There’s a sport taking the country and Treasure Valley by storm. You may have heard of it or even seen it played but what exactly is pickleball?
“They call it ping pong on steroids,” Nick Leach, a volunteer at the YMCA said.
“Tennis, ping pong combination, throw in a little bad mitten,” Dick Johnson, an avid pickleball player said.
If you’ve seen people playing pickleball before, your first thought was probably, what are they doing on that tennis court?
“I discovered pickle ball about three years ago and just fell in love with it,” Johnson said.
A quick rundown of the rules for those who don’t know how to play; the game uses a paddle, hard plastic ball, serves are underhand, and don’t let it bounce twice on your side.
“It’s not as hard as tennis is and then it’s so much fun,” Johnson said.
The sport is growing rapidly.
“When the game began it started with older people back in Washington but now it’s exploded, fastest growing sport in North America, as younger people are picking it up all around the world,” Johnson said.
Leach and his wife have seen that growth first hand.
“When we first got here there was probably twelve to twenty players in the area playing pickle ball,” Leach said.
That was only five years ago, now he says there are hundreds just in the valley. The indoor courts at the YMCA in Meridian are filled every day.
“We probably had a consistent of 15 to 20 people play a day then it went to 35, no we currently have 50 to 60 a day that will come and play on all eight courts,” Leach said.
Now there is a demand for more courts. Twelve are scheduled to be built behind the YMCA at Hobble Creek and Leach says that Boise has agreed to build dual use tennis and pickleball courts on all upcoming park projects.
But why the sudden surge popularity?
Players say they don’t really know why the sport is all of the sudden booming but they say it’s easy on the body and the play style is still quick and competitive.
“I can play regularly and not have to worry about the back,” Johnson said.
“It’s quick but yet it’s easier on your body than tennis is,” Leach said.
“If you just want to have a good time, you’re going to have to go a long ways to find a sport that’s any better than this,” Johnson said.