Grange Park Upper Macungie Pickleball webIt’s summertime, and many thoughts turn to sports: baseball, basketball, tennis, ultimate Frisbee, and Disc Golf, to name a few. But have your thoughts ever turned to Pickleball?
Perhaps you’ve never heard of Pickleball, but it has been a fast-growing sport since its creation in 1965. Although it has a funny name, Pickleball is a world-wide phenomenon — there are over 2,000,000 Pickleball enthusiasts in the United States alone. It can be played through community groups, PE classes, retirement communities, senior centers, schools — anywhere there is enough space and some simple equipment. It’s a simple game for the whole family, so don’t you think it’s time to join in the fun?

Pickleball is similar to badminton. And tennis. And ping pong. It is meant to be just plain fun, although there are leagues and competitions and official rules and equipment. But it is also fun to just play for the fun of it with no pressure.
Pickleball is played on a badminton-size court with a low tennis net, ping-pong-like paddles, and a plastic wiffle ball. It is easy to learn, good exercise, full of social interaction (like joking and laughing and positive camaraderie), and intergenerational. It puts the extreme athlete and the 98-pound weakling on the same level. It’s also less dangerous than skydiving. What more could you ask?
The game began in 1965 when Washington State congressman Joel Pritchard and businessman Bill Bell found their families sitting around Pritchard’s Bainbridge Island home, bored and restless. They grabbed some table tennis paddles and a wiffle ball, headed to their badminton court, lowered the net, came up with some scant rules, and a phenomenon was born.
Friends and neighbors loved the game and soon made their own special paddles using jigsaws and marine plywood. It was not limited to those who could afford to own or travel to an “official” court — all you needed was a piece of chalk and a driveway or some yard space. Having no Internet or advertising budget, the excitement of the game spread by word-of-mouth.
In 1972, Pickleball was officially incorporated, giving it a platform for official paddles, balls, nets, and other gear. In 1976, the first known Pickleball tournament was held in Tukwila, Washington. Today, there are over 21,000 known Pickleball courts in the U.S., and official US club memberships are in the tens of thousands. There are even rules for adaptive / wheelchair pickleball.
OK, now to the part everyone has been waiting for: Where did the name “Pickleball” come from? There are two similar stories, one or both of which may be true. (1) According to Joel Pritchard’s wife (Joan), she started calling the game “pickleball'' because “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.” (2) However, according to Barney McCallum, the game was officially named after the Pritchards’ dog, Pickles, who would chase the ball and run off with it. Maybe both are true. Either way, it’s friendly and memorable, just like the game.

Where to play pickleball
“LV Pickleball Facebook page was created in 2014 by Bret Spangler. The page was created to find other local players to play with. In 2014, pickleball was relatively unknown to the area and it was difficult to gather enough to play. But not ANYMORE!” can help you find a court.

Grange Park
360 Grange Road, Allentown, PA 18106
Time Dawn till dusk everyday
Price Free to play
12 brand new outdoor courts dedicated to pickleball only

YMCA Allentown
425 15th Street. Allentown, PA 18102
Time Monday- Friday, 9:30 to 12
Price $3 to $5 no membership needed

Jewish Community Center
702 N 22nd Street, Allentown, PA 18104
Time Monday through Friday, 12:30 to 3:00pm
Price Non-members $3, Members are free
Must be 18+
Lindberg Park
2800 Lindberg Park, Allentown, PA 18103
Time Dawn till dusk everyday
Price Free
2 outdoor courts dedicated to pickleball

Pickleball Courts at Blue Barn Park
5770 Snowy Orchid Lane, Blue Barn Rd., Allentown, PA 18104

Prater Park
4508 Hedgerow Dr., Allentown

Rodale Park
2065 Riverbend Rd., Allentown

Lower Macungie Municipal Park
3450 Brookside Rd., Allentown

Fairview Park
3501 Fairview Ave., Easton

Mill Race Park
Newlins Mill Rd., Easton

Forks Township Community Center
500 Zucksville Rd., Easton

Greater Valley YMCA
430 E. Broad St., Bethlehem

Winning Touch Tennis
1166 N. Sherman St., Allentown

Sand Island Tennis Courts
45 River St., Bethlehem

Hanover Township Municipal Park
3660 Jacksonville Rd., Bethlehem

Northwood Racquet & Fitness Club
3738 Northwood Ave., Easton, PA 18045

Bethlehem Township Community Center
2900 Farmersville Rd., Bethlehem

Lehigh Valley Active Life
1633 W. Elm St., Allentown, PA 18102

What you need to play pickleball
Paddles, balls (indoor and outdoor), nets, shoes, shirts, skirts, shorts, bags, paddle covers, gloves, caps, visors, eye protection, sweat bands, grip tape, socks, water bottles, towels, first aid kits, ball carriers and collectors, tutor machines, court cleaners, paddle racks

Where to purchase pickleball gear
Dick’s Sporting Goods (Whitehall, Trexlertown, Easton, Pottstown)
Rally House, Allentown
BSN Sports, Bethlehem

NOTE: Information was considered current as of the publication date. Contact the venues and providers for up-to-date information.

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