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Pickleball – A Game for All Ages and Skill Sets Here on the Suncoast

| Angela Naff |

Most everyone has either played or heard about Pickleball, the fastest-growing sport in America from 2019 to 2021. This is a game that all ages seem to be getting on board with, even being mentioned by social media mavens like the Kardashians as something they enjoy. There are upwards of 5 million people that now play this game, and on the Suncoast new courts have been built to accommodate the growing numbers of people playing this game.

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a crossover of badminton, ping-pong, and tennis. This game is played with paddles that are slightly larger than ping-pong paddles. Players hit a plastic whiffle ball over a note on a court that is a smaller version of a tennis court. Individuals or partners play the game. While there might be several similarities to tennis, it is its unique sport, to be sure.

Rules of the Game

While there are nuances of the game that you pick up as you advance in the game, there are currently twelve simplified rules every beginner needs to know:

  • Your serve must be hit underhand and be started from the baseline.
  • The serve must land beyond the Kitchen area.
  • Your serve must go cross-court to the diagonal square from you.
  • You continue to serve until you lose a point.
  • All shots must land in bounds.
  • The ball must bounce once on each side at the start of a rally. The serve must bounce before being hit by the receiving team, and the return of the serve must bounce before being returned.
  • You can’t hit the ball out of the air while standing in the Kitchen or Non-Volley Zone.
  • If you are standing in the Kitchen line, you are in the Kitchen.
  • Nothing can come off of your body (clothes, sunglasses, gum, etc.) and land in the Kitchen after a volley.
  • After volleying a ball out of the air, your momentum cannot take you into the Kitchen.
  • Only the serving team can earn points.
  • Recreational games are played to 11 points (win by 2)
Courtesy of Unsplash

Why do so many enjoy Pickleball?

Many people think that COVID actually played a major role in people moving to the sport in larger numbers than before. The sport is most popular among older folks, with half of all “serious” pickleball players being over the age of 55, according to USA Pickleball, but the fastest-growing segment of pickleball players is people under 24. It was a safe way to get out of the house and engage with others while also keeping a safe distance. This is a game that is easy to pick up and learn and provides a bit of competition for young and old alike. It is also kinder to joints and muscles over more contact or high-impact sports.

Suncoast Locations to Play

There are amazing new sites to play and compete in, and pickleball is popping up all over the Suncoast. If you don’t have someone to play with, just showing up at any of these often can warrant a partner for a match. Stay active, and fit while visiting some amazing new locations that have been constructed just for pickleball players in our Suncoast communities.

Charlotte County Pickleball Courts – the county has thirteen county-managed pickleball courts. Check out their locations and hours HERE.

G.T. Bray Pickleball Courts – the New State-Of-The-Art C.V. Walton Racket Center Pickleball Courts at the G.T. Bray Recreation Center are now open. There are 20 pickleball courts, with 14 courts being covered and having large ceiling fans to keep the air circulation during the hot Summer months, and six uncovered courts.

Courtesy of Pixaby

Morningside Recreation Complex – Morningside Recreation Complex is a place to play pickleball in Clearwater, FL. There are four indoor wood courts. The lines are permanent, and portable nets are available. Players have access to food, restrooms, water, and lights. A one-time fee is required to play. The courts can be reserved.

Naples Pickleball Center – is Southwest Florida’s pickleball authority, with facilities and programs designed for visitors and residents alike.

Sarasota Pickleball Club – they announced in July 8, 2022, that The Sarasota Pickleball Club had 18 beautiful new dedicated courts that had taken five years to bring to fruition.

St. Pete Athletic new full-scale pickleball athletic club, St. Pete Athletic, is coming to downtown St. Petersburg. The 1.6-acre athletic campus will be situated near the intersection of Burlington Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street, just north of the EDGE District. The facility will feature 16 professional pickleball courts (including nine indoor courts, a first for Tampa Bay), a full-service restaurant and bar, and a range of amenities including: lockers, showers, a pro shop, gym equipment, and outdoor space with lounge seating, TVs, cornhole, Spikeball, and more.

Tampa Bay Pickleball – Experience pickleball at its finest in Tampa Bay’s premier indoor facility. It’s the ultimate destination for pickleball enthusiasts.

The Pickleball Club – The Pickleball Club is a 33,393-square-foot club located at 1300 Sarasota Center Blvd. and features championship-grade courts with permanent nets, an outdoor players’ courtyard, Pickles Café, Dink’s Pro Shop, an indoor players’ lounge observation deck, luxurious locker rooms, and a HEPA filtered air-conditioned environment.

Are you a pickleball lover already, or are you considering giving it a shot? Grab a friend or three and head on out to see what this craze is all about. The Suncoast has some amazing places to get in on this amazing sport, close to pretty much any community. Join the crowds falling in love with this sport, and see how popular it can grow down the road.

Photo Courtesy of Deposit Photos

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