Home Book editor Pickleball books extol the wonders of the fashionable sport

Pickleball books extol the wonders of the fashionable sport



I was enjoying a delightfully quiet tennis rally with my son a few summers ago when suddenly I heard him, from the court next to us: Snap. Snap. Snap.

Wiffle balls hitting a hard court, then – clap, clap — ricocheting off wooden paddles. “It’s like, ‘Honey, I blew up the ping-pong table,'” I thought. I did not know.

If you haven’t heard that pickleball is the new “it” sport, you haven’t listened. Across the country, wiffle balls pass tennis balls, paddles pass racquets, and everyone’s talking about “dinking,” “the kitchen” (not for cooking), and “dillball” (not even close to that). What do you think).

There are 4.8 million pickleball players in the United States (“picklers”), according to UNITED STATES Pickleball. This is a pittance considering the number of people who play tennis (21 million), play golf on a golf course (25 million) and go bowling every year (67 million). But strippers are a loud bunch. A California woman even filed a lawsuit claiming the noises of pickleball near her home caused her “severe mental suffering, frustration and anxiety,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Like a weed, pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America. Courts 44 feet by 20 feet are cutting tennis courts to pieces, taking over warehouses and thriving where big box stores have died. There are $300 paddles, shoes, bags and t-shirts emblazoned with slogans like “Dink Responsibly.” There’s even a PickleUpper to help clean up after a game. (What’s the dill with all this pun?) The Tennis Channel airs matches regularly, and next month CBS will air a celebrity charity pickleball tournament with Stephen Colbert as host.

They’re not the first celebrities to get into the game. Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian, Serena Williams and the Clooneys are all strippers. Even Larry David would be a fan. (Is it part of his spite crusade?) And some even buy into it: Tom Brady, Kevin Durant, Kim Clijsters and Drew Brees are among several high-profile athletes who have invested in Major League Pickleball teams. League.

Pickleball explodes, and it gets messy

What explains this pickleball boom? To find an answer, I looked where I always do: books. And while there is no Roger Angell of pickleball yet, there are a few books that attempt to trace the history of pickleball and celebrate – if not quite explain – its popularity. In August, “Pickleball for All” (Dey Street) was released, and “Pickleball Is Life” (Harvest) will be released. released on November 1. This last title is wishful thinking, I hope.

These new titles are both what people politely call gift books. They are not works that you sit down and read like you would a novel, or even the official pickleball rule book, which is 68 pages and includes disconcerting profundities like: “All points played are treated as the same way, whatever their importance; the first point of the match is as important as a match point.

“Pickleball for All” began, unsurprisingly, as one of those trend-spotting articles in The New York Times (see also his discovery of butter boards and “naked dressing”). Its author, Rachel Simon, started playing pickleball during the pandemic. Sport was “a safe, accessible, and endlessly enjoyable way for people of all ages, body types, and fitness levels to come together,” she explains. Simon then delves into the history of the sport, from its beginnings on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965, when three fathers – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum – struggled to entertain their bored children. Today, they might have stuck the kids in front of an iPad or a PlayStation console; instead, they made a game out of what they had on hand – an old badminton net, ping pong paddles and a pile of hollow balls. Thus was born pickleball.

Meet the Teenage Queen of Professional Pickleball

The game caught on, albeit very slowly. In its early days, there were few famous fanatics beyond Bill Gates, whose father was friends with Pritchard. It may have helped that Pritchard is a state senator, soon to be a Republican congressman, and entertains guests with pickleball at political fundraisers.

Simon traces the sport’s rise, pointing to 2018 as a turning point, when “the best players in the game started calling themselves professional athletes. Then came the sponsors and the lobbyists and the pandemic, when people were bored even more than the kids on vacation in the 60s. “As countless people adapted to their difficulties new reality,” notes Simon, “many of them – like me – viewed sport as a way to stay active and entertained, often from the comfort of their own homes.

Simon fills his book with uplifting profiles of pickleball converts, like 8-year-old Jack Loughridge, who gave up his tennis and football pursuits to become a rising star on the pickleball circuit. Beautifully designed and packed with tips and advice, “Pickleball for All” would make a nice gift for your favorite pickler – or a gag gift for your favorite hater.

Review: “The Master”, by Roger Federer

‘Pickleball Is Life’ features a martini on its cover – specifically a pickle martini. Sure! The book, by Erin McHugh, a former publishing executive, shows that she was indeed very good at her job. From its eye-catching cover image to its bright illustrations by Jackie Bestemen, the book makes for a tempting impulse buy, when you’re at the checkout waiting for your latte (or pickle martini?). The slim book has recipes – for Dill Pickle Dip and Cream Cheese Pickles and other concoctions so intuitive they don’t seem to require instructions. The book skims through the history and rules and, in its final chapter, offers advice on how to be a pickleball ambassador, a job McHugh appears to have already taken on.

McHugh’s and Simon’s books are great fun – harmless, if a bit opportunistic. But they didn’t change my mind about the sport.

I played pickleball. It was almost inevitable now that my local YMCA’s tennis courts were pretty much taken over by mini courts. I get the call. The game is social and inclusive and requires strategy and coordination. In a recent lesson, I learned to shorten my stroke, to honor the “double bounce”, to understand that when someone said “2-6-2” it was not the start of a phone number but the score. At the end of the session, I felt smarter. I was enjoying myself enough to join a band playing on a nearby field. During my pickup game, some people were playing in jeans, some in dress shoes. We laughed a lot. They invited me to join their group dating text, which has been binging a lot ever since.

I’m sorry to say, however, I don’t think I see myself returning to the pickleball court anytime soon. Gambling is fun, yes, but I just can’t engage in a sport that takes terms like “dingles” and “flapjack” seriously and where falafel doesn’t refer to a food I love. Pickleball feels like a summer camp game, like tetherball or gaga ball – and if the latter becomes a big deal (dill?), I can promise you I won’t be gaga. What can I say ? I prefer tennis.

Nora Krug is an editor and writer at Book World.

Everything except the kitchen faucet

Dey Street. 196 pages. $17.99

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