One sport that’s fast catching up with the popularity of golf in The Villages is pickleball. This game is a combination of the techniques used in badminton, ping-pong and tennis. The only difference is that the racket is a wooden paddle and the ball, made of plastic, is a perforated baseball.
The most accepted story of the origin of this sport is that it was invented by two parents who replaced the shuttlecock of badminton with a plastic ball and the badminton rackets with a paddle made of wood. The family had a dog named Pickles who would chase the ball; so that’s where the name came from. This game which was created for the kids soon became hugely popular with the adults.
What you need
You can play this game on practically any hard surface like a badminton or tennis court or even in the driveway. The net is placed lower than for badminton or tennis; the players aim to pass the ball across this net by using the wooden racket. Like badminton and tennis, it can be played by singles or a team of two players.
Why it’s popular
Pickleball is a craze amongst the residents of The Villages because it’s a game that’s ideal for senior citizens who cannot play tennis because of injuries. The game is fast enough to offer sufficient physical and mental exercise without being strenuous. There are over a hundred pickleball courts here which just goes to show how popular it is. Games are actively attended by not just the players, but also their spouses who cheer with gusto.
Accolades for The Villages
The National Pickleball Association, an organization devoted to the sport, is located at The Villages. It’s been conducting games since 2003, and has always found an enthusiastic response. In fact, the debut year itself saw more than 200 people participating.
The Masters Athlete Magazine has chosen The Villages as the top place for pickleball. No wonder, considering the fact that the courts here are occupied all around the year with tournaments and league matches. People with various levels of expertise compete excitedly in these events. At the latest count, there are more than 2000 players involved with playing the game in The Villages.
Learning the game
Anyone interested in picking up the game can attend the various pickleball classes conducted regularly by the various clubs in the area. Here, qualified instructors help beginners to pick up the basics of the game, while experts are given practice sessions to hone their skills.
Most instructors give the players the freedom to come up with their own lesson plans. The players are coached in the advanced techniques including a variety of strategies. People either play alone or bring along a friend to participate in the group play.
Like everything else at The Villages, pickleball is one activity that invites animated participation from the seniors. In fact, many of them admit to playing the game more for the camaraderie and fun than to win any award.