In today’s blog entry on theoldfathergroup.com, we answer a question that’s on everyone’s minds these days in coastal Delaware – what the heck is this pickleball game that’s all the rage right now?

You’ve no doubt heard about this new and exciting game that’s grown rapidly in popularity over the last year or two. Maybe you’ve even seen people play it; if you’re really fortunate, you’ve given it a go.

But what exactly is pickleball and where in coastal Delaware can you grab a paddle and play a game?

Well, that’s what we’re here to answer for you. But first, a few basics of the game:

  • The game of pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis and ping-pong.
  • One or two players on each side hit a ball, similar to a wiffle ball, on what is often a tennis court transformed for the game.
  • The size of the court is 20x44 feet.
  • Only the team that is serving the ball can score points.
  • Terms in pickleball include “Dink,” “Kitchen” and “Poach.”
  • Games are generally played to either 15 or 21 points.

Okay, so that’s some of the rules. But, why has this wild and wacky game, invented more than a half-century ago, grown so much in popularity at the Delaware beaches only recently?

Well, the biggest reason is one that makes it a perfect fit for coastal Delaware – it can be played by anyone!

In fact, here at the beaches, the largest group of people playing and enjoying pickleball is made up of residents who are in their retirement years. It’s great exercise and it’s lots of fun and, while any age group can enjoy the game, those in the 55 and over set seem to be the most avid participants, at least here at the beach.

There are several places to play pickleball here in coastal Delaware and, truth be told, you can really play the game on any tennis court, as long as you know the rules of the game. But dedicated publicly accessible pickleball courts in the area are located at the following places:

  • John M. Clayton School – 252 Clayton Avenue in Frankford
  • The Plantations – 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Lewes
  • Northside Rec Complex – 125th Street Bayside in Ocean City

The eight courts at the John M. Clayton School are the first in Delaware that are solely dedicated to pickleball. They are overseen by the First State Pickleball Club, and the courts were officially dedicated last summer. These are not converted tennis courts, but actually regulation pickleball courts.

Of course, the list above includes places where the PUBLIC can play; there are many more sites throughout the area that are for private use only. But for the three sites mentioned above, click HERE for more information on when you can go out and give the game a go.

In addition to Lewes and Frankford, you can also play pickleball in Rehoboth Beach, Seaford and Millsboro, as well as locations in Kent and New Castle Counties and in Wicomico and Worcester Counties in Maryland.

For more information on pickleball in Delaware, visit www.delawarepickleball.com.

Photo from delawarepickleball.com

But now, back to the beaches. Pickleball has really only caught on in coastal Delaware in the last five years, with many residential communities now catering to the wishes of their residents by adding courts within their confines.

This is particularly true of developments that promote an “active seniors” lifestyle, catering to baby boomers and senior citizens.

Schell Brothers Photo from the Coastal Club

According to the USA Pickleball Association, pickleball was invented in 1965 in the state of Washington by State Rep. Joel Pritchard who, not coincidentally, owned a dog named “Pickles” who would go and retrieve the ball whenever it went awry.

The name was adopted and, as with many things, kind of stuck throughout the years. Thus, pickleball was born and, five decades later, the game has boomed in coastal Delaware.

If you want to try your hand at the sport, local members encourage you to visit the facility in Frankford where old pros and seasoned pickleball veterans will show you the ropes and introduce you to a game that could provide a lifetime of fun for you and your family.

It’s certainly become a phenomenon locally over the last couple of years and is yet another thing to love about living at the Delaware beaches.

Why not try it for yourself today? Who knows, you may become a self-described “pickleball addict” like so many of your friends and/or neighbors.

And don’t forget the most important thing about pickleball – have a great time!