with different people, just kind of learning how different people play and just competing,” Adanti said.
Although colleges are noticing the trend, the rest of the country can still participate, no matter their age. The USAPA website has a link to courts based on zip code, as well as resources for finding memberships and equipment.
Dowley also said that all are welcome to the class. So, if you are free on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4:20 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., head over to the Ungrodt Tennis Center to learn more about pickleball, the sport taking the country by storm.