Pickleball The fastest growing sport in America

Woman goes for pickleball shot.

About

Hello, my name is John Gaines Henson and I have created this blog to promote one of my favorite sports, Pickleball. Pickleball has been a major part of my life ever since I was a young boy. I was introduced to the sport from my next door neighbor. His name is Michael Gooch and he is from northern Michigan. The game originated in the northern part of the United States and has slowly spread to the south in popularity. Michael knocked on my door one day and asked me if I had ever heard of the game, I told him I had not and the rest was history. I have always enjoyed playing ping pong and tennis and so when I started playing pickleball it was an easy transition, as it is a mixture of the two sports. I hope that when you are reading and navigating through my blog you become energized about learning more about the sport and do some research of your own. I firmly believe that it is one of the most fun games you can play and a great way to exercise. My mission for this blog is that it is not just something you read and forget about within the next ten minutes, but search the other websites I will list and ultimately research pickleball leagues around in your local area. Pickleball is a game for the whole family and you will not be let down, I hope you enjoy my blog!

Me playing pickleball when I was a kid.

History and Rules

In 1965, congressman Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell came to their home in Brainbridge, WA to find their families laying around doing nothing. They improvised with four ping pong paddles, a wiffleball, and a tennis court. The families ended up spending the whole weekend playing the game and creating the rules to help maximize it to its full potential. They named the game pickleball because the family dog was named pickle and every time the ball would be lost pickle would find it. The game was taken from Washington State to Washington D.C. by the congressman and soon became very popular in our nations capitol. The rules in Pickleball are very similar to those in tennis. You use a 40x20 rectangle for the court which is slightly smaller than a regulation tennis court. The lines are set up the same as tennis, with four separate boxes for doubes play and a line to separate the opposing sides in which the net sites on top. There is a picture below this for a visual representation of the court. You use a wooden or aluminum raquet and a perforated plastic ball. The rules are as follows: the server will perform a bounced serve to the opposite side of the court to the opponent, who will then return the ball to anywhere on the opposite side of the court and then it becomes exactly like tennis or ping pong. You rally until the ball is hit outside of the lines or the ball bounces twice on one side without a return. The game can be played with either singles or doubles. I have always preferred doubles play because it is far more competitive and immersive. For more information on the history of the game and the rules involved check out these links.

http://www.usapa.org/history-of-the-game/

http://www.usapa.org/ifp-official-rules/

Joel Pritchard, Founder of Pickleball
Picture of Pickleball court.

Personal Experience

My introduction to Pickleball is very different than most people’s. I was sitting on my xbox one day playing video games when my neighbor, Michael Gooch, came over and asked me If I would like to learn to play a game that he learned from a friend in Washington D.C. I reluctantly said yes and went to learn the game. We built an official court in our cul de sac and gathered all of the neighborhood kids to start playing with us. Little did I know that I was learning the sport that I would come to love and play for over 12 years. I immediately fell in love with the game that day and we ended up buying spotlights that next weekend so we could play late into the night. Michael soon retired and we started playing every day after my school and on the weekends. Before the end of the year three more courts popped up around our neighborhood due to the popularity. It was a very fun time in my life. Michael and I soon started attending local tournaments and leagues when we became good enough and started tearing up the game. When I went off to college I sadly was not able to play as much with Michael, but I have discovered leagues downtown here in Knoxville. I have also met up with Michael on the weekends and played with him and his group that plays here locally in Knoxville. Pickelball is still very close and dear to my heart after all these years beause of the friends that it has brought me throughout my life. I would not be as close with my neighbors if not for the sport, it brought a sense of competitiveness in the neighborhood which in turn strengthens friendships. When I am older and have a family of my own I will definitely build a court outside my house for my kids to play.

Neighbors watch on as my friend and I play.

USAPA and Other Organizations

The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) is the official organization for the sport and the leading promoter and distributer of its equipment. The USAPA was founded in 1984 with the idea to perpetuate the growth of the sport not just nationally but internationally. With the help of the USAPA and other organizations like “Pickleball Stuff” the sport was played in all 50 states by 1990. Players would start to add their own variations to the game. When you would travel around the nation to play the game everyone had their own sense of “court rules.” For example, at my local court in knoxville that Michael Gooch and I built, we added our own rule called getting “pickled.” It is when the ball passes through your legs without you stopping it. If you get “pickled” you either have to take off your britches and play in underwear or forfeit a point to the opposing team. That is just one example of many rules I have heard that make the game more fun and competitive. The USAPA holds annual tournaments every year around the nation that lead up to the most competitive pickleball event in the country, the USAPA National Championships. The Championships are held in Casa Grande, Arizona. There are doubles play and singles play of all ages that compete at this tournament. Michael and I are planning to compete this November at the tournament in the group doubles play. The USAPA has been one of the most helpful websites to turn to when it comes to learning and exploring the world of pickleball, I hope you check out their website!

http://www.usapa.org/

http://www.pickleballstuff.com/

Woman dives for pickleball

Michael Gooch’s Story

When I chose to make a blog about pickleball it was not long after I realized I needed to include a personal anecdote from Michael. As he was the man that brought pickleball to my local community, I wanted to hear about his story and his passion for the game. We had an informal interview one night when we were playing pickleball and I asked him a few questions. My first question was how he learned about the game. “I learned about the game when I went to Michigan to visit some close friends and family. They had told me about the game and how they had their own personal court in their back yard. We played all day and all night and I became extremely passionate for the game. But I came back home to Knoxville and did not think or play it for about two more years. When I went to Washington D.C. for the national prayer breakfast I was reintroduced to the game by my host family. That is when I decided I needed to bring the sport back to Knoxville and show it to you guys.” I then asked him what attracted him to the game so quickly. “I was really fond of how the game was made for all ages, as I have gotten older I have found that it is harder to play most sports, but pickleball is easy for all ages and can be competitive no matter your age. I also enjoy the competitiveness of the game. You will have rallies that almost a minute and everyone is wheezing when you are finished.” And then to conclude my semi-formal interview with Michael I asked him what his favorite part about the game was. “My favorite part about pickleball is the comradery that it brings when you play with people. No matter how competitive it can get you will always shake your opponents hand after the game. If I had never brought pickleball to this neighborhood I would of never of been so close to you and your family. It is truly a blessing how well a sport can bring people together.” For more stories like Michael’s here are some other personal anecdotes.

http://www.pickleballstories.org/

Doubles play.

Conclusion

When Michael and I were tired of only playing each other every day in our street, we decided to check online to see if there were any leagues around the Knoxville area. We found so many opportunities to compete and have fun with so many people. We started playing in many leagues on the weekends and making a ton of new friends. That is the great thing about sports and activities in general. Although I would love for this blog to inspire you to play pickleball and learn more about the sport, the foundation of all of this how no matter what you do, it is a way to connect with others. That is the main goal that I have for this blog. I have always been more of the shy type and not very outgoing when I first meet people, pickleball was another way that I was able to connect with people right from the start instead of communicating. I am very thankful for all that pickleball has brought in my life. I have played the sport in three different states, I have played in over 10 tournaments, and have made countless friends. I hope that you are inspired by my blog and have a desire to pursue pickleball or whatever you are passionate about! Thanks for reading!

My brother arguing his case for a point.
Created By
Gaines Henson
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Created with images by pv=nrt - "Pickleball-7" • pv=nrt - "Pickleball-6" • John Beagle - "Pickleball" • pv=nrt - "Pickleball-10" • pv=nrt - "Pickleball-11"

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