Friday, October 19th, 2018

Pickleball: A casual, fun option for non-athletes

Sam Hill

Posted on October 27, 2014 in Community
By USM Free Press

Sam Hill
Sam Hill

By David Sanok

Last Tuesday, the Pickleball club held its first meeting at the Sullivan Gym. Founded by Assistant Director of the Sullivan Complex Kevin Norman and Psychology Professor Bill Gayton, they started this club for students and faculty who wanted to engage in competitive friendly and get a good workout. “There’s a lot of students at USM who aren’t athletes but still want to play sports” said Kevin Norman. “The problem is that not all students want to try out for teams or just don’t have the time to travel all over Maine for the away games. The Pickleball club is free and requires no tryout to join”.

Pickleball combines the elements of paddle ball, batmitten, and tennis. Like paddle ball, the scoring is done in single digits. But instead of playing to 21 points, Pickleball plays until the first player or team reaches eleven points. Instead of using a plastic racket, Pickleball is played with wooden paddles and a plastic wiffle ball rather than a tennis ball.

For Norman, the wiffle ball is the most appealing aspect of Pickleball and his prime motivation for starting the club. “I’ve found that Pickleball is easier to learn than tennis or paddle ball. If you have a ball that’s too hard or too small, it’s much more difficult for people to learn. But with a wiffle ball, the ball is much lighter and the wooden paddle is easier to grip than a tennis racket.”

For someone like Bill Gayton, the appeal of Pickleball is due to it being a much less physically demanding sport. “When you get to be in your 70s you can’t play sports like baseball or tennis because your body just can’t take that kind of physical demand.” said Gayton. “Pickleball is perfect because it’s a sport where I don’t get tackled and injured. I’m not playing for the state championship or intramural competitions. It’s just playing a competitive friendly sport with my peers for fun.”

As of now, the club has only five members but Norman expresses optimism that membership will increase through positive word of mouth. “I told our new members after the first meeting to spread the word to friends or anyone they knew who might be interested in joining. We’ll also try putting flyers around campus to attract new members.”

The Pickleball club will meet every Tuesday from 2pm to 4pm at the Sullivan Gym on the Portland Campus.

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