The Pickleball Craze Hits Schenectady

Just 10 short years ago, most people had never heard of pickleball. A paddleball sport that’s been called a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping pong, pickleball was invented in Washington State in the 1960s as a children’s game. As its popularity grew, pickleball came to be known as a sport mainly for seniors—it’s played on a smaller court so requires less strength, stamina and skill than its big brother, tennis. Pickleball courts popped up in retirement and senior living communities throughout the sunbelt and Florida, and the sport seemed like it’d never be taken seriously among younger athletes. Until now.

According to the USA Pickleball Association, the sport’s popularity increased a whopping 650 percent between 2013 and 2019. And those people picking up pickleball paddles (they look sort of like oversized ping pong paddles) aren’t just the over-65 set. Young people across the country have taken to the game because it’s easy to play, doesn’t require expensive equipment, and is actually somewhat of a social activity—players are in close proximity to their partner, if they’re playing doubles, as well their opponent(s), so they’re bound to chit chat.

If pickleball’s popularity was already on the up and up pre-COVID, it absolutely exploded with the onset of the pandemic. Couples cooped up in their homes discovered the sport was a fun, COVID-safe way to get some exercise, and haven’t stopped serving, slicing and swinging since. In Schenectady, pickleball-ers play on converted tennis courts (the net is lowered and the court is smaller) at Hillhurst Park and Collins Park, and in the gym at the Jewish Community Center. There’s also a comprehensive list of Capital Region courts, as well as upcoming tournament announcements and information about different leagues, on

So, what are you waiting for? Pick up your pickleball equipment—all you need is a couple of paddles and a ball—today at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, Clifton Park’s RacquetWorld or Latham’s Play It Again Sports. You’ll be out on the court in no time.