Game on! It's Pickle-ball!

Aug. 06, 2014 @ 10:21 AM

Ann Whitt had never even heard of Pickle-ball when she discovered the sport during a recent trip to Florida. Now she's pretty much addicted to it.

"I joined the Thomasville Y because they have Pickle-ball," said Debbie Gordon, one of 12 participants in bi-weekly morning Pickle-ball sessions at the Tom A. Finch Community YMCA.

Petra Halker wasn't the least bit stressed over taking up a new sport.

"We're all new at it," she said. "I used to play tennis and it sort of transfers over. It's active for sure."

"It’s a combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong," explained Barbara Ewings. "I have come to play a few times and it is so much fun!"

Pickle-ball is a popular sport that was invented in 1965. It's designed to be easy to learn and play whether you're five, 85 or somewhere in between.

The game is played on a 20 by 44-foot court defined by a center net in the basketball gymnasium.

"The YMCA provides all the equipment including wooden paddles but some of them like to bring their own graphite paddles," said YMCA Marketing Director Beth Todd.

Players trickle into the gymnasium but before long there are two Pickle-ball games going on simultaneously.

Two players on each team take their positions on a court divided by a center line.

Whitt skillfully drops the hollow wiffle ball before serving it underhand to the player diagonal to her on the opposite side.

The game is set up on a rally scoring system in which only the serving team can score. The first team to reach 11 wins.

The YMCA group have a victory ritual. After reaching a score of 11, both teams assemble at the net. First they tap their paddles together, then congratulate the winning team with a fist bump.

"It definitely gets you moving," said Don Ayers. "You meet new friends. It's a win-win situation."

YMCA Director of Wellness and Sports Jamie Mills feels that everyone who plays Pickle-ball is a winner. In addition to a great cardio workout, hand-eye coordination and flexibility there are numerous other benefits for participants of the sport.

"Our focus is to promote a healthy spirit, mind and body," he said. "You're improving your fitness level plus you're getting the chance to socialize and engage with other people. It gives them a chance to get out there and be active."

"And they're breaking a sweat," said Todd.

Pickle-ball sessions are scheduled from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.

Pickle-ball is available to YMCA and Silver Sneakers participants age 19 and older.

Beginners and experienced players are welcome.

The Tom A. Finch YMCA is at 1010 Mendenhall Street. For more information, call 475-6125 or visit myynow.org.

"It's a great place to be!" said Henrietta Furr.