Launching our athlete of the month and celebrating the G.O.A.T.’s in our community, this paper is about all things sports. We thought we’d highlight a sport that has taken off locally and globally- Pickleball. Invented in Washington State in 1965 Pickleball slowly gained popularity in the pacific northwest before turning into a national phenomenon. For the last three years in a row the Sports and Fitness Industry Association named it the fastest growing sport in the country. A group of locals recently launched Crabby Pickleball, a nonprofit dedicated to playing pickleball for fun and competitively. We had the chance to talk to Barb Dawson, president of Crabby Pickleball, to learn about how the sport is played, getting started for beginners and more.
Barb describes pickleball as a “cross between tennis, ping-pong and badminton.” Players use solid paddles to hit a plastic ball over a net, aiming to score points by landing the ball within the opponent’s court. The serving team must serve underhand diagonally across the net, and the receiving team must let the ball bounce once before returning. Once the ball is in play, both teams can volley (hit without letting it bounce) but must stay out of the no-volley zone (a 7-foot area on either side of the net). The game is typically played to 11 or 21 points, with the serving team scoring only when they win a rally. The first team to reach the designated score with a margin of two points, similar to how tennis is won, wins the game.
Barb was originally a tennis player and coach, so when pickleball started blowing up during the pandemic she was able to pick it up very easily. “I like that it is easy to learn, but challenging to master,” Barb explained to me. “It can be as aerobic as you want it to be, and there is a lot of subtle strategy involved at higher levels. I like that there is a range of competition to the sport, meaning you can play for fun, socially with family and friends of any age; and, you can travel to play tournaments.”
After Queen Anne’s County installed ten permanent pickleball courts, Barb and other local players founded Crabby Pickleball. They now have over 300 players and are entirely staffed by volunteers. They hold tournaments, lessons, and league play. Members of Crabby Pickleball meet casually every day and have more structured play four times a week. As the club has grown so rapidly, they’re looking for more indoor options for their players. “The Centreville YMCA opening in October will be a tremendous help but cannot meet the demand for indoor courts in QAC. The rapid growth of the sport encourages creative solutions. We will keep looking for year-round opportunities for our players.”
If you would like to learn more about pickleball, Barb recommends USA Pickleball, “the national governing body for pickleball and great resource for new players.” You can view their website here: https://usapickleball.org/. If you would like to learn more about our local pickleball club you can go to https://www.crabbypickleball.club/.