Pickleball Popularity Continues

It has a funny name, but in the eight years since it was added to the Show-Me State Games lineup, pickleball has become the fastest growing event in its lineup.

The sport started off with 84 participants at the Show-Me State Games in 2009 and by the 2015 drew more than 150 players.

Stephen Jones, Show-Me State Games’ pickleball commissioner, described pickleball as a kind of “mini tennis” played on a court about half the size of a regular tennis court with an oversized version of ping pong paddles using a plastic ball similar to a whiffle ball. The game was developed by former tennis players who wanted a sport that had the same kinds of strokes and activity but was a little less physically demanding.

“It’s more of a finesse game, where tennis is a power game,” Jones said. “Older people can play with younger people easier, more competitively.”

Like the games, Columbia’s Show-Me Pickleball Club has seen similar growth. The group, which started with a dozen players, now draws more than 20 people per session and has more than 100 members. They play at the ARC three or four times a week and also sometimes meet at New Haven Elementary.

“We’re always encouraging people to come out any time,” Jones said, noting more seasoned players are always willing to help teach the game to newcomers — who gradually move up a level as their playing improves. “It’s not like tennis where you’re intimidated to jump in and try it.”

For more information on the Show-Me Pickleball Club, visit their facebook page at www.facebook.com/ShowMePickleballClub/.