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Pickleball: Why is it so popular?

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Many different sports are available to participate in during one’s college years such as basketball, flag football, softball and ping pong, but one sport is growing fast among college students: pickleball. 

 

Pickleball was created in 1965 by Congressman Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell. Although the sport was known in the late 90’s, it began to take off throughout the 21st century. More recently, pickleball has experienced a boom in participation. 

 

The 2023 Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s Topline Participation Report states for the third straight year pickleball is America’s fastest-growing sport, and has increased in popularity by 158.6% in the last three years. 

 

The sport has undoubtedly grown in popularity, but what makes the sport so popular?

The answer might lie in the simplicity of the game, and the benefits for one’s health. 

 

Pickleball is a racquet sport, similar to tennis, ping pong and badminton. The sport combines elements of these games but adds some uniqueness as well. The ball used is similar to a wiffleball, a plastic ball with holes covering the surface of the ball. To hit the ball, a paddle is used. A pickleball paddle is similar in shape to a ping-pong paddle but is bigger than the counterpart used by the table sport. Games are played on a multitude of surfaces including gymnasium floors, tennis courts and concrete. Pickleball courts are 44 feet by 20 feet, this is slightly bigger than one-half of a tennis court. 

 

Taking the basics of the game into consideration, the rules can be complicated to get the hang of at first, but the game becomes simple once the rules are understood. Most often, the game is played in the doubles format, and each player gets a chance to serve. You may only score a point when your team is serving, and must “win” two serves from the opposing team to get the ball back to your team. 

 

In a video published by USA Pickleball, players cite the sport’s sociability, activeness and easiness of understanding as reasons to try out the sport. The sport features the perfect balance of enough activity to provide health benefits, but not too much to be a physically draining sport. 

 

Pickleball is available to play on campus at the SWOSU Wellness Center. The Wellness Center features two pickleball courts and pickleball equipment that is free for any SWOSU student or faculty member to use.

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Coy Pope, Sports Writer
Coy Pope is a freshman from Yukon, Oklahoma and is majoring in Parks and Wildlife Law Enforcement with a minor in Wild land fire. He enjoys writing and covering sports, but also enjoys covering other activities, events and basically anything SWOSU-related. Coy wrote for the YHS Insight during all four years in high school.

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