by Anne Batty
In 1965, three Bainbridge Island, WA dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, whose children were bored with their usual summertime activities, – put their heads together to create the newest craze that is sweeping across the US and Canada. Its name is pickleball, and it is presently being touted as a new and fun way for all ages and skill levels to have fun while exercising.
In the early years the game had no name, but as it progressed in popularity one soon became necessary. Joan Pritchard, Joel’s wife, says she started calling the game pickleball because the combination of different sports reminded her of the pickle boat in the sport of Crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. But according to Barney McCaullum, the game was officially named after the Pritchard’s’ cocker spaniel, Pickles, who loved to chase the ball and run off with it.
What is Pickleball?
Continually gaining popularity, especially among aging Baby Boomers, pickleball is a game similar to the paddle tennis members of the Shorecliffs Beach Club presently play on their outdoor court at Poche Beach. And like paddle tennis, this game also combines the many elements of tennis, racquetball, badminton and ping-pong.
Its rules are simple, and can be seen on the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA.org) website. But while it is a game easy for beginners to learn, it can develop into a fast-paced, competitive game for those more experienced players.
Participants play either singles or doubles on indoor and outdoor badminton-sized courts equipped with a slightly modified tennis net. The only other equipment needed is a pickleball paddle (smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping-pong paddle) and a unique, plastic pickleball, complete with holes. Different balls are color-coded and used for indoor and outdoor play, and are designated by the international Federation of Pickleball (IFP)
Athletic clothing such as shorts, sweatpants, T-shirts, is the order of the day, with female participants often wearing tennis-style dresses and skirts. Comfortable court shoes are a must, and eye protection is highly recommended.
The San Clemente City Recreation Department offers pickleball lessons/games at San Gorgonio Park. Taught by Raudel Barba, clinics at the park include beginning play, strategy and round robin socials. More games can be found in our sister city, Dana Point, at the Community Center located on Del Obispo Street. Free beginner instructions, paddles and balls are available there and all are welcome.
For further information or to find more locations for the game and/or participate in tournaments visit the USA Pickleball Association website www.usapa.org.