Pickleball proving to be popular with all ages

Clinic runs every Saturday at Saanich's Commonwealth Place

Tess van Straaten and son Tate try out the sport of pickleball in the Commonwealth Pool gymnasium.

On a rainy Saturday morning, we pull into the parking lot of Commonwealth Pool in Saanich, excited to try North America’s fastest-growing sport.

It’s called pickleball and it was invented not far from Victoria on Bainbridge Island in Washington state more than 50 years ago. For much of that time, few people had heard of the game with a funny name, but in the last few years it’s exploded in popularity.

“It’s become hugely popular,” says Andy Vixaysouk, who organizes the Saturday morning pickleball drop-in clinic at Commonwealth.

“We’ve had more than 1,000 people come and try it, and they all say they love it because it’s easy to pick up and it’s lots of fun.”

My 71-year-old mom, Dee, is one of them. An avid badminton player, she discovered pickleball a few years ago and hasn’t looked back. My mom now plays pickleball competitively and it’s at her urging that my boys and I are trying the sport that’s a combination of badminton, tennis and table tennis.

Handing us each a small paddle and a wiffle ball, Andy lines us up against the wall of the gym for the warm-up. Much like the tennis drills I remember as a kid, the goal is to hit the ball back and forth against the wall as many times as you can.

“Pickleball is all about control,” Andy explains, as he teaches us the basic skills. “You want to keep the ball low, around waist height, with nice easy strokes.”

At first, we’re scrambling after the balls, but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. Laughing as we get more daring and try to hit balls to each other, it’s clear everyone is having fun and we haven’t even started the game, which is played on a badminton court with a net and rules similar to tennis.

“It’s easier than tennis but it can be very intense, depending on what level you’re at,” says Andy. “It’s really good exercise and it’s better than medicine – that’s why people get addicted to it.”

As we start to play our first game, it’s easy to see why so many outdoor tennis courts are now being converted to pickleball courts. You’re not running around a large court, which is why millions of people from age five to 95 are now playing pickleball all over the world. It’s even being taught in schools on the West Coast.

After facing off against different partners of varying abilities in mixed doubles, we’ve won some games and we’ve lost some. But we’ve all had a blast – and we’ve gotten a great workout.

“So what did you think?” my mom asks.

“We love it!” they both shout, and my younger son, Tate, just has one question:

“Can we come back next week?”

The full list of where to play (indoors and outdoors) in Greater Victoria is at: victoriapickleball.org.

The Commonwealth Clinic runs 8:30-10 a.m. Saturdays year-round and is just $3.

 

Just Posted

UPDATED: Commercial truck clips lines in Saanich

BC Hydro called, determines lines are cable and phone, not power

Downtown Victoria businesses cite parking issues as top challenge

A report put forward by the Downtown Victoria Business Association asked owners for input

Victoria teen killed by falling tree, remembered as hero

Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling towards him and his friends

Victoria woman in L.A. hospital after she was run over twice

Lynn Phillips has suffered from multiple broken bones and internal bleeding

Tiny Yorkshire terrier Poppie survives days on remote island

ROAM rescue crews, family searched for dog, missing in Saanich for days

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Heroism medal for B.C. woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

B.C. students’ camping trip goes ahead despite tents getting stolen

Nanaimo businesses, school staff and parents ensure trip goes on

Only legal pot shop between Vancouver and Kamloops now open

Private cannabis store on Skwah land in Chilliwack is first B.C. licensee to be Indigenous owned

B.C. judge defies lawyers and adds six months to man’s sex assault sentence

‘I find the joint submission is contrary to the public interest and I’m rejecting it’

Man presumed dead after boat capsizes in Columbia River

Search and rescue efforts recovered a life jacket

Crews fight wildfire along Sea-to-Sky Highway

A cause has not been determined, although a downed power line is suspected

Most Read