5 fun facts about one of the fastest-growing sports in America

This sport truly originated from odds and ends.

In 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, a group of dads searched for a game they could all play with their kids. With a peculiar assortment of equipment and resources, including an old asphalt court, Ping-Pong paddles, a whiffle ball and a net, they invented a game merging tennis, Ping-Pong and badminton together.

1. Fun sports jargon is a part of the game

Want to learn the pickleball language? A pickleball player known as a “pickler” is “pickled,” if he or she loses the match. On a pickleball court, one will find two sidelines, a centerline and two non-volley lines. Teammates will rally each other to “stay out of the kitchen,” referring to this non-volley zone that extends seven feet on either side of the net. Step too far from the kitchen to the baseline and you have entered “no man’s land,” an area on the court that opens angles for opponents to get the best shot.

Pickleball play at Pueblo El Mirage.

2. It reaches across age, gender and accessibility

There is no doubt that retirees and older adults have helped fuel pickleball’s popularity in communities and RV resorts for older adults across the country (case in point, Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort in El Mirage, Arizona, has 26 pickleball courts). In 2019, pickleball was the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., according to a report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, which counted 4.2 million players as of 2020 

3. Affordability is king

The game of pickleball is quick and convenient, which makes it an easy way for players to get exercise — and it’s also affordable. Basic paddles and balls can be picked up at many major sporting goods retailers, and you can play in teams of two or singles, just like tennis.

4. Pickles is gone, but never forgotten

There are two versions of how pickleball got its name. According to one story, it was named after the dog of one of the inventors. Pickles was a playful cocker spaniel who enjoyed chasing the ball during the game and left a lasting impression on the sport. In another account, it was named for the pickle boat in crew. All three pickleball pioneers have also since passed away.

Players enjoy pickleball courts at Pueblo El Mirage.

5. It produces champions of all ages

Pickleball is more than just a sport; it is a way of life at Pueblo El Mirage on Phoenix’s west side. In addition to having more than 600 members and players of all levels in its pickleball association, the resort hosts exciting tournaments, including the annual Pueblo El Mirage Kokopelli Klassic and the Super Senior International Pickleball Association (SSIPA) Tournament. It’s also located just 15 minutes from the USA Pickleball Association in Surprise, Arizona.

Take your pickleball skills to the next level at a luxurious, 370-acre community that offers RV spaces and manufactured homes. Within the grounds, there are many amenities for maintaining an active adult lifestyle, from teeing off on a championship, 18-hole golf course to hitting 26 pickleball courts or playing lawn bowling. They also host concerts, dances and other entertainment.

To learn more about Pueblo El Mirage RV Resort, visit https://www.robertsresorts.com/resorts/pueblo-el-mirage/.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.