A combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis is taking the sports world by storm.
Pickleball is a low-impact sport that began in a backyard in Seattle, Washington in 1965. But over the past five years it has become a rising star, winning the All-American Sports title at the fastest growing for the second consecutive year.
What do you want to know
Pickleball was established in 1965
The game is a combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis
There are 4.8 million pickleball players in the United States.
Lane Ethridge is a North Carolina pickleball instructor.
Pickleball is a game of skill and technique that anyone can play. The game has 4.8 million players nationwide, with the average player age being 38.
Life Time, a fitness center in Raleigh, introduced pickleball to its club four months ago. They first offered eight hours of free play per week, but due to an explosion in demand, they now offer 34 hours of pickleball.
Lane Ethridge is a Life Time pickleball instructor, and he first picked up a pickleball racquet in 2018.
“I was playing racketball at a local YMCA, and one of the employees asked me if I wanted to play pickleball the next morning. I had no idea what he was talking about, I’ve never heard of this sport,” Ethridge said.
Ethridge was immediately hooked. The former teacher turned entrepreneur has centered the last three years of his life around this sport.
“I fell in love with the idea of getting better playing a game I didn’t know,” Ethridge said.
Ethridge now teaches others how to play the game.
“My passion is connecting with people on a personal level. Pickleball is more about life than sport, you have a great time trying to connect with someone,” Ethridge said.
The game is played indoors or outdoors on a badminton court, with a net set at 34 inches, using a plastic ball and wooden or composite paddles that are double the the size of ping pong paddles. Players can play singles or doubles. Ethridge says the rules of the game can be learned in one session.
“You can play at any level, you can play recreationally, you can compete and play in leagues, and you can play in tournaments at any level. I wanted to compete again and get my athletic side competitive. I fell into I love watching my students and friends compete more. I’m passionate about teaching others to learn,” Ethridge said.
John Spencer learned the game from Ethridge and started playing three months ago.
“The first time Lane comes in and shows everyone the techniques and pointers of the game and from that moment I was hooked,” Spencer said.
During an hour of pickleball, Spencer’s watch registered 570 active calories. He says playing pickleball allows him to use his lateral movement that he can no longer use on the basketball court.
“It’s actually better than being on the stair master, but the workout is awesome, but the community of people that’s here is really why we come,” Spencer said.
Ethirdge agrees that the pickleball community is what makes the sport what it is.
“A lot of people come to the gym, they train and leave. I have a client who has been here for six years. She said she made more friends in three months. [playing pickleball] than in six years,” Ethridge said.
While the game can get competitive, Ethridge says athleticism isn’t a factor.
“Ironically the first time I played I got beaten by a 77-year-old gu. It doesn’t matter how athletic you are. I realized I had to learn to play this sport,” Ethridge said. .
Ethridge’s goal is to spread awareness of the game, that it doesn’t matter your age or physical abilities, the game can be modified for anyone and everyone who wants to play.
“I didn’t know pickleball three years ago, and now it’s become my whole livelihood, my whole network is based around pickleball, for those who are thinking about it or want to try it, go ahead, say yes, try it around your area and see what you think,” Ethridge said.