Players of all ages gather to play pickleball

JOPLIN, Mo. — Even if you haven’t played pickleball before, you’ve probably heard of the sport.

Warren Black is one of a large group of people of different ages that shows up each weekday morning at the Joplin Family Y to play pickleball from around 7 a.m. all the way to 12 p.m.

“It’s something that about anyone can do, I mean there’s people in here, as young as 15 or 16 playing, and clear up until their 80s, so it’s a, you know, it’s a sport that everybody can play, I mean different levels and and just I mean I think that’s why it’s so popular,” said Warren Black, Pickleball Player.

Lea Annette Ferguson says the sport has become so popular that people join the “Y” just so they can play pickleball.

“We have young people coming in from KCU and older people that have been faithful to it for years but it’s grown a lot more recently,” said Lea Annette Ferguson, YMCA Membership Director.

A number of outdoor tennis courts across the Four States have been converted to pickleball, which is half the size of a tennis court, so there’s less running involved.

Instead of a tennis ball, a hollow wiffle ball is used, so the likelihood of injury is greatly reduced.

Like tennis, the serve must land in a designated area on the other side of the court, however, players can’t go straight to the net and start smashing balls at their opponents.

They mostly have to stay out of a rectangular area on both sides of the net, called the “kitchen.”

“If somebody hits the ball to you and it bounces in the kitchen, you can step in the kitchen to hit it but you have to let it bounce first before you hit it,” said Black.

“It’s a sport for life, it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can be young and still have just as much fun playing with an older person and get just as skilled as anyone out there,” said Ferguson.

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