You had me at pickle…wait…what do you mean there are no pickles in this pickleball game!? For the next round of new sport trying we went out and tried Pickleball. Now, many of you may be saying “What the heck is pickleball?” To answer that question; it’s a racquet sport that’s a mix of table tennis, badminton and tennis with some strange counting thrown in. In other words, it’s like…stew. Toss in all the various ingredients and see what you get. For a look at the origins of the sport you can check out this YouTube video HERE.
I arrived at the courts bright and early on a glorious spring day and spent some time observing the quartet of players already on the court. This first thing I really noticed was that, before each serve, they yelled out a string of numbers. 4-6-1, 4-6-2, 6-4-1, 6-4-2 “Hmmm, what’s this?” my curious brain wondered. Luckily for me, a helpful soul had arrived, so I asked. It turns out that before your serve you yell out the score. Not something unique to pickleball, but why are there three numbers? It turns out the first number is your score, the second number is the other teams score and the third number is your server position for that round. All three numbers change depending on the score and situation. OMG, is this math early in the morning? Don’t worry, it’s actually simple. The server on the right at the beginning of the team’s turn is always server 1.
After we learned how to hold our racquets we spent some time dinking. Now, you may ask “What the fragnon is dinking?” According to the pickleballkitchen.com website “In pickleball, dinking is about extending the game as long as possible so your opponent makes a mistake sooner than you do. Who knew procrastinating could be so useful!” You can read their whole article on dinking HERE. Basically, dinking is hitting a soft shot that will land at the front of the court.
Next we practiced serving for a while before moving into a game which I lost in a glorious manner even after being given loads of do-overs. Sorry Lisa. Considering my opponents were a lifelong athlete and a recent gold-medal winner, I don’t feel sad about losing. I’m more shocked I got any points at all. We got in a few good volleys, many of my serves went in and the weather was amazing.
A big thank you to the GRANDE PRAIRIE PICKLEBALL CLUB’s Lisa & Darrel for taking the time to give us a lesson and showcase their courts. If you haven’t been out to see the courts, they are yet another great sport facility that the City of Grande Prairie has to offer. The gates are open when the first member arrives in the morning and the courts on the left are for public use. Courts on the right are reserved for members only.
Overall, I am giving this an 8 out of 10. I loved it and had a great time. We worked up a sweat but nothing too outrageous. The rules were fairly straightforward and easy to understand. The venue was easily accessible. Now all I need is 3 more people that want to play at 6:30 am a couple times a week and a racquet of my own!
Pickleball is a great multi-generational sport. Families can play together and it is a great sport whether you are 12 or 82. I encourage everyone to give it a try!
Want to try pickleball? You can give it a go at the following locations:
- GRANDE PRAIRIE ACTIVITY & RECEPTION CENTRE Drop in is $5.25 for an adult and they have paddles and balls you can use. They have drop-in on Monday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday.
- SEXSMITH WELLNESS COALITION has drop in on Thursday evenings from 7-9. It is free to participate and they have paddles and balls that you can use. They meet at the outdoor tennis/pickleball courts on 100th Ave in Sexsmith. The drop-in is weather dependent.
- THE GRANDE PRAIRIE PICKLEBALL COURTS public side is opened each morning when the first member arrives and open for the day. You will need to bring your own racquet and balls.
- BEAVERLODGE CURLING CLUB Drop in is $5.00 and you must have clean indoor shoes. Sessions are Monday & Wednesday from 7pm – 9pm & Tuesday & Thursday from 10am – noon.
- EASTLINK CENTRE Drop in Monday, Wednesday & Friday 7am-Noon. Facility access fees will apply.
Until we meet again, go out and try something new of your own.