The Fastest Growing Sport: Pickleball



St. Joe students playing pickleball at Missouri Pickleball Club.

Jo Carollo, Senior Staff Writer

A few years ago, tennis was the only sport someone would see when they passed the local tennis courts. Now, this area has been overcome by a new sport: pickleball. Pickleball is often described as a mixture between tennis, badminton, and ping pong. Many have fallen in love with this easy-going sport that allows players to socialize while they play. 

The necessary equipment includes a paddle and a wiffle ball, and the court size is a little smaller than a tennis court. Although the professionals might wear specific sunglasses and purchase expensive gear, it is cheap for newcomers to try out this sport. 

While it is easy to start this sport quickly, there are many rules:

  • The small area directly in front of the net, called a kitchen, is not be stepped into until the ball has bounced. 
  • Players must serve underhand in pickleball, and aim for the square on the opposite side of them.
  • The opposing player has to let the ball bounce before they hit it on the serve. 
  • The only way to get a point is if the team who served the ball also wins the play. 
  • Lastly, the winner has to reach 11 points. 

Unlike many other sports, a Pickleball player does not have to be in amazing shape. People from all ages are able to partake in this activity. Although it can be exhausting when played with challenging opponents, many skilled players rarely move their feet during a match. This is one of the main reasons this sport has skyrocketed in popularity. It created a chance for people to come together and easily socialize while also being active. 

Ms. Colleen Smith-Yelton, PE teacher, organized St. Joe’s pickleball team and loves to see the sport grow. 

“It’s amazing to see these young girls try new sports and find a love for something new. I think it’s a great activity, and I enjoy playing it as much as the students do,” Smith-Yelton said. 

Since tennis courts are adding lines for pickleball courts because of the high demand, many people also want to join leagues and teams. St. Joe joined a pickleball league last year for the first time, and students were able to play this as a spring sport. Schools in St. Louis including Ursuline and Nerinx were some of their opponents, but teams were also mixed to allow these athletes to intermix and meet each other. They played at the Missouri Pickleball Club a few days a week, and many found a love for this new sport. It will continue this year at Lifetime Fitness for those who want to continue to play Pickleball. 

Sophomore Margee Buehring played last Spring and loved learning about this new activity. 

“I really enjoyed pickleball last year. It was a great way to meet upperclassmen, and I gained many new friends through the sport. It was just a fun and lighthearted time that I will definitely do again this year,” Buerhing said. 

Pickleball will continue to grow as more people around the world learn about this activity that they can play for the rest of their lives.