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What the Heck Is Pickleball? 

Picture this: either two or four players are standing in a badminton court. It’s divided by a net a little lower than a tennis net. They’re paddles that look like ping pong paddles. And they’re hitting a whiffle ball. If you’re picturing a mash-up of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, you’re spot on. 

In a nutshell, that’s pickleball, and it’s one of the fastest growing sports in North America.  According to the USA Pickleball Association (yes, that’s a thing) there over 3 million pickleball players, and it’s growing fast thanks to the Baby Boom generation who are flocking to it as they age. 

We spoke with Bethanie Clarke, Director of Guest & Member Services and pickleball player here at Fox Harb’r, to find out more about the appeal of the sport.

Pickleball Is Easy to Learn 

Picking up a new sport can be daunting. They’re potentially expensive, time-consuming, or have a steep learning curve. Pickleball is none of those things. According to Clarke, “Pickleball is in a unique position in that the sport isn’t that expensive and it’s also simple to learn.” 

Learning to play pickleball is as easy as playing a round or two. Pickleball associations are always welcoming to newcomers, and Clarke assures us that pickleball players are always looking for new people to play with. Something else to consider: the sport is being taught in more and more schools, so maybe ask your kids if they know how to play. 

Pickleball Has Major Advantages Over Tennis, Badminton, and Squash

These three racket sports can be fast-paced, challenging to learn, and come with the chance of injury. Not so much with pickleball. In fact, Clarke tells us that many pickleball players are older, partly because pickleball offers aerobic exercise without a lot of risk of injury. She says, “Games usually last 10 to 15 minutes, so players can take frequent breathers, and since the court is small and most people play doubles, there’s no serious running—making it easier on the knees. You’re also less likely to have an injury such as tennis elbow, thanks to the lightweight paddle (like a Ping-Pong paddle but larger) and plastic whiffle ball”

Pickleball Is a Game for Everyone

Look at a pickleball court and you’ll likely see all ages and genders playing together. The pace of the game is moderate, the equipment is lightweight, and the whiffle ball travels at half the speed of a tennis ball. Also, the smaller court is pretty easily covered. This isn’t high-impact exercise, so it’s less likely to cause joint and muscle pain. On top of that, pickleball uses an underhand serve, just like badminton, which lets people with shoulder and arm problems play too. This isn’t a game that demands extreme fitness. 

Clarke points out that people over the age of 65 are the least active group in Canada, according to Statistics Canada, and pickleball is a great way to avoid some of the problems that come with inactivity. She tells us, “It’s a game that grandparents and parents can play with the youngsters.”

There’s a Competitive Pickleball Scene 

We’ve talked a lot about how casual and fun pickleball can be, but if it turns out you really enjoy the sport, you can play at a higher level. In fact, Clarke has been playing for two years, participated in two tournaments, and won the lady’s division in her first ever tournament. Maybe that’s what makes her such an enthusiastic advocate for the sport. 

You Can Start Playing Right Away

There are pickleball clubs and associations in every province and territory and in towns and cities small, medium, and large. So if you’re looking for a fun sport that’s easy to pick up, inexpensive to play, welcomes all ages, and has a great social atmosphere, why not try pickleball? Clarke assures us, “There are plenty of beginner friendly pickleball locations out there as well that will help you learn the game.”

Here’s Why It’s Called “Pickleball”

Finally, you may be wondering why it’s called “pickleball”. The name was coined by one of the founders of the game, Joel Pritchards, who owned a dog named Pickles. Apparently, Pickles would chase the ball during games and run off with it. Good boy!


Enjoy endless pickleball matches at Fox Harb’r Resort. It’s just one of many activities you can enjoy as a guest. Try exciting sporting clays shooting, beach volleyball, or work out in our Wellness Centre. Swim in our Jr. Olympic indoor pool. Go for a run along our 5 km Fox Trot trail. Swim in the warm waters of Northumberland Strait. Enjoy fly or rod fishing for rainbow trout in our stocked ponds. Explore the resort’s 1,100 acres via kayak, mountain or cruiser bike. In fact, there’s so much to do, we recommend you add a fourth night to your stay – on us! Click here for details.