Source: Shore News Brigantine
Pickleball is a sort of hybrid between tennis, ping-pong and badminton that was created in a backyard near Seattle in the mid-1960s. The game now has about 150,000 players nationwide and its own governing body, the USA Pickleball Association, which sanctions national tournaments and player ratings.
The Brigantine Community Recreation and Education Department (CER) has offered pickleball for about four years. It is free to play, no court reservations are required, and games are structured in a friendly pickup format on weekdays. It’s played on courts set up in the gym at the Brigantine Community Center on 42nd Street 7:30-9 p.m. Monday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 1-3 p.m. Wednesday.
Pickleball gets its comical name from the game inventor’s dog, who would chase down and steal the ball every time it got smacked off the court.
“Wednesday is an instructional program for beginners who want to learn the game, and a core group of regular players teach it,” explains said the CER’s Ed Stoltzfus. “Tuesday and Thursday evenings are the most popular times to play.”
Special paddles are used. The net is similar to a tennis net but smaller, and the ball is perforated similar to a wiffle ball. Rules are a blend between tennis and badminton, and scoring is similar to volleyball in that only the serving team scores points. The first side — be it singles or doubles — to reach 11 points wins, and a team or individual must win by at least two points, as in ping-pong.
The CER provides paddles and balls for anyone who requires them. All ages are welcome, but the game tends to draw participants age 40 and up. The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA.org) website notes that pickleball has been gaining popularity among older adults largely because of its being low impact; helpful in improving and maintaining balance, agility and eye-hand coordination; and providing an excellent way to expand social horizons.
“You’re using paddles and it’s more of a finesse game like ping-pong, but you’re physically moving around on the court as you would be in tennis,” says longtime Brigantine resident Tom Donahue. “And because you’re competing – and I don’t mean to say this is anything super competitive – but because you’re keeping score, you’re trying a little harder and pushing yourself a little bit more.”
“It’s popularity is enormous, and it’s been that way from the beginning,” says the CER’s Ed Stoltzfus. “If you told me it would end up being this popular after we started it, I would have laughed.”