Pickleball. You’ve heard of it. It’s growing in popularity, but still, not everyone knows quite what it is.
It might surprise you to know that it’s been around since the summer of 1965, when Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington State, and Bill Bell, a successful businessman, were at Pritchard’s home on a Saturday morning with their families. In search of an activity that could involve everyone, they decided to make up a game using an existing badminton court, some ping-pong paddles, and a perforated plastic ball.
A half-century later, pickleball has evolved into a competitive sport with serious athletes competing and ASEA athletes, Tyson McGuffin and Tyler Loong, are two of the top ten players in the world.
Besides the shared connotation of “pickle,” pickleball has nothing to do with baseball. It is not an exclusive senior’s sport, it’s nothing like shuffleboard, not a drinking game, and it is not played on cruise ships (not as of 2019, at least).
Much like tennis, there is a ball, a net, racquets, and a designated playing area. There are a few differences, though. There are no actual pickles used in pickleball. The sport’s name is attributed to the Pritchards’ dog, Pickles, chasing the ball during play and running off with it. (2)
In pickleball, you serve underhand. Always. The ball has less bounce, there are no doubles alley (singles and doubles are played on the same-size court) and there is a seven-foot no-volley zone, popularly called “the kitchen,” extending from the net. A “volley” is when a player hits the ball out of the air before it bounces on the ground.
Like most other sports, agility, athleticism, and quick thinking will play to the advantage of anyone who plays.
In the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) 2018 Pickleball Participant Report, they reported pickleball currently has 3.1 million players in the US—an increase of 12% over the previous year. (4) One of the biggest reasons pickleball is growing so fast is due to the popularity of the unofficial ambassadors for the sport and official ASEA Athletes Tyson McGuffin and Tyler Loong.
Tyson is the #1 ranked Singles player and the #4 ranked Men’s Doubles player in the world. With a history in competitive tennis and competitive wrestling (everything is competitive with this guy), Tyson had already made ripples in the sports world. When he entered the pickleball realm, this background, athleticism, and a newfound love for the sport quickly shot him to the number-one spot. Tyler Loong is also among the top ten players in the world. Together they competed in the men’s double pro at the USA pickleball tournament in Newport Beach, California where they won Gold.