5 reasons Birmingham locals are obsessed with pickleball

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Birmingham, pickleball
Have you tried pickleball yet? Photo via Pickler Pickleball’s Facebook page

Grab a paddle and ball, it’s time to hit the court for one of Birmingham’s hottest sports—pickleball. From the what to the why, read on for all the details about the fastest growing sport you’ve probably never heard of, brought to you by the pickleball fans at Caliber Home Loans.

Pickleball: what is it?

Birmingham, pickleball
Whiffle balls are key to pickleball. Photo via Pickler Pickleball’s Facebook page

Before we unveil the many reasons why pickleball is awesome, we must first fill you in on what the sport’s all about. So, for the uninitiated, pickleball is a paddleball or racquet sport that combines all the coolest elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong into one super awesome game. 

To play, here’s what’s needed:

  • 2-4 players
  • A court with a net
  • Perforated polymer ball

The object of the game is to hit the ball back and forth across the net. The first side to score 11 points leading by at least two points wins the game. Tournament games may be played to 11, 15 or 21.)

Now, on to those reasons…

1. Its history is just as interesting as its name.

Birmingham, pickleball
Local pickleball courts in Vestavia Hills, AL. Photo via Pickleball Vestavia Hills’ Facebook page

To learn where pickleball first began, let’s travel back to the grooviest decade in history—the 1960s. 

One day in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, three dad friends—Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum—were looking for a way to alleviate their kids’ summer boredom. Because Pritchard’s property was home to an old badminton court, they hoped to pick up a game. However, they couldn’t find enough rackets to play. So, they improvised by using ping pong paddles and a whiffle ball. Bing, bang, boom, pickleball was born.

Since its invention, pickleball has evolved over five decades to become one of the fastest-growing sports in America. 

Now, about that name…

Legend has it—and by that, I mean the internet—pickleball was named after co-inventor Joel Pritchard’s dog who’s name was none other than… Pickles. 

2. Anyone can play!

One of the best things about pickleball is that anyone can play. Whether young or old, skilled or beginner, everyone can enjoy the game. For example:

  • Pickleball requires you to be physically able but you don’t have to be an athlete.
  • Pickleball requires you to move, but you don’t have to run or sprint.
  • Pickleball can be low-key and social or intense and competitive.

So grab your kiddo, your mom or even a grandparent and whack a few balls at a local court.

3. There are tons of local spots to grab a game.

Birmingham, pickleball
Pickleball paddles come in all sorts of colorful designs. Photo by Joan Azeka via Unsplash

Wondering where you can play pickleball? You’re in luck because the Greater Birmingham Area is filled with a lengthy list of locations. Here are some of them:

  • Bessemer Parks + Recreation Center: 200-256 14th St, Bessemer, AL 35020
  • Chelsea Community Center: 11101 Hwy 47, Chelsea, AL 35043
  • Clay Tennis + Pickleball Center: 6745 Old Springville Rd., Clay, AL 35048
  • Crestwood Park: 5400 Crestwood Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35212
  • George Ward Tennis Center: 1871 Green Springs Hwy, Birmingham, AL 35205
  • Heardmont Park: 5458 Cahaba Valley Rd, Birmingham, AL 35242
  • Hoover Met: 100 Ben Chapman Dr, Hoover, AL 35244
  • Levite Jewish Community Center (LJCC): 3960 Montclair Rd, Birmingham, AL 35213
  • Joe Tucker Park: 230 Tucker Rd, Helena, AL 35080 
  • Overton Road: 3020 Overton Rd, Birmingham, AL 35223
  • Sicard Hollow Athletic Complex: 4700 Sicard Hollow Rd, Birmingham, AL 35242
  • Trussville Park + Recreation Center: 5381 Trussville Clay Rd, Trussville, AL 35173
  • Vestavia Hills Civic Center: 1973 Merryvale Rd, Vestavia Hills, AL 35216

For even more places to play pickleball, click here

4. There are lots of local groups to join.

Hoover Met Complex, pickleball
Hoover Met Complex. Photo via Taryn Fink

Other local groups can be found all over the greater Birmingham area. Here are some Facebook groups to join to learn about local games, competitions and more:

5. It keeps you on your toes, both mentally and physically

While pickleball may be more low-key than other sports, it’s easy to get swept away in the game’s quick back and forth action. The result—an awesome workout for the body and mind! If you’re like me, exercise is always best when it involves having fun.

Want to watch pro pickle ballers in action?

Look at that swing! Photo via Adam Fritsch

Check out these upcoming tournaments around the Greater Birmingham Area:

Alabama Open:
When: March 25-28, 2021
Where: Clay Pickleball Complex, 6745 Old Springville Rd, Clay, AL 35048

USA Pickleball National Indoor Championships:
When:
June 6-13, 2021
Where: The Finley Center at the Hoover Met Complex, 5508 Stadium Trace Pkwy, Hoover, AL 35244

Ready to move closer to your favorite pickleball court? Caliber can help. Contact them today.

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