Pickleball's popularity is increasing rapidly in the US, India and several countries in Europe. It has no age limits or sex differences. It boasts of being one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and now expanding its borders to other countries in the world.
We talked about pickleball, a sport that was born in 1965 by combining features of badminton, tennis and ping pong. "Its popularity is based on the fact that it was designed to be played for people of all levels and of all ages," Michael Hess, president of the Pickleball Association in Spain, told BBC World.
In the United States it is estimated that there are about 150,000 players, a number that increases internationally with the appearance of clubs in Canada, India and several European countries.
The origin of Pickleball
Pickleball's origin was in the northwestern United States when a congressman, Joel Pritchard, and his friend Bill Bell found their families bored on a summer weekend.
The two parents gathered everyone around an old badminton court that was in the garden of Pritchard's house, found a net, ping pong rackets and a plastic ball with perforations.
Pritchard and Bell taught Barney McCallum the game and created the first rules among the three.
The sport is still playing on a court similar to that used in doubles games in badminton, whether indoors or outdoors, but the wooden paddles are replaced by modern pickleball paddle mostly made of graphite..
The rules are simple and what stands out the most is that you can't hit the volley ball in the area near the net. He also adopted the cross-service system of tennis and ping pong.
"What makes pickleball different from another sport like paddle is that the ball, being punched, is slow. This allows for longer exchanges and that is where the tactical predominates rather than the force," said Hess.
Does the name adapted from a dog name?
There are two versions of how the name pickleball was chosen for the sport, although one of them is being more accepted perhaps because of how curious it is.
According to Pritchard's wife, Joan Pritchard, they started telling him pickleball because the combination of sports reminded them of the boat that assembles their crew with the rowers that are discarded by other boats ( pickle boat in English).
However, one of the friends and creators of the game, McCallum, says it was because of the Pritchard family dog that his name was Pickles and he liked to chase the balls.
Joan says that the dog, a cocker spaniel, did not arrive home until 1967, but it is possible that until then the sport did not have an official name.
The growth of Pickleball
The pickleball's fondness is increasing so rapidly that of 777 registered clubs around the United States in March 2010, it rose to more than 2,600 places in September this year.
For Michael Hess there is a reason that can explain this change.
In the pickleball there are no age limitations so there are teenagers and over 80 years old who practice it.
"The population that plays the most is the elderly and there is no doubt that in a world with an aging population, in which they live more and more years, the practice of pickleball has become fashionable," said Hess, who added that in Spain pickleball is played in Madrid, Barcelona and Alicante.
In the United States, national and regional championships are played, while in Europe an international tournament was held in Amsterdam this year.
The winners of the bronze medal were the British Brian Hook and Gill Smith, 82 and 77 respectively.
"With tennis you have to run more and I can no longer do it at that level, but here I can move and react quickly," said Hook, who looked happy with his medal.
The matches can be 11, 15 or 21 points per game and the winner is the one who first adds two games out of a maximum of three.