Passion for Pickleball

By Steve Lowe Executive Director

Get out of the kitchen!!  That’s not a rebuke from your mom, but it’s something you may hear during a pickleball game. You also will learn about the dink, 3rd shot drop and, of course the slam. I’ve become an avid pickleball player over the past 3 to 4 years along with other great friends in Pickens. Let me briefly introduce you to the fastest growing recreational sport in America and share some reasons myself and others love this game.

First, what is it? It has nothing to do with a pickle. Here is a great definition from pickleballexperts.com

“Pickleball is best described as a combination of badminton, ping-pong, and tennis. You can play indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court with a net similar to a tennis net. Players use a paddle that is reminiscent of ping-pong paddles but is bigger and usually made of more advanced materials. The ball used is very similar to a plastic whiffle ball with holes covering the surface. Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles, just like tennis.”

For me,  it’s like life-size ping pong with you on the table. On either side of the net is a 7-foot area non-volley zone, sling name “the kitchen”. You must stay behind this line to volley unless the ball bounces in the kitchen. This is where all the action occurs.

According to the USA Pickleball Associations(USAPA), the number of people playing pickleball in the US grew to 4.2 million in 2020, up an incredible rate of 21.3% over 2019. Why do so many love this game? Here is what I believe and have experienced. It is easy to learn and begin playing, it does take time to develop more advanced skills and strategies, but almost anyone can come out and begin playing immediately. Play and the games are relatively fast-paced. It’s a great competitive sport. There are tournaments practically every weekend around the US. You can find a tournament within driving distance for any given weekend.

However, I’ve come to believe the most compelling thing about pickleball is social interaction. I’ve never played a recreational/competitive sport where you can develop so many friendships. We enjoy the friendships of those we play with here locally, but even when you go to a big competitive tournament you enjoy great interaction with your opponents and other participants. As you travel, you can find communities of pickleball players almost anywhere that will welcome you. I experienced this a couple of weeks ago while vacationing in Florida. We found a great group in Pensacola that welcomed us to play and we’ll look forward to playing with them again.

Locally we have active groups of players in Jasper, Bent Tree, Big Canoe, Ball Ground, and Ellijay. If you’re looking for a great way to exercise, compete and make great new friends I encourage you to get involved locally with this sport. You can find out more about playing by reaching out to one of our local Pickens pickleball ambassadors: Kristy Coleman – 770-893-9436 –  kcolemanpickle1@gmail.com or Cheryl  Evans -770-294-2272 – evans5ga@gmail.com.  For our friends in Gilmer county interested in pickleball you should contact the Gilmer county ambassador Cathy Anderson – 404-693-4893 – cathysueanderson@gmail.com.