Lake Oswego is helping fuel the growth of one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States—pickleball. The Sports and Fitness Industry Association claims over 2.8 million Americans play the game, representing a 12% increase just in the past year.
With six renovated courts installed at George Rogers Park, fans of all ages are getting hooked on this cross between tennis, ping pong and racquetball. In fact the local Lake Oswego Pickleball Club claims 330 members to-date.
And to inspire the uninitiated as well as the devotees, the Lake Oswego Pickleball Club is sponsoring a Pro Exhibition on Saturday, August 3 at 1:00 p.m. with a clinic to follow.
So, what’s the fuss about this sport you perhaps never heard of?
There are many catalysts driving the sport’s popularity but LOPC club organizer Carl Schmits suggests pickleball’s growth is due in large part to meeting the ‘trifecta’ for the perfect sport.
1. It’s so much fun it’s considered “addictive” with a drop-in play format at most venues that encourages more frequent play without having to coordinate partners
2. It’s gentle on the body so you can play often and play to your fitness/skill level.
3. It’s easy to learn. Given its similarities to sports most of us are more familiar with, it’s easy to pick up the basics of pickleball. Besides clinics offered by the Lake Oswego Pickleball Club, there is a host of YouTube videos and online guides. But luckily for the competitive-minded, there is plenty of room for improvement and advancement as players learn strategy and techniques.
Here are a few other reasons to add to Schmits’ list:
4. It’s a social game. Pickleball is usually played as a doubles game and because it can be played by all ages, family members from 8-90 can join in. Lake Oswego’s oldest member is 98 not to be outdone by several tweeners who also show up to play regularly.
5. It’s affordable. Beginners can pick up the basics—wooden paddle and balls for around $30 before they upgrade to composite paddles that will set them back a little (or a lot) more. Annual membership in the Lake Oswego Pickleball Club is only $25/year ($50/couple; $60/family) and gives you access to club supplies including loaner paddles and balls as well as free or discounted clinics. Drop-in fees are $5.
6. The professional game is bringing attention to the sport. TV contracts, professional endorsements and moneyed tournaments are putting the sport in the limelight, especially among the younger crowd. While pickleball has seen a 650 percent increase in numbers over the last six years according to the USA Pickleball Association, the biggest subset of that growth has not been in the traditional over 60 crowd. Instead, with professional players in the spotlight and more parks and recreation departments sponsoring programs, the younger crowd is stepping onto the courts that only Grandma and Grandpa used to play in. Check out some of the pros playing here.
7. It’s a workout. If you’re counting calories, expect that a 160-pound adult can burn close to 250 calories during a 30-minute casual play and 350 in a more competitive game. If you’re counting steps, one researcher tracked 7,000 steps during 90 minutes of play; 10,000 steps against more competitive players.
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