“Stay out of the kitchen,” plain and simple. That is one of the known phrases used when playing the sport pickleball.
Rooting back to 1965, the game was first introduced by Joel Pritchard, congressman from Washington State, and businessman Bill Bell. While at Pritchard’s home in Bainbridge Island, WA they found a badminton court and discovered that there were not any rackets around. Pritchard and Bell improvised and ended up using ping-pong paddles along with a perforated ball.
In the following weekend, Barney McCallum, later known as one of the pioneers of pickleball, learned the details of the game and the three created rules based on their knowledge of badminton.
Various people describe pickleball as a mixture of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.
The sport has expanded in the U.S. because of its inclusiveness and because it is age friendly. It has made its way to Long Beach parks and residential areas.
“It [pickleball] just recently took off within the last four or five years because it is very inclusive,” local pickleball player Marjie Page said.
According to Forbes, pickleball has over 4.8 million players nationwide, an increase of nearly 40% over two years ago.
The game has attracted players from different generations along with coming together to share their love for the sport.
Long Beach resident Lindsay Moss learned how to play pickleball over the summer and shared that the court where she learned how to play pickleball had college kids up to retirees all playing together.
“The first time I played, I was chatting with my grandma and I was attempting to explain the game when she cut me off and said she knew of the game because the retired neighbors on her street had created a court in the middle of the block to play together,” Moss said.
Many of the local players in Long Beach come to Marina Vista Park, Bayshore and Somerset Park in the morning not only because it is refreshing to get exercise with fresh air, but also due to lack of lights at nighttime.
Page along with other pickleball player Lynne Haines help coordinate the early morning matches at Marina Vista Park that begin at 9 a.m. compared to tennis and pickleball clubs in Seal Beach who plays until around 9 p.m. because Marina Vista lacks light.
“We don’t have any lights, but we are in the works with the city to try and get a pickleball center here [Marina Vista Park] because we’re far enough away from the neighbors,” Haines said.
According to a recent memorandum from Brent Dennis, director of Parks, Recreation and Marine, there are plans from the City of Long Beach to try and help enhance the pickleball experience throughout the city, meaning more lights, fences and pickleball courts will be accommodated.
Despite not being able to play in the dark, the possibilities for the growth of the game are lighting up across the world.
“We just have to hope that the city continues to support the growth that we have with more permanent courts here,” Page said.
Pickleball is not just a sport that can be played recreationally, but also professionally.
First-year Long Beach State student Mishila Garcia plays locally and recently won second place in a tournament alongside her partner for their division.
“Playing this sport gives me a way to take a break from schoolwork and get outside for a bit,” Garcia said. “Unlike most sports, it is not too demanding on your body, so my grandparents are able to play.”
Many celebrities have seen the growth of pickleball in recent years and are investing money into the professional leagues.
“Now that we have some of the athletes coming in like LeBron James, Tom Brady, buying into professional pickleball. I can only just see more and more growth,” Page said.
With the hopes of becoming an official sport played at the Olympics, the rapid momentum of pickleball’s popularity and growth, could head that route soon.