On today’s podcast, I want to talk to you about one of my favorite games that I teach my students about and it’s pickleball.
Welcome to the PE Express podcast. Two to three times a week a PE Expert will share a tip, activity idea or teaching strategy to help you become a better PE professional. Today’s host is a high school health and physical education teacher and former PEP grant winner from Pennsylvania, Jason Gemberling.
Pickleball is a game that I have found at a conference with some of my colleagues. We talked about it. We decided we would try it. We just weren’t sure how it would go over. We do not have any tennis courts at our school, so we thought this might be a way to, as a lead up game to anybody that wanted to learn tennis. Pickleball is a cross between tennis and also ping pong.
It’s played on a badminton size court. The nets about the same height as a tennis net. You use a hard wiffle ball and a wooden paddle or a composite paddle are now being made. It’s a fun game. It’s fast. It can be played as a singles game. It can be played with a partner. It is a game that does not know age limits. I’ve been to several pickleball tournaments to play and there are kids that are in their teens, there are guys like my age in their forties and then there are guys that and girls that are up in the 60s, 70s and there was even a gentleman that played that was in his 90s and it’s just one of those games that people really enjoy. It is competitive, it is fast and it is fun.
The strategy to pickleball is very similar to that of tennis or badminton. It’s a game where you’re trying to get your opponent to move. There are different parts to the game that can make it faster. It can make it slower and depending on your skill level and the skill level of your players you’re playing. One of the great things about it for us is there are starting to be a couple more schools nearby that are playing it. Our kids know some of the kids that the other schools and they’re talking about it, which is great. We’re getting to that point where there’s a friend of mine teaches at a neighboring school district. Him and I had been talking about trying to figure out how to get his students and my students to have a home and away match and try and really promote the game of pickleball so that they have that lifetime activity that they can continue to play for years to come.
Our local YMCAs, our local rec centers have really started to pick up on the game too. I’ve talked to several of them. We’ve noticed that some of them are even starting pickleball tournaments locally that our students are getting information about. I find out about them and I pass it along and our kids are excited. It’s a game that that you can play as coed, so if you have a friend that’s playing and they’re like, oh, I need a coed partner. I have a ton of girls and guys that love pickleball. They partner up and they go play and then they come back and tell me stories about it, which to me is is the thing that we’re trying to do as educators. We’re trying to get kids to be active and to find something that they’re going to take with them for throughout their lifetime and then get into. Pickleball is one of those games that they can, they can keep playing it and my students I really do think will continue. I think they’ll go off to college and if their college doesn’t offer it as a rec sport, I can see some of my students who really, really love the game who’ve gone out and bought their own paddles, gone out and got their own net systems and have it in their, I could see them trying to start a rec league at their university, which will be fantastic. Again, a way to promote the game. The great part about it is it’s not super expensive. You can get onto Gophers website or get into their catalog and you can find a class pack for 12 or 24 players.
The game is really starting to gain ground in Pennsylvania. There are schools in other parts of the country that I know really enjoy it. I’ve talked to educators from across the country and they talk about how their students really get into it. They have outdoor courts at their school. I’ve been pushing to get outdoor courts at my school. It’s just really, really fun. I’ve actually had parents talk to me about it cause their kids go home and they were like, all right, what is this game called pickleball. I’m actually considering hosting some parent Pickleball nights where they can come in and learn about the game too and, and I can give them some tips and strategies. So when they’re at home, if they decide to get a net for their kids for their birthday or Christmas or whatever, um, they can have the skills to compete with their own kids. Because as parents we’re trying to get them to be active so that their kids recognize that it’s important and it’s a great game that they can play at home in their driveway. I really, really strongly encourage you looking into it. If you ever have any questions, by all means, reach out. I would love to talk Pickleball. It’s one of my favorites. I have a great one.