A group of four adults play pickleball.
Once you learn how to play pickleball, you’ll reap the health and social benefits. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Haven’t heard of pickleball?

It’s the fastest growing sport in America and the new craze in West Michigan.

Don’t be fooled by the silly name—once you play, you’ll keep coming back for more. Although it’s all the rage right now, it was actually invented in 1965 in a Seattle suburb.

Pickleball is a paddle sport with combined elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong, and played on a doubles badminton court. The net is similar to a tennis net, but is two inches lower. The game is played with a hard paddle that is similar to table tennis and usually made up of graphite or composite. The ball is comparable to a Wiffle ball.

The game can be played in either singles’ or doubles’ matches.

For new players, the basics of the sport are easy to learn. Typically, one session of three or four games is all that it takes.

New players can readily expect more experienced players to be most willing to take the time to coach them through the initial steps. Once a new player is up and running, one-on-one tutoring can also be provided.

This can be useful and effective when a player has been at the game for a while and wants to improve his/her play. Clinics are offered a few times per year for players to work on specific skills.

Pickleball is played by all ages, but is favored particularly by children and seniors for a few reasons. The speed of the ball moves much slower than the speed of a tennis ball and players find it easier on the body playing on a smaller court.

With that being said, pickleball not only has the fun factor, but it has many health benefits that go along with the sport.

Playing pickleball can boost your mood and overall mental health, you burn calories, and fewer injuries occur due to the low impact nature of the game. Pickleball specifically works on your balance and agility while it also offers the same benefits of other regular exercise. These include reducing your risk of heart attack and chronic disease, toning your muscles and increasing your energy.

Most of all, pickleball is a social sport where you will create friendship anywhere you play.