Iain Cullen board member of the Prince Rupert Racquet club on Dec. 5 shows the pickleball court, ball and racquet for the fastest growing sport in North America.

Iain Cullen board member of the Prince Rupert Racquet club on Dec. 5 shows the pickleball court, ball and racquet for the fastest growing sport in North America.

Cancelled team sports have left a pickle – try pickleball instead

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in North America - Iain Cullen, Prince Rupert Racquet Club

With adult team sports cancelled in B.C. at the beginning of December due to COVID-19 restrictions, sports that are more individual in gameplay may be an option. Try pickleball.

While it may have a quirky name it is not a new game, having been around in the U.S.A. since the mid-1960s with the increasing popularity surging across the continent. Snowbirds returning from the southern states brought the games back to Canada in the 1970s.

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in North America and especially attracts seniors, Iain Cullen board member of the Prince Rupert Racquet Club and pickleball player said.

The game is a combination of other racquet sports – tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. Played with a large paddle, Cullen said it is a very cost-efficient sport to play as the only outlay in cost is for a net, paddle, and balls.

The balls are perforated plastic with 26 to 42 holes, kind of like a Wiffle ball but the size of a baseball, he said. Wooden paddles are larger than a ping-pong paddle but smaller than a squash racquet. The balls are bounced instead of volleyed and points are scored on serves. Serves are always underhand. The nets across the 20 ft by 44 ft court which can be inside or out, are lower to the ground at 36 inches, as the past-time originated as a children’s backyard game.

Originally designed by U.S. congressman Joel Pritchard and some golfing buddies to entertain their children, it was pieced together from badminton and racquet sports equipment found in his garage. Unable to find a shuttlecock they improvised by using a Wiffle ball smoothing out the rules over a weekend. The origins of the name have different sources but it is believed to have come a couple of years after the design of the game and the purchase of the family dog named Pickles.

During the COVID-19 shutdown of 2020, the Prince Rupert Racquet Club underwent some renovations to the interior and squash courts. The racquetball court was converted to an ‘almost’ pickleball court by adding some tape to the court floors.

The dimension of the racquetball court is four feet shorter than a proper pickleball court which is the same size as a badminton court.

Currently, space for four pickleball courts is being scoped out by the Racquet Club Cullen said. It is popular in Terrace and Kitimat, with Terrace having some outdoor courts available to the public.

“It is a very social game,” Cullen said and can be played in singles or in doubles like tennis. “You can learn the game very quickly. With-in two days your competency can be quite high.”

“We would welcome people to come down to try the game after COVID-restrictions have been lifted,” Cullen said. “We want to hold an open house, maybe next fall, to introduce people to the sport.”

Pickleball Canada Organization, the national association of the game first came together in 2009.

“Currently, the sport of pickleball is exploding in popularity. The number of places to play has nearly doubled since 2010. There are now well over 2,000 locations on the USAPA’s Places to Play map,” Pickleball Canada’s website said.

“The spread of the sport is attributed to its popularity within community centers, PE classes, YMCA facilities and retirement communities. The sport continues to grow worldwide as well with many new international clubs forming and national governing bodies now established in the USA, Canada, Spain, and India.”

K-J Millar | Journalist
Send K-J email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dreamfish are hung on the fence at Annunication School in Prince Rupert on April 17 as part of the Stream of Dream eco-education program teaching about local watersheds and salmon habitats. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Stream of Dreams fish swim the fence at Prince Rupert School

Students at Annunciation school learned about watershed protection and salmon habitat

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

BC CDC mapping for the week ending April 4, shows a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases to 27 in Prince Rupert down 45 from the week prior. (Image: BCCDC)
Sharp decline in Prince Rupert COVID-19 cases

Prince Rupert lab-confirmed cases are down 62.5 per cent in one week

Blair Mirau, Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society CEO, is seen in a hydroponic greenhouse the society purchased in 2020 to promote food stability and local supply. (Photo: supplied)
Three P.R. organizations partner to develop food distribution network

$167,000 grant awarded to GSN, PRDCC and Ecotrust Canada to strengthen food supply chains

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

(Bandstra Transportation photo)
Smithers family-owned business institution sold to publicly-traded company

Bandstra Transportation and Babine Trucking acquired by Mullen Group

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Most Read