Imagine a net shorter than a tennis net, a paddle bigger than a ping pong paddle, and a court the size of a badminton court. That’s how you get pickleball — the fast-paced game that’s sweeping the nation.
ICYMI, pickleball mixes elements of tennis, ping pong, and badminton for one easy-to-play game (read: anyone can learn in ~5 minutes). It’s as fun for newbies as it is for pros and has a wildfire-knack for accumulating obsessive followers.
Why the pickleball craze?
Known as the fastest-growing sport in the US, the game first got its start in 1965 and has since skyrocketed in popularity the last few years — growing to millions of players, 38,000 courts, and 47 major tournaments across the country.
The sport got its start locally ~10 years ago thanks to Ron Eversole, an administrator at Tates Creek Christian Church, who learned about the sport on a trip to Florida. He decided to build a court at the church, encouraged friends to try the sport, and the rest was history.
One of those friends is Dan Ewing, who is now the president of the Kentucky Pickleball Association. “It is the most social sport I have ever played. You have an opportunity to get to know people you otherwise would never cross paths with,” Dan said.
He added that it is great for all ages as it doesn’t require as much running and power as tennis, but more accuracy and reflexes.
Learn how to play
A great way to dip your toe in the pickleball pool is to join the Lexington Pickleball Facebook group, which is 1,400 members strong. This is a great place to connect with fellow players of all levels and even find lessons.
Here’s who we learned is giving lessons locally:
- Matthew Mullins at Lexington Griffin Gate Marriott Golf Resort & Spa
- Dan Ewing at Tates Creek Christian Church
Since each game can be played in about 15-20 minutes, Dan said it is not uncommon to see folks play 10+ games each night.
Learn by watching the competition at this year’s 2023 Bluegrass State Games tournament on Friday, July 28-Sunday, July 30.
Local boutique Birdies & Bows, located at 113 Clay Ave., carries its own line (as well as other brands) of pickleball skorts, tops, and gear like paddles, bags, accessories + themed-gifts.
Where to play
Just recently, ground was broken on a pickleball-specific facility called Pickleball Paddock. We’ll keep you updated with more details as they are announced, but it will be located at 968 Enterprise Ct. — off Alexandria Drive + Old Frankfort Pike.
In recent years, Parks & Recreation has answered the call to create more accessibility to the sport throughout the city. The following parks have dedicated outdoor courts:
- Kirklevington — 12 courts
- Meadowthorpe — 2 courts, painted over tennis courts
- Lexington Senior Center — 1 court, reserved for members/guests
- Cardinal Run North — 10 courts, coming soon
The following locations have courts for indoor play:
- C.M. Gatton Beaumont YMCA
- Whitaker Family YMCA
- North Lexington Family YMCA
- Sports Center (courts closed for the summer, will re-open in the Fall)
- Bluegrass Racquet Club
- Lexington Tennis Club
- Top Seed
- The Yard