What’s the fastest-growing sport in the U.S.? Well, according to a study by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, its pickleball. In fact the SFIA says 4.2 million people played the sport in 2021, up 22 percent from 2020.
While that may be news to some, it’s likely not surprising for the Huntsville Pickeball Club, which was founded in 2013, making it one of the oldest pickleball clubs in the state. The sport continues to grew in Alabama, and in Huntsville especially, since the club’s membership has increased from 25 members in 2013 to 415 in 2022.
What is pickleball?
Okay, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is pickelball? Well, to put it simply, it is sort of a mix between tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It’s played with a modified tennis net on a badminton court, and the rules are similar to tennis.
Pickleball was invented by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle. And according to USA Pickleball, the name “pickleball” has nothing to do with eating pickles. It got its name from Joan Pritchard, the wife of the game’s creator. Joan was a fan of college rowing and often watched college regattas. Similar to other college sports, those who didn’t start participated in a different competition. In this case, it was called a “pickle boat” race, which was just for fun.
Now, I did say it is “similar” to tennis. But there are plenty of differences. Here are few of the basics:
- Singles or doubles pickleball is played on a 20’ x 44’ court with a net.
- No special apparel is needed – just something comfortable and appropriate for a court sport.
- Paddles are made up of a composite of materials, which may include polymers, fiberglass, aluminum and graphite. They are smaller than tennis racquets and larger than ping pong paddles.
- The game is played with a plastic ball with holes, similar to a wiffle ball.
- Games are played to 11 points, and many of the rules are the opposite of those in tennis. These include only getting points when you (or your doubles partner) are serving, no second serve and the service return must bounce before being hit.
Where to play pickleball in Huntsville
Huntsville actually offers several places to play pickleball. Since the game can be played indoors or outdoors, Huntsville has both indoor and outdoor courts. Here are some of the pickleball locations in the Rocket City:
- Optimist Park, 703 Oakwood Ave. NE, Huntsville
- Fern Bell Recreation Center, 107-A Sanders Road SW, Huntsville
- Mark Russell Recreation Center, 429 Taylor Road, Owens Cross Roads
- Max Luther Drive Community Center, 207 Max Luther Dr. NW, Huntsville
- Brahan Spring Recreation Center, 3770 Ivy Ave., Huntsville
- Senior Center, 2200 Drake Ave. SW, Huntsville
- Shurney Legacy Center, 3011-B Sparkman Dr NW, Huntsville
- Dublin Park, 8324 Madison Pike, Madison
- Madison Crossroads, 11329 Pulaski Pike, Toney
- Sandra Moon Community Complex, 7901 Bailey Cove Rd SE, Huntsville
- Willow Park, 708 California St., Huntsville
- California Street Park, 1928 Aftonbrae Dr., Huntsville
- Philpot Park, 1211 Philpot Avenue, Huntsville
Wanna get started?
No need to worry if you don’t know how to play pickleball yet. The Huntsville Pickleball Club provides introductory pickleball training for beginning players. Training typically consists of one 2-hour session and is normally held on the inside courts at the Max Luther Drive Community Center or on the outdoor courts at the Sandra Moon Community Complex. The club supplies all of the required equipment.
Click Here to sign up for the Huntsville Pickleball Club’s beginner training.