Roger Kendall found a sport he wants to share with Moab: Pickleball.
“It’s a fast action game. It is much faster than tennis, but it doesn’t require the running and cutting that tennis does, so it is easier on your knees,” Kendall said.
He discovered the game in Frisco, Colo. The skiing community has two tennis courts that are now marked with pickleball lines. On Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday mornings people there are lining up to play.
“Now they get about 50 or 60 people showing up,” Kendall said. “It’s exploding. I think they could have even more people playing if they had more courts.”
Pickleball is a court sport played on a badminton-sized court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic ball similar to a whiffle ball and wood or composite paddles about twice the size of ping-pong paddles.
“I played for the first time a few months ago as the program was first
starting,” said Nancy Jordan, USA Pickleball Association board member. “I was surprised how much fun it is. It’s a natural transition from tennis – my knees don’t like to play anymore – and a great workout.”
Russell Gilbert, 64, played pickleball for the first time with his son-in-law John Geiger, Moab city recreation manager. He picked up the nuances quickly in a quick spar at the Moab City Gym.
“I’ve played badminton and I’ve played table tennis,” he said. “I found the game to be active and challenging.”
Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles. New players can learn the game quickly in a single session. No special apparel is needed, just something comfortable and appropriate for a court sport. Equipment is inexpensive and easily portable. The game can be played by all ages and is particularly popular in school physical education programs and senior groups.
Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, by three dads: Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. Their kids were bored with their usual summertime activities, so they made equipment and created simple rules to have their children play. The name “pickleball” came from one of the co-inventor’s family cocker spaniel, Pickle, who would chase the stray ball and hide the balls in the bushes.