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Have you ever played pickleball?  Here's a better question: Have you ever heard of pickleball?  I have to admit, I was in the dark about this wildly popular new sport.  It seems like I may have been in the minority, however, because not only do lots of people know about it - it's so popular, it's now a professional sport!

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

What is Pickleball?

According to the pros at PickleballUSA.org, the game is simple to learn and fun for athletes of all ages.  Here are the basics:

  1. The game can be played indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and with a slightly modified tennis net (lots of people set up courts in the middle of the street by stretching a net between trees on either side of the road)
  2. Pickleball is played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes (like a whiffle-ball)
  3. You can play a game as doubles or singles
  4. Scoring is just like tennis (except for the two-bounce rule) and the first person (or team) to reach 11 points and be ahead at least 2 points wins!  However, tournament games may go to 15 points

The pickleball origin story

Although I just learned about the sport, and it may have flown under the radar for a lot of us - it's actually been around since the 60's.  The sport was first conceived back in 1965 on Bainbridge Island in Washington.  Dads Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum were struggling to find something to keep their kids active - so they invented the game using ping-pong paddles, a whiffle ball, and a badminton net.  The rest is pickleball history.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Pickleball goes pro

According to the report from KXAN, the sport has gone pro with the announcement of Major League Pickleball (MLP).  In fact, an honest-to-goodness professional pickleball draft is scheduled for October the 1st in Rockwall, Texas - and the games are set to begin in November!  The matches will be played at state-of-the-art pickleball facilities at Dreamland Amusement Park in Dripping Springs, Texas starting November 5th.

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