By Maria Buoni

Have you ever heard someone mention pickleball and wondered what it was? Whether you know what pickleball is or not, odds are that someone you know has played this game. Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country, with courts popping up all over the place. As a mix between pingpong, tennis and volleyball, pickleball has grown rapidly in retirement communities, but you may also see children and families playing. A pickleball court is much smaller than a tennis court and has lower nets. The ball is similar to a wiffle ball, and the paddle looks like an oversized pingpong paddle. Like wiffle balls, plastic pickleballs move slower through the air than tennis balls, so they are more easily hit in bounds on the other side.

Pickleball can be played as a singles or doubles game. Points are only earned when serving (similar to volleyball) and games are played to 11 points. Servers get one underhand serve that must land in the opposite diagonal box. The serve and return both must bounce, but any balls after that may be hit out of the air. The area just in front of the net is called the kitchen, and players may only enter the kitchen to hit a ball that has bounced.

Want to try playing? The USA Pickleball Association website lists the following locations for the general public to play pickleball in Gainesville.

  • DB Racquet Club
  • Jonesville Tennis Center
  • Kanapaha Veterans Memorial Park
  • Northside Park
  • The 300 Club
  • North Central Florida YMCA

Visit Usapa.org/places-to-play-pickleball for more information about hours, locations and fees.

Are you an avid pickleball player? Are you trying it for the first time? Share your photos with us on social media! See you on the courts!