Pickleball arrives in Bakersfield

City of Bakersfield opens recreational league

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Created as a way to entertain children more than 50 years ago, pickleball is now the fastest growing participatory sport in America. 

It's popping up in P.E. classes, on college campuses and at retirement centers across the country. 

Now it's here in Bakersfield. 

"Pickleball it's the fastest growing sport in the nation and its bounced it's way into Bakersfield," said Lisa Phillips, a Recreation Supervisor for the City of Bakersfield. 

Now I know what you're thinking, what in the world is pickleball? 

"Pickleball includes a little bit of tennis, a little bit of ping pong and a little bit of badminton," said Dianne Hoover, Director of Recreation and Parks for the City of Bakersfield.

It's a unique sport with a funny background. 

According to the USA Pickleball Association, in 1965 a Washington state congressman and his friend came home to find their children sitting around with nothing to do, so they went to an old badminton court, grabbed ping pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball and just like that the sport of pickleball was born. 

However, it didn't really catch on until about five years ago. Now there are currently 2.5 million people in the country playing pickleball.

Today the game is played on a tennis court, but only about half the length. Players use large square paddles and a whiffle ball, playing singles or doubles. 

If you're interested in trying it out, don't worry about your skills or lack there of. 

"You will learn the sport very very quickly," Hoover said. 

"Doesn't matter what kind of shape you're in.  It doesn't matter if you've ever played. A lot of us are beginners out here playing today and it's fun," Phillips said. 

"Anyone can play it," Hoover said. 

The City of Bakersfield Recreation and Parks holds pickleball meet-ups on Wednesdays and Sundays. 

Those interested can try the sport out for free. 

All you need to bring is a pickleball paddle. 

There is also a pickleball league set to start Tuesday, Sept. 19. 

Registration ends Friday. 

For more information call the Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Department at 661-322-9874.

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