Pickleball, a sport once associated with senior centers, now boasts a national association, two magazines, and an ever-growing assortment of colorful paddles. The Black Hills are no exception to the pickleball craze, with courts and clubs popping up all over.
Over 4 million people play pickleball in the United States. In fact, CBS Sports Network and ESPN have even started televising pickleball tournaments, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jillian Michaels attest to their love of the sport.
Perks of playing pickleball
What makes pickleball so popular? Pickleball’s popularity comes, in part, from its affordability and accessibility. A basic set of paddles can cost as little as $11, while a set of higher-end paddles can cost between $60 to $150. As for accessibility, pickleball courts can be found at most parks and activity centers.
Pickleball also includes a variety of health benefits; it not only improves your agility, mental acuity, and hand-eye coordination, but also boosts your immune system and reduces stress. Best of all, pickleball is a highly social sport and can be played by people of all ages.
History of the sport
Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a Washington State congressman, and his friend, William Bell. Looking to entertain their families, Pritchard and Bell decided to make use of an old badminton court — except they couldn’t find a proper set of rackets. They played with ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball instead, and the rest is history.
The pair initially set the net at sixty inches high, the standard height of a badminton net. As the weekend progressed, they lowered the net to 36 inches. Pickleball paddles have also evolved over the years. The original paddles were made of wood, but most pickleball paddles are now made of graphite or fiberglass.
HOW TO PLAY
Pickleball is a happy combination of ping pong, tennis, and badminton.
Pickleball is played on a 20 by 44 foot court, usually marked off within a tennis court. The ball is served diagonally, starting on the right side of the court. Players are only able to score points during their serve.
Players must let the ball bounce once before volleying. They must also stay out of the seven-foot “kitchen” unless the ball is volleyed into the area.
The server must continue to serve, alternating sides of the court, until he or she faults. The first side to score 11 points — leading by at least two — wins. Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles.
Canyon Lake Activity Center has indoor pickleball on Monday – Friday at noon, Saturday at 9 am, and Sunday at 1 pm. Beginner classes are offered on Monday at 5 pm. Advanced players (3.5+) play on Monday – Friday at 6 pm. Canyon Lake’s outdoor pickleball courts can be used at any time, weather permitting. The drop-in fee costs $5, and visitors and beginners are welcome. Paddles and pickleballs are provided.
Quarry Park, located on City Springs Road, has two outdoor courts for tennis and pickleball. Pickleball courts can also be found at Wilson Park, located on 1701 Mt. Rushmore Road.
Hart Ranch Resort offers drop-in pickleball for guests and members. For information about their facilities and pickleball court availability, contact Hart Ranch directly.
Rapid City YMCA offers pickleball clinics and drop-in times on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am – 12 pm. The YMCA also organizes pickleball tournaments, open to both members and nonmembers.
Tennis Center of the Black Hills has drop-in pickleball on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Beginner and advanced pickleball clinics are offered on Monday and Tuesday. Visit their website for more information about their schedule and drop-in fees.
Martha Bullock Park, located on Charles Street in Deadwood, has an outdoor tennis court with pickleball lines. Players can either use the tennis net or bring their own pickleball net.
Sturgis Community Center offers daily passes to their gym facilities, which includes access to their tennis and pickleball courts. Indoor pickleball drop-in times are Monday – Friday, 7-9 am and Saturday, 8-10 am. Drop-in fee costs $5.
Spearfish Pickleball Club plays seven days a week, usually at Spearfish City Park on South Canyon Street. An annual membership costs $10 and includes access to pickleball classes, clinics, and social events.