JOPLIN, Mo. — A growing trend in sports just became much easier to follow.
It’s one of the fastest-growing sports in the country and has people of all ages playing it.
Pickleball. — It’s a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong that can be played with up to four players.
John Hirshey is a local pickleball player and league coordinator.
He shares how he thinks this surge got started.
“Friends. Friends of people that play pickleball. ‘C’mon down and try it, please’ and they would, and they liked it, and that’s how it started. The people that walk upstairs, we’d say ‘C’mon down and play with us’ and it just grew from there. We only started out with two courts, then the director came and asked ‘Hey would you like to have two more, and then would you like to have one more?’ We had five at one point, we have four now, and it’s not enough, that’s how popular it is,” said John Hirshey, YMCA Pickleball Coordinator and local player.
With courts being in limited demand, it can be difficult to find a place to play.
Look no further than Pickleheads. This website allows pickleball players to find open courts, schedule games and tournaments with other players, and even features a virtual clinic put together by professionals.
Hirshey and other local players say that’s a lot different than their current process.
“A lot of stuff is word of mouth, every place puts posters up or you talked to a friend and say ‘hey, did you hear about this new paddle’ talk about inside balls, outside balls, stuff like that,” said Deb White, local player.
“I didn’t know anybody here, not one person. And now there are 35-40 people, probably more than that, and you go to tournaments and you meet new people, same thing when I traveled playing handball, you meet people from St. Louis, from Iowa, from all over the country, and they are your friends now. That’s why it’s so important,” said Hirshey.
Those interested in picking up a paddle can find the Pickleheads website here.