P ickleball THE SPORT THAT’S TAKING SURPRISE BY STORM! When I began working as a physical therapist in Surprise, I kept seeing patients with meniscus tears, Achilles tendon strains, and rotator cuff tears from a sport I knew absolutely nothing about: pickleball. To find out why this sport was wreaking havoc on my patients, I drove out to a pickleball court to see the game for myself. If the first server wins the rally, the team members get to switch places so the next teammate can serve. If both players lose their rallies, the opposing team gets to serve and earn points. Unlike tennis, only the serving team gets to score points, and the first team to score 11 wins.
Unlike tennis (invented in the 12th century) or basketball (invented in 1891), pickleball has a short history. According to the United States Pickleball Association, the sport was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington state, and Bill Bell, a Washington-state businessman. The two men invented the game after Bell and his family visited Pritchard’s home and no one could come up with an entertaining activity to pass the time. To cure their families’ boredom, Pritchard and Bell took ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball to the property’s old badminton court, determined to create a game that was fun for the whole family. After that first weekend, they wrote down rules for the game so other families could also play the new racquet sport. Ten years later, the first pickleball tournament was held in Tukwila, Washington. Much closer to home, pickleball was introduced to the Arizona Senior Olympics in 2001. The first tournament, held at Happy Trails Park in Surprise, Arizona, drew 100 players, and was the largest pickleball event yet. Over the next few years, the event grew to 300 players. Pickleball has taken Surprise and Sun City West by storm ever since. The fact that these towns have more pickleball courts than tennis courts is further proof of the sport’s popularity.
Pickleball is a combination of ping-pong, badminton, and tennis, but is played on one-fourth of a tennis court instead of a full court. The game is played with paddles and a small, perforated ball similar to a whiffle ball. While the game can be played with one person per team, doubles are more common. Players start by serving the ball from the right side of the court. The ball must make it past the non-volley zone on the other side of the net and bounce once before the receiving team can return the ball. If the ball doesn’t go past the non-volley zone, the serving team loses the rally, and it’s their teammate’s turn to rally. Vital Care Patients ENTER TO WIN Find the misspelled word in this newsletter and call (623) 544-0300 for your chance to win a $10 gift card! CALL 623-544-0300
smaller court size and the abrupt stops that the sport requires. In tennis, you can run a bit before you stop, but in pickleball, you’re forced to stop quickly. These abrupt, high-impact stops tear up your knees. The motions required to hit the pickleball can also cause strain on your shoulders, knees, and calves. For some, the addiction of pickleball is real. When a pickleball player comes to the clinic with an injury, the first thing that is asked is “How soon can I play again?” When it is suggested to take a break from the sport for a few weeks to allow healing time, it is very disappointing to the patient. This is often very hard to do for many people, and some will try playing again before ready, and re-injury occurs. The only way to truly avoid injury in pickleball is to have an exercise routine, including cardiovascular and strengthening activities outside of the sport. If pickleball is the only exercise you’re getting, you are more prone to injury.
From a physical therapy perspective, pickleball poses unique strains on the body due to the
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