Pickleball Games to Start in June

NBC Nightly News in March declared Pickleball the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., and the JCC is one of the first in the city to offer this fun game.

Pickleball is a cross between badminton, ping pong and tennis. It’s played on a court similar to a tennis court, only about half the size. Players hold paddles that are bigger than ping pong paddles and hit a ball similar to a whiffle ball.

The game appeals to all ages, said Ryan Perryman, who is organizing the events, but it’s very popular among older adults because it doesn’t have to be very labor-intensive. Play begins with an underhand serve with the player hitting the ball below their waist. The game is mostly played and scored like tennis: when a player on a non-serving team misses a ball or it goes out of bounds, the serving team scores a point. Games are played until one side scores 11 points.

Perryman said he first became aware of the growing sport from a member and knew he had to bring it to the JCC. Now, Perryman is very excited about the game. He likes that it’s fun for all ages and all levels of fitness. He said if there is enough interest, he would love to create a competitive league.

The sport was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, WA, when a dad saw that his kids were bored. They had a badminton court and decided to play, but didn’t have the equipment so they improvised with ping pong paddles. Soon after, the dad, U.S. Rep. Joel Pritchard, along with two other dads, came up with the official rules, according to the USA Pickleball Association website. The name, it is believed, came from the Pritchards’ dog, Pickles, who liked to steal the balls and run off with them. Another story says the name came from the sport of rowing, with a pickle boat being a mixture of rowers, like the game is a mixture of other sports.

Pickleball will be available for pick-up games Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m.-noon, Thursday 7-8 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m. in the upper gym. If the weather is bad and kids at JCC Summer Camp need to come inside, the games will be moved to a racquetball court.

Pickleball is free for members and $5 for non-members. For more information, call the Health and Wellness desk at 502-238-2727.


  1. Looking to play PB while in Louisville for the holiday. Both Janet and I are experienced players from the Knoxville, TN area. Is there a game that we could join?

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