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What is pickleball, you might be wondering, and why are so many people talking about it? It’s the fastest growing sport in the country and it’s loads of fun! Invented back in the summer of 1965 by a group of Dads in the Pacific Northwest to keep their kids from getting bored, it’s sort of a cross between tennis and ping pong, with unusual scoring and slightly smaller courts than tennis. Instead of a racquet you use smaller paddles, and the ball is similar to a wiffle ball. Games are almost always played as doubles and go to 11 points; you can only score points when your team is serving. There are just a few basic rules that are exclusive to pickleball (e.g., you can’t hit the ball in the air while standing in the ‘kitchen’, you must let it bounce first), and you can only serve below the waist—no overhead serving as in tennis. It’s a fast-paced but easier game than tennis, and people of all ages are becoming obsessed with it like I am. Some of the best players I’ve seen are well into their 70s and know how to place the ball perfectly to minimize running and maximize scoring. 

If you’ve never played but would like to give it a try, you’d most likely have good luck just showing up to a public court and hanging your paddle up to join the rotating games. Anxious about being a newbie to the game and knowing little to nothing about it? Not to worry—the pickleball world seems eager to teach new players how to play and share their love of the game with anyone who wants to try. However, if you’d prefer to take a lesson first, many independent pickleball coaches are out there. Just Google ‘pickleball lessons’ and you’re sure to find some local instructors, or go to https://usapickleball.org/ to get an overview of the game and watch informational videos. It’s also a good resource for finding out where to play in your area. 

So give pickleball a try, at least once. You won’t regret it! It’s low-key (depending on your skill level and desired intensity), social, light exercise, and FUN! —Laura O’Hare

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