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PICKLEBALL: The Fastest Growing Sport in North America

Pickleball can be played on a tennis court reduced to 44’ x 20’

You may have heard of this crazy new game called “pickleball.” The US Pickleball Association ( calls the game a “highly contagious, progressive and incurable disease” and estimates that between 40-50,000 people worldwide are currently infected. “While rarely fatal, the disease has enormous positive impact on the lives of infected individuals and on society as a whole.” Here in the desert, we see Pickleball Fever firsthand as it is quickly becoming the game of choice for active seniors!

So what is pickleball fever all about?

Pickleball was introduced in1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle as a backyard family game on a badminton sized court (44’ X 20’) with a 34-inch net. The inventors used wooden paddles and a whiffle ball that happened to belong to the family cocker spaniel. Because of his habit of running after stray balls and hiding in the bushes, ‘Pickles’ became the game’s namesake.

The sport is a mix of table tennis, paddle tennis, badminton and tennis. It is a great fit for seniors because it is very easy to learn; doesn’t require the mobility of tennis; and uses an underhand serve. The smaller court also creates a social atmosphere, and playing doubles and/or mixed doubles is promoted.

People of all ages enjoy this fun sport which doesn’t require the mobility of tennis

Desert residents have contributed to the growth of pickleball nationwide as snow bird ambassadors take the game with them back to their summer locations. Tennis courts can be converted to pickleball courts, and therefore any park & rec department can develop a local following. Pickleball was also the largest division at our recent International Sports Festival & Senior Games in February.

As a tournament player and teacher, I love watching pickleball players improve to the point they want to participate in the many tournaments here in the desert. We currently have over 13 clubs participating in our new intra-club monthly social mixers.

For more information on the game, the USAPA recommends The Pickleball Handbook by Mark Friedenberg–or simply come out and quickly learn the game from a fan or friend with pickleball fever.

Barbara Wintroub is a Pickleball Teaching Professional located in Palm Desert and can be reached at (310) 913-3333

19 Responses to “PICKLEBALL: The Fastest Growing Sport in North America”

  1. Barbara Ann Baines says:

    Hello, this is Barbara Ann. I am very interesting in pickleball here in
    the desert. I arrived last week and will be here until the end of
    I have played tennis but now find it’s too much real estate to cover.
    Can you please get back to me with how to get started etc.
    Thank you
    my cel: 403 998 6806 or by email.

    • Barbara Ann Baines says:

      Please contact me about Pickleball 310 913-3333. I just received the email. Sorry for the delay.
      Barbara Wintroub

  2. Steven & Judy says:

    We just arrived in Palm Desertand would like to find out where we can play pickleball and get a lesson. Thanks

  3. Barbara Ann Baines says:

    Hi, Barbara Ann,
    I just received your email. Please call me 310 913-3333 regarding Pickleball

  4. Sandra Curry says:

    When will pickleball start up again? I am interested in learning it. (former tennis player).

    • Lauren Del Sarto says:

      Sandra –

      I encourage you to contact Barbara Wintroub directly with that question as she teaches locally in the Desert. 310.913.3333. Please tell her that Desert Health sent you!

      Thank you for reading!
      Lauren Del Sarto

  5. Marde Olson says:

    Hi I just stumbled into this conversation from last year, and am wondering if this contact name/phone number is still current? We are renting for 6 months in La Quinta (Nov 2013-Apr 2014) and I’d love to learn how to play and have access to playing on public courts (we do not have a club membership). Thank you! Marde

    • Lauren Del Sarto, Publisher says:

      Yes! Feel free to give Barbara Wintroub a call at the number above and please let her know you found it here (:

      Thank you for reading Desert Health!

  6. Dennis says:

    Staying in la Quinta, March 16-23, would love to get in some play, just tell me where and when. Visiting from Eureka.

  7. Barbara Daily says:

    I am a resident of Palm Desert and would like to begin learning more about Pickle Ball. Is there a league during the summer?

    • Barbara Daily says:

      Hi Barbara,
      Call me at 310 913-3333. I teach Pickleball and have a few newbies looking to play and take lessons. Looking forward to hearing from you

      • Betty Walbridge says:

        Just learned about pickleball. Used to play tennis but am slowing down. Is there an indoor place to play in the summer in or near Palm Desert. I am a year round resident?
        Thanks for any info you can give me.

        • Lauren Del Sarto says:

          Thank you, Betty. Please call Barbara Wintroub at 310 913-3333 regarding Pickleball in the Coachella Valley.

          Thank you for reading Desert Health!


  8. Sam Sherrill says:

    Please provide precise data sources for the claims that pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the US and/or among those in retirement communities. In a fairly extensive google search, I have not found any quantitative evidence to back either of these claims.

    • Lauren Del Sarto says:

      Thank you, Sam. This article was written in 2012, so data will most likely be obsolete.
      Thank you for reading Desert Health ~

      Lauren Del Sarto

  9. Mj ferrin says:

    Is there anywhere near la Quinta that you can just show up and play pickle ball?

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