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Is the Kenmare area ready for pickleball?...

There’s a relatively new sport that has proved to be good exercise for everyone, from small children to seniors, and it has little if anything to do with pickles.

1/28/20 (Tue)

There’s a relatively new sport that has proved to be good exercise for everyone, from small children to seniors, and it has little if anything to do with pickles.

It’s pickleball, and the best way to describe it is it’s similar to tennis, uses the rules of table tennis and is played on a badminton-sized court.

Eliza Daniels of the USA Pickleball Association in Kent, Wash., told The Kenmare News the game is taking the nation by storm.

“Pickleball is a paddle sport using a whiffle like ball over a low net on a badminton sized court,” Daniels said. “The sport is popular in school phy-ed programs and in senior centers across the country. It is found in many countries across the world.”

Kenmare Public School athletic director Kacy Keysor said high school phy-ed teacher Isaiah Steinwand has done a pickleball unit in his classes.

“I have also played the game with his class earlier this year and it is a fun game,” Keysor said. “All you really need are some paddles, a ball and a net. At the school, we played two vs. two as we always had an even number of kids.”

The game, invented in 1966 by Barney McCallum of the Seattle Yacht Club, wasn’t affiliated with fermented cucumbers, but was named after a dog named Pickles.

When the sport began gaining popularity and tournaments came about in the early 1980s, Nalley Pickles, a New Jersey pickle manufacturer, started sponsoring national tournaments and still does.

McCallum, who played a lot in the early days with some of his friends, created a rigid wooden paddle whose design was used to manufacturer commercial paddles starting in 1972.

A check of the USA Pickleball Association website indicates you can purchase paddles in a $50 to $250 price range. Professional grade paddles cost more.

Pickleball is a good recreational sport. According to Western Colorado State University in Gunnison, playing pickleball will help you burn 600 calories an hour.

In addition, it gives you a good aerobic workout without as much stress and strain on joints and muscles, as tennis.

Seniors who were evaluated playing pickleball in Gunnison, not only found it to be fun, but beneficial to their health.

The seniors playing pickleball three times a week saw improvement in blood pressure and cardiovascular fitness. It also helps with hand-eye coordination, according to the study.

The senior age group has been attracted to the sport because it is easy to play, very social and less stressful on muscles, tendons and joints.

The sport has a court (44 by 20 feet) that is much smaller than a tennis court which means it’s easier to keep the ball in play.

The fact that the ball stays in play longer by definition means that you will get a good bit of exercise in each of the 11-point games.

However, the smaller court, when two people play on each side (doubles), means that most points do not require too much movement – about two to four steps. Thus the small court keeps the ball in play, but you are not over exerted during any one point.

The smaller court also means less running and less wear and tear on knees, hips, ankles – our joints, according to the study.

For people who have problems with these joints, but still want a racket sport to be active, then pickleball is a very good choice.

Racket sports, such as pickleball, boost the cardiovascular system which helps prevent many of the unwanted problems of older age like hypertension, stroke and heart attack.

Pickleball gives you a good aerobic workout without as much stress and strain on joints and muscles, as mentioned above.

The endorphins and other bioamines that are released with all exercise are useful in elevating self-esteem and combating depression – both problems that can come with older age.

By definition, 75 percent of the people who play pickleball are 55 and older. But, it’s a sport for all ages. Paddles, clothing, shoes and makeshift courts are all made for the younger players in mind.

There are numerous courts across the state, and as one might imagine, are available in North Dakota’s largest cities including Minot, where there is an informal league. Pickleball courts are available at Leach Park at 2400 2nd Ave. SW.

Other areas of the state that you might not expect pickleball to be played are Red Willow Lake Resort near Binford, Lakeview Pickleball Court, Lake Metigoshe, 300 3rd Ave. W in Gackle, Kulm City Park, McVille Auditorium and the Williston Pickleball Club.

So is Kenmare ready for this game. Apparently, it might be. The Kenmare Community Development Corp., Betterment Committee recently met and talked about pickleball. It included creating a court in Memorial Hall.

President Terry Froseth said having a court indoors would solve two problems. First, because the ball is plastic and has holes in it and resembles a whiffle ball, a court in the hall would be out of the wind.

Secondly, it could be played indoors in the winter, an incentive to exercise when you can’t outdoors.

Indoor courts are located in the West River Community Center in Dickinson, the Hyslop Sport Center at UND and the YMCA Family Center in Grand Forks, as well as those in McVille and Gackle.

Daniel, who is in business to sell products from a place called the Pickleball Central store in Kent, says pickleball isn’t an expensive sport to get started.

She said the store has just about anything you need to get the game started locally. More information may be found at ( Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!