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How many pickleballers will Peter Piper pick?

Fall is a wonderful time to be outdoors in Boulder City. Milder weather is an invitation to gather outside with family and friends and encourages us to venture out and make new acquaintances as well.

Social gatherings like WurstFest, National Night Out, Art in the Park, the Fire association’s annual pancake breakfast, dog and classic car shows, and Trunk or Treat provide unparalleled opportunities to mingle with loved ones and meet new faces. Outdoor exercise also picks up with high school cross-country meets, mountain bike events, and cross-training races like the Pumpkinman Triathlon.

If, like me, you enjoy being active outdoors while socializing, then I recommend giving pickleball a try. Combining elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, pickleball is a fun, social game that brings people together and an excellent way to make new friends. It’s easy to learn, appeals to all ages and fitness levels, and is inexpensive to play.

That’s probably why pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. the last three years running.

My teens and older married kids wanted to play pickleball when I arrived late in Utah this past weekend. So, six of us headed to the park at 9:30 p.m. and played until almost midnight. The eight lighted pickleball courts there were buzzing with activity the whole time.

I noticed a mom in her 50s having a blast competing with her teens and pre-teens. Pickleball provides a great low-impact aerobic workout that improves reaction time and hand-eye coordination. But the intensity is easily varied to suit your preferred pace and all levels of athleticism. I’ve even played with a man in his late 80s, who held his own just fine.

Pickleball can be played just about anywhere there’s a smooth surface, another reason for its rising popularity. Tennis courts, gyms, backyards, and even unique spaces like cruise ships all work well.

Our city’s Parks and Recreation Department manages over a dozen pickleball courts, including a few indoors at the Rec Center and several others outdoors at ABC and Broadbent parks. In recent weeks, there’s even been an experimental sport court at Broadbent Park designed to get community feedback on the pros and cons of pickleballing on a surface like that.

Although you may not have heard about pickleball until recently, it has a delightful history dating back over 50 years. Future U.S. Congressman Joel Pritchard and two friends created the game with their kids in 1965 when they couldn’t find the shuttlecock for their badminton set. They started with table tennis paddles and a whiffleball, then kept experimenting and refining the rules and gear over time. Despite its inconspicuous origins, today there are national and international competitions, pro pickleball teams owned by the likes of Lebron James and Tom Brady, a big push to make pickleball an Olympic event by 2028, and over 5 million players nationwide, with an additional 25 million projected by 2030.

There are many compelling reasons to get out of your house and enjoy God’s creation this autumn season. But if you need one more, try pickleball.

And don’t be too surprised if you like it. Who knows, maybe you’ll get hooked and become an avid player like millions of others?

Or even just an occasional social pickler like me.

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