Pickleball, a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, is the fastest-growing sport in the United States, according to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
Pickleball is also a game appropriate for players of all ages and skill levels, and can be played outside or inside.
Oak Island resident Tom Polk, 56, grew up playing tennis, and while he still does, Polk started playing pickleball a couple of years ago.
“Pickleball is appealing because it is not as physically demanding as tennis but still offers a lot of challenging competition," Polk said.
The smaller court and unique rules make it a game that relies more on technique and strategy, rather than physical prowess.
The learning curve for getting proficient at pickleball is also much easier, thus opening it up to new populations of players who either did not grow up playing racquet sports or who haven’t played in a long time.
“Basically, by playing inside you have control of the conditions, and the courts provide cushion that helps with knees and joints,” said Richard Holloman, executive director of House of Pickleball (The Hop) in Leland.
More than 7,000 people have House of Pickleball from all over the country. The six-court facility opened in 2018, are is booked year-round especially in the summer and winter months.
People travel from Florida, Georgia and other southeastern states to play in tournaments at The Hop, Holloman said.
Playing pickleball indoors vs. outside is a very different experience.
“Outdoors, the wind is definitely a factor that impacts the game, as does the sun (can be used to your advantage by lobbing your opponents). Indoors, all of these external factors are removed and the game becomes more precise,” Polk said.
Here are a few places to play pickleball in the Wilmington area.
Greenfield Lake Park and Gardens, 1739 Burnett Blvd., Wilmington
Midtown YMCA, 709 George Anderson Drive, Wilmington. Free to members, guests pay $10 fee.
Mike Chappell Park, 501 Dow Road South, Carolina Beach
Northern Regional Park, 4700 Old Ave., Castle Hayne
Robert Strange Park, 401 S. Eighth St., Wilmington
Veterans Park, 835 Halyburton Memorial Pkwy, Wilmington
Wrightsville Beach Rec Center, 1 Bob Sawyer Drive, Wrightsville Beach
House of Pickleball, 115 Kay Todd Road, S.E., Leland
Middleton Park, 4610 E. Dolphin Drive, Oak Island
Ocean Isle Beach Park, 6483 Old Georgetown Road, SW, Ocean Isle Beach
Smithville Township District Park, 8392 River Road, S.E., Southport
Town Creek Park, 6420 Ocean Highway, East, Winnabow
IronClad Golf, 2368 Country Club Drive, Hampstead
Surf City Parks & Recreation Community Center, 201 Community Center Drive, Surf City
Topsail Beach Pickleball Courts, Topsail Beach Town Center, 624 S, Anderson Blvd., Surf City
Contact Cheryl Whitaker at email@example.com or 910-343-2004.
This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: Craving pickleball? Here are places in the Wilmington area to play.