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Pickleball Takes Over The Courts of Florida Retirement Communities

While many people have no idea what pickleball is, this sport has taken many active adult communities by storm. Originating in the northwest, on Bainbridge Island in1965, pickleball is named after Joel Pritchard who wanted to entertain his two bored children. So he picked up a ping-pong paddle and a wiffle ball and began a trend beyond his wildest expectations. Although this phenomenon started on the opposite side of the country, those in the southern states can't get enough of this fun activity.Even though tennis used to be the main event at active adult communities, pickleball courts are quickly taking over the tennis courts. Many Florida retirement communities replaced some of their tennis courts with pickleball courts to please their residents and reduce the long lines to play the popular sport.Basics Of The SportPickleball courts are divided into zones by a net; borrowing parts from badminton, table tennis and tennis. The only other equipment needed is solid paddles that resemble large table tennis paddles and a perforated plastic ball, like a wiffle ball.Generally, the court is 44 feet by 20 feet and split into two by a 34 inch net. Volleying is permitted but not in the non-volley zone (within seven feet from the net) or immediately following the serve. Once play begins, the ball has to be returned to the other side prior to two bounces. Players can only use the paddle or their hand to touch the ball, since it functions as an extension of the paddle. The winning team is decided by the one who reaches eleven points first by two points. If the game starts going on for a long time, exceptions can be made if everyone agrees.Why The Pickleball Phenomenon?Because players aren't required to be great athletes to play, pickleball can be played by just about anyone. Since it's played on a badminton-sized court, which is approximately a quarter the size of a tennis court, more courts can be put in the same amount of space, allowing more people to play at one time. The smaller courts also means less ground to cover, making it less of a cardio sport and easier on the joints and legs.Since Florida retirement communities focus on fun activities, pickleball is a perfect option since it can be played as singles or doubles. Also, pickleball is served underhanded while tennis forces players to use a difficult, overhand serve. One similarity to tennis though, is the ball can be volleyed or hit after one bounce.Bringing A Community TogetherAnother benefit of pickleball seems to be that members of active adult communities can play the sport with anyone. Fellow residents can become fast friends by joining in on a pickleball match. Laughter always results from this game since it's more casual than tennis. Visiting children and grandchildren have even gotten the pickleball fever. No matter the age, families and friends can spend hours playing this fun sport.

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