Posted Date: 01/18/2024
Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport
Burlsworth Youth Center
By KIM FULTON
The Brandon Burlsworth Youth Center in Harrison sponsored two free introductory Pickleball clinics in early January, one midday and another during evening hours. The clinics were advertised on social media the week of the events. Experienced players volunteered to play beginner games with visitors interested in learning the sport, and the regular $5 guest fee was waived to encourage participation. Both clinics had a great turnout.
"We couldn't have done this without the current players who volunteered to come help," organizer Gina Booth declared. "Spouses came and helped out, too. It's fun to see the community pull together to welcome and teach new players." She estimated that nearly a dozen volunteers gave time to the two events on Wednesday and Thursday.
Pickleball is currently the fastest-growing sport in the nation and a great way to get active and healthy. A relatively new sport that resembles tennis, badminton, and ping pong, it can be played by both young and old; it is easy to understand, and players can usually actively play a game within the first hour of learning. It is played with a net, a paddle, and a plastic wiffle ball. Like tennis, there are two or four players per game, and it can be played indoors or outdoors. Each game ends when one team reaches 11 points-- usually taking about twenty minutes. Players then mix and rotate to other courts to play with others.
There are indoor court lines and Pickleball nets for up to four Pickleball courts at the Youth Center gym. The city also has Pickleball court lines painted at the outdoor tennis courts next to the Creekside Community Center. Nets are available for checkout from the Youth Center, or players can bring their own. Two area churches have purchased Pickleball nets and now have Pickleball court lines added to their gym floors. Demand is growing.
"Our pickleball folks are an enthusiastic crew," sports coordinator Austin Smith said. "We try to give them as much access to the courts as possible." The indoor courts at the Youth Center are available for pickleball play on Monday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon. The schedule shifts somewhat as different sports seasons and leagues cycle through the Youth Center gym, but Smith said the gym always hosts lots of morning play and usually has one or two weeknights reserved for pickleball.
"We really appreciate that Parks and Rec have tinted the glass in the Youth Center doorways to cut down on glare this year and always keeps us supplied with paddles, nets, and balls," Booth said. "We enjoy playing, and the more people we can get interested, the easier it will be to find people to play with." Harrison area players currently use an app called TeamReach to communicate and gather on the courts. (The TeamReach groups they use are titled "Harrison DAYTIME Pickle Talk" for daytime games and "Harrison Pickle Talk" for evenings.)
Pickleball is not only a good, fun exercise; it is also a social activity, and it is not uncommon for competitors on the court to become good friends. "Come on out and try it," Booth encouraged. "We'd love to help newbies learn."
For more information, call Kim Fulton at 870-741-2346