In a Schaumburg Park District gymnasium, that’s the sound of victory.
Pickleball—not to be mistaken for something you might find on a relish tray— is where tennis, racquetball and ping-pong meet. The sport draws a crowd Wednesdays and Thursdays to The Sport Center, 1141 W. Irving Park Road, where players indulge in the District’s drop-in program.
“Wow. What a shot,” Jo Boudreau said as her opponent’s graphite paddle struck a bright orange plastic whiffle-style ball—producing the enticing “pop” so synonymous with Pickleball. Some players also call it a “ding.”
A relatively modern game, Pickleball’s roots trace back to the 1960s on Bainbridge Island near Seattle. There, ping-pong paddles, a badminton net and a whiffle ball are said to have been the inspiration, according to the World Pickleball Federation. Games may be played as doubles or singles.
“It’s not just the challenge of the game that keeps me playing pickelball,” said Boudreau, of Schaumburg. “It’s the challenge to stay in shape. I’m always looking for ways to be active.”
Although Boudreau first heard about pickleball back in 2012, she couldn’t find anywhere to play until moving to Schaumburg. Now she plays at multiple gyms throughout the northwest suburbs.
The Schaumburg Park District’s drop-in pickleball program is five years old. The District provides the balls and paddles, though many participants bring their own gear. Boudreau’s paddle, a gift from her son, displays a daisy to celebrate her love of gardening.
“This sport provides an affordable option for older adults wanting to stay fit,” said Derek Dvorak, assistant facility manager for The Sport Center. “Pickleball is somewhat unique because it’s great exercise, but also relatively easy on the body. It’s really grown in popularity with Schaumburg’s senior community.”
Played on a court measuring 20 by 44 feet, pickleball has a few essential rules. Serves must be underhand, according to the USA Pickleball Association, with the receiving team allowing the ball to bounce once before returning and vice versa—known as the double bounce rule. Games generally are played to 11 points.
While demonstrating the game during a recent Thursday afternoon drop-in session, Steve Partman gave his own personal pickeball pointers.
“If you think you can’t get, don’t go after it,” the Elk Grove Village resident instructed. “Don’t ever go after anything you can’t get.”
Partman and his wife, Mary, regularly join the Thursday pickleball group, finding the activity to be as much a social as physical outlet.
“We’ve met so many nice people here at The Sport Center,” he said. “Plus I get to play with my wife.”
While playing adult softball last November at The Sport Center, Wayne Burdick looked across the hall and saw people batting around what appeared to be a florescent-colored whiffle ball. He was immediately intrigued.
“They said ‘Hey, come on over here and try it,’” said Burdick, of Schaumburg. “It was so much fun. I’ve been playing pickleball ever since.”
Drop-in cost for pickleball is $3 a day. Open play is available 9 a.m. to noon Wednesdays and noon to 3 p.m., Thursdays.
For more information, call (847) 891-1266 or visit www.parkfun.com.