What is pickleball? Unusual sport sweeps across Canada
It looks like tennis, sounds like ping pong and favours the same light-on-your-toes action of badminton.
But pickleball is a sport in its own right, and an explosion of popularity among seniors has made it a fast-growing sport in Canada.
“We don't have to be very strong to play pickleball, and it's easy to learn,” player Lise Cantin told CTV News.
The game is played on a court similar to a tennis court, but with smaller boundaries. In teams of two, players use small paddles to volley a ball, similar to a wiffleball, back and forth over the net. The game is usually played to a score of 11.
The game doesn’t require the same cardiovascular intensity of tennis, but players say matches are just as intense.
“The main goal is to keep the ball low so they don't smash on you,” said player Pierre Lagace.
Curiously, pickleball has nothing to do with pickles. The game has roots in the Pacific Northwest, and is believed to be named after its inventor’s cocker spaniel, Pickles, who would run after the ball when it went astray.
Like any sport, strategy is contested. Many players hit the ball underhand and save overhand shots for the right moment. Others say the best strategy is the simplest one.
“Let the opponent make the mistake rather than me making the mistake. I win points by default,” said Kris Vatcha.
According to Pickleball Canada (slogan: “A Game For All”), the sport is in the midst of a global surge. The number of places to play pickleball has reportedly doubled since 2010, and international clubs dedicated to the sport have sprung up in the U.S., Canada, Spain and India.
Canada is home to an estimated 60,000 pickleball players.
Intrigued? This interactive map will help you find the closest pickleball court near you.