Pickleball gaining momentum in City

  • Jun. 17, 2015 8:00 p.m.

The local pickleball club hosted an open house on their courts in West Park last week for residents of the City to try out the relatively new sport.

The game is played with two to four people using solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball that is similar to a wiffle ball. The ball is hit over a net in the middle of the court, similar to other racquet sports such as tennis or badminton.

The sport was invented during the summer of 1965 at the home of an American State Representative, Joel Pritchard. After returning from a game of golf with his friends, the member of the U.S. House of Representatives found him and his friends without entertainment.

After setting up badminton nets at his home, the group was unable to find a shuttlecock to play the game. Instead they found themselves a wiffle ball, lowered the nets, and fabricated themselves paddles of plywood from a nearby shed.

Inventors of the game claim on the pickleball official web site they invented the game to be one that can be played by every member of the family from children to seniors. Thus the rules are modified from that of badminton and tennis, in that the ball must bounce once on either side of the court before volleys are allowed.

The activity caught on fast with people of all ages in America and is now played all over the world through community groups, school phys-ed classes, YMCA’s and retirement communities.

According to the U.S. Pickleball Association it’s one of the fastest growing sports in North America with more than 150,000 players involved in the game worldwide.

Red Deer’s own pickleball club was established after founder Val Vollnin and her husband returned from a vacation in Arizona, where she said the game has a large following.

“The game just exploded in the States,” said Vollnin. “People came back home and brought the game with them.

“It’s taken a while to get to Canada, but it’s huge down there especially with the seniors and it’s just so much fun to play.”

The group gets together most days when the weather cooperates over at the West Park community shelter where pickleball courts are marked out for games.

The local club began with only 25 members and was up to around 53 by the end of last season with Vollnin stating the club is now around 80 members and hopes to reach 100 by the end of the summer.

“All ages can play, it keeps you active and you can have fun with it or you can be as competitive as you agree to play – whether you’re playing with friends occasionally or you’re in a club then you’re going to have fun playing pickleball.”

For more information on pickleball in Red Deer visit, www.facebook.com/reddeerpickleballclub.

jswan@reddeerexpress.com

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