Pickle What? The Pickleball Craze

What is pickleball? This sport with a funny name and modest beginnings in a back yard is taking Delaware by storm. Every new 55+ community is building courts, and there’s a buzz about it, whether you are looking for competition or recreation. Here’s why.

Pickleball combines badminton, tennis and ping pong on a court approximately half the size of a tennis court. What?

Think easier on the knees, not as much running around, larger paddles that are easier on our aging eyes and reflexes, and pure fun.

This perfect combination for retirees, where you mix social engagement with an aging-friendly sport – especially good for those who are new to the area and are looking for those friends you haven’t yet met!

To some, like Butch Martin, founder of First State Pickleball Club, the most important element of the game is the socialization, even more important than the game rules.

Butch founded the First State Pickleball Club in 2014. His first experience with the sport was playing it in a barn in Arizona. He was immediately hooked, which apparently happens to people who give it a try.

He returned to Delaware only to realize no such organization existed locally. A dinner party of 20 led to the immediate formation of the club, which now boasts over one thousand members, and is still growing exponentially! Daily!

Why the fuss? Because it’s what you make of it at any level. Laugh and play, or get competitive and growl at your opponent. Tournaments and courts abound in Delaware.

Butch cited an 88-year-old local woman who plays seven days a week (sometimes twice a day), year-round. And she competes! If she can do it, why can’t all of us?

Delaware has more outdoor courts than indoor, but as the sport takes off, the likelihood of more indoor courts is inevitable. Casual clubs within developments are popping up everywhere locally, and people moving to Delaware are saying yes or no to a particular development based on whether or not there are pickleball courts! It is growing that fast.

In addition to community courts, is a pickleball complex named Sand Hill, near Georgetown. There are options for membership and formatted (formal) or casual play. Lewes’ municipal park along the canal uses the existing tennis courts (with chalked or taped lines) for public play.

So what is a novice to do? To start, check out the First State Pickleball Club’s web site for clinics or lessons. You can outfit yourself pretty modestly with a basic paddle and a few balls (that eventually wear out) before you go overboard with expensive gear.

Why not give it a try and find out what is inspiring people, especially the 50+ crowd to get out there and find their groove? Pickleball is hot, and predicted to be broiling in the Delaware future. Find or borrow a paddle, and GET ON THE MOVE!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our FREE Updates

Keep in the loop with life in Sussex County DE!  We'll share fun, local events on a Thursday, and great articles on local life each Monday. 

Skip to content