PIEDMONT – Six days a week, the wop-wop of paddles hitting Wiffle balls can be heard throughout Piedmont, as players young and old alike play pickleball – the sport that has taken towns and cities by storm. continues to grow.
Groups play this lively game – a mix of badminton, ping-pong and tennis – in San Francisco, Albany, Pleasanton, Redwood City, Santa Clara, Montclair and elsewhere. Albany alone has 817 players. Piedmont has a Google Group of 315 members, avid gamer Rick Schiller said.
âI signed up three years ago. (I had) no idea what it was like before. It’s positive on different levels, socially for myself and for the other players, âsaid Schiller. âThe advantage over tennis is that you train more with pickleball in a smaller space than with tennis. Four pickleball courts fit into the space of a full-size tennis court.
The Ellis, 84, who plays at least three times a week, said pickleball got him out of a retirement funk.
âA friend told my wife to tell me to find a pickleball court. (The retired friend) said gambling saved her life. Last Saturday I played in a local Piedmont tournament playing eight games. I did and had a wonderful time. The beauty of pickleball is that while it’s competitive, it’s still fun. It makes the camaraderie between us who play, regardless of age, a real joy, âsaid Ellis.
The game is played on a court 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. A typical game lasts 10 or 15 minutes. If the serving team can score a point, they can continue to serve. If they don’t, the opposing team can serve. The game ends when 11 points are scored.
People can play Tuesdays and Thursdays on the grounds at Linda Beach, Wednesdays and Fridays at Hampton Park, and Saturdays and Sundays on six courts at Piedmont Middle School. Schiller noted that cooperation was needed between the city and the school district to enable play on the school campus in a city with limited recreational space. When pickleball was first offered in Piedmont about three years ago, it was a pilot program to assess support.
âPiedmont did a poll in its own way, with a trial period at Hampton and Linda Beach. Piedmont did it right, âsaid Schiller.
It soon became clear that sport was a success, especially for older people who wanted to have fun and exercise, which sport offers. All age groups enjoy the game, however, says Schiller.
âI started playing about two years ago. I like it because it’s social and inviting by nature, keeps my eye / hand reflexes sharp and allows me to do a low impact workout, âsays player Jim MacLean.
Lisa Fuller says she loves the “diverse community of people who play – a beautiful community of fun, welcoming people, even though we’ve all played with masks.”
The game of pickleball continued for much of 2020, with groups following strict COVID-19 protocols, which are still in place.
According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, there were 4.2 million players in the United States last year, with almost 30% of the grassroots players under 35. The sport has been around since the mid-1960s when a group of fathers in Washington state invented a game that used a wiffle ball, ping-pong rackets, and a badminton net to engage their bored children. The game languished in the Pacific Northwest, then headed for the Sunbelt. It took off about five years ago, says Stu Upson, CEO of USA Pickleball.
Quoted in a recent Boston Globe article, Upson said, âIf you’re reasonably coordinated, you can play a competitive game after an hour of instruction. Its small footprint means you can set up a net and play just about anywhere from aisles to schoolyards. The boom helped during the pandemic, when people were looking for safe ways to hang out with friends. ”
A few noise complaints surfaced when the pickleball game started on the Linda Beach field, but some adjustments to the orientation of the courts helped alleviate the problem. City officials say they are always open to discussing residents’ concerns, if there are any.
âI would like to reiterate the multiple positive benefits of pickleball, especially with age, which makes it suitable for Piedmont,â said Schiller. âThe city deserves credit for paying for the repaving of the college’s badminton courts. The city wisely avoided a reservation system, which hurt pickleball elsewhere. ”
Just show up with your paddle and take part in a fun and lively game, players say.
Linda davis is a longtime Piedmont correspondent. Contact her with topical tips or comments at [email protected]