What’s the “dill” with pickleball? Lots of local picklers treat the sport like the bread and butter of their week. The national total of 4.8 million pickleball players is a 14.3% increase from 2020 and 39.3% increase from 2019 (1.36 million additional players over that two-year span). Since Asheville Parks & Recreation lined its first pickleball courts in 2016, the sport has grown locally to include hundreds of regular players.
Though it traces its history to 1965, pickleball participation is at an all-time high and continues to grow. Often described as a mashup of table tennis, wiffle ball, and badminton, pickleball is accessible to all ages and is particularly well-suited for those who like fast-paced exercise, friendly competition, and easy-to-follow rules with the potential to improve with each match.
A pickleball court is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide, allowing plenty of space to move quickly from side to side while strengthening muscles and improving joint range of motion and flexibility. The court is small enough to keep conversation going with doubles partners and opponents. After teams win a match, they’ll often split up and rotate in new partners – a testament to the social nature of the game. (Don’t let the friendliness of the game fool you; pickleball is a sport and many players take it as seriously as any other.)
There’s also a relatively low cost for new players. Local sports shops, big box retailers, and online stores sell quality paddle and ball sets starting around $20. Since none of Asheville’s public outdoor courts have permanent pickleball nets, local picklers bring their own or coordinate with friends who have nets. Like the courts, pickleball nets are shorter than tennis nets. Throw on some athletic attire and smooth soled athletic shoes and join both new and old friends for a game.
Looking to start slow?
Asheville Parks & Recreation’s pickleball league currently plays in Murphy-Oakley Park (715 Fairview Rd.) from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesdays through August 17. Spectators can watch advanced picklers, make friends in the community, and learn the rules.
Stephens-Lee Community Center and Recreation Complex (30 George Washington Carver Ave.) has scheduled a free introductory clinic for beginners on August 19 from 6-8:30 p.m. Advance registration is required.
Looking to jump in?
Picklers are a pretty laid-back group and usually enjoy sharing the joy of the game with newcomers. With 12 outdoor and six indoor public pickleball courts, there are a variety of spots to take in the game. All outdoor courts are dual-lined with tennis, so city park court rules should be followed.
Outdoor courts (free to use)
- Kenilworth Park – 79 Wyoming Rd.
- Malvern HIlls Park – 75 Rumbough Pl.
- Montford Park – 345 Montford Ave.
- Murphy-Oakley Park – 715 Fairview Rd.
Indoor courts ($3 per visit, multi-visit discount passes available)
- Linwood Crump Shiloh Community Center and Recreation Complex (hours) – 121 Shiloh Rd.
- Stephens-Lee Community Center and Recreation Complex (hours) – 30 George Washington Carver Ave.
Twice a month, Asheville Parks & Recreation shares a resource or tip that can help in the development of intellectual, emotional, occupational, environmental, financial, spiritual, physical, or social wellbeing. For previous Wellness Wednesday articles, check out the archive.