Game with silly name grows in popularity

Pickleball clinic coming to Webster City Saturday

— Daily Freeman-Journal photos by Courtney Sogard Jerita Nelson steps into the “kitchen” of a homemade pickleball court to return a serve to her practice partner Lisa Schaa. The two women sought out funding from the Hotel/Motel Tax Board and will bring a clinic on the sport to Webster City on Saturday.

Pickleball is sweeping the nation, and a couple of local enthusiasts, Lisa Schaa and Jerita Nelson, are bringing an upcoming clinic to Webster City.

The clinic will be held at the Webster City High School on Saturday, Sept. 15. Schaa and Nelson received funding from a Hotel/Motel Grant in order to host the upcoming pickleball clinic hosted by pickleball specialist, Gordon Mosher, with times varying for the different skill levels of the sport.

An introduction will start at 8:45 to10:30 a.m., for those who are interested in learning more about the sport. From 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., a beginner’s clinic will be held for those who may have already played pickleball and have a basic understanding of the rules.

Finally, an intermediate clinic will begin at 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. for those who play more frequently, but are wanting to fine tune their pickleball skills.

There will be 16 spots per session and space is limited with a $10 fee. In order to register, go to www.tinyurl.com/wcpickleball.

The sport itself originated in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, WA and was invented by 3 dads, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, when they realized they had separate pieces of equipment from various sports like badminton, ping pong, and tennis, but not a complete set needed to play even one of these games. They decided to create their own game using paddles, a whiffle ball, and a court half the size of a regulation tennis court in order to entertain their kids that summer. The name is derived from the Pritchards’ family cocker spaniel named Pickle, who would chase after the whiffle ball.

Some single players and doubles teams can be found playing on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Fuller Hall and at the high school while the weather permits, on Sunday evenings.

“This is really a sport for any age and deals with more finesse than power,” said Schaa.

The goal of the game is to hit the whiffle ball over the net to where it will land within bounds of where your opponent can’t reach it. It takes some strategic moves and quick thinking to make sure you are putting the ball where you want it, according to Schaa. There is also a designated area called the “kitchen” that you must stay out of when serving, but can step into once the whiffle ball is in play and will bounce or land within that designated area. Each game goes to 11 points and each player is only able to score on their own serve, not by a retaliation shot that manages to land on their opponent’s side of the net. Like tennis, pickleball is a paddle sport and can be played in teams of singles or doubles. There will be a little more effort exerted when playing singles, due to the full court coverage each player must maintain on their own side of the net, added Schaa.

The equipment for the sport can be very inexpensive, depending on the quality of the paddle you buy, which can either be a wooden material or a more durable paddle made of composite materials.

“Retirees have been the main target group for the sport, because it gives them something to do that exerts the least amount of power, but still keeps them on their toes, strategizing their next move,” said Schaa.

The rules are easy and the ages of players can vary from ages 10-75. It has been included in Physical Education in schools all over the nation since it began over 5 decades ago, but is just now really growing as a national sport for everyone to play, with some places actually creating designated pickle ball courts due to it’s rise in popularity in recent years.

“I can remember playing pickleball in P.E. class when I was younger,” said Nelson. “And it’s a great sport to play now that I’m retired.”

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