Fitness centers and local parks around Long Island are transforming their tennis courts into pickleball courts following the game’s recent popularity. For those who may have never heard of the sport, pickleball combines the elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong together. Players use special paddles and a wiffle ball to create a quick, fast-paced and competitive game. Games typically run about 15 minutes each and take place on tennis courts, which are modified with specific pickleball lines. The sport is known to be played by an older crowd but can be played by people of all ages and is easy for beginners to learn.
According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island in Washington state. Three dads Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities are credited for creating game. Legend has it that the game was named after Pritchard’s dog, who would chase the ball and run off with it.
According to the USAPA website, pickleball has evolved from original handmade equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout the U.S. and Canada. There are more than 15,000 indoor and outdoor courts in the United States, with at least one location in all 50 states.
Many towns on the north shore are introducing pickleball to their residents. The Village of East Hills recently hosted an introductory program at East Hills park. The program was open to adult residents and was hosted by USAPA Ambassador Professional pickleball Registry Coach Eric Shuman. Shuman attended the event and helped explain the rules and pointers of the game. The introductory program had a huge turn out with about 50 people showing up. The village is looking into creating pickleball courts at the park, but there is no word yet on when or if this will be done.
The Sid Jacobson JCC in East Hills also offers pickleball on Saturdays from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and Sundays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The cost is $180 for members, $90 for 10 sessions. $25 for members, $15 per drop-in session. For availability, contact the fitness center welcome desk, 516-484-1545 ext. 139.
In July, Glen Cove Mayor Tim Tenke and USAPA Ambassador and president of the Gold Coast Pickleball Club Eric Shuman attended the grand opening of a new pickleball court which is located in Stanco Park next to the Glen Cove Golf Course. The Gold Coast pickleball club plays often at Stanco Park and is free for all Nassau County residents over age 60. No experience or equipment is necessary. The club will be playing again at Stanco Park on Tuesday, Aug. 13 from 9:45 to 11:30 a.m. and again on Thursday, Aug. 29, from 9:45 to 11:30 a.m. For more information or questions, contact Shuman at 516-759-9610 ext. 718. To find more places to play pickleball, visit www.places2play.org.