SOUTHINGTON — Pickleball, a cross between tennis and badminton, is gaining popularity across the country and locally at the Southington YMCA, where games for beginners and advanced players are held every week.
The game was introduced at the Southington branch less than a year ago by health and wellness director Karen DiGirolamo. Shortly after, former tennis player Paul Sirios joined as a volunteer instructor.Health benefits
According to the USA Pickleball Association, the game offers a social benefit while enabling participants to stay active. The organization reports that an increasing number of retirement communities are picking up the sport. High schools are also adding pickleball to physical education classes.
“It’s a good reason to get up in the morning,” Sirios said.
The sport offers a cardiovascular workout and players are often more motivated to work out in order to stay in shape for games, Sirios said.Equipment
A Wiffle ball is used along with a paddle.
Pickleball paddles are typically lightweight – larger than ping pong paddles but smaller than a racquetball paddles.
The court is about the same size as a doubles badminton court. The net is 36 inches high on the sides and 34 inches in the middle.How to play
Pickeball can be played in singles or doubles matches.
Serves are made underhand and diagonal cross court. Before being returned, the serve must bounce.
A game is typically played to 11 points. In tournaments, games are played to between 15 and 21 points.
YMCA staff member and pickleball player Brandon Riollano said the game requires mental strategy in placing shots.
“I always like to say it is a fast game of chess,” he said.Beginner tips
The Southington YMCA offers beginner instruction using a racquetball court and smaller net.
Sirois advises players that
The game is more about control than power when returning or serving the ball, Sirois said.
“I didn’t do well when I first started,” he said. “From playing tennis, the ball doesn’t bounce the way a tennis ball does … I stuck with it.”Options
The Southington YMCA offers beginner lessons with Sirois on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and games and free play Tuesdays to Thursdays from 9 a.m. until noon.
Other nearby places to play include North Haven Health & Racquet in North Haven, Oxford Pickleball in Oxford, and The Tennis and Fitness Center of Rocky Hill in Rocky Hill.